Advertisement
Food & Drink

Eleven new places to eat and drink in Creemore and Collingwood

Including an après-ski-themed bar, a 10-course farm-to-table restaurant and multiple spots run by Toronto expats

By Lindsey King
The patio at Down Home
Photo courtesy of Captured by Kirsten

We’re saying it: Grey County is hot right now. Just two hours north of Toronto by car, the Creemore-Collingwood area has seen a flurry of buzzy new restaurant openings over the last few years. Now, it’s not only an essential pit stop on the drive up to cottage country but a destination in its own right. Here, we’ve rounded up the best spots for roadside oysters, farm-to-table feasts, ’90s-style shotskis and more.


A look through the window at the inside of Chin Chin, a dimly lit wine bar
Photo courtesy of Viktor Radics
Chin Chin

Creemore’s park-facing natural wine bar and bottle shop is run by a husband-and-wife pair of Toronto expats: Kieran Coyne (current wine director at Union and former sommelier at Côte de Bœuf) and Tammy Yiu. With just 10 seats, Chin Chin is reminiscent of the closet-size wine bars of Paris. Coyne’s beverage list offers roughly eight rotating wines (plus a non-alcoholic option) that can be sampled in two- or five-ounce portions, plus more than 80 options that can be enjoyed by the bottle. They’re keeping the food menu simple—think tangy sourdough surrounded by cornichons, cheeses and meats—but plan to host takeovers by other local businesses. They also offer wine tastings, sommelier-led education hours and local and imported goods to go. 180 Mill St., Creemore, chinchinshop.ca 

One of the pastel-coloured courses at The Pine
Photo courtesy of Jeremy and Cassie Austin
The Pine

If you’re looking for a meal that makes you think, look no further than the Pine, which made it onto Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list this year for its culinary innovation. It’s run by husband-and-wife team Jeremy and Cassie Austin. They’re serving up a dynamic menu inspired by Jeremy’s travels in Italy, Hong Kong and China. For example, the Tea Egg is soaked in black tea, star anise and tsaoka; stuffed with smoked mustard and whipped yolks; and topped with marigold, acadian sturgeon caviar and sweet alyssum, marrying the North American devilled egg to the Chinese tea egg. Currently, the set menu includes 17 courses, but it will vary based on the produce that Cassie’s parents grow on their farm in Proton Station. 7535 Country Rd. 9, Creemore, thepinecreemore.ca

Bar Gondola, which features lots of skiing and snowboarding gear
Photo courtesy of Bohdan Chreptak
Bar Gondola

When its doors opened in May, Bar Gondola slid into a prominent spot in the Collingwood food and beverage scene. Partially inspired by the Ski Lodge bar in Las Vegas, Bar Gondola’s après-ski theme includes retro cedar-panelled walls, antique wooden skis, colourful plastic ski boots, and fresh pretzels dunked in sweet and spicy mustard or onion jam. On the drinks menu you’ll find crisp American beers, house takes on classic cocktails and, of course, the beloved shotski: four shots lined up on a vintage Fisher ski for friends to shoot back in tandem. Although Bar Gondola is perfect for snow bunnies, beach lovers will be happy to hear that the team plans on adding a patio and opening a nearby takeout pizza joint in the next couple of months. 209 Hurontario St., Collingwood, bargondola.com

A look at Savvy Co., a coffee place in an old warehouse
Photo courtesy of Kristen Schollig of Town and Country Collective Inc.
Savvy Co.

Tucked behind the Bruce Trail in a reclaimed Quonset hut, Savvy Co. is a café, snack bar and provisions shop that’s perfect for a pre-hike espresso or a post-hike pint. Savvy works with artisan roaster Rufino for its coffee program, and the shop is full of interesting wines, beers and ciders that aren’t available in the LCBO. There’s also a range of fun goodies like pickles, jams, bouquets and merch. In decorating Savvy, owner Caity Holmes leaned in to the space’s previous life as a mechanic’s garage by adorning it with industrial relics. They also host seasonal events: murder mystery nights in fall, wreath-making workshops in winter, artisan pop-ups in spring and farmers’ markets in summer. 88 Collingwood St., Flesherton, @savvy.flesherton 

Advertisement
Some of the snacks at Lovebird Brewing
Photo courtesy of Rachel Kwan
Lovebird Brewing Snack Club

Owners Alex Chramow (previously at Collective Arts and Nickelbrook) and Emily Fonberg moved to Grey County from Hamilton in 2021, when they found out they were pregnant with their third child. In 2023, they opened their bar and snack club so they could serve up their own playful and refreshing house brews. Currently on the tap list is their Après pilsner, made with toasted bread and subtle citrus notes, and their In Bloom spelt grisette, a fruity light beer made with Alsatian hops. They also have a range of cans that can be put back in the relaxed indoor dining area or on the shaded back patio. Keep an eye out for upcoming wine-beer hybrids, a sourdough beer collaboration with Toronto’s Emmer and maybe, if Fonberg can convince Chramow, an Italian semolina pasta beer. 49 Bruce St. S., Thornbury, lovebirdbrewing.com 

Fresh oysters from Penny's Motel
Photo courtesy of Jenna Kitchings
Apres Bar at Penny’s Motel

Top-notch oysters and a glass of chablis at a roadside motel? Yes, please. The lobby bar and spacious covered patio at Penny’s Motel offers a stunning medley of nibbles by Bree LaRose with a big focus on oysters and seafood—it helps that Penny’s co-owner John Belknap also owns John and Sons Oyster House in Toronto. They also offer a wide range of elevated tavern staples, including a Cherry Street sausage board and a variety of sourdough pizzas, plus their extensive beverage program runs all day, making this the perfect spot for a late-morning or mid-afternoon sipper. With summer in full swing, much of the menu will be cooked outside, over an open fire, using fresh seasonal ingredients from farms that are literally within a stone’s throw. And if you’re staying the night, end your day with a visit to the motel’s new courtyard sauna. 141 King St. E., Thornbury, pennysmotel.ca

One of the courses at Down Home
Photo courtesy of Captured by Kirsten
Down Home

Hannah Harradine and Joel Gray started Down Home as a pop-up catering business called Sumac and Salt. Now, it’s an intimate farm-to-table restaurant that serves 10 courses to just 16 guests at a time—oh, and it’s open only two to three nights a week. But it’s well worth scheduling a visit, because the couple’s menu showcases all the agricultural bounty Grey County has to offer. No matter the weather, the first bite is eaten outside by the fire, where guests are invited to walk around the luscious gardens. After diners return to the table, the courses move naturally from light vegetables to elegant seafood, earthy grains and a protein finale. Currently, the final dish is a tender rabbit loin rolled in garden herbs, sausage with sour plum sauce, and kale topped with crispy braised lamb neck and black locust flower. Hardine and Gray are also cooking up special events this summer, including a multi-chef garden party in August. 135299 9 Line, Markdale, @downhomerestaurant 

The interior of Good Grief
Photo courtesy of Frances Beatty
Good Grief Coffee Roasters

Alix Haddy opened this colourful café and roastery in 2019 with a dream of serving sustainable coffee made from thoughtfully chosen beans. She also offers house-made doughnuts, which have earned a cult following. The flavours change at least once a month—most recently, they featured a freeze-dried raspberry and rhubarb glazed doughnut. Every flavour is perfectly matched to Good Grief’s Ethiopian coffee, which makes an amazing espresso and perhaps an even better iced coffee given its tasting notes of sweet summer strawberry and dark chocolate milk. Soon, Haddy will be opening an outpost location in Creemore that will serve the coffee-and-treat combo to go. 28 Bruce St. S., Thornbury, goodgriefcoffee.com

Advertisement
A plate from Heart's Tavern
Photo courtesy of Heart’s Tavern
Heart’s Tavern

The duo behind Toronto’s Union and Côte de Bœuf opened Heart’s Tavern in 2021. Teo Paul had been visiting Grey County for years, and he and his co-owner, Tyler Wilson, wanted to bring their signature style to the Village Inn while keeping its 1971 façade. Hearts is run by several former Union staff (Annie Bowes, Andrew Perry and Ross Goodall), who were all on board to trade Ossington’s bustling strip for a farmhouse restaurant in a bucolic setting. The menu will seem familiar to Union die-hards: cozy French bistro fare with North American updates, like polenta swimming in tomato sauce and chili jam, house-smoked trout and sticky ribs with braised greens. They also have their own garden, where they pluck rotating seasonal vegetables that need little more than a glug of good olive oil to achieve perfection. 235334 Grey County Rd. 13, Kimberley, @heartstavern

A bottled cider from Grey & Gold
Photo courtesy of Grey and Gold Cider
Grey and Gold Cider

David Baker left 30 years of sales and business development behind to become a full-time cider maker, and Grey and Gold was born. Baker brews lively ciders on his Beaver Valley farm using minimal intervention. They’re especially notable for their flavour experimentation—the latest being a rose-hued cider made with cranberry and fennel. This summer, Baker will be releasing a cider made from estate-grown apples and two different wines (he’s recently made a foray into winemaking). Swing by for orchard-side tastings and flights on the weekends, or call ahead to book a special appointment during the week. 788171 Grey County Rd. 13, Clarksburg, greyandgoldcider.com

Eleven new places to eat and drink in Creemore and Collingwood
An ice cream from Pom Pom Treat Hut
Photo courtesy of Pom Pom Treat Hut
Pom Pom

Summer isn’t summer without eating at least one beach-side ice cream cone, and that’s exactly Pom Pom’s specialty. Owners Andrea Greyerbiehl and Rheanna Kish have been making small-batch plant-based ice creams for nine years, and they offer a wide selection of local dairy ice creams too. The duo has a balanced list of flavours, including classics like bubblegum, cookies and cream, and rocky road, as well as more locally inspired varieties like strawberry rhubarb. End your Grey County tour with scoops, floats or ice cream sandwiches from their summer-only location in Thornbury or their year-round storefront in Meaford, which also carries ice cream cake and pizza from Cutie Pies. 6 Bruce St. N., Thornbury, or 25 Sykes St. N., unit 2, Meaford, pompomtreats.com

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for Table Talk, our free newsletter with essential food and drink stories.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Latest

Kiss and Tell: “My Tinder date wouldn’t stop trying to hold my hand”
City

Kiss and Tell: “My Tinder date wouldn’t stop trying to hold my hand”