When I was planning my trip to Stratford I asked a lot of people – tourists and locals alike – where I should go to eat. The responses I received were all more than positive and somewhat varied, except when it came to Fosters Inn. For all the classics with a fresh and modern twist – every finger pointed to Foster’s Inn. As it turns out, Foster’s also has a fantastically healthy bar scene and beautiful guest rooms and is next on my list of places to stay while in Stratford, Ontario.
The Victorian building that houses Foster’s was built in 1906 and went through extensive renovations in 1997. The good news is that the renovations were done with the intention of preserving much of the original architecture. This mix of modern amenities and old world charm gives character to Foster’s unmatched by most other Ontario Inn’s I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. And, each of their nine non-smoking rooms have 14 foot ceilings and unique decor.
We arrived on time for a late lunch and were seated at a perfect bucket booth seat at the front window with a clear view of the patio. The hostess and waitresses are very kind and had great menu suggestions. I was also super pleased to see a Chateau Des Charmes Cabernet on the wine list alongside some other favourites from the Niagara wine region. The interior is a balance between bright cafe and sultry bistro and bar. The booth and table combination is a favourite, not to mention their long bar – it would be a great venue for a night-cap (or two).
At first glance the menu appears traditional but with a closer look you’ll see Foster’s talent at putting a modern-day and fresh spin on some our our favourite classics. For example, the watermelon salad with their house-made feta – I’d never seen or eaten anything like that before and have tried (without success) to mock it in my own kitchen. Something else to mention – that this local lux always loves to see – is that the Foster’s Inn kitchen supports local suppliers. Their herbs, veggies, honey, meats, seafood and desserts are all purposefully sourced and grown/ raised close-by. Speaking of the desserts …
OH the desserts! You need not leave Foster’s Inn unless you’ve indulged in the Foster’s Banana Toffee Cake.
It was not long after we placed our order that we noticed a little bit of fan-fare out on the patio. As luck would have it Peter Townshend was in Stratford for the opening of the Rock-Opera Tommy playing at the Stratford Festival. For those of you unaware, Mr. Townshend is the lead guitarist for The Who, who, in 1969 released their award-winning album – Tommy. This year, the musical Tommy is playing at the Avon Theatre and no doubt Pete Townshend was in town to launch his creation. It’s too bad that I didn’t have a copy of his 2012 book – Who Am I – for him to sign. It was fun, however, to see him relaxing (for the most part) with a pint of local brew.
To the credit of the kitchen, once our food arrived Mr. Townshend was long forgotten. Here’s an idea of the delicious fare that arrived at our table that afternoon:
~ fresh mint, balsamic reduction, house made feta
~ beef burger, hand cut frites, garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato, red onion
Chicken and Brie
~ Pickes Eh? hot pepper jelly, arugula
~ daily creation, herb thin crust, mixed greens
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
~ hazelnut wafer, mixed berries
Foster’s Banana Toffee Cake
~ amaretto ice cream, sauteed bananas
I wish I’d visited Foster’s earlier during my stay in Stratford because I certainly would have returned for at least a late night drink and some nosh. I guess that will have to wait until I return to experience all that this gem has to offer. Until then, I leave you with this promise – if their accommodation is anything like their food, anyone visiting Foster’s Inn is in for an absolutely decadent and satisfying stay!