Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tall Tales Café Thrives as Wallacetown’s Community Hub

Chef John Mairleitner has lived in kitchens and in Elgin County most of his life, and there’s no place he’d rather be.

You might have seen him cheerfully giving cooking lessons at the Arts & Cookery Bank, or cooking at local fairs and charity events in Dunwich Township, or attending FreshFest in St. Thomas. He is a familiar face at many places in Elgin County, but he is most often seen at Tall Tales Café in the village of Wallacetown, his longstanding family business that has just expanded because it is so busy.

The restaurant with its satellites of a gas station and post office has been a family business since Mairleitner’s parents established it in 1982 on the main street of Wallacetown, at 29634 Talbot Line on the corner of Curry Road where cars turn south toward Port Dover on Lake Erie, about five kilometres away.

“We are a small-town community hub in the heart of Ontario’s breadbasket,” Mairleitner says. “We are getting busier and busier and busier.

“In the summer Highway 3, the Talbot Trail, is inundated with motorbikes and campers. In the fall we have our fair and there’s the harvest, and then all winter long we get hunters coming in.

“There is something going on year-round. Whenever there is a ‘Friday the 13th’ event in Port Dover (the most recent was July 13, 2012), it gets absolutely insane here -- we can see 500 motorbikes or more come through!”

More than just its location has made Tall Tales Café successful. The talents of Mairleitner, trained as a chef at Fanshawe and George Brown college, are in demand for the quality of food he serves in the restaurant and at catered events. His pies are especially famous. It’s the crust, he says – and experience.

“When I was five years old, my mom worked in a bake shop and I was in the back chucking dough through
the machine,” Mairleitner recalls. “My parents later had restaurants and I always helped.”

What’s the secret to a good crust?

“Don’t overwork it. I show people all the time. It’s flattering being a master of something so simple.
People are amazed.”

There’s more to it, though. Mairleitner uses fresh local produce in his pies, including several types of fruits grown in his own garden, and he has a way with recipes. Listen to him describe his caramel pumpkin pecan pie:

“It has butter, brown sugar and pecan pieces, and we drizzle that on top of the pumpkin pie and bake it. I’d send you a piece but I doubt that it would get there!”

Tall Tales Café has just expanded its seating capacity to 50 seats from 36. The restaurant employs four full-time staff and a dozen part-time students, in addition to Mairleitner and his wife Holly. Their three daughters aged 14, 8 and 4 help out, too. The family tradition continues.

“I’m living the Canadian dream,” Mairleitner says.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

ElginLicious is Back this Fall!

Savour Elgin wants you to mark your calendars for the return of the popular ElginLicious event this fall.  

ElginLicious is an opportunity to enjoy the area’s restaurants, wineries, specialty food shops and agri-tourism destinations at three great price points. Special promotions will be running at $10, $15 and $25 at participating Savour Elgin businesses from October 10 to October 20, 2013. ElginLicious features restaurants offering fixed-price menus and also allows visitors to enjoy unforgettable experiences at a wide variety of Elgin County culinary destinations.

Fresh apple pies, creamy fudge samples, juicy pears, delicious local beer and three course meals are just some of what will be available during ElginLicious.  

See below for a full listing of ElginLicious promotions or visit and click on the Events link.

ElginLicious Promotions

Clovermead              -----    Your choice of 4 types of  honey in 90 gram jars with a small honey dipper. Retail value $15
Great Lakes Farms     -----    2 pieces of pie and 2 drinks
Mad Hatter Tea Room -----    Royal High Tea.  Retail value $15
Heritage Line Herbs    -----    Personal pan pizza and beverage
Tasty Sweets Café & Bakery  -----    Cabbage roll dinner with pie and a drink

Berry Hill Fruit Farm  -----  2-10lb bags of apples
Kettle Creek Inn       -----  Daily lunch entrée special, plus dessert plus beverage
Killer Desserts & Café  -----  Choice of any sandwich, or half a sandwich with soup or salad, plus choice of dessert and tea or coffee.
Howe's Family Farm Market -----  2 medium pumpkins,  2 squash, one 3L basket of pears and a 3lb bag of apples.
Harbourtown Fudge   -----  Fudge Sampler Box, fifteen different one ounce pieces of house made fudge packaged in a window box decorated with a bow
The Windjammer Inn -----  Two course lunch or brunch
Pinecroft Green Frog Tea Room  ----   Soup tasting, choice of daily special, dessert and beverage
Railway City Brewing Company  ---     Tour and up to 3 samples each for up to 4 people, 1 souvenir glass, 1 souvenir t-shirt & $5.00 gift card, value $35.00 for only $15.00

Great Lakes Farms  -----  Whole pie, 10lb apples and 4L cider
Kettle Creek Inn     -----  Daily dinner entrée special, plus dessert plus beverage.
Quai Du Vin            -----  A bottle of our Riesling 2011, bottle of our Merlot 2010, wrapped up, with corkscrew included, savings of $10
Heritage Line Herbs   ----- Full High Tea for Two
The Windjammer Inn ----- Three course dinner
Arts & Cookery Bank ----- Thursday, October 10, 6:30 pm. Cheese-making demonstration and guests will receive a special "cheesy" gift to take home.