A night at the British Arms

At the British Arms Pub, one is able to understand the British love for a relaxing, ice cold beer after a long day of hard work at the office.

During the week, British Arms is the perfect environment to enjoy a meal and drinks with friends, colleagues, or even a date. This pub is rather dimly lit, so it can be difficult to see the dinner and drink menu until you adjust to the lighting, but it creates a calm, friendly atmosphere. British Arms has a wide variety of beers, and the bartender can create just about any drink or shot that you desire.

Unless your sole intent is to share appetizers, make sure you come to British Arms hungry, or that you do not order too much for yourself, because the portion sizes are rather large. Do not fret, however – the server would be glad to supply you with a doggy-bag to bring home your unfinished meal. British Arms offers quite a varied menu while keeping true to the British favourites. Depending on how much one decides to order, a person can dine for under $30 and be utterly spoiled. From a wide selection of burgers, traditional fish and chips, and poutine, to the salads and scrumptious appetizers, British Arms has certainly covered all of the bases when it comes to variety – it will be hard to settle on just one option.


Being a vegetarian, I am unable to enjoy any of the options with meat, but I have gone with numerous friends on several occasions and they have all raved about how brilliant their meals were. British Arms is vegetarian friendly, and the staff is more than willing to accommodate individual needs whatever they may be. To begin our meal, my friends and I shared a platter of nachos and sweet potato wedges – let the feast begin! This was a delicious, filling start to our evening. We were pleased as our meal came out in a timely fashion, allowing us to enjoy the wine and appetizers we ordered. My server, without having been asked, added more walnuts and cheese to my Market Salad seeing that the meatless salad was lacking. This was a salad composed of mixed greens layered with slices of green apple, walnuts, and crumbled blue cheese all tossed in a toasted sesame vinaigrette – it was absolutely marvelous! A friend of mine tried the Apple Butter BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich. She was very pleased with the quality of the meal and boasted of how delicious the caramelized onions complimented the Apple Butter BBQ sauce that was drizzled on the pork.

On Friday and Saturday nights, British Arms is the perfect pub to go for drinks and enjoy live music (the music is rather loud at times making it difficult to hear one’s friends), but if you go near the back of the pub it is easier to hear your conversations. Having servers that take care of your drink orders, one is also able to order anything off the menu until 1:00 am – there is nothing that better compliments alcohol than good food.

British Arms Pub is snugly located at 29 Dunlop Street East; make sure to keep a keen eye because you can easily pass the pub without notice. During the summer months, there is a nice patio where one can sit with an ice cold beer enjoying the warm breeze and live music. If you are interested in sharing in a little piece of the British culture, I highly suggest British Arms Pub for a memorable evening.

Visit British Arms’ Profile

Valerie Colangelo is a writer from Barrie. Read her blog at: www.accordingtovalerie.com and follow her on Twitter at @vcolang

A feast for the senses at Books2Eat at the Midland Library

A feast for the senses would aptly define the Books2Eat event held Sunday at the Midland Public Library. Nicole Di Pinto, owner of Grounded Coffee Company in Midland, first experienced this world wide event in London Ontario. When serendipity returned Nicole to Midland, she brought with her the passion, energy and organizational skills to become the dynamic driving force behind this delicious event. Nicole and her cohort, Library Program Assistant, Scott Cooper successfully inspired local chefs and restaurant owners to creative heights. Chief Librarian Bill Molesworth, fully supported this venture, and on Sunday was seen enjoying the flavours of the day. The second annual Books2Eat festival was a huge success, raising funds for the Midland Public Library. Last year the festival sold 200 tickets, this year, using the space on both floors at the library, they sold out the afternoon at 300 tickets!


Books2Eat is a worldwide festival showcasing the creative culinary skills of the best local chefs as they find inspiration in paying edible homage to their favorite books.

Held as close as possible to April 1st that being the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who was famous for his book “Physiologie du goût”, (The Physiology of Taste), first published in 1825, it is a tongue in cheek, witty reflection on food.

The International Edible Book Festival was created by Judith A. Hoffberg, a librarian herself, and Beatrice Coron, who created the Books2Eat website, where with a few clicks of the keyboard you will find jaw dropping, mouthwatering images of the gastronomical goodies inspired by the chefs book choice. The internet allows ease of sharing the pictures and is part of the goal, making the festival visually accessible to all.

As a good book can feed the soul, the edible offerings based on great books can feed a library full of bibliophiles and food loving patrons quite satisfactorily!

The community supports this event; students in the culinary class at Penetang Secondary School made and served sweet and savory appetizers to the eager throngs. The Local Business Association had a butter tart based booth, keen on catching the buzz while promoting another upcoming area event.


Wine was poured, hors d’oeuvres were nibbled, and the smell of good coffee drifted, acoustic music was played and patrons voted on their favourite creation. While votes were tabulated, the highlight of the day, the actual tasting of the masterpieces occurred. Smiles and crumb coated lips abounded!

Winner this year was 101 Dalmations by the Lady Bug Café. First Runner up was The Edible Woman by The Explorers Café, second runner up, and my favourite, was the creation by André Sanché of Ciboulette et Cie with a tribute to Dr. Seuss. His green eggs and ham tasted even better than it looked! Third runner up was Sesame Street by Gianetto’s Fruit Market.

Another personal favourite was the decadent display inspired by Alice in Wonderland, created by The Library Restaurant.

The jovial mood was contagious; a simply wonderful event was enjoyed by all. Midland is my new favourite go- to, day- trip location; having been tempted by the offerings presented at Books2Eat, I am keen to explore the area. I plan on checking out the historic S.S.Keewatin, the restaurants and shops, and I suspect I will take a book!

Midland Public Library 320 King Street, Midland, ON L4R 3M6 (705) 526-4216

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow

Radio Café at the MacLaren Art Centre

The combination of food and art is to me a perfect union; the Radio Café at the MacLaren Art Centre exemplifies this dynamic cultural duo.

The MacLaren Art Centre needs no introduction to Barrie residents; we are charmed to have the opportunity to wander through the galleries, to peruse the fine crafted items in the gift shop, or perhaps bring in a piece of art to be framed, and then to be able to enjoy lunch at the café too, this is a perfect outing! I am somewhat reluctant to share this hidden gem with my readers, but I simply can’t keep this jewel to myself.

Manager Tania Gregorie spoke with me over a cup of “Deep Green Embrace” tea, sharing that advertising for the Radio Café has not been necessary. Since opening 12 years ago, word of mouth
brought the customers in, while the good food and unique surroundings keep them coming back. City Hall staffers, courtroom lawyers, gallery patrons, college students, tourists and locals alike are all frequent customers.

The Radio Café is ideally situated; front and center of the gallery, with exquisitely creative tables, comfy club chairs, all nicely spaced on two levels. In winter the fireplace beckons, and then come patio season, umbrella tables extend the dining space out into the Massie Family Sculpture Court. The building is an architectural landmark, combining the renovated Carnegie Library with state of the art galleries. Renowned sculpture artist, John McEwen, created the stunning “Star Wall” which lines the sloping walkway, from café entry to the lower level framing studio. His work also graces the outdoor sculpture court.


The Radio Café is both spacious and intimate, it is an ideal atmosphere to read work or study, Wi-Fi is available, ambiance abounds. Coffees, teas and a fully licensed bar offer guests an abundance of beverage options, while the sparkling stainless steel open kitchen, provides inspired space for the staff to create the food.

Radio Cafe offers vegetarian, Fair Trade and Certified Organic products. While 95% of the menu items are made in house, the café also showcases local growers and producers. The wonderful grainy bread is baked by Brian and Lil Payne, soup is from Pamela Card of SoupHerb Soups, Grandma Lambes bakes the date squares and butter tarts, while Nicholyn Farms provides the lemon squares and gluten free brownies. The menu is a combination of standby classics and new items. My favourites include the best ever Thai Curry Chicken salad sandwich, samosas and dip, or a hearty bowl of soup served with a slice of fresh bread.


The Radio Café is also able to provide light catering for meetings, workshops and special events. Weddings, holiday parties and larger gatherings are most welcomed too. I urge you dear readers to venture forth to the MacLaren Art Center, celebrate an afternoon of cultural delights for all your senses; the Radio Café shines!

37 Mulcaster Street
Barrie, ON L4M 3M2
Mon-Fri 10 am to 5 pm
Sat & Sun 10 am to 4 pm
+1 (705) 721-9696

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets