Comedy and (near) Tragedy in Stratford

4 Jul

The #SmugCouple recently ticked off a bucket list item we’re sure all Canadians share: watch Colm Feore in a Shakespearean production at Stratford. Sound familiar? You probably know Colm from Bon Cop/ Bad Cop or … playing Canada’s most badass PM, Trudeau. He’s playing King Lear this year and yes, he’s everything we imagined.

Perhaps it was our hectic week that was to blame … or the long weekend in May, but like a pair of fools, we neglected to make restaurant reservations in advance. We assumed we’d be able to eat anywhere. Thus, when we arrived at the restaurant where we had been planning on eating (Pazzo Taverna), we were informed that they had “no tables” and could not seat us until well into the second act of our play. Perfect.

Undaunted, and armed with a list of several restaurants at which we have dined in the past, we ventured onwards in search of food. At each stop, we were told by hosts and hostesses (stifling laughter) that there was no room to accommodate us.  What began as a comedy was quickly descending into a tragedy. Would we be forced to suffer the outrageous fortune of beginning our evening at one of North America’s premier theatre festivals with a meal of (ugh) fast food?!

Despairing and by now running short on time, we decided to try one more place, Rene’s Bistro, a small and charming seeming establishment, but one that we had neither seen, nor heard of before. We walked by the restaurant TWICE, unimpressed by the “French/ Italian” billing. But, we peered into the busy restaurant, it was filled with contented diners so we tried our luck. The flaxen-haired hostess (our saviour) told us that, despite a rather busy looking dining room, they not only had room to seat us, but that it would be no problem to get us fed and on our way in time to make our play.

When we were at last seated and looking at the menu, we found that nearly everything sounded appealing to us, even the oft-maligned vegetarian option.  Normally this would be a good problem to have, but we were in a hurry.  My main, a braised lamb shank, was a winner.  The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauce was rich and savoury.  The star, however, was Clementine’s main of herb-crusted salmon.  The fish was light and delicate yet still flavourful. The accompanying polenta, which packed a garlicky, herbaceous punch, almost stole the show on its own; an impressive feat for a dish which has its origins as simple peasant fare.

The friendly and efficient staff at Rene’s Bistro ensured that our meal was speedy but also never made us feel rushed.  Most importantly, they delivered on their promise and we arrived at our play with a few minutes to spare. Thank you Rene’s Bistro for saving our night!

We came to Stratford looking for a good meal and a good show.  After some unexpected drama, we ended up getting both.


Rene's Bistro on Urbanspoon


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