Discovering Collingwood Ontario

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This past spring  I spend a weekend bumming around Collingwood Ontario with my girls. With amazing craft beer, wine, and culinary delights, the weekend was better then we ever could have hoped for. Here are the highlights of our trail of eating, drinking, and relaxing.

Northwinds Brew House: A very small brewery in terms of production with a delicious restaurant to dine in.  My favorite part of the brewery component was how artistic Northwinds is with their bottle labels.  They have the original concept sketches framed on the wall representing where each table was born from.  I was disappointed that they have not made prints of the sketches to sell, I definitely would have purchased a couple.

The appetizers were my favourite part of the meal.  Delicious tempura asparagus with chili soy dipping sauce was a hit with the table.  A crispy deep fried treat that didn’t make us feel guilty because the batter was so light. Also for the table we ordered the beer pretzels which are made in house and served with cheese sauce and whole grain beer mustard.  The beer pretzels were served warm in a mason jar, the presentation stole my heart for sure.

As my main I ordered one of the specials of the night, striploin steak served with asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes (which i subbed for the house fries), and bernaise sauce.  The steak did not seem to be of the best quality as a bit chewier then I was used to, the asparagus and house fries were delicious.  The bernaise sauce as well was quite the nice accompaniment except it was a tad too salty which at times overwhelmed the dish.  My companions had one of the regular menu items, the chicken and waffles.  Buttermilk fried chicken served on jalapeño cheddar corn bread waffles and drizzled with local maple syrup that were an instant hit around the table.  Website HERE.

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Side Launch Brewery:  This was a super fun brewery to visit.  The store and tasting area is in the same large warehouse style space as the brewing vats themselves, it was quite impressive.  The whole space had a very industrial feel while also being contemporary and trendy in its vibe. Tastings of their beers on tab were complimentary and the women running the tasting bar were extremely knowledgeable.  Considering how professional the whole set up is I was very surprised to learn that they have only been around a few years.  Website HERE.

 

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Collingwood Brewery: I may have felt differently about this brewery if I hadn’t already had such awesome experiences at Northwinds and Side Launch.  In comparison Collingwood Brewery was not very exciting.  The person manning the tasting area wasn’t very ‘on’ and the production part of the brewery was more shut off therefore barely could be viewed from the tasting area.  Website HERE

 

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Georgian Hills Vineyards: Very quaint winery with friendly staff.  Tastings are very affordable especially if you chose to buy a bottle of wine.  There were about 5 different products available for tasting when I was there.  A good variety of red, white, and specialty wines to suite any palette.  Also getting there makes for quite a peaceful scenic drive through the country area.  Website HERE.

 

Azzurra Trattoria: all the food here was delicious, there is not enough I can say about it. My tummy was beyond happy and it was nice to be in a restaurant away from Blue Mountain. This spot is obviously popular among locals as many of the patrons seemed to be. I started off my meal with a salad of greens, roasted beets, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and maple verjus vinaigrette. Light and refreshing, I also did not used to be a lover of beets but this salad was delicious in every way. As my entree I ordered one of the locally themed dishes. Sweet potato gnocchi with bacon, Brussel sprouts, sage, apple, maple syrup, and shaved reggiano. I almost wish I lived in collingwood so that I could eat this all the time.

Now while all the food was outstanding, the service was another story. Here is an account of the situation we faced:

We noticed our server seemed distracted and did not come to our table much.  At one point she took away the napkin of one of my friends even though we hadn’t received our dessert orders yet, and did not bring a new one.

When she told us each of the specials of the night she told us pricing as well except for the entree special which was a salmon with risotto.  One of my companions asked the price of that special and the answer was “i think it is $24” and my companion went ahead and ordered it.   Now the specials are not written down anywhere therefore the only information one has to go on is what the server tells you.  The server did not at any point say that the special was not $24, yet when we got the bill the salmon was priced at $35, this is a huge difference. We questioned the server about it, she went, “oh what was the price? (picks up the bill) $35, yeah well that’s the price then” no apology, no “oh my mistake I will correct that”.  She just looked at my companion and went “well its $35, is that ok?”.  well of course it was not ok, thats an $11 difference!  My companion expressed disappointment about the mis information and the server went “well I guess I should have come back and said the correct price, but I didn’t tell you it was for sure $24, I only said I thought it might be”, as if this whole situation was my companions fault, it was absolutely appalling!!!. The server went off as if annoyed with us and came back and said she could offer a 25% discount on the salmon which would bring it down to $26, again no apology and no accepting of the fact that this was her fault.  At this point we should have asked to speak to the manager and complained in person but my companion felt so uncomfortable that she just paid the $26.  It completely ruined the whole experience having this at the end and really felt like our business meant nothing.  Really this server should not have gotten any tip but unfortunately the rest of us had paid our shares before this happened.  Website HERE.

 

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Le Scandinave Spa: always a great way to relax and get yourself recharged for the week ahead. If you are going on a weekend it’s recommended to you get there no later then 10am as you may have to go on the waiting list of they reach capacity. Great thing about the waiting list is they will call you when they have room so you can go out and enjoy some of the sights in the meantime. It was whole waiting that we went to do some beer and wine tasting. The spa is beautiful whether it’s daylight or after dark, really I recommend at some point you experience both versions.  All the pools are outdoor and perfect temperature to keep you lounging outside even in the dead of winter. An abundance of rest areas give you some quiet inside time between circuits. More information about the spa HERE.