When visiting the lovely Bonnieheath Winery and Lavender Farm, we heard about the Lavender Culinary Trail. The Urban Parisian in Port Dover was a part of that unique initiative and on our way so we decided to check it out
The cafe is inside a two-story historic corner house with the bottom floor cladding made of brick with messy cement joints - a memorable, chic look. We climbed the deck and entered under the small door awning. Their sign was not too prominent, but just enough to get noticed. Their neutral colours blended in nicely with the building's exterior and, unfortunately, lacked in being memorable.
Inside, there was a café-like service - order at cashier and take a seat. Plenty of energy with their orange and red walls, as well as quite a few spaces to sit. We initially thought the fresh pastries on display are our only choices, but then we noticed a chalk board on the side wall with a decent selection. Their lunch special included two of the following : soup, salad, or sandwich. There were a couple of options from each to ensure just enough variety. Behind the counter seemed to be a pretty packed small area for the chef to operate. By the looks of it, there only seemed to be two people running the place. The chef was in no mood for a direct conversation with us as we inquired and he spoke to the cashier who simply relayed the basic facts about the food to us.
We were quite tempted to grab their Blue Cheese (baguette-like) bread, like the four ladies before us, decided to settle in for a fuller lunch meal. We also asked about the lavender taste trail initiative, which turned out was just ended in July. To our delight, there were still had some fresh lavender macaroons there. Different pastries were made each day for this lavender cross-promotion.
We found a free table outside and part-took in the outdoor ambiance. The tables and chairs were quite heavy to move around. They were made of metal, painted black and carved with elaborate floral patterns all around - very Victorian-looking. Their large veranda was quite spacious, as there weren't too many seats outside. Also, a large part of the seating was in the open sun. The two lucky tables close to the corner had a large tree over them and were high in demand. Throughout our experience, this little town main street got quite noisy with plenty of engines roaring.
Our food took some time to arrive, but was hot and fresh. Both dishes were neatly organized on the rounded square white plates.
Our first meal was Broccoli Orzo Salad with a side of their Soupe de Jour. The soup was thick, and creamy and came with a side of a fresh baguette. This tomato-based dish was rich in vegetable chunks, with a smell of Parmesan. Even Cheri (hardly ever eating soup) liked it, as it resembled a puree consistency, rather then broth. The Broccoli salad was also a great choice. The raw broccoli florets were mixed with soft orzo pasta and roasted rep peppers. The salads' accent came from the unique pine-nut, zesty pesto. The salad lay in a bed of spring leaves and was topped with small spouts. It was a refreshing choice for the warm day.
Our other dish was a French Onion Panani. It consisted of their herbed flatbread filled with rich caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese, hot pressed to golden. The panini itself was sweet, heavy and filling. The small side of green salad was much needed to help freshen up this dish. Apart from that, it came with a mysterious side of dark sauce which Cheri promptly refused to touch. It turned out that it was flavorful, beef, onion broth, which made this dish really French Onion Soup inspired. We did think the broth was a bit too salty for our taste buds though, but we agreed this was an interesting choice.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Urban Parisian. We had a very affordable gourmet meal in a great atmosphere. We thought the biggest disadvantage was the lack of beer or wine to be enjoyed. That would've been ideal.
We had the purple macaroons for dessert. They were great - soft and sweet with a lovely smell of lavender and some chocolate filling. We should've had more of them and perhaps tasted their coffee.
One more note, the corner patio is definitely one of the great attractions for Urban Parisian, we hope it can still generate enough business to stay afloat during the cold winter months.