The North Restaurant

A meal at The North unfolds with subtle perfection. Moving the restaurant around the corner, from Dunlop to Mary Street, provided the opportunity to expand physical space, enhancing patrons dining experience with the inclusion of a wine bar and private upstairs dining room.

I truly enjoyed my interview with Chef Ormonde and was thrilled to discover his approach to cooking is in synch with my approach to eating. Keep it fresh, seasonal, deliver it at the peak of both flavor and nutrition, use organic when possible, and then create flexible menus which showcase the ingredients, mix with talented culinary skills, impress us. This is a lifestyle approach to eating, one that serves our palate and our body.

Marco shared a story about the woman who picks local mushrooms for him; the “chicken of the woods” was fresh that day with a puffball to follow, so the daily specials would be created around the local bounty brought to him at the peak of freshness. His menu changes monthly, the daily specials reflect the availability of prime ingredients.

Dining at The North is not to be rushed. Many discover this restaurant during Barrielicious, Chef Ormonde doesn’t skimp on quality or service during this twice yearly event. Philosophically he believes that Barrielicious allows him to showcase his talents with the prix fix menu, which inevitably entices the diners to return for special events through the rest of the year; birthdays, anniversaries, occasions worthy of a fine meal, The North surpasses your expectations. Marco Ormonde will not compromise his integrity, or the integrity of his menu.

Sinking into a tastefully upholstered club chair, in the understated but elegant room, I knew that this was going to be a memorable meal.  White linen, fresh flowers, fine china, well weighted cutlery, gracious staff, all details attended to.

Masterful is his approach; each day trying to better the meals, the presentation, his staff is motivated and proud to work at The North, and it shows. He prides himself on his training; he is educating tomorrow’s fine chefs and servers.

I started my meal with the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Soup, finding each spoonful to be a gentle explosion of fungi flavours, simply the best mushroom soup ever. My designated dining companion shared tastes of the Goat Cheese Wrapped with Prosciutto, with Baby Salad greens, Raspberry Dressing and Trio Pepper Confit. We found the rich softness of the goat cheese perfectly creamy and well balanced with the greens and gentle inclusion of apple.

Sous Chef humbly approached the table with an apology for the late delivery of bread accompanied by a creamy tapenade dip, however, as enchanted as we were by his sincere apology, it was totally unnecessary as we hadn’t noticed the missing bread, we were rapturously enjoying our appetizers.

We were in good company for lunch; our own Mayor Jeff Lehman was seated opposite and he and his dining companions seemed to be enjoying their meal.

My main course was the Coconut and Lime Poached Blue Mon trout, gently placed on a bed of risotto, served with fine beans, and confit tomatoes. My only complaint was a minor one, I hesitate to mention it, but, while corn was seasonal and fresh, I personally found it to be placed with a rather heavy hand.

Dining companion was pleased with the Mushroom and Truffle Linguine, with corn, sundried tomato, arugula and peas…although she too felt the corn was making an un-necessarily bold appearance.

Dessert delighted us both; ginger crème brulee, artistically plated, individual Bodum coffee makers poured out rich dark coffee, served with a peanut butter biscotti. As we sipped and lingered over dessert I noticed the true extent of Chef Marcos eye for detail, the position of the restaurant logo etched into the glass door, is a delicate shadow on the opposite wall as the sun finds perfect placement.  It was an exquisite moment, an exquisite meal. Chef Marcos last words from our interview lingered in my mind; “feed the soul not the hunger”, and that he did!

-Written by: Penelope Morrow

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


Pizzeria Italia in downtown Barrie

The food here is amazing quality, always served at the perfect temperature and fresh from the kitchen. The servers are friendly and make sure you have what exactly what you need. Fresh bread is also served with every entrée so you have something to munch on while you’re waiting, or something to dip into their delicious homemade tomato sauce if you order one of their pastas. For years, one of my favourite items on the menu has been the manicotti, which I would argue is the best in town. Spinach and cheese is rolled into pasta, covered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of mozzarella cheese with a Parmesan drizzle on top. There’s also cannelloni for meat lovers, which is the same thing just with meat filling.

Pizzeria Italia is evidently known for its delicious, homemade-style pizza. They serve the best Mediterranean pizza I’ve ever had; it’s a great vegetarian option. The sundried tomatoes and chunks of feta cheese are to die for. They also have amazing Caesar salad, which is a great way to start off your meal. Their creamy Caesar dressing isn’t as heavy as some at other restaurants, and the croutons are delicious. I usually avoid them at any other restaurants, but these ones are irresistible. You also have to try Brio to drink; it tastes like Coke and root beer mixed together. It’s always my drink of choice, and this is one of the few restaurants that offers it on the menu.

One of the things that makes this restaurant unique is its long-standing reputation for excellence. The difference is that this business has been passed down through the same family for generations. In a society of fast-food chains, Pizzeria Italia offers something different in both its atmosphere and food quality. The restaurant seats about fifty people, but larger tables are available for parties, business lunches, or large families.

Parking is available along Mulcaster and Dunlop St.

Pizzeria Italia
18 Mulcaster St, Barrie, ON

-Written by: Hannah Guirguis

Hannah Guirguis is a freelance writer from Barrie, Ontario.

Catch 22 Fresh Market Grill in Wasaga Beach

The place “has a great vibe,” Bickmore told Simcoe Dining last week. “We offer a comfortable, casual elegance.”

As for the popularity of the new 40-seat venue, opened only two months ago, Bickmore said, “we’re chock-a-block full! Word’s getting out there that you’re best to call ahead.”

The seafood label can be misleading, he said. “We feature fresh market cuisine, locally sourced as much as possible.” The constantly changing menu includes wild game in fall and, of course, there is always fresh fish and seafood. Three favourites that always remain on the menu are seafood stuffed sole, Ahi tuna and pan roasted shell fish.

“We offer superb service,” he said, adding “we don’t beat people up in the pocketbook. We want people to leave happy.”

Born and raised in Toronto, Bickmore has been a chef for 25 years. He became familiar with this area when he began bringing his kids to ski at Blue Mountain every March Break. About eight years ago he had the opportunity to open a restaurant in Collingwood. Catch 22 became well known throughout a wide area.

“We had a great run,” he noted but he wanted to downsize and his partner, Cori, wanted to retire. The move to the Mosley Street location brought him closer to home as, he said, he’s lived in the Beach for the past five years.

His entire full time staff followed him to the new location. Manager, Ashley Wray has been with him for over five years. “This is what we do and we love doing it. We have a huge passion for what we do. I work 90 hours a week because I love it,” he said.

catch 22 wasaga beach

Bickmore’s two sons, Michael and Zachary are also involved in the business. “I’m the absolute luckiest guy in the world” to have my two grown sons working here.

Many groups reserve seating at Catch 22. Bickmore said he had one group of 30 booked for this week. “I do groups all the time, such as Probus and other associations. One group has reserved the whole restaurant in October.” Gatherings for wine tasting and wine paring, along with beer and wine sampling are also accommodated.

“Absolutely everything is made from scratch, using as much local produce as we can source,” he said. “We try to support local business and farming and agriculture as much as possible.”

“The more we support locally, the better off everyone is” he said adding that, we pay more money but it makes for a greener world. Our community supports us and we want to support our community.

Asked about his washroom facilities which require a step up to enter, Bickmore explained that there were many aspects of the new location to upgrade and expand and space was limited. Since the building housed a restaurant before, the lack of accessibility was grandfathered in.

Bickmore said the wine cellar is being rebuilt following the move from Collingwood. “We’re known to have a decent wine list with wines available by the glass or bottle.”

Catch 22 is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 5:00 p.m. until “whenever,” he quipped. “We’re open till 10, guaranteed.”

-Written By: Joanne Saunders

Joanne Saunders is a freelance journalist living in Wasaga Beach

Catch 22
962 Mosley Street (north side, between 20th and 21st Streets)
Wasaga Beach

Mitty’s Sports Bar and Grill in Barrie

Mitty’s takes pride in its service, friendly atmosphere, and great food. As a sports-themed restaurant, Mitty’s encourages teams of all ages to come before or after a game. They also offer a party room downstairs. Catering services are available for luncheons, meetings, weddings or other occasions.

If you enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of a sports bar, you’ll love Mitty’s. I’ve visited this spot on a number of occasions to chill with friends or grab a bite. The restaurant features 14 HD TV’s, which are always tuned to various sports channels. Mitty’s is the perfect place to enjoy a drink while watching a game or the latest sports competition. On warm summer days the garage doors at the front and back are opened to allow a breeze through the restaurant. If it’s not too busy, seat yourself at the back for a perfect view of Barrie’s beautiful waterfront and Heritage Park.

Mitty’s has specials every day of the week. Their prices are fairly reasonable. The average entrée runs between $10-15. There’s something for everyone on the menu. Mitty’s has all the standard items, plus a few extras. Deep-fried pickles are the staff favourite, offered at $7.49. The menu also lists double-stacked nachos, with the option of adding chicken or beef. Also, you can choose from wraps, burgers, beef dip, or “snake bites” (cream cheese filled jalapeno peppers in batter), or try their kettle chips. A kid’s menu is also available.

During my recent meal at Mitty’s, our server was very professional, patient, and friendly. He didn’t rush the visit and knew when to check in. The only complaint I have is that upon my recent visit and some of my previous ones, the food has not been up to standard in freshness, and sometimes, it’s overdone. Other than that, I have no complaints. The service is great. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere and a great location!

Mitty’s is owned and operated by Michelle Mitton, the former manager of Tiff’s. For more information, visit the website: Parking is available along Lakeshore Mews just behind the restaurant.

-Written by: Hannah Guirguis

Hannah Guirguis is a freelance writer from Barrie, Ontario. Follow her tweets @hannahj_07 and her blog at:

Mitty’s Sports Bar and Grill
137 Dunlop St. E.

Cheeky Treats the Cupcake Boutique

With the name “Cheeky Treats”, one might question the deliberate incongruence between name and attitude, but with her usual sharp wit Nadia explains that while she won’t take herself seriously, she and her partner Shawn McCloskey take their business very seriously, with a mantra of “quality always”.

Nadia has a background in hospitality, a degree in hospital restaurant management, ten years of customer service, marketing and education management. This varied skill set enabled her to glean a wealth of knowledge that now serves both her business and her customers very, very well. Highly successful in the corporate world, pushing paper was wearing thin, a random request to bring
dessert to her nephew’s birthday party was the inspired moment. Baking up a batch of flavourful cupcakes, topped with phenomenal buttercream icing, her family went berserk asking “why aren’t you doing this for a living”? On a whim she designed a logo, folded boxes, slapped on labels and positioned samples in the lunchroom of her office. Her colleagues had the same reaction, word of mouth created orders and soon after, Cheeky Treats burst on the scene. The funky and fashionable cupcake mobile, frequents the Barrie Farmers Market, 400 Market and a myriad of other locales. Coming soon, a free standing cupcakes and more store, at 188 Owen Street in Barrie.

Quality is Nadia’s mantra; she is the only baker, this guarantees consistency, as a perfectionist, she maintains full control of products leaving her kitchen. When you choose your favorite cheeky flavour, it
will be the same indulgent treat the next time. Made with all natural ingredients, real butter, no preservatives or colouring, (other then the classic Red Velvet), Nadia has created 360 flavours of
cupcakes. Other cheeky delights include; whoopee pies, creamy cheesecake, gourmet pies, fabulous cookies, brownie pops, butter tarts, and funnel cakes. For the late night party goers, a new savoury addition to the menu is Black Angus Farm Gate sausages.

These Cheeky baristas are dispensing wit and humour along with the cappuccinos, lattes, ice coffees, lemonade, and teas. Nadia is able to meet a variety of dietary needs including gluten free, diabetic, lactose free, vegan and organic.

Now let’s talk waffles, or as Nadia refers to it, the “get cheeky in bed” option. Shawn and Nadia have incorporated a waffle delivery service to their repertoire, creating waffles topped with fresh blueberry or strawberry sauce, whipping cream and maple syrup. You call to order and they deliver straight to your home…can you say Sunday brunch?

The cupcake mobile allows freedom and has created a following all around Simcoe; from the Farmers Market to late nights on Dunlop, to the wilds of Wasaga, while the Owen Street shop will give these two cheeky entrepreneurs a home base, offering all items on their present menu, including fresh cut fries, poutine, and soft serve ice cream. In addition, stocking competitively priced food basics, milk, bread and cheese.

Cheeky Treats on Owen Street will be far more then a bakery; a continuation of the goals of these two energetic and committed people, running a family business. Nadia and Shawn aim to assure that they provide you with the best culinary experience possible; their service is personalized, personified!

Let’s talk flavours; with 360 options, the top dozen usually available, I strongly suggest you drop by the cheeky mobile to choose. My personal favourites are Tuxedo, a rich dark chocolate topped with classic butter cream cheese icing, or the deluxe Bacon Maple, seriously, these are amazing cupcakes!

To locate the cheeky mobile check out:
Phone: 705.220.6127

-Written by: Penelope Morrow
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie; follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow

Club Ash – Bar and Lounge Review

Note: Club Ash is now closed, enjoy this look back to 2012.

Just in passing conversation, the owner mentioned to me that his favourite part about running Club Ash is seeing his clientele having a great time. From what I gather, there is no magical formula for restaurant success, but Club Ash continues to grow steadily within the Steakhouse niche and after spending a night there, I got to thinking that the good nature of its management staff plays a big role.

Since its January 2012 opening, advertising hasn’t been a major factor in early success for Ash. Marcello, the owner likes the word of mouth clientele he is receiving. He told me he has done no advertising yet, and relies mainly on his customer response.

In my opinion, there really is no harm in relying on word of mouth when the restaurant has something to sincerely boast about. So I had to try the food to see what the buzz was about.

From the moment you walk into Club Ash, the atmosphere is impressive; it’s hard to imagine anything but the finest fares in this chic and classy environment. Even the lighting was appetizing. At first I questioned my appearance, though I quickly noticed everyone in the restaurant had dressed casually too.

Thoughtfully, there was evidence showing that a great deal of concern had been taken to create an extremely comfortable dining experience. Of course, I’m talking about the extra-large tables, which are roomy enough for a foursome or more, and the spacious distance between other tables.

As for menu options, I felt as though I would have liked to try it all. However I felt like a marinated steak on this occasion, so I tried the Marinated Flank Steak 8oz ($20) which is prepared in a 24 hour marinade. The entrees come with the option of adding either: fried sweet potatoes, roasted red potatoes, or creamy mashed potatoes. The server clearly noted that I could also substitute the side of potatoes for a house salad.

After having the flank steak, I was able to thank the chef for his work with the grill. He told me “You won’t find a cut like that anywhere else in Barrie.”

At first, I was very tempted to go with the restaurant’s pasta alternative but, now I’m glad I went with the steak. I am not the first person to have been very pleased with the steak fares at Ash. I’ve heard two people tell me “if you like steak, you should try Club Ash.” And after dinner, I met up with some friends, and was soon passing the word on myself.

Before I could leave, I was drawn into the wonderful jazz music that was being performed live. It was so subtle and dulcet that it would not intrude on talking and friendly conversation. It was really the perfect backdrop. As I sat at the bar, winding down a wonderful time at Club Ash, I had a couple European-style espressos which were prepared behind the bar.

Without question, there are multiple ways to include Club Ash in your downtown Barrie experiences, any day of the week. For nightlife, it’ll ring your bell, and likewise for some fine dining. The dinner jazz is from 6-9PM on Thursdays to Sundays.

-Written by: Michael Whone
Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger and visit his website:

June 2012 Events in Barrie

June 1-3

Commemorating The War of 1812 Bicentennial

Heritage Park at Barrie’s Waterfront
Take a journey back in time as we commemorate the War of 1812 Bicentennial and the founding of our community on the weekend of our community festival, Celebrate Barrie. Experience life during the War of 1812 with special heritage programming that will highlight our local, regional, and national history through re-enactments, activities, displays, and live entertainment.

  • Cannon firing to signify official opening of the event!
  • American troops invade the downtown core and pillage participating merchants.
  • Participating downtown restaurants are offering 1812 inspired menus at special prices throughout the weekend!

June 9-10

Ecofest Barrie 2012

Heritage Park at Barrie’s Waterfront
Barrie’s 3rd Annual Ecofest Barrie is produced in collaboration with the communities, organizations and businesses in and around the Greater Barrie Area who are dedicated to the preservation of a healthy and sustainable community for all. Part proceeds from 2011 presentation will support programs of Back to Basics Social Innovations a local not for profit organizations, dedicated to the education and well being of youth. 9am – 5pm, Free.

June 7-18

17th Annual Kool FM Barrie Jazz & Blues Festival

Location: Various Venues Throughout Barrie
Featuring a variety of jazz and blues performers in over 25 venues throughout the Barrie Area.

June 16

2nd Annual Ontario Dog Expo

Barrie Molson Centre
The Ontario Dog Expo is a family-style, dog-friendly event featuring the positive aspects of responsible dog ownership, the principles of proper dog selection and training. We also offer a vast array of dog-related products and services including live educational demonstrations.

We have a full day filled with amazing events. From seminars to face painting for the kids, there is something for everyone. Visit our amazing exhibitors for all their fun and new products. Exhibitors range from pet distributors to rescue organizations and so on.

… and that’s a few things to keep you busy in June.

Sponsored By:

Oak Furniture Company have been providing beautiful oak dining table and chairs for domestic and also commercial use. These pieces are strong, attractive and ideal for a whole array of uses.