About an hour south of Windsor on the shore of Lake Erie, housed behind the bright red exterior and shaded porch of a historic 1880s home, chefs plate American-style pub cuisine. Servers create natural pairings of burgers and hearty entrees with local wines and craft brews. Upstairs, three guest rooms welcome visitors with feather duvet-topped queen beds, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi bathtubs.
The Main Grill and Ale House's menu lists deep-fried dill pickles next to herb-encrusted brie—a juxtaposition exemplary of the restaurant’s focus: pub favourites and gourmet grill cuisine. Diverse as those influences may be, everything the chefs churn out is unified by elevated preparation and local inspiration. Their take on meat loaf, for instance, involves Black Angus beef, and they load mac ‘n’ cheese with Cajun-spiced grilled chicken and cheddar-ale sauce before baking it with more cheese and a bread-crumb topping. Their avocado-cucumber sauce and watermelon-jalapeño salsa top the Cajun-seared blackened salmon, cooling patrons’ tongues so it doesn’t accidentally trigger their mouths’ smoke detectors.
The restaurant’s rustic hardwood floor carries sleek black tables set with linen napkins, and black-and-white photographs adorn its exposed-brick walls. Indeed, the atmosphere follows suit with the menu's diversity. At one table, a group of friends might be chowing on housemade half-pound burgers and washing everything down with craft brews, while at the next, glasses of wine might accompany chicken diane with roasted garlic and leek-cream sauce.
In a 1930s-era walk-in vault that once guarded diamonds, The City Grill now stores ruby-hued merlots and cabernet sauvignons. The vault is a relic of McCreery’s Diamond Store, whose art-deco aesthetic has been revived by The City Grill, setting the perfect backdrop for feasts of upscale culinary creations.
The restaurant’s carefully designed atmosphere relies on illuminated globes, exposed brick, and black-and-white photomurals depicting the days in Windsor’s past when even robots had to get around by horse-drawn carriages. A spacious patio invites guests to soak in the fresh air and sip libations that range from Chilean syrahs to signature dessert drinks such as an espresso martini.
The drinks pair with globally inspired food dreamt up by Executive Chef Shawn McKerness, who previously captained the seafaring kitchens of the luxurious Holland America Line cruises. McKerness combines fresh ingredients from local sources for a menu of contemporary food that, like the moon’s wardrobe, changes seasonally. Diners might slice into a horseradish-encrusted tenderloin, Maui-style ahi tuna, or red snapper lounging under exotic fruit salsa.
If Bubi’s Awesome Eats were a planet, Bubi sauce would be its sun. Nearly every dish on the menu dons generous dollops of the garlicky housemade condiment. Chefs serve it with sweet-potato fries, drizzle it on wraps, and slather it on hamburger buns. The sauce’s coveted, taste-bud-wooing recipe is one of the reasons Bubi’s Awesome Eats earned screen time on the Food Network's You Gotta Eat Here! in 2012.
Bubi’s chefs continue the theme of made-from-scratch cooking throughout their menu, which includes tenderized chicken breast that they marinate in milk and eggs, bake with housemade garlic butter, and then deep-fry to a crisp. They also hand shape hamburger patties before accessorizing them with off-the-wall ingredients such as almond pesto and gravy. Diners in search of a burger large enough to dress in baby clothes can behold Bubi’s 8-pound Big V8 burger. If they can eat the entire burger in one sitting, they not only win bragging rights, but also $1,000. Be warned: not even Canada’s tallest man could finish it.
Though he's continued to refine his culinary skills for more than 20 years, Chef Enzo's mastery of Italian food was cemented at age 26, when he opened his first restaurant, Tutto Ristorante. Today, using locally sourced ingredients, he pushes his innovation of Italian cuisine even further at Enzo's Trattoria. Instead of supplying signature pastas, he gives diners a choice of 11 noodles—gnocchi, gluten-free penne, and whole-wheat spaghetti among them––and 14 sauces, including vodka sauce and housemade meat sauce.
More housemade elements grace Chef Enzo's grilled paninis, which he fills with housemade sausage and meatballs. His other meaty mains include veal scallopini topped with white-wine tomato pesto sauce and prosciutto and chicken breast sautéed in wild-mushroom blush sauce, named for how embarrassed chefs get seeing mushrooms go wild. Available by the glass and bottle, wines from Australia, Italy, and Canada complement meals, which unfold in a lantern-lit dining area where guests feast beneath brick archways and among painting-lined walls.
On New Year's Eve of 2007, brothers Dan and Anthony Ferriolo—both graduates of the culinary arts program at St. Clair College—banded together to open Ristorante Avanti, channeling their shared passion for great food and their Italian heritage into a gustatory labour of love. The New Year's Eve kickoff would prove to be the start of seven years of upholding and building upon their original goals of infusing traditional Italian dining with their own creative flair and service-based perfectionism. Amid percolating bubbles floating up from boiling pasta and the sizzle of sautéing scallops in the kitchen, Anthony helms a team of chefs who meticulously construct dishes from ingredients such as littleneck clams and fresh tomato sauce. With his brother commanding the kitchen, Dan lets his friendly disposition steer the front of the house, making everyone feel welcome. The feeling of warmth he puts out is extended by the dining room’s rustic-chic ambience brought about by gold- and brown-toned decor and gleaming copper accents on candelabra-style lighting.