What to do when visiting Bayfield (Bluewater), Ontario along the shores of Lake Huron? People watching! Trying to guess who is from Toronto can be a fun past-time as you spend some time in this tiny village just off Bluewater Highway.
The “historic Main St” is an old fashioned drag with cars parking like sardines, perpendicularly on either side. In the morning, there’s not a soul to be found. By noon, it’s packed. Good luck trying to find a parking spot… but it’s worthwhile to do so.
What attracts visitors to this area are a number of shopping and dining spots including the Black Dog Pub in Bayfield, located next to the Albion Hotel.
A dark, imposing front shouldn’t dissuade you from stepping inside here for lunch or dinner. The eclectic, vintage decor and eye-catching bar, full of delicious whiskies, bourbons and other lip-smacking beverages, make for a welcoming atmosphere.
Waitstaff in black, casual dress is pleasant, although much more relaxed, compared to staff you encounter in big cities. Remember, this is not downtown Toronto, despite the easily-transportable hipster vibe you get here. Have patience!
The menu is difficult for one key reason – there’s too many delicious-looking offerings to choose from.
We started off by looking at the impressive drinks menu. With a range of options – from locally crafted beer to classic, well-crafted cocktails – there’s something for everybody. My preference was the Kentucky Lemonade with my client’s Knob Creek bourbon, lemon juice, a touch of simple syrup and a sprig of rosemary. I haven’t had such a good bourbon-based drink in most GTA-based restaurant. A quick peek at Black Dog’s Twitter feed shows that Matt Jones, the Beam Suntory whisky ambassador in Canada has been here recently. Obviously, there’s been some training happening as the cocktail is very delicious.
For our visit, I decided to go Scottish – starting with Scot’s eggs from the “Dog Bites” list. It’s a hard-boiled egg nestled in a slightly savoury pork sausage mixture, with a crusty panko coating. Paired with the tangy tomato chutney, it’s filling for one person. You can easily pair it with a salad to make it a complete meal.
I continued with the Scottish theme by trying out the Scottish burger. A thick, juicy burger, with whisky cheddar cheese and huge onion rings in a rich deep fried batter, and more of that tangy tomato chutney, paired with hand cut fries. The burger is a huge, delicious patty that will satisfy any meat lover. Unfortunately the tomato chutney needs to be upped in flavour as it gets lost a bit in the meatiness. Nevertheless, for a hungry person, the burger is still satisfying.
My husband Frank decided on the Huron County burger, with smoky gouda, mouth-watering sauteed onions, back bacon and maple mustard. I had a swipe of his onions and a bit of the cheese – deliciousness!
If you can dine inside the restaurant, do so for the fun of looking at all the cool bottles behind the long bar. If you happen to get a patio seat, enjoy the people-watching and try to figure out who’s from the GTA and who’s local.
Will we be coming back to Black Dog Pub in Bayfield? Most definitely. Will we explore the menu more? Yes! We plan to be back for a night where we can enjoy that cocktail menu and the shareable bites options more thoroughly. Bayfield and Black Dog Pub, expect to see us again this summer!
Cost: $$ – $$$
Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro
5 Bayfield Main Street North
Tel: (519) 565-2326