Location: 71 Gore St E, Perth, ON K7H 1H7
What We Ordered:
- Bison Burger
- Mary’s Lamb Burger
- Fish & Chips
My youngest brother got hitched in Perth, Ontario. So we packed up the kiddies and drove north through winding roads lined with colourful fall trees. The wedding was in Stewart Park which we learned at the reception (held at the former Stewart Manor) was donated to the city by the widowed Mrs. Stewart decades ago, provided they maintain it and “never charge people” an entry fee. It is a beautiful park with a river running through it. There were six weddings happening that day and much comradery between each party. Prior to the ceremony, one group passed by a couple dozen meters away and we all cheered and shouted congratulations to each other. Later, when we cheered our bride and groom, another group across the park erupted in celebration with us. Weddings certainly are fun and joyous occasions.
The reception was supposed to be at The Stone Cellar but was bumped due to a “double booking”. That worked out in our favour because the venue we ended up at was the Perth Manor Boutique Hotel and it was way better than The Stone Cellar’s event space. The Stone Cellar’s space was just a long room upstairs from the restaurant. The PMBH however gave us the run of the main floor of a 150+ year manor complete with solarium and gardens. So besides the burger review, if you’re looking for an event space in Perth, the hotel is a better bet.
But this post is about the burger at The Stone Cellar which we went to for lunch the day after the wedding. They have several burgers, including pork/beef combo, lamb, bison, and vegetarian (nut based). I had the Bison Burger. The cheese had a wonderful smokey flavour and is made a few kilometres up the road in Bladerson, Ontario. I liked this burger and the ingredients are all local and fresh. But I think the toppings weren’t quite right combined with the bison patty. Overall, it was missing some moisture, acid, and sweetness. I think a few tweaks would make this burg really sing.
Meat: The Bison Burger is made with bison meat (surprise!!). It is sourced locally and made in-house. It seemed to be grilled rather than flame-broiled, but I can’t confirm that. It’s just the way it looked and felt that makes me think that. It was not too salty which is so refreshing when that happens. But the patty was over cooked and a bit too peppery. I find bison a little meaty and lean which is why the toppings play an important role to tie it all together. The meat is so dry that I might have liked to see this burger split into two thinner patties cooked fast on a hot grill with the cheese in the middle and drizzled with a bit of butter while grilling. That might have helped moisten up this meat.
Toppings: This is where the burger fell apart for me. It comes with bibb lettuce, vine tomato, homemade ketchup, Balderson smoked cheddar, and dijonnaise. On paper, those all sound delicious. But bison is a powerful tasting meat that is leaner than beef, so the toppings have to account for that and be in the right order. The order in which you place toppings can have a big impact on the flavour. To improve this burger I would have: put the homemade ketchup on the bottom (and made it a little sweeter) to moisten the patty, added caramelized onions, then the patty, smoked cheddar, added house-made round-sliced pickles, discard the vine tomato, yes to bibb lettuce, and garlic mayo instead of dijonnaise on the top bun. If you’re listening Stone Cellar, give it a try!
Bun: The bun was wonderful. Had a delightful crust on the outside and we could tell it was fresh and made locally.
Not too far from Perth is Lanark which is the maple syrup capital of Ontario (or so they claim) and the side of sweet potato fries feature that pure maple syrup drizzled all over. It’s as delicious as it sounds. I also tried the carrot soup, which was very creamy. I had a bite of the Mary’s Lamb Burger. It was unmistakably lamby and they had some kind of jam or something on it with some herbs that reminded me of Christmas. I also ate some fish and chips. The fish was light and not too greasy at all. The food is all fresh and local and really good. I do recommend coming here for the food.
Atmosphere & Staff:
The atmosphere is cozy and quiet. There were two other tables with friends all 65+ years old. I suspect the place attracts an older crowd most of the time. There is a glass room at the back of the restaurant filled with wines and a fireplace in the middle of the restaurant. There is an event space upstairs which is basically a long open room. There was one waitress and she was friendly and nice. Heads up, there are no baby-changing stations in any of their bathrooms. I had to use an armchair in the upstairs bathroom to change our little guy.
This burger didn’t hit the mark. The ingredients were outstanding local fare, but the cooking and combination of toppings failed this otherwise good-on-paper burg. But I liked the restaurant, and would be happy to go again if I was ever in town.