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Ted's Range Road Diner
By Roberta Avery - back to list
MEAFORD, Ont. - As unlikely as is sounds, a steel Quonset hut in the middle of a cow pasture is fast becoming one of the eateries of choice with visitors to the Blue Mountain area.
"From the outside it looks like an old farm implement shed, come to think of it, it doesn't look much better on the inside, but the food is great," said Angeline Delucca, 32, of Toronto recently after enjoying an evening at Ted's Range Road Diner.
Delucca, who with three other friends made the 30-minute drive from Blue Mountain to a rural road west of Meaford, to enjoy appetizers of fresh local game, huge portions of prime rib with the best Yorkshire pudding this side of the Yorkshire Dales washed down with local draft beer.
"Best of all there is nothing even remotely like this in downtown Toronto," said Delucca looking around at the chip board covered walls, the handmade solid wood tables and the concrete floor bare in spots where hundreds of feet have worn away the paint.
The unusual atmosphere at Ted’s is exactly why Activity Central at the Intrawest Village at Blue Mountain is running 4-by-4 Hummer trips to Ted’s, said Danielle Elsey from Activity Central.
"Our guests are looking for something different and Ted’s is certainly different,’’ she said.
To add to the incongruity of first class food served in such unlikely surroundings, if you go to Ted's on a Friday or Saturday – when you will definitely need a reservation - local musician Ed Baxter will be sitting in the corner softly playing classical music on a guitar.
Go on a Wednesday and you'll find it's party time at Ted's with local rock bands and country singers taking it in turns to jam to an enthusiastic crowd of young and old alike who push back the tables and dance the night away.
It's been 17 years since Ted Lye, a young chef who was determined to own his own restaurant, scraped together the down payment for the old Quonset hut and set out to build a reputation for good food.
"Real estate agents will tell you it's all about location, location, location," said Lye as he expertly chopped up fresh vegetables in his huge kitchen at the back of the hut.
"Well the diner was the wrong location, wrong location, wrong location, but it was all I could afford," said Lye.
Lye trained under well-known local restaurateur Bob Sterio who was one of the first to bring the concept of fine dining to the Blue Mountain area when he opened Sterio’s on the main street of Thornbury in the 1970s.
In the early days of the diner, Lye often toiled away alone cooking and serving the meals himself in the 55-seat restaurant steadily building up a reputation with the local farming community for providing good hearty meals.
The word spread and soon Lye was able to hire help to serve the crowds that were beginning to make the trek to the Quonset hut down Grey County Road 112. Then the snowmobile crowd discovered there was a side trail to Ted’s from the main trail between Collingwood and Owen Sound and Ted’s became a destination in itself.
With an established clientele, Lye was able to bring in more exotic food. The menu – written on a menu board that fills one wall – now includes such items as bison, elk, venison, musk ox, quail and fresh Georgian Bay whitefish. Main courses are around $20, but portions are huge.
These days, it’s not unusual to see Mercedes and BMWs and expensive looking SUVs belonging to wealthy ski chalet owners and private ski club members in the parking lot next to the farm vehicles, tractors and snowmobiles.
"People come here because they can let their hair down and have a good time,’’ said Lye.
The Hummer trips to from Blue Mountain are billed as the "Ultimate Dinner Experience” and diners shell out $100 each to ride to Ted’s to enjoy "the electic Ted’s where you can experience the wild game of the area.”
"Ironically the location, which was all wrong to start with, is now a big part of the attraction, people like coming here because they feel they’ve made a journey to somewhere totally different,’’ said Lye.
To reach Ted’s take Highway 26 west from Collingwood. About four kilometres west of Meaford turn right onto County Road 112, Ted’s is about three kilometres on the left. For reservations call 1-519-538-1788.
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