A roadside tavern in Grey County from the team behind Union
Sure, gas prices are still pretty bonkers. But, if you’re looking for a tasty getaway this summer, we’re highlighting road-trip-worthy dining destinations across the province, led by Toronto-expat chefs, that are worth the time in traffic and the pain at the pump. Next up: a roadhouse tavern in Kimberley.
Where: 235334 Grey County Rd. 13
Distance from Toronto: 80 km
Meet the country mouse to Union and Côte de Boeuf, its city-slicker sisters on Ossington. Heart’s may look like a honky-tonk bar on the outside—especially with the vintage signs, one of which advertises cold beer—but its restaurant DNA runs deep with Parisian bistro blood. So, instead of watered-down lager and bowls of shelled peanuts, there are bottles of bubbly and halibut crudo with truffle chips.
Heart’s is the pandemic baby of Teo Paul, Josh Hall and Tyler Wilson—a years-in-the-making project that was severely hampered by Covid-19 and first opened in April 2021 with just a takeout menu. But now the cozy country-kitchen space is open, and guests—both local regulars and food-following pilgrims—pack the house.
The tavern-style menu changes regularly and is inspired by the county’s bounty (or whatever the restaurant has growing in its own garden), but Union fans will feel right at home. There’s a rendition of the much-loved rösti-bedecked salad, the already perfect steak tartare (here, it’s capped with two supremely salty anchovies) and the burger, which is smashed this time and arrives with heftier, ridge-cut fries. If there’s a seasonal veggie on offer, get it—and not necessarily because it’s good for you. Case in point: earlier this year, a plate of asparagus came topped with a wedge of creamy Château de Bourgogne. The tender spring spears didn’t need any help, but nothing has ever been made worse with the addition of good cheese.
Pop in to buy something from the on-site butchery—some house-cured bresaola, a ready-made meat pie or a dry-aged ribeye to grill at home—belly up to a barrel-topped table in the bar for some freshly shucked oysters and a glass of locally made Grey and Gold cider, or make a reservation for dinner in the dining room. Better yet, put together a small party of food-loving friends willing to make the trip and book the harvest table in the cellar, a fieldstone-lined private-room-slash-wine-cellar that wouldn’t be out of place in Tuscany.
Other stops in the area
SUSAN’S DELI deals in made-to-order sandwiches, baked goods, pantry items and fun vintage finds. Catherine Clarke, who previously worked at Côte de Boeuf, turns out excellent sandwiches, including one that stuffs a squishy brioche bun with thinly sliced brisket, pickled onions and kimchi mayo. Her partner, Suzzi Raposo, is responsible for the sweet treats. When available, the brownies slathered in Oreo-studded cream cheese icing are worth all the empty calories. 15 Main St. W., Markdale, susansmarkdale.com
THE MARILYNNE is a firehall-turned-country-kitchen from former Antler sous chef Brandon Bannon. (It’s named after his grandmother, who also escaped from the hustle and bustle of city life back in the day.) There’s a menu of homestyle dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, like a bowl of comforting bolognese that both sells and undersells itself as Fancy Hamburger Helper. In a rush? A takeout window sells drinks and hulking sandwiches to go. 19 Toronto St. N., Markdale, marilynnerestaurant.com
SAVVY CO. is Flesherton’s new café and bottle shop housed in an old mechanic’s garage, and it carries all kinds of quality wine and beer. Stock up on provisions en route to the cottage or grab a can of something cold from the fridge and enjoy it on the patio with a charcuterie board. 88 Collingwood St., Flesherton, @savvy.flesherton
GREY AND GOLD CIDER came to be when—at 55 years old and after an inspiring trip to a PEC cider house—David Bakery started experimenting with apples in the basement of his Toronto home. In 2020, he opened Grey and Gold, a sustainable, farm-based cider house in the heart of Grey County apple country. Pop into the shop inside the rustic barn and grab some bottles to go—like the award-winning Spruce of the Bruce, made with locally foraged spruce tips—or find a free Muskoka chair on the grounds and settle in for a tasting. 788171, Grey County Rd. 13, Clarksburg, greyandgoldcider.com