This story will lend new meaning to the phrase "crawl across hot coals" to reach a destination. Last weekend, I went through hell to reach a culinary heaven in Thornbury.
The hell, so to speak, was the rough, pothole-covered stretch of Highway 26 through Craigleith, west of Collingwood. The bone-jarring began on the east side of Craigleith Provincial Park and lasted until just east of Camperdown Road.
Why any company would be allowed to rip all the asphalt off about 10 kilometres of highway during a road-building project defies logic. One would think they would resurface one lane and then rebuild the other lane. As it was, the dirt-topped roadway dissolved into a morass of potholes leaving drivers crawling along at two to three kilometres an hour on that rainy day.
But I digress.
We suffered the highway displeasure only to arrive at The Cheese Gallery in downtown Thornbury.
There, we found heaven in the form of a cheese platter for two, a grilled cheese sandwich, an Americano and a Cappucino.
We also got to meet cheese gallery owner Casey Thomson who started this friendly restaurant five years ago after making a decision that many other people have made. That decision was not to move from the area when a job-career beckoned elsewhere. Instead, Casey Thomson started The Cheese Gallery and that made many people thankful that she did.
As one enters The Cheese Gallery, one passes a seating area on the left, a sweets counter on the right and then comes to the main open-kitchen area further on the left. Further on the right are shelves loaded with goodies. At the back of the restaurant, there is another, more-private seating area, as well as super-clean washrooms. The latter is always a good sign.
We found stools at the main kitchen area bar first, but managed to snap up some comfy armchairs next to a little table when some other happy patrons left. Around us other patrons were chatting about the horror of bouncing/driving on Highway 26.
We got the cheese platter for two by being the successful bidders on mycollingwood's "double dollars" offer. Janet, one of the gallery's employees, built the grilled cheese for us and it tickled our taste buds in a positive way because of the unique cheese/sliced apple/red pepper jelly combination. The grilled cheese, just like the cheese platter, was sufficient for two of us.
Businesses succeed because of excellent service (add friendly to excellent) and because of excellent products. Casey Thomson and her staff have that down to a science, fluttering over to us from time to time to check that everything was fine. It was, proving that customer by customer The Cheese Gallery has become a "go to" place in Thornbury.
But as they say on those cheesy commercials which offer you hose bibs and cutting knives: "there's more!" Yes, wandering around the restaurant one soon comes to the conclusion that there are excellent gifts, or personal-use items, galore available here. Yes, the goods, much like the excellent cheeses, are not inexpensive, but one must expect to pay for quality.
From ginger to specialty crackers, from a book about Muskoka to "Firekraut" in a jar (made locally in Eugenia, Ontario), lots of goodies beckoned. Something to keep in mind if you are looking for locally-made, or special gift items.
We'll be back to The Cheese Gallery and that's for certain.
Only next time, we won't have to "crawl across hot coals" to get there because Highway 26 should be resurfaced by then. Hopefully, that will be sooner than later!
By: George Czerney