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By Roberta Avery - back to list
STAYNER – With more than 25 years in the marketing industry under his belt, Regan Gorman knows how to create a buzz.
So it's no surprise that when Gorman and life partner Tricia Jeffery decided to open a restaurant on Stayner's main street, they had people talking long before the doors were open.
There were already some good family-style eateries in Stayner, but early last year the couple spotted what they believed to be a gap in the market and decided to aim for a bistro-style, but affordable, restaurant and started to search for a name that would reflect their concept.
They settled on Fūd -pronounced food when you add an accent over the Ū - because Gorman immediately recognized it as a name that could become a logo and recognizable brand. Then they bought giant billboard space at Cashtown Corners on Airport Road and on Highway 124 and with advertising copy that said little more than Fūd opening in Stayner, they had everybody talking.
Gorman didn't stop there. Next he contacted HGTV Canada and pitched Fūd for the network's new series Restaurant 101, which follows the fortunes of new restaurateurs. Fūd was selected for the series and filming began and Gorman and Jeffery were very excited about TV exposure and the help they would receive from the program's culinary consultants.
Gorman approached hiring a chef in the same “thinking big” mode and advertised across Canada.
“We even had an application from a chef in the Philippines,” says Gorman.
They narrowed the field down to three and then invited them one at a time to their home and following the format of the TV series Iron Chef gave them a black box of ingredients and asked them to prepare and calculate the profit margins on a three-course meal. Ironically the winner, Neil Creech came from the local area.
With the building renovations including the creation of an upstairs banquet hall completed, the chef and his team in place and the dining room staff hired and ready to go, Gorman and Jeffery suddenly found themselves facing a difficult choice. The TV production company kept asking them to delay their opening.
“Filming the opening was a key part of the series, so we couldn't open until they were ready, but we didn't want to miss the all important Christmas party season,” says Gorman.
After several delays, they decided to forgo the TV series and opened the restaurant in October to lots of positive reviews.
The buzz even reached Meaford so my husband John and I and our son Paul and his wife Lisa and family friend Joanne choose Fūd for a family get together.
It’s a stormy Monday night but we made a reservation out of courtesy as, considering the weather, we expected to find the place deserted. We couldn't have been more wrong, every table was taken and there was a line up at the door.
Gorman's efforts had obviously worked – Fūd had been discovered.
Jeffery's talent as an interior designer is evident from the moment that we step through the door into the attractive cafe-style area with a display case and coffee counter. The dining room itself is decorated in a dark terracotta hue that is complemented by the dark wood of the table tops and around the wall, the comfortable looking padded benches are color coordinated to bring the colors of the room together.
The place was positively humming with customers ranging from families who had dropped by for a Fūd burger after the hockey game, to couples celebrating an anniversary indicating that Jeffery has managed to pull off a design that appeals to all segments of the market.
Creech has followed suit and cooked up am imaginative menu that ranges from baked macaroni at just $9.50 to chicken supreme for $18 and a 10 ounce rib eye steak for $24.
Our server Jazz, who is just 16, makes up for her lack of experience by her enthusiasm and genuine concern that we are happy.
The wine list is modest but includes five types of wine sold by the glass for $6 and a changing selection of wine sold by the bottle.
On such a busy night it is no surprise that Creech and his team cooking away in the open kitchen get a little behind with the orders, but Jazz keeps us posted on their progress and before too long we are enjoying our appetizers.
The presentation of the bruschetta is interesting with the grilled French bread stacked high next to piles of goat cheese and chopped tomatoes with garlic and basil. The French onion soup is made from a hearty rich broth crammed full of onions and topped with lots of cheese and the spinach salad with berries and a fig vinaigrette is a nice blend of flavours.
For a main course Joanne, who is a Stratford Chef School trained chef, chooses the oven baked macaroni with four cheeses and is pleasantly surprised.
“I honestly can't fault it, the sauce is perfect and creamy with a great consistency,” she says.
Paul and Lisa opt for the eight ounce Fūd burger served with shoestring fries, John the seafood pasta of the day and I try the chicken supreme.
The chicken breast is nice and moist stuffed with goat's cheese and caramelized onions, which is a nice flavour combination with the sweetness of the onions offsetting the sharpness of the cheese. The chicken is served with beautifully prepared vegetables and rice.
For dessert we enjoy sharing the cheesecake and the apple strudel.
Jazz has assured us that the cheesecake is an unbaked recipe, so we are astounded to find it so rich and creamy. Joanne is so impressed that she heads off to the kitchen to ask for the recipe. It turns out to be a baked cheesecake that evening, but still so good that it's worth asking for the recipe. The pastry on the strudel is so melt in the mouth flaky and buttery it comes as no surprise to hear that Creech has worked under Patrick Bourachot, who produces wonderful pastries at Collingwood's Cafe Chartreuse.
As we leave, the phone is ringing with reservations and I can't help reflect that Gorman has pulled together all the ingredients for a successful restaurant launch – a talented chef, a dining room created by an imaginative and gifted designer, an affordable dining out experience and his own marketing genius.
It seems that he didn't need the expertise of the Restaurant 101 crew after all.
Location: 7304 Highway 26, Stayner
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