Saturday, 12 August 2017

Summer Time in the City: New Fun Things to Try (and Eat) in Barrie

I love water! I like to be in it, on it, near it, whether it be sea or lake, as the cool blue of a body of water refreshes me in both body and soul. When I read that Barrie was getting a new water attraction this summer, I was pretty excited. Splash On Water Park sounded fantastic!

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a self-confessed chicken and that most roller coasters and amusement park rides scare the daylights out of me. So Splash On, with its soft, brightly coloured bouncy platforms, looked to me like something even this recycled teenager, with scaredy cat tendencies, could do. So I went.

My husband, and son and I went down to Centennial Park one finally thunderstorm-free evening. Looking out at the water park a few yards from the beach, we could see a swarm of young kids clambering all over the structure. They were obviously enjoying the sunny late afternoon fun, and their parents were enjoying the cheaper after 5 p.m. admission price.

We signed up, paid up and got our wrist bands and life jackets. Off we went, swimming out into the bay, which had reached a swimmable temp in time for mid August, as is typical of this deep part of the lake. We climbed aboard the inflatable structure and I immediately learned 2 things. The park is far more wobbly than I imagined and much slipperier!

Very soon after this, and after several unexpectedly rapid dunks in the lake, I began to think that I might just be a little too old for this. Maybe. Just maybe. My theory is that if a 10 year old falls down 50 times, they will get up and run around laughing and jumping with no ill effects, but if a 50 year old falls down 10 times, they may not be able to go to work tomorrow.

My back told me that I should perhaps just stay in the lake next time I wiped out, and I listened. I enjoyed a nice dip in Kempenfelt Bay and got plenty of entertainment from the antics of the kids, jumping and hollering like kids should do in the summer. After my own 23 year old kid had had enough, we decided to go for a burger.

Our plan was to have dinner at the beach outpost of Kenzington Burger, but we didn't realize that they had opted not to open for the 2017 season due to the construction happening around Centennial Park this year. The near finished product looks great, by the way!

Not to worry, Barrie's inventory of fun dining establishments is endless, and we quickly had a Plan B in mind - State & Main in the new shopping plaza at Cundles and Duckworth.

Nothing like a swim to make you ravenous! After changing into dry clothes at home, the three of us headed over to State & Main, part of a young chain of Canadian restaurants with a rather American sounding name.

We knew that a dear family friend had started working at State & Main, and we saw her walk across the patio as we parked our car. Of course, we just had to ask the hostess to seat us in Della's section!

What a great menu! If you have read a few of my blog posts, you will remember that I am a quasi-vegetarian. A lot of the time, my choices are limited to a veggie burger or fish and chips. At State & Main, I was actually torn between a number of wonderful-sounding dishes - Long Beach fish tacos, jalapeno mac and cheese, Pacific Rim noodle bowl. In the end, I chose the applewood salmon club.

So this is no ordinary diner clubhouse. Nope. Described as oven roasted applewood salmon, served on a toasted brioche bun, with roasted red pepper aoli, lettuce, tomato, peppered bacon, and fresh avocado, it sounded fabulous. Bonus: most menu items come with 2 sides! I picked quinoa salad and fries with dill dip.

The boys had heard tales of a legendary grilled cheese burger and never really considered any other options. They both chose fries with dill dip and caesar salads. My husband later got some bonus bacon strips after I removed them from my sandwich. (Crazy vegetarians!)

The plates were beautifully presented. Each white rectangular platter arrived with neatly placed and garnished colourful food items. Everything was prepared perfectly from the light golden touch on the grilled cheese burger buns, and the well-baconed caesar salads, to the tempting quinoa and the most finely shredded, bright green lettuce I have ever seen on a sandwich.

How can you tell if I or my family thoroughly enjoyed our meal? If we are already trying to figure out how to recreate it at home, it must have been a hit. What is in that dill dip anyway? Is it mayo, sour cream and fresh dill? I must have this for all of my french fries in the future! I guess we will be buying some loaves of un-sliced white bread very soon, because a grilled bread bun definitely trumps a plain burger bun. (Apologies for saying trump - ugggh.)

 Casual fine dining meets bar at State & Main in northeast Barrie. Dating couples, young dudes having beer and wings, celebrators of granddad's birthday, slightly damp post water park diners all enjoyed the vibe on the patio as the sun set over Little Lake. Give it a whirl. Ask for Della!

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