Monday, September 7, 2009

An Afternoon At Peter Cellar's Pub

Located about an hour and 15 minutes North of the city lies the charming, tranquil and idyllic town of Mono, Ontario.  You don't find much in that town, but there are two things worth doing there: hiking through any of the numerous trails, and visiting Peter Cellar's Pub at the Mono Cliffs Inn.

The pub, located in the basement of the main restaurant, is small, dimly lit, eclectic and inviting.  If you visit on the right day, you'll be greeted by Wayne, the charismatic, sweet, and delightfully gay bartender/server extraordinaire.

The menu isn't vast, but has something for everyone.  It's a mixture of Asian-fusion, French, Italian and British, with apps like phyllo-wrapped brie, panko-crusted shrimp with sriracha, oysters, grilled calamari, lamb burgers, lemon poppy seed supreme of chicken, and veggie curry with chickpeas and pappadum.

Between us, we ordered just about everything on the menu.  I had the pleasure of trying almost everyone's dish (a benefit of my new project), and found some winners and some mediocre dishes.  The grilled calamari with sriracha mayo was flavoured deliciously by the charring of the grill; one order was cooked nicely while the second was a little overdone and chewy.  The lentil bacon soup was a bit of a let-down for me - the lentils were cooked fine, but the bacon was barely discernable (I do love my bacon), and the soup base lacked seasoning and depth of flavour.

The supreme of chicken, though it looked slightly plastic because of the glaze, was in fact sweet, savoury and cooked perfectly.  It sat atop a salad that included cherry tomatoes and melon - one of my least favourite fruits.  Despite the melon, the dish was lovely and fresh-tasting.  The lamb burger for me was overpowered by mint sauce, but true lamb-lovers at the table (I rarely eat it, and prefer the tender chops) raved about its success.  So, I'll default to them and go with 'it was a hit'.

For dessert, the kids somehow got tricked into a 'surprise' dish.  Of course they all thought it was going to be cake or chocolate or a brick of sugar topped with more sugar, but out came pavlova.  It's a dish I've never cared to make (I rarely make desserts), but it was just divine.  The meringue was soft on the inside; just crusted on the outside.  The fruit salad that was sandwiched between two white mounds was bursting with flavour and pretty colours.

Service by Wayne was accommodating and personable - just how you'd expect it to be in such a tiny local's haunt.  I was even the fortunate recipient of an impromptu shoulder massage ... simply amazing.  And according to Wayne "it's been a long time since I've made a woman moan".  Charming ;)

So, city kids, pack your SUVs and hybrids, bring your hiking shoes and camera, and plan to make it for lunch or dinner (and a pint or three ... you can always stay at the Inn), and make your way up to Peter Cellar's at The Mono Cliffs Inn.

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