Woolfy's is a family owned and operated fine dining establishment located on the outskirts of St. Marys. Recently we had the chance to sit down with owner and chef Christoper Woolf to chat about his 19-year-old establishment.
Located fifteen minutes outside of Stratford, Ontario near the town of St. Marys is this quaint little restaurant. Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Chris and Mary Woolf (Chris is the chef, and Mary manages the front of house), the couple took over the space that was formerly The Wildwood Inn, and turned it into a restaurant that focuses on seasonal and local ingredients.
Influenced by his time spent at the Church restaurant with chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, Woolf decided to turn the Wildwood Inn space into a fine dining establishment in 1999 and feature a menu built around the bounty of fresh ingredients from Perth County.
Last year, the couple converted one of the rooms at the house and launched the Little Red Cafe—a more relaxed bistro option for diners. We had the chance to sit down with chef Woolf and chat about Woolfy's and the Little Red Cafe.
What's the history behind Woolfys?
The house that we're in right now used to be a bungalow. We came into existence about 19 years ago. My wife and I ran it as the Wildwood Inn for four years. We then decided to turn it into a fine dining establishment.
What's your culinary philosophy?
My philosophy is to try and use local farms for produce. Back when the Wildwood Inn was around there was a trout farm down the street and the Inn would host these popular trout dinners. After moving to Canada in 1976 I spent some time working with Jean Marie Lacroix at the Church restaurant and he always had this open door policy for producers. Local producers could walk through the back door and show him what they had available. I loved this idea and wanted to use and support local produce as much as possible. My emphasis was on freshness back then and it's still the same today.
How often does the menu change?
Our menu changes as often as the produce changes. Most often the we just rely on the produce and meats, and we change the menus accordingly.
Can you describe the cafe?
We opened Little Red Cafe last year to give an alternative to fine dining. Continuing with the theme of local produce, but in a more relaxed cafe bistro style, without the tablecloths, while still presenting local ingredients. The theme for the cafe is Little Red Riding Hood, we have prints from the Grimm brothers' stories, and artist Scott McCowan has given some of his artwork to hang on the walls. He's a local graphic artist.
I hear you spend a lot of time curating your wine list. Can you explain how you select the wines?
We always wanted to support the local wine industry as well. Mary and I spend time in Niagara every year and we do most of our wine shopping during the Labour Day weekend. A lot of research is done beforehand. This past season we wanted to find a really good house red and house white. We've also built a number of relationships with wineries in the region. It has been very important for us to offer local wines to our clients, as they have really embraced the opportunity to enjoy Ontario wines.
Woolfy's is open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner and launches their 2013 season with a Valentine's day celebration (menu can be seen here).
Woolfy's at Wildwood
Highway 7 and (118)119
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Written by Suresh Doss
Suresh Doss is the publisher of SpotlightToronto.com and Rickshawmag.com. Founder of the Food Truck Eats festival, Suresh has been a pioneer for the Street food movement in Toronto. In 2011, He was awarded the VQA Promoter’s Award for outstanding achievement in the Media category in the promotion of Ontario VQA Wines. Suresh is also the Global Editor for Whitecap’s StreetEats series of travel guides, which focuses on the best street food across North America.