A Perfect Staycation Begins – the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, Café Andreou & an Evening at the Sanderson Centre
With our tour of the Glenhyrst Art Gallery complete, Melissa took us to our hotel where we were able to check in, deposit our luggage and get ready for the evening. Our abode for tonight was The Bodega Inn, a recently constructed boutique hotel with 18 uniquely decorated hotel rooms, all equipped with a fully functional kitchen and dining area. My room was located on the third floor and had a perfect view of adjacent Harmony Square, the centre of Brantford’s civic and cultural activities.
My spacious bedroom at The Bodega Inn
In addition to a large-size king bed I had a pull-out leather couch, a spacious dining area and a kitchen, just in case I felt like preparing some of my own meals. I was located on the third floor where all units feature an Asian décor. My travel partner was on the second floor, which is decorated with an African theme.
Sitting area in an African-themed room at The Bodega Inn
In the late afternoon Melissa picked us up again and took us to Café Andreou, a fine dining restaurant located in a gorgeous historic mansion on West Street. The cuisine at Café Andreou is traditional Italian and features a wide variety of appetizers, pastas, meat dishes and seafood.
Brantford’s Café Andreou, located in a historic house
Owner Chris Andreou welcomed us cordially and took me on a tour of the entire house. Chris himself originally hails from Larissa in Greece and is passionate about Mediterranean cooking. His background in the hospitality industry spans every imaginable job, from dishwashing to waiting tables, to mixing drinks as a barman, to cooking as well as many years of restaurant ownership. Today Café Andreou features the cuisines of Tuscany, Napoli (Naples) and Sicily.
The crew at Café Andreou: Michalis, Sarah,Chris and Dimitrios
On my tour, Chris introduced me to Sarah, his great-niece who now busses tables, and his sons Dimitrios and Michalis who both work as chefs in the kitchen. An eight-seat chef’s table allows culinary aficionados to experience food crafting from right inside the kitchen. Chris also pointed out original art on the walls, all created by local artist Richard Kirby, whose paintings were adorning the entire 140 year old house.
Guest room at Café Andreou
Shortly after the tour we started our meal with fresh bread accompanied by a delicious olive tapenade. From here I ordered the salad special. Chris also recommended that we try arancini (Sicilian rice balls) as well as porchetta, slow roasted pork belly that takes about four to five hours to roast. The porchetta just melted in my mouth. My main dish were home-made gnocchi in a rose tomato sauce while my friend had a tender rack of lamb which he was still raving about as the evening went on. Melissa and her colleagues enjoyed scampi in a red wine sauce with baby spinach and a Chilean sea bass Tuscany style wrapped with prosciutto.
Delicious food at Café Andreou
Given the fact we still had a cultural event planned for the evening, we unfortunately did not have time for a dessert. Our plan was to see to see a performance of Driving Miss Daisy at the historic Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, so we had to rush so as not to miss the beginning of the play.
The historic Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts
The Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts is truly one of Brantford’s cultural and architectural gems. Opened in 1919 as a vaudeville theatre, the original Temple Theatre was converted to a cinema in 1929, and renamed the Capitol Theatre. From then on it became part of the Famous Players movie theatre chain until 1986 when the City of Brantford purchased it and turned it back to a performing arts theatre. Extensive renovations were completed over a period of four years that brought the theatre back to its original glory. Today the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts is one of Brantford’s most impressive buildings and a winner of the 2009 Shining Stars Tourism Award.
The beautifully restored interior of the Sanderson Centre
For us it was the perfect place to spend an evening. Enveloped by the gorgeously renovated auditorium we enjoyed the performance as the actors skillfully recreated the touching friendship between Hoak and Miss Daisy. At the end of the play the audience was clapping enthusiastically. We learned that the actor who had played Hoak was actually a local high school principal. He and his co-stars were surrounded by many exuberant fans who wanted to shake the actors’ hands before they left the building. Everyone had enjoyed the performance.
Architectural detail of the ceiling of the Sanderson Centre
We decided to have a little nightcap across the street at the Coffee Culture café. Relaxing over a cup of tea we concluded that our first few hours in Brantford had exposed us to interesting art, culture and culinary experiences and we were already looking forward to the next day and half in this city.