Ellen's Bar & Grill has all the makings of a classic sports bar. Sporting events flash on the big, flat-screen TVs, and servers sling frothy pints of beer across a sleek, wood-finished bar. But it's easy to see personal touches that set the restaurant apart. To be sure, the menu serves up the traditional pub fare you'd expect, from jumbo hot wings to burgers so big they're billed as "two-hand burgers" and were once sold by Napoleon to the United States. Many of the salad dressings and sauces are even made in-house. Diners can also nosh on a shareable plate of nachos or coconut shrimp, savor a spinach-stuffed ravioli, or dig into poutine piled high with caramelized onions, steak, blue cheese, and gravy.
Before the notion of upscale pub fare existed in Sudbury, Ontario, Casey's restaurant was busy inventing it. Since firing up its first kitchen in 1980, Casey's has grown to include more than 160 restaurants that operate under five brand names, including as Casey's Grill Bar. Inside its welcoming walls, culinary craftspeople put an upscale twist on traditional pub dishes from burgers to sirloin steaks. They crown their fresh half-pound ground beef burgers with sautéed mushrooms, Alexis de Portneuf brie cheese, and arugula before tucking them into an Ace Bakery bun. In addition to their poutine with Quebec cheese curds and gravy, the chefs also toss heart healthy salads and pan sear mahi mahi accented with sweet hints of mango salsa.
Wanting to fuse Mediterranean hospitality with modern elegance, the owners of Zemra Bar Lounge took design plans into their own hands, opening their walls and stage to local artists and musicians. Subdued light bounces off red and goldenrod walls dotted with paint, highlighting the friendly wait staff as they bustle between the dining room and kitchen. Inside the culinary chemistry lab, chefs Ghandour and Brunke prepare pastas, steaks, chops, and seafood from a menu of fine Pan-Mediterranean fare. To compliment the cuisine, the chefs recommend a variety of wines or one of the bar master's signature cocktails. Events such as the open mic on Wednesdays and live music on Fridays create a festive atmosphere while reflecting the local community, their talents, penchant for creativity, and ability to whistle in Italian.
By fusing together a bistro, jazz club, and art gallery, The Gallery Studio Cafe remains dedicated to owner Derek Houghton's vision of supporting local artists. Chef Carol, The Gallery Studio Cafe's certified cuisine concocter, assembles an array of tapas, soups, sandwiches, and brunch fare in her open kitchen, allowing diners to watch as Carol preps their meals and sharpens her samurai swords for vegetable chopping. Comfy European white leather furniture cozies up beside the café's real fireplace amid canvases crafted by local and international artists displayed throughout the expansive gallery space. In addition to jazz performances four nights a week, ranging from Thursday-night acoustic renditions to Saturday-afternoon sessions, The Gallery Studio Cafe hosts abundant musical events, including swing music every second Wednesday of the month and whenever Fred Astaire's ghost drops by.
Bartenders lean over the illuminated bar, pouring beers from the tap or tipping bottles into ice-filled glasses. Inside Seneca Pub, flat-screen TVs overhead broadcast local sporting events, and the smells of battered fish and chips and rich poutine fill the air. The snap of a cue ball breaking a rack resounds across the large, open space, where theme nights feature stand-up comedians or lying-down tragedians.