I had to google “what can you do at the beach.”

Serena said she hasn’t gone to be beach at all this year, and considering the last beach she went to was Hawaii… it’s hard to keep up with expectations.

So on Friday before the Simcoe Day/Civic Day Long Weekend, I booked a Best Western hotel at Stoneridge near London, and off we go!

But first, food.

After loading up on drinks and snacks from Cambridge’s Shoppers Drug Mart, we’re off to have Sunday brunch at Idlewyld Inn. We’ve stayed at their sister inn Elm Hurst Inn at Ingersoll before, and the choice for brunch was between Elm Hurst and Idlewyld.

The menu seemed a bit more exotic at Idlewyld, whereas Elm Hurst seemed closer to conventional continental buffet. So Idlewyld it is.

Located in the south part of London, this street was full of large mansions. It’s hard to think the other houses down this road are personal property…

The front of the building has a nice fountain and stone bench. It’s not wonder that they host weddings here.

In the backyard was a surprisingly Buddha statue in a pond. What’s that in the water? Goldfish?! All you need is some lotus and you wouldn’t think you’re in Southern Ontario.

This is a nice place to relax.

Let’s see what’s on the menu. Instead of a buffet, this is a $28.95 prix fixe menu for one appetizer and one entrée. Dessert is NOT included.

First, they served two pieces of sugar scones, paired with orange marmalade, Devonshire cream, and blueberry jam. The scones were quite nice. Contrary to what we normally like, I preferred the bitterness of the orange marmalade while Serena liked the very sweet jam.

I wish they gave us more than 2 pieces. Maybe we could have asked for more…

My appetizer was the Watermelon Salad: Frissée lettuce, crumbled feta, toasted pumpkin seeds, mint yogurt dressing & balsamic reduction. It was light and refreshing, but definitely not filling.

Serena had the Chorizo Sausage Scotch Eggs: Avacado puree, quick pickled onion, blanched asparagus spears. I guess we expected sausage and eggs, so this surprised us with its appearance. Very interesting texture of crunchy shell and soft egg.

Entrée for me was the Scallop & Crab Stuffed: Sole Asparagus almond risotto & hollandaise. Real crab meat was used! The sole was used to wrap the crab and scallop mincemeat. Very very fishy, so Serena didn’t like it. It’s served on top of risotto, which thankfully wasn’t stinky cheese. Quite mellow, and a good combination.

Serena had the Beef Tenderloin Hash: Bell peppers,onions, grated potato, hash sauce & fried egg. While the flavour was nice, it was too intense. The hash was only on the very top, and everything underneath was just diced onions that soaked in all the sauce. Without a bland accompaniment, it was overwhelmingly salty and flavourful, so we couldn’t finish it.

We skipped dessert, and drove to Port Stanley.

We decided on Port Stanley instead of any other beach because it was:

  • A Blue Flag Beach, with less pollution and safer to swim.
  • Less crowded, being farther from Toronto. Indeed, both on the beach and in the water, we had plenty more space. Parking was the only part that was difficult.
  • Town was large enough that there are shops and restaurants.

They have 4 public paid parking lots, and we went for the one slightly farther from the water, and still, it was packed full. We got fairly lucky, since another family was just leaving, and we didn’t wait too long… at all.

The beach had lifeguards, and things were generally fairly orderly. We didn’t see any sketchy activities like peepers or bros. Well, actually there were quite a few bros and bikers hanging near the bar. Aside from that, pretty family-friendly.

Remember how I had to google what to do at the beach? Turned out the day went by very quickly!

We jumped in the water, and because of the amount of waves (artificially created by boats and sea-doos), we just stood in the water and jumped with the waves FOR TWO HOURS.

Coming back to shore, we went for ice cream.

As the only ice cream shop in town, Broderick’s gets a lot of business.

We grabbed a frozen yogurt and a watermelon ice cream. The froyo was milder, and helped to offset the super sweetness of the ice cream.

After touring through some shops, we realized it was almost time for our dinner reservation at Solo.

They say it’s Air Conditioned inside, but the ventilation was bad enough for this old house that they had to bring out tower fans. Since the kitchen was connected to the rooms, it was boiling inside.

Nice ambience otherwise.

We went for one share plate, one entrée, and a dessert.

We don’t normally go for the “fresh catch”, but this time we did. Being on Lake Erie, we would have gone with the Erie Catch, but the Ocean catch sounded more appetizing.

Our share plate, the $19 Calamari Puttanesca. Grilled to char but still tender, with a tomato sauce in the middle. Not seafood sauce, but more like spaghetti sauce… That was weird, but the pesto went with it much better. The black chunks were charred olive crumbs, which had an interesting flavour, but slightly too bitter and burnt.

The $38 Monk Fish Ocean Catch. Served in coconut milk and Thai curry, these tasted fresh, and each bite was large. It has to be the largest and thickest meat from any white fish we’ve had, and no bones either. Shrimp was okay, and the curry went well with the rice. We were quite full after this.

Squeezing in a $10 blackberry cheesecake. The syrup was nice, but the cheesecake was too fresh. They sold out of cheesecake in the morning, and the only one they have still hasn’t frozen quite enough. You can see it’s still rather liquidy.

Overall, quite a pleasant dining experience. We’d come back.

After eating, it’s time to go for sunset photos!

The first two places I scouted out on Google Maps were… forbidden. Hawk Cliff was fenced off due to “unstable cliff”, and the other water treatment station was definitely gated. So back to the pier we drove.

Oh no, I messed up the focus!

We couldn’t see the sunset itself, since it was behind this small hill and clouds. However, we had blue hour…

After this, we quickly drove to the Best Western Plus Stoneridge Inn and Conference Centre. It was hard to find at night, because I was expected a large 10-storey building, when it’s actually a 2-storey flat design. Very new and modern inside. We enjoyed our stay here.

Booking through their website, we paid $98 + HST for a Sunday night, King bed, Fridge and Microwave, and breakfast buffet the next morning. This is for a long weekend too, booked last minute!

The breakfast choices were on the plain side. For $89 per night, we are surprised they even included breakfast, so can’t complain.

We were actually full pretty quickly.

I felt that we could have spent more time on the beach. Initially we thought we would go back and forth between the water and land. We ended up only coming out of the water once, and never went back in because time went by so quickly. We should have gotten there earlier, or maybe even gotten to the shops first, because many stores closed by 5:00 pm on Sunday.

We also didn’t get to do any kayak or paddleboard rentals, because the shop owner wasn’t there, and the waves were too strong for small vessels anyway.

We would like to try some kayaking closer to home some time though.