Monday, August 17, 2009

An Afternoon in Unionville: Old Country Inn for Homey Austrian Fare

We finally had a hot sunny weekend in Toronto so we decided to explore Unionville, a quaint historic district in Markham. I imagine it is always pedestrian friendly but we happened to visit during its annual Jazz festival where the main street was closed off for a number of sound stages. I loved the relaxed feel of the area, with visitors and locals alike enjoying the jazz and also Toogood pond, a small body water not far from main street. We took a walk around the pond where we saw kids fishing, families having picnics, and other locals just enjoying the hot summer weather in the fields and along the picnic tables. It's certainly a nice retreat from the busy life of Toronto! I was surprised to see turtles in the water and this strange bird along the shore (and a white one in the marshes) - no idea what it is, and so far google has not told me, but we were intrigued none the less. Someone local must know!

Main street is populated with little shops, ice cream parlours, and patios galore. We decided to stop in the Old Country Inn, drawn by the Austrian fare of schnitzels, bratwurst and the like. I always long to relive (re-eat?) my exchange experience in Munich, where I had actually stayed with an Austrian family. My host-mom's food was always delicious - they became very familiar with my declarations of "yummy!"

The Old Country Inn is a 127 year old house that appears to be a local favourite, it was packed for jazz fest with reservations from at least a week in advance. Lucky for us, the manager found us a table inside after a very short wait (honestly, it was just too hot for patio). I had liver dumpling soup and rindsgulasch - rump roast cubed and simmered Hungarian style. Tony had potato soup and a delicious jager schnitzel, cutlet in a creamy bacon mushroom sauce. We finished with the sacher torte, famous Viennese style chocolate cake, layered with marmalade! Our dinner was satisfying - comfort food is always my love - and very reasonably priced as our bill came to under $60. You would think that such a tourist area would have much higher prices, but I'm not complaining!

We loved Unionville and the Old Country Inn - we will certainly visit again to try other items on the menu. A warning to any future visitors to jazz fest - the evening is simply packed, with traffic lined up blocks out from main street to get in! Be sure to drop by early with the entire family.

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