OUT AT BLUE MOUNTAIN
|by Judy Ross
portions of this
article originally appeared in the Globe & Mail
about Blue Mountain becoming the "Whistler of Ontario" seems somewhat
amusing to those of us living here. Where are the mountains as a
start? The Blue Mountains, lovely as they are, are not real mountains.
They’re a section of the Niagara Escarpment and stretch scenically
along the shore of Georgian Bay. What they lack in vertical height (or
grandeur) is made up for in horizontal however. There’s an astounding
number of trails and 4 km of skiable terrain at Blue Mountain alone
without counting all of the private ski clubs.
denying that things are happening and changing. Since Intrawest moved
in a few years ago and a pack of developers close on its heels, the
whole place has been overturned by bulldozers. New condos seem to
emerge overnight. Golf courses are taking over swaths of untouched
land. There’s a new suspension bridge (Ontario’s longest) and cross
country ski trails at Scenic Caves on the top of the Escarpment. And
down below, a village in ye olde Ontario style, which actually looks
like a town square, complete with shops, street entertainers, and
cafes. It could easily be Whistler or Mont Tremblant.
Collingwood, the town itself, is a 10 minute drive from the Village at
Blue, and has it’s own original old Ontario charm with brick buildings
and tree-lined streets. Spurred on by the new Intrawest development,
the town is livening up with new upmarket stores and, best of all,
lots of restaurants. It has come a long way from the days when eating
out meant fast food on First Street. If the proliferation of new
restaurants indicates that a resort town has come of age, then Blue
Mountain has grown up indeed. Here’s a sampling of eateries – both in
the new village and the old town.
FIRST STREET BISTRO, formerly
BETWEEN FRIENDS. Swiss-born Andy
Furrer is a skilled chef with the freshwater fish which he buys across
the street on Georgian Bay. "You can’t get fresher than that." he
says. He and his delightful wife Nancy moved from Jasper, Alberta to
open this casual, friendly restaurant in a century old house. Serving
Dinner (only), Closed Sunday. 705 446-3337.
COPPER BLUES BAR AND GRILL
was first to open in the new village and quickly became the
happening place for apres-ski. Happy hour appetizer specials like
Saffron Jumbo Scallops and Brie Fritters are half price from 3.30 to 6
pm every day. It’s ski-boot friendly, has a kid’s menu, and a terrific
open round bar. Open daily. 705 446-2643.
SIMCOE COUNTY RESTAURANT.
This unpretentious small place is a longtime dream of chef/owner Doug
Porter who earned his stripes at 14 different restaurants in Toronto
and Whistler. He cooks everything from scratch in the open kitchen.
Prices are kept down by "buying the best quality food and eliminating
the fancy garnishes." 206 Hurontario. Tues – Sat. for lunch and
dinner. 705 445-6957.
27 ON FOURTH . 705 444-8322.
TESORO offers oven-fresh pizzas and
imaginative pastas. Take out or eat in. The ambiance is funky. Think,
50s diner meets California café. Owner/Chef Joelle Rogers does most of
the cooking. Open for lunch and dinner. 705 444-9230.
DUNCANS CAFÉ moved from its original
spot to bigger, snazzier digs across the street and has been busy ever
since. Nightly theme specials are popular – Pub night on Tuesday,
Mexican on Thursday – it’s all you can eat for $16. The Sunday brunch
(10 – 3 pm) features a ‘create your own’ omelet bar.
Open daily. 705 444-5749.
TRATTORIA AZZURRA. Incredibly, in
this town that straddles Georgian Bay, this is the only restaurant
that can claim a water view. Not easy to find at the end of a strip
mall, but once inside it’s a little slice of Tuscany. Owner Andrea
Greyerbeihl took over from the original owners last summer and keeps
up the standard with seasonally inspired pastas. Check the chalkboard
for nightly specials. 705 445-7771. Open at 5.30 Tues to
CRUPI’S is a family-run deli and bakery on
Hwy 124 just south of town. Stop for a ‘sandwich to go’ at the deli
counter and pick up a loaf of their famed calabrese bread. Closed
Tuesdays. 705 444-6863.
PAULA’S PANTRY is like a visit to
grandma’s house. Cutesy décor with wholesome food. And great prices.
Where else can you get a chopped egg sandwich on homemade bread for
$2.75? Her peanut butter cookies fly out the door.
705 445-0026. Closed Mondays.
ESPRESSO POST. Mark and Christine
Kraus, met in a Seattle coffee house. Now, they’ve brought that
aesthetic to Collingwood in this little café. It’s pure West Coast in
style with better coffee and lower prices than Starbucks. Open daily. 705 446-1740.