Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe complements its aromatic free-trade coffee with a crowded menu of fresh cafe fare. Lunch dates commence as pairs settle into the cafe’s brick-walled, cozy ambience—complete with wooden floors and a grandmother encouraging guests to eat up—and select Brown Dog signature half sandwiches such as the smoky Country turkey ($7) or the stacked simplicity of the ham and swiss ($6). Hot sandwiches, including eggs benedict ($5) and bacon-cheese ($4), arrive at tables escorted by doting pickle-spear chaperones and the customer's choice of salad or soup of the day. Diners contemplate the complex aromas of one of Brown Dog's in-house roasted fair-trade signature coffee blends while sitting on the Paris location's brisk patio area, where the Grand River eases along nearby and compels patio sitters to speak only in haiku. In addition to flaky apple fritters, the amiable Brown Dog staff keep the ovens humming with classic cafe delectables, including scones ($1.75), french toast ($3.50), and a fluffy assortment of muffins ($1.75).
New chef Mike Boyd rears a rhapsody of culinary concoctions at The Groove Kitchen and Music Room. The inspired menu serenades diners with such musically named eats as the Sweet Home Alabama ($14), a barbecue-glazed and braised pork shoulder with sweet potato pancakes, and the Sgt. Pepper ($9), a Salisbury steak sandwich covered in a collage of peppercorn gravy, sautéed mushrooms, and cardboard cutouts of Carl Jung. On the weekends, live bands paint the walls with sound, blaring from saxophones, guitars, trumpets, and harmonically stretched vocal cords. The Groove Kitchen and Music Room tickles taste buds and tympanic membranes past midnight Tuesday through Saturday.
Café 13 Main Street Grill weaves together a medley of light fare, such as pastas and salads, with grand gourmet dishes to craft carefully chosen menus. Beneath the watchful eye of the dining room's proud stained-glass peacock, begin with an order of spiced pork spring rolls ($10.99) or breaded camembert ($8.99). Diners trade quips and finger-puppet shows amid the dark woods and ornate brass accents of Café 13's rich dining room, all the while enjoying a plate of sesame-crusted tuna steak ($20.99)—a hearty hunk of yellowfin tuna sporting its finest black-and-white, sesame-seed eveningwear. Lovers of libations will appreciate the 141-year-old bar from Philadelphia and the assortment of martinis and specialty cocktails strutting the catwalk.
Cambridge Pizza’s cooks slather made-from-scratch sauce onto thin- or thick-crust dough that’s made fresh everyday. A nearby farm furnishes the pizzeria's arsenal of vegetable toppings, which flaunts nontraditional toppings such as asparagus and eggplant alongside more classic options such as mushrooms and green olives. Staffers also decorate their pies and scrapbooks with specialty meats, including smoked ham and hot or mild italian sausage. Additionally, Cambridge Pizza decorates its tabletops with fresh lasagna, salad, and wings that they marinate in-house.
Tucked into a downtown Hespeler storefront, Montys on Queen boasts a Spanish-style tapas selection and international wine list that helped earn it a spot on Drew Edwards' 2010 Fantastic Five list in the Waterloo Region Record. Specifically, he praised it as a “truly rare find: something that out of nowhere exceeds all expectations.”
The restaurant's chef and sommelier coordinate their talents as they create complementary menus that emphasize locally sourced ingredients and Canadian-produced wines. This local flavour appears in the small plates' ocean-fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables, although the chefs incorporate chorizo, spicy chipotle, and edible geography textbooks to lend an international flair.
Although a green, illuminated sign advertises "Bier," the bartenders can also mix martinis and shake cocktails for diners to either sip at the bar or take back to one of the tables that line the neutral-toned wall on the opposite side of the dining room. Outside, a small patio area contains two small tables within an enclosed area, allowing guests to enjoy their meal outdoors during the warmer seasons.
At Little Louie's Burger Joint and Soupery, customers create their own signature burgers by filling out a checklist of their selections. Starting with options including freshly ground beef, low-fat turkey, or black bean and chickpea patties, they then select toppings, sauces, and aiolis. Though the burgers change according to the season and whether sesame seeds have replaced paper currency, they have included a wide variety of inventive constructions. A chicken wing burger combined a fried patty with hot sauce and celery chutney, and a smoke-infused burger combined chipotle relish, portobello, hickory bacon, and smoked cheddar. Along with burgers, a blackboard lists the soups, sandwiches, and baked goods available each day in the restaurant, which is operated out of an old-fashioned diner built in the ‘60s. Owners Steven Allen and Rachelle Matlow also run an upscale catering business out of the shop.