Guest Post by Chris McCormick
According to their menu on their website, Black Bellow’s Mission is as follows:
“Like the blacksmiths of the past and the makers and creators of today, we infuse the spirit of relentless invention into everything we do. It’s why we support imagination in our community. It’s why we embrace a no-rules approach to brewing. It’s why our brewpub is a place where the old is transformed into the fantastically new!”
The long-awaited reimagining of historical Dey’s Autobody in downtown Collingwood appears to be a resounding success. Now open as Black Bellows, this restaurant and Brew Pub is full, full, full on the Friday lunchtime that we visited.
The vibe in BB is old-timey beer hall meets hipsters meets ski lodge. Long wooden tables seat 10+ people at a time, there are bars here and there plus a few separate tables. We nabbed a table and felt lucky we did. This is a bustling, fun atmosphere with the patrons’ chatter competing with the piped-in music. The décor is rustic to be sure and encourages sharesies – of both food and conversation. Be sure to check out the art wall by the main bar – it’s kitschy and tongue in cheek. Loved it!
Speaking of sharesies – it’s encouraged by the menu, with many dishes designed to be shared amongst a table. The dishes come out from the kitchen as soon as they’re ready – something the BB calls Chinatown style – while others are meant for you to eat alone. The long tables encourage this family-style eating and it seems popular amongst the clientele.
Fun fact – there is fried rice of the day, as well as a doughnut of the day. How can you go wrong? At our table, we sampled the beet avocado salad with pepitas and the beef fried rice. The salad was good, and so was the fried rice, although it was under seasoned and on the tepid side when it reached us. For mains, we had a curried trout sandwich which was mildly spicy and very good; a fried hot chicken sandwich (Korean style) which was a deep-fried chicken breast resplendent with batter and a spicy drizzle of sauce; and a good-ole’ hamburger, which was chuck-ing delicious.
As it was mid-work-day, only one of us had a beer, and pronounced it to be on-point – and – visually, it was an amazing colour. A flight of 5 beer is $10 and was being ordered liberally by other patrons. Coffee was A+.
Other yums noticed on the menu – chicken-skin-chicharron; okonomiyaki, and deconstructed sio pao. This place is imaginative in their menu, and they make no bones about accommodating dietary differences (Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan).
After our workout with really good food and trying to hear each other speak over the din of happy customers, we were too full to eat the Chocolate Passion Fruit donut of the day, but two diners at my table had eaten the Carrot Cake doughnut on another occasion (and didn’t bring me a sample!!) and said it was fabulous.
Our server was tip-top and accommodated several changes to the burger with patience and good humour– no cheese, no sauce, cook it well-done. In fact, we had the burger returned to be cooked from rare-ish to well, and it was returned very quickly with grace.
Prices – we all found the prices to be ample for the portion size. A side of fries – which didn’t look hand-cut – is $6, alone. Add to that, the burger price of $13, plus a drink and you’re well into mid-$20s to $30 for lunch. The fried rice was very good and was $12 for a shareable plate. The other sandwiches were $12 or $13 and the salad was $12.50.
Overall, the food was very good, the atmosphere fun (loud and bustling) and the service was excellent, while the prices were a little on the high side. Black Bellows will undoubtedly do very well given their great location at the corner of Simcoe and Ste. Marie Streets, across from the library.