It was some years back when I first walked through the doors of Painters Hall Bistro, down the narrow hall lined with local artwork, and found myself in this wonderful restaurant. I followed the gentle scent of fresh linen, flowers and what I can only describe as “good kitchen”. I knew then that I was about to experience a lovely dinner, every meal since has been consistently great.
Flash forward to a recent Barrielicious, when darling daughter choose Painters Hall Bistro as her summer dining treat, she with the good camera for food pictures to temp your appetite. I realize that Barrielicious is not the best time to review a restaurant; the menus are shorter, the venues are hopping, but the staff at Painters Hall juggle this summer dining frenzy with ease, the kitchen dishes out great plates, and the overall experience is as delightful as any other time I have dined there.
Owner Erin Burrows shared with me that the art work lining the walls is “all local and revolves every six months”. Having original art on display “changes the atmosphere and adds to the ambiance”.
There are three rooms at Painters Hall Bistro, each with a distinctly different feel; the front room seems brighter and is larger, this to me is the spot for a celebratory night out, the overall volume slightly louder. The regulars gravitate to the middle room; this is where the bar is located, strong and stately, where the musicians set up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, where the banter is familiar between guests and staff, a sense of camaraderie is palpable. The back room has the date night feel to me, more intimate, a wee bit darker and cozier.
Whichever room you choose, the service will be consistent and your dinner will be grand.
Painters Hall signature menu items have stood the test of time. While there have been changes within the kitchen, the glorious Surf and Turf; “Butter Braised Pork Belly & Cider Scallops” appetizer gets a slight tweak from the Chef, and is simply divine, served with compressed Watermelon Salsa.
My daughter’s choices of; “Painters Hall Organic Cookstown Greens Whipped Almond Brie, Baco Noir Blueberry Vinaigrette, served on the side for her, with Crisp Asian Pear & Blueberries”, a perfect summer salad.
In winter I always indulge in the signature main of Braised Beef Short Ribs; but for summer I chose the “Stuffed Chicken Breast, Sweet Potato, Ricotta, Fresh Basil and Spicy Chorizo, Ontario Spring Pea Barley Risotto, Micro Green and Veg Chip Salad” and was suitably pleased. As was darling daughter, with her “Fresh Black Pasta, Organic Shrimp, Fresh Sautéed Tomato, Creamy Pesto Sauce”.
Desserts were delicious; the only unfortunate moment was while posing for the camera my Bourbon Honey Ice Cream with Roasted Ontario Peaches and Lavender Drizzle began to melt, oh the pressure! The Dark Chocolate Moussed Layered with Vanilla Bean Chantilly and Macerated Berries held up under the photographer’s demands much better, but certainly didn’t last long once the tasting began!
While my experiences at Painters Hall Bistro have always been positive, there may be some who have feedback either positive or not, they would prefer to share privately. Erin Burrows explained that guests often find it difficult to do so while actually at the restaurant. A unique solution has been offered for just this situation; “Text the Boss” cards are on hand with the phone number boldly printed, this differs from the reservation phone number and the message is clear, if you have feedback, we want to hear it. Great idea!
Another unique option offered at Painters Hall Bistro is the “dinner meeting”; a three course meal is presented and A/V equipment and screens are available.
I commend the originality of this working while dining experience!
I asked Erin Burrows what is next for Painters Hall. With six years staying power, where does she see the restaurant going? “Where do I see us going, I really listen to my regular clientele, I listen to those that dine here frequently, and I meet their expectations, everything from the wine list to new and upcoming cocktails. We are getting into the old fashioned drinks and the cocktail culture, we are really trying to develop that.”
I raise my glass to toast the continued success of Painters Hall Bistro!
17 Clapperton St. Barrie, ON L4M3E4
705 797 8844
Written by: Penelope Morrow
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and local food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow
Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography