Sometimes we reviewers make really rash decisions. About the inelegant second bite in my main course at the Ridge Social Eatery in Roseville, I regretted letting my guts dictate my entree choice.
I had ordered the cornbread ($14), planning to share it with my wife – along with some savory bran mussels – as a prelude to the main course. The mussels turned out to be unavailable, the corn fritters seemed out of season, and while the citrus cauliflower looked tantalizing, we passed on any additional additions.
The cornbread arrived in two pieces – four large crumbly pieces grilled on the gas stove, infused with a subtle blend of smoked cheddar, habanero pepper and honey butter. Despite a regrettable hint of gas, the dish was incredibly more greedy.
We – OK, I – purposely stuffed ourselves like rabbits on a patch of spring clover, which got me in trouble.
Reluctantly avoiding other entree choices – the Crispy Pork Belly ($32) and Beef Bourguignon Cheek ($30) seemed potentially a little heavy – I’d defaulted to the standard calibration tool. from the examiner, the homemade burger.
The Ridge burger ($16) — with cheddar and bacon ($1.50 each) — came hot from the grill, with a fresh brioche bun, aioli, tomato and lettuce. It also arrived with lots of crispy home fries. Stuffed with cornbread, with the second bite I knew there was no way I could handle more, no matter how good.
Roseville, in the Township of North Dumfries and located just off Highway 401 between Ayr and Kitchener, is a rural community that hosted the 2012 International Plowing Contest and Rural Exposition.
In a half-full marketing feat, The Ridge’s new owners, Kendra Clark and her husband, chef Mike Eckhardt, describe their newly remodeled restaurant as “in the middle of nowhere, but in the heart of it all.”
During the 20 minute drive from Waterloo, one could not fail to observe the level of development taking place along Fischer-Hallman Road. So while it’s still officially in the boonies, The Ridge will be well positioned to be a restaurant of choice for the occupants of all these new accommodations.
Our cheerful and helpful server quickly seated us near a window table where I could watch vehicles passing by to my right, unlike the serene, well-decorated room to my left. Soft jazz provided exactly the right soundtrack to our efficient dinner. A new offer of seasonal evening tickets was launched in May. It complements other regular menu items, including interesting small plates, soups and salads, burgers, wraps, and fish and chips.
For her main course, Madame chose the barbecue duck ($32). Think a gendered version of your grandparents’ duck à l’orange, but with ingredients unknown to most Westerners during the original’s heyday in the 1960s: greasy Shanghai noodles, chili vinegar sauce black, lychees and snow peas. The duck – two candied drumsticks finished on the barbecue – was succulent and the retro dish met with considerable favour.
To finish, I struggled to taste a piece of Lemon Coconut Square ($8). Topped with a veritable avalanche of ice cream and powdered sugar, it turned out to be half too sweet.
A square of butter pie was quickly polished by herself, who said all butter pies should be made this way.
Eckhardt – an experienced chef with a background in high-end catering, catering and other culinary operations – says he and his wife were delighted to take possession of the property last December, even though they were immediately obliged by COVID to only offer takeout. The dining room reopened in February. He is currently alone in the kitchen, afflicted, like others, by a shortage of staff. To say it’s stretched, especially on weekends, is an understatement.
Clark describes himself as “the loudmouth who runs the house and social media.” The Ridge has certainly developed a vigorous Twitter presence: far from it’s about the restaurant or the menu, but it gets people talking at The Ridge in Roseville.
Clark is hesitant to use the term gastropub to describe their operation. She’s right. It’s downright pub/bistro food, but carefully prepared and presented. I wish them well as they continue to forge their identity and attract customers from across the region.
The Ridge Social Restaurant
3215 Roseville Road, Ayr
Facebook, Twitter: @TheRidgeSocial
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. The kitchen closes one hour before in all cases.
Get your food: Eat in or on the 16-seat terrace. Take-out meals are available but are subject to kitchen capacity, particularly on weekends.
The law project: $112.95 (taxes included but no tip) for an appetizer, two mains, two desserts, a mocktail ($4.95) and a nine-ounce glass of Chardonnay ($14).
Payment: Cash, debit or all major credit cards.
Accessibility: A mobile ramp for the front door is available on request and there are accessible toilets.
To note: The otherwise well-designed short drinks menu offers no non-alcoholic options, a faux pas these days, especially for a place that requires having a vehicle for easy access. Our server, however, rose to the challenge by producing a concoction of usable ginger beer and peaches.
Ordering food in the time of coronavirus: As restaurants make day-to-day decisions, please check their social media or call them for updates. Lists of restaurants open during dining room closures are available at https://bit.ly/3d2JV74 and wilmotstrongertogether.ca; a crowdsourced list can be found on Facebook’s Food In The Waterloo Region at bit.ly/3d1cKAX