By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Spring is coming, the region is shifting from orange to yellow, and it just may be time to allow yourself a cautious little celebration.
And just in time, Flavours of Cobourg is running from March 8 to 20, offering the chance to discover new culinary experiences with nine participating restaurants that are offering prix fixe lunch and dinner menus.
Enjoy your meals safely in the comfort of your home with take-out and delivery options, or you can check out each restaurant’s operating hours where dine-in service is offered.
Here’s your chance to try something new, like the Shuck It restaurant at 92 King St. W., which opened in December 2019. With shutdowns and stay-at-home orders on and off since last March, owners Joe Jukes and Carol Bird only had time to participate in one public event – a chili cook-off where they took third place.
“About 80% of Cobourg don’t know we’re here,” Jukes guessed – so they’re glad to have the opportunity to be part of Flavours of Cobourg.
“During these times, people have been afraid to come out. I believe this is going to really help us in the downtown here,” he said.
“We hope people are interested in supporting local, especially small businesses,” Bird added.
While the big chain restaurants can absorb this kind of setback to some extent, she said, that’s just not the case for the smaller eateries.
“My mentors Don and Carol Owen taught me everything I know! Without them I would never be able to be where I am!,” said Bird.
But Shuck It did have one thing going for it over the past year – that great downtown location. Bird got busy and took the initiative to promote take-out lunches for downtown workers, with everything on their menu available for take-out right down to the shucked oysters. Before long, she was making daily phone calls, identifying herself as Carol the Lunch Lady, promoting their specials and being rewarded with a growing number of lunch orders.
For the Flavours of Cobourg promotion, you can take your choice of one of three appetizer options (seafood chowder, cream of cauliflower with Brie cheese or six oysters on the half-shell), three entree options (maple balsamic glazed salmon served with rice, beets and asparagus, 10-oz. Barbecue striploin steak with mashed potatoes, beets and asparagus, or shrimp scampi pasta in a creamy white-wine garlic sauce), and two dessert options (coconut cream pie or triple chocolate fudge cake) at $30 per person.
Or how about trying something old that also offers a new twist.
The Oasis Bar and Grill opened at 31 King St. E. more than 30 years ago, and Don and Carol Owens owned it for at least the first 20 before taking a well-earned retirement.
Yash Patel bought the Oasis at the end of September, and his aim is to make it the place that was so beloved under the Owens’ ownership.
He has expanded the menu, brought back happy hour, updated the wine offerings and even done something more – expanding the restaurant’s social media presence to get the word out that, if you loved the Oasis back in the day, drop back in and enjoy it again.
Patel has improved the food, improved the service and been delighted to see a steady improvement in his reviews.
This community is part of the reason he made the move to the hospitality industry.
“I really thought it was something special,” he recalls.
“This place is so amazing, and Flavours of Cobourg is a platform to show we actually care about this place and show the community that we are working to bring back the Oasis to what it originally was.”
The menu he is spotlighting for Flavours of Cobourg is a choice of three appetizers (crunchy dill pickles, bacon-wrapped banana peppers or Caesar salad), three entrees (butter chicken, bacon mushroom Swiss burger or cheese cappelletti) and two desserts (red velvet cake or deep apple pie) for $34.95 per person.
Also participating are the Dutch Oven Bakery and Coffee Shop, Arthurs’s Pub, Cucina Urbana Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, Home Plate Restaurant, The Mill Restaurant and Pub, The El and Craft Food House.
This year, you might even get rewarded for taking advantage of this special promotion, with Experience Cobourg offering 10 $100 gift cards in draws for those who fill out their Culinary Passport with more than one restaurant or menu, each one good at a local business of the winner’s choice.
Submit your passport by April 2 to enter the draws (and be sure to save your restaurant receipts, as proof of purchase must be produced).
Contact the restaurants of your choice for hours of operation and delivery options.
And for more information on Flavours of Cobourg, visit the Experience Cobourg website.