Proving you don’t have to travel to Toronto for great local eats, bustling Brantford’s dining scene boasts everything from gourmet street food to upscale Italian cuisine. Dine in a converted schoolhouse, try On The Lam’s creative raw dishes or sample some out-of-the-ordinary Eastern European eats; our list features the best Brantford has to offer.
Located on the grounds of world-renowned Canadian potter Donn Zver’s studio, Café Troy is a beautiful restaurant, headed by Chef Carlos, specializing in fare crafted from locally grown produce. Set within a gorgeous converted country house, Café Troy is open for lunch Tuesday to Sunday and dinner at weekends, serving delightful dishes like four onion French soup topped with baked croutons and gruyère cheese and the ground beef and pork tourtière with fresh vegetables and organic green salad alongside wines from the neighboring Vineland Estates Winery. As an extra local touch, Café Troy’s dishes are served on pottery handmade by Donn Zver himself.
For gourmet street food-style eats, there’s no better place to be in Brantford than B-Doggs. Opened by local restaurateur Dean Braund and Chef Jeff David in a cool, contemporary space decked in upcycled furniture and art by local artist Taylor General, the eatery is becoming the city’s favorite fast food alternative. Choose from street tacos brimming with fillings like battered cod, cabbage slaw, pickled onions, radish and scratch-made lime-cilantro sauce and hots dogs like the ‘Midnight in Montreal’ topped with local curds, bacon, corn relish, sautéed onions, arugula and mayo. The menu also offers salads, po’boys and sides.
One of Brantford’s best-loved upscale restaurants, Café Andreou delights local diners with its fine Italian and Continental cuisine. Located in a charming historic house in downtown Brantford, the ambience at Café Andreou is intimate and elegant, and a local touch is given to its delicious dishes with herbs and vegetables grown in its own onsite garden. Opt for dishes like spaghetti carbonara with chili-fennel pork sausage meatballs, smoked bacon, cracked black pepper, fresh flat leaf parsley and egg-parmigiano cheese sauce and classic Italian desserts like almond chocolate semifreddo with chocolate shavings, crème anglaise, crushed amaretti and fresh whipped cream.
Residing in a beautiful converted schoolhouse dating back to the 1870s, The Olde School boasts seven differently themed dining rooms, including a piano bar with nightly entertainment, The Olde School is a cozy, nostalgic dining option and open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Choose from tempting dishes like fresh Atlantic salmon filet pan-seared with braised leeks, onions and mushrooms or venison chops with old port wine sauce and pair them with a selection from The Olde School’s extensive wine list, featuring varieties from Canada, France and Italy.
Serving delicious all-American cuisine teamed with local craft beers, from the likes of Toronto’s Mill Street Brewery and Brantford’s own Bell City Brewing, within a cool space, Zander’s Fire Grill & Brew Lounge is a great local option for casual, fun dining. Take a seat at one of its comfy booths and take in Zander’s rock-themed surroundings and choose from an eclectic menu of burgers, sandwiches, ribs, steaks and seafood. If you try one dish, make sure its Zander’s signature slow-roasted beer can chicken with homemade BBQ sauce and gravy.
Cold Beet Salad with arugula, tangerine, quinoa and goat cheese | Courtesy of On The Lam
Offering casual fine dining at its best, Al Dente is a much-loved local restaurant, in operation for nearly 30 years, serving delicious Italian pasta dishes like chicken fettuccine with house-made Alfredo sauce alongside classic pizzas, steaks, burgers and seafood. The award-winning restaurant also boasts a beautiful covered patio perfect for a spot of al fresco dining, and for an extra special experience, guests can book a place on its wine and beer tour dinners, which include a visit to local craft brewers and vineyards topped off with a four-course meal at Al Dente.
A quirky little restaurant in downtown Brantford, On The Lam specializes in modern gourmet cuisine with a creative twist and a raw menu that has made it a favorite amongst Brantford foodies. A concise but impressive menu features fare like bone-on pork chop with roasted pepper hot sauce, crispy jalapeños and veal reduction, while On The Lam’s daily changing raw dishes include the likes of oysters served up with fresh horseradish, lemon and a mignonette sauce. Team with one of On The Lam’s fine wines, an old-school cocktail or a craft beer or two for the perfect evening.
A meeting of Greek and Italian cuisine, Gus & Guido’s is the brainchild of Steve Psaroudis, the owner and chef, who since opening five years ago has transformed the cozy, welcoming restaurant into one of the city’s most popular food haunts. With a varied menu based on traditional, old-world recipes, there’s something for everyone at Gus & Guido’s. Relax at a comfy booth or dine outside on the patio on warmer evenings and go Greek with kota yemesti, a grilled chicken breast stuffed with spicy spinach and goat cheese or opt for classic Italian pasta and pizza dishes. Different featured dishes, including the likes of grilled yellowfin tuna with watermelon-peach chutney, are also offered each evening.
For a dining experience slightly out of the ordinary in Brantford, look no further than Dolch’Eh Bistro, a popular restaurant specializing in Eastern European fare and located in an unassuming strip mall that belies a cozy, homey interior. Choose from classic, hearty soups like Ukrainian borscht or Hungarian goulash and pierogis stuffed with fillings like cheese and potato or sauerkraut followed by entrées such as beef rouladen or pork schnitzel served with sides like dill cabbage and red beet salad. Dolch’Eh Bistro’s eats are teamed with a range of European beers and wines from the neighboring Tawse Winery.
Serving mouthwatering Mediterranean fare with casual fine dining flair, Speekezzies Café & Wine Bar has been a local dining go-to since it first opened its doors 17 years ago. It remains one of Brantford’s best-loved restaurants today and chef-owner Anthony Alfano’s dishes, (from the spicy Sicilian wood-fired pizza topped with filicetti sausage, capicolli salami, onions, green olives, mozzarella and fiery chili oil to the chargrilled Alberta striploin with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and Madagascar peppercorn sauce) are as popular as ever. Wine connoisseurs will love Speekezzies’ extensive collection, there’s a regular wine list with reds and whites from across the globe and an exclusive wine list featuring vintage and private import wines.