Nov 29, 2014, 12:31 AM
When Chef Ian tells me his kitchen is a place of sanctuary, I understand intrinsically the food presented to his clientele is prepared with reverence and will be the very best available.
Sourcing local is priority, from the kitchen to the décor; stunning art work adorns the walls, I was particularly impressed with the four seasons of maple trees by local artist Brian Tosh. Honey and maple syrup is available to purchase in store, as are some glorious Group of Seven mugs, homage apparent for all things Canadiana. Also available seasonally are freshly made compound butters, which have adorned the corn on the cob at the Mariposa Festival for many years. They are made in house with Kawartha Dairy butter, in flavours as diverse as dill pickle, brown sugar wild blueberry, maple chipotle, and garlic Provençal.
I was delighted to celebrate my birthday dinner at Era 67, even more so when I discovered a charming personalized birthday card nestled next to the fresh flowers on the table. This is good customer service. Gordon Lightfoot tunes played in the background, the soundtrack epitomizes Canadian music. Trust your server; I asked for recommendations and we were thrilled with his choices.
Rather than bread service, Era 67 offers fresh made kettle chips with a maple chipotle aioli for dipping. This proved popular for those with gluten sensitivities and is a such a hit, many of the clientele will purchase a bag or two to take home with them.
I started dinner with the “Wild Boar East Coast Scallops; pan seared diver scallops atop wild boar bacon confit, complemented with curried Georgian Bay McIntosh Apple and Bala cranberry chutney”. Darling daughter enjoyed the Era 67 rendition of Caesar Salad which includes; duck fat crouton, Balderson Cheddar and parmesan frico, double smoked bacon, creamy roasted garlic Provençal vinaigrette.
The steaks are all Alberta Butcher Block Reserve, which is the top 4th percentile in marbleization, AAA beef. Mine was topped with stilton butter, with a side of frites and aioli.
Creating your cut and “accessories” provides ample opportunity for individual tastes and appetites. Darling daughter dined on the Local Tre Sorelle handmade pasta stuffed with Era 67 Wild Mushroom duxelle, Chardonnay reduction, shallots, thyme, Woolrich goat cheese, Balderson aged cheddar, tossed with a roasted garlic cream sauce and topped with wilted baby arugula, grape tomatoes in maple marinara.
With friends and a birthday cake waiting for me at home, I was still tempted to try a wee dessert. Once again the servers’ choice was correct. “Sweet Poutine” was light as air, “Crispy puff pastry fries tossed in cinnamon sugar topped with Era’s whisky vanilla caramel sauce, chocolate cake pieces, maple chip cream and chocolate sauce for dipping”.
Dinner was delicious.
I returned to Era 67 on a sunny fall day to share a delightful conversation with Executive Chef Ian Thompson; as with most of the Chefs and restaurateurs I have interviewed for Simcoe Dining, supporting local is their lifestyle. Local brings down the carbon foot print, improves the local economy, and it allows for the development of solid relationships with the farmers and growers of the food that Chef Ian brings into his establishment.
There are staples on the menu, but it is “tweaked” seasonally to reflect the growing season. Having trained at George Brown and then obtained a culinary apprenticeship in Ireland, which developed into an extended stay at a restaurant on the Celtic Sea, where he moved his way up through the ranks. Fresh from the ocean was what the fishmonger caught daily, literally eating off the door stop. Chef Ian is also a natural storyteller, I sat entranced, than doubled over in laughter when he told me about the “eels”.
Missing this “great country of Canada” he returned home, put his experience in place on Canadian soil and when this location became available he and his wife Sarah started Era 67 and are now firmly rooted in Orillia.
I asked what message Chef Ian Thompson would like to share with my readers: “I would say that food is the one thing that you can be selfish with, because if you actually look at food as the biggest social aspect of our lives. So in closing I would like to say be selfish when it comes to food, bring everybody together, take that time to yourself and your loved ones, but if you look at today’s society when does anybody ever do that anymore, but food will always bring you together, if you let it.”
One of the best things about writing for Simcoe Dining, aside from having fantastic meals, is the relationships I have formed through meeting likeminded people, because it’s not just about food, it’s the attitudes that come with. Its soothing to converse and do an interview, it’s finding another simpatico person who shares my belief that this isn’t just about feeding the body it’s about feeding the soul. Executive Chef Ian and I concur on this point; while confederation in 1867 brought together our country, food brings people together and this bonding is good for us all.
I highly recommend Era 67, and if Chef Ian has a moment, ask him to share the story about the eel.
64 Mississaga Street West.
Orillia, ON, L3V3A8
Phone: 705 259 1867
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and local food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow
Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography