"FRESH AIR, FRESH FOOD - DINING AL FRESCO IS BEST"
Summer sun means it is super fun to dine at the city’s best patios. Londoners value our short warm weather season and choose to use that time to the max with celebrations outdoors, so here are some ideas to consider when you’re ready to dine al fresco this summer.
Keep it casual
LONDON WINE BAR
Wine not? That’s the question at both locations of the London Wine Bar.
The newest one, in Wortley Village, not surprisingly has an extensive wine list. Summer sangria is served on the front patio while you sip and watch the foot and auto traffic negotiate the streets of this vibrant corner of the city. With pops of bright green in the umbrellas and lanterns, it’s a cheerful atmosphere and the servers are just as upbeat as the colour scheme. Having taken over the space early this year, this is the first summer for this location of the London Wine Bar. If wine isn’t your thing, you can also explore the season cocktail offerings or one of the beers on tap to quench your summer thirst.
Food is front and centre at this location, with the menu populated by fun favourites. Lighter appetites will appreciate the snack size offerings, like chili garlic olives or sweet and savoury nuts. The arancini balls are a lovely way to whet your appetites on date night. At lunch time, try one of the offerings on the Value in the Village menu. Food and drinks are offered at special prices. Personal recommendation: ribeye bulgogi frites. Tender beef served in a delicious savoury sauce topped with the freshness of cilantro all topping crispy fresh cut fries.
Three years ago the Talbot Street location became a downtown fixture and also features an extensive wine menu. Tapas and shareable plates are the stars of the food show there. Both are available on a petite patio, which is the perfect location to relax before attending an event at Budweiser Gardens. Personal recommendation: summer sangria with chorizo stuffed mushrooms.
CROSSINGS PUB AND EATERY
When the weather is fine, getting a seat on a patio can be challenging but the one at Crossings on Hyde Park Road has ample seating. The bar is located outside so drinks come quickly. The menu includes both pub classics, like meatloaf and fish and chips, as well as more exotic choices, like falafel pita. Personal recommendation: crab cakes.
JACK ASTOR’S DOWNTOWN
How much fun is it to sit and survey your kingdom? On this rooftop patio, you can see downtown London while enjoying a glass of suds and some pub grub. The standard Jack’s menus are served. Personal recommendation: beer and cheddar soup.
LONDON ALE HOUSE
This vine-covered, secluded patio has been a long-time downtown favourite no matter what the restaurant was called. Now the London Ale House, quaff from a large selection of beers from 16 international regions and countries or choose from 35 craft brews. For $5 each, pick from the extensive appetizer menu. Personal recommendation: vidaloo dip.
Located on Wellington Road, this is a three-season patio because there are heaters and blankets to warm you up if the evening is chilly or you want to eat outside during the shoulder seasons. The chairs are comfy and the servers friendly so you’ll want to stay awhile. Personal recommendation: brie, chicken and fig sandwich.
Dress it up
The city’s newest location for this meat lover’s paradise is in the Masonville Mall. A spacious patio serves the same favourites as you’ve always enjoyed but in an outdoor ambiance. Their unequaled twice-baked potato is definitely worth the extra time you’ll have to put in at the gym. Personal recommendation: blue cheese filet.
Perhaps the most Zen patio in the city, this peaceful nook of downtown is as luxe as it is quiet. Wines are available by the glass, half bottle or bottle for a romantic date night. The eclectic menu reflects ingredients sourced locally. Personal recommendation: wild mushroom and truffle sacchetti.
A pool of serenity in Old South, the Idlewyld Inn is a trip back in time. Dating from 1878, this historic building has had many lives. Dine on two gracious outdoor spaces. The large front porch is a shaded welcoming environment, while the porticoed back patio is a secluded space to sit in complete privacy from the road. Personal recommendation: daily quiche special.
With an accent
Italian wines complementing Italian food is a recipe for deliciousness at this lofted downtown eatery.
Start with bread directly from the wood-fired oven dipped in the tasty olive oil and balsamic mixture that your server delivers with the drink order. Try one of the four red wine flights (or the white wine flight) to flex your oenophile muscle and explore several old world wines.
Rise above the noise of downtown while perched above Richmond Row and enjoy the cool of an evening while sipping away. The patio is spacious and graciously proportioned with tables that allow diners to enjoy sun or shade as they wish. The bountiful baskets of blooms add colour but it’s all about the food.
The daily risotto features are always good, as are the hand-crafted pizzas. For a heartier appetite there are many fresh pasta dishes available. Personal recommendation: veal marsala. Tender beef served in a delicious savoury sauce. Special recommendation: order the polenta as your side. Four options are offered to accompany main courses but this one is a star. Second personal recommendation: chicken limon – a delectable tangy sauce.
Cajun hospitality is served on two outdoor eating areas: the covered front porch or the rear patio. Relax in the shade with a Sazerac, a N'awlins favourite, or a Bourbon Buzz (a personal recommendation). The menu represents many well-loved dishes from the Crescent City, like etoufee and jambalaya. Personal recommendation: pecan-crusted shrimp.
CHURCH KEY BISTRO PUB
British favourites, like the ploughman’s plate and curried chips, are featured on the menu of this relaxing patio but a wide variety of dishes from France, Italy and Canadian faves are also highlighted.
One of the sweetest patios in the core and situated next to St. Paul’s Cathedral’s serene grounds, it’s a quiet respite from the kinetic vibe of downtown. Just as locally-sourced ingredients are used in the menu choices, the beer menu also features local craft beers from the London Brewing Co-op and Cowbell Brewing in Blyth. The rotating tap always offers surprising, delicious choices. Suds from across North America, as well as international choices will whet your whistle on a warm day.
New and old world wines populate the curated list of offerings and most are available by the glass, half litre or bottle in case you want to try more than one on a warm summer evening spent patio-side listening to gentle sounds of the water feature.
Those who are lunching at the Church Key or have less hearty appetites will appreciate the extensive list of yummy appetizers that serve as a delicious meal. Adventurous appetites will love the game-of-the-week selections and the daily specials always dazzle at both lunch and dinner. Personal recommendations: cheese and onion torte, salmon-wrapped scallops and curry fries.