At Lakeside Bakery and Café, freshly baked, all-natural breads open minds and mouths to the potent possibilities of the most pyramid- fortifying of food groups. Simple, wholesome ingredients restore bread to its unbleached, unrefined glory; loaves emerge from their incubators with hard, crispy shells and soft fluffy interiors, much like Bruce Willis. A spacious, bright café features dazzling geometric light fixtures and soaring windows draped with red and marigold curtains, providing inviting environs for dough dabblers to peruse the menu for a yeasty feast. For breakfast, pay homage to the gluten gods with French toast, cinnamon-apple bread baked golden brown and dusted with icing sugar ($5.49). Lunch goers, meanwhile, can sample a variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches such as the Philly beef on ciabatta bread ($7.25) or the Monte Cristo, egg-dipped bread with Black Forest ham and smoked turkey ($7.65).
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.
Divino Trattoria summons the spirit of Italian cantinas and kitchens through authentic dishes concocted with fresh, local produce and meats. Chefs Mario, Rosa, and Roberto craft savoury lunch and dinner fare daily, on which customers can nosh to the tunes of local Italian musicians. Start the Italian tour with grilled calamari ($10) or a traditional bean soup ($6), and then move on to any of the pasta, meat, or seafood entrees dotting the menu, paired with wine or a cocktail. Perfect for any occasion, from a casual lunch to a passive-aggressive dinner with a friend who didn't invite you to her summer home in Sicily, Divino's upscale cuisine transports diners straight to Europe's favourite boot.
Its docks jutting into the Puce Harbour River Marina, Sandbar Waterfront Grill beckons both foot travellers and the boaters of Lake St. Clair with pub fare, seafood, and wood-fired pizzas. Helmed by owners Robert and Ken Troup, this year-round establishment spotlights the local by using ingredients from regional producers. Cozy confines entice patrons to relax in a bar area sporting televisions and a dining room adorned in dark wooden trim, a fireplace, and nautical touches such as Elizabethan-era scurvy pamphlets.
The barbecue barons at Tecumseh Roadhouse douse meats with five different signature sauces and heap gourmet burgers with innovative toppings such as chipotle and blue cheese. Chefs smoke meat such as brisket and pulled pork for up to 17 hours before piling it onto plates alongside mac 'n' cheese or fresh-cut fries. While spooning up gumbo or biting into a burger loaded with condiments such as fried pickles, guacamole, or Essex mushrooms, patrons can gaze up at flat-screen televisions or pity the people in the black-and-white photos on the wall for never having lived in a world with colours. The restaurant also stocks a spread of wines, and an extensive roster of bourbon, scotch, and whisky keeps warm insides with each heady sip.
Randa Marar-Mueller grew up in the restaurant business and always knew she wanted to open her own place. When she returned from Michigan to raise her two kids in her hometown, she found Bacio Café & Lounge up for sale and figured it was time to take the plunge. She called in her mother, renowned chef Norma Marar, and the two overhauled the menu and aesthetic, opening with a menu of grilled paninis, gourmet pizzas, and French- and Italian-style entrees.
While Norma crafts delicacies in the kitchen, baristas cum mixologists steam up lattes and specialty teas or mix a selection of gourmet martinis for after-hours drinks. Gelato—made fresh in-house daily—sweetens palates with flavours such pistachio and mango, and baked goods resting under cake domes and in oversized martini glasses conclude meals more sweetly than a hug from a grandmother.