It's an official welcome to Downtown St. Thomas to the husband and wife team of Chef Minsoo Lee and Max Qui - the pair behind Plaza Sushi. What began as a sushi counter and grab & go cooler at Plaza Convenience on Elm St. transformed into a Downtown Fine Dining option is a dream come true for the pair. It's also a dream come true for my partner that with a reintroduction to sushi through Plaza Sushi - it's become a meal I genuinely enjoy and request...frequently.
Ice Cream is just one of those foods that have the ability to bring both joy and comfort. To heal broken hearts and make smiles widen. It's loved fairly universally but also highly debated about how it's best prepared and served. Since variety is the spice of life, I was particularly thrilled to see Sub Zero Rolled Ice Cream and Bubble Tea open to provide a new layer to the local ice cream scene - and it's about time we rolled in to learn more!
One of the things I have enjoyed about the Taste of [Downtown] St. Thomas journey is learning about the people behind the business! Our community is full of people beginning new journeys! Craig and Heather started theirs officially in late 2020 with renovations on their new space in Downtown St. Thomas and menu experimentation as they readied to go all in and change careers from Heavy Equipment Operations and Nursing to being Small Business Owners!
The local food scene has been expanding lately, which is incredibly exciting. While I can't wait to share more about some of these new spots - it's time we celebrated a fifteen-year downtown St. Thomas restaurant. Lotus Thai is one of the early editions to the rapidly evolving offerings in our community for authentic cultural food experiences.
Everyone has their own idea of what pizza should be. Toppings are hotly debated. Thin crust. Thick crust. Woodfired. Stonebaked. A food where regional specialties emerge and battle for top slice status - Chicago Deep Dish or a giant fold of NY pie? It's all part of the pizza tradition.
Chef Bondi's has been a tradition in St. Thomas since 1964, a tradition that's honoured by owner Dylan Taylor, who purchased the business early in 2020 after working at the pizzeria for nearly four years. The dough and the sauce are homemade in a traditional Italian style - fresh veggies and toppings piled on, making sure there's a little of everything in each bite. Taylor wants customers' food to taste like someone cared about the product and did their very best to put it together exactly how every customer likes it. That's a tradition I can get behind.
Some items go together without much thought. Almost as if these things have always existed together in the same space. For me, fish and chips fall easily into this category. Even calling it fish and fries sounds less relatable and appetizing.
But the truth is, that fish and chips haven't always coexisted - they had to come together and come together they did in mid 19th century England. The chips introduced from Belgium or France and the fried fish introduced by Jewish immigrants from Portugal and Spain** often in small, family-run fish and chip shops. It's still a dish that is quintessentially British and a staple on many pub menus. Across the pond, there are around 8500 fish and chip shops across the UK* and it's a dish that was exempt from rationing by Churchill during WWII.
It's no secret that the restaurant business isn't for the faint of heart. More often than not, the folks who tough it out year after year to save for their own spot do it for passion. They are passionate about food and passionate about bringing people together over food.
Sam and Dan at the St. Thomas Roadhouse are such people. They both spent years in the industry before the opportunity came up to purchase a restaurant. This opportunity also brought them home to St. Thomas; it brought them a community. They love seeing so many familiar faces at the tables and names on take-out orders.
Even while many things have been challenging this last year, the way folks have poured out in the #supportlocal spirit has been heartwarming for Sam and Dan, their families, and staff. It has helped throughout the hurdles the last year has put up, from navigating protocol changes and PPE implementation to boosting mental health. Restaurant staff are family to Sam and Dan, and they recognize and value their team and those who have come out to support them this year.
Guest blog contributed by Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm
If there is one positive that has come from Covid it is that people are getting out and enjoying local hiking trails. Once spring is upon us the forest comes alive with vibrant greens and some native wildflowers. Ontario has some beautiful native wildflowers that you can look for while you are enjoying the trail.
Here is a guide to some native forest wildflowers that you may find in Elgin County.
As the tour of downtown food stops continues, we are hopping into one of the most widely debated foods - so much so that I may have to put together a city-wide pizza tour and channel my inner Charles Boyle. I'm not even mad about it.
Pizza is just one of those foods that everyone has a strong feeling about - whether it's who invented it or what the best crust style is or getting passionate about toppings. Just ask a room full of people how they feel about pineapple on their pizza - you'll see what I mean!
And while you won't need it to read this review, you might need to stop at home for your pizza bib before diving into the pies at Old School Pizza.
Old School Pizza is the youngest child of Paul & Krista Minnich and is truly a family business with their older children helping out around the restaurant. They have been making wood-fired pizzas for years and love the added layer it adds to such a universally-loved food. It shows. My impression before knowing their story was that this was a family-run business. They have built family into their foundation and carry it through operations.
While it may seem like this spot popped up out of nowhere in December of 2020, it's evident that a lot of time and thought went into bringing St. Thomas such a unique menu and all the incredible "old-school" details throughout the space.
Eat good food. Support local.
Sometimes we all need a little help beyond Google. For those looking to get a #TasteOfStThomas and support local small businesses, follow this Facebook group for recommendations, information, and more! You may find yourself surprised!
Restaurant & Foodie Guide: St. Thomas
Group Mission: provide positive mentions for all things food related - eateries, caterers, markets, everything food etc. in hopes to derive further growth and success of the establishments.
Humans' taste for food, sampling the available produce, goes back to the dawn of time. A combination of survival and curiosity made way for culturally, and geographically unique ways to increase the enjoyment of consuming food and culture shifted from mere survival into ecstasy.
The addition of wine into our diets has had a similarly long and nuanced journey to its current state; advancing from ceremonial uses in Ancient Armenia in 4100BC to miraculous wedding feasts and medical applications to an industry with a projected worldwide value of 429 billion USD by 2023.