Lake Erie Circle Tour Journal: Day #3 Part 1: Breakfast in Erieau

Day #3: Wednesday, May 29, 2019

It was raining when we left the Sea Cliff Inn but I wasn’t concerned. As I always tell my husband “It never rains on my vacation.” He laughs at that claim. But it doesn’t rain on my vacations. Or at least it doesn’t rain at any time that matters. If it rains at night we are sleeping and it doesn’t matter. For now, we were riding in the car, warm and dry and the rain didn’t matter. When it was time to get out of the car and walk around somewhere— when it mattered— I assured John that we would not need an umbrella. He laughed again.

“Oh, ye of little faith.”

In our pre-trip planning, Rory had come across a little Canadian town called Erieau.  It seemed to be little more than a place where men go to fish. It had a campground and one or two B&Bs that I had been unable to find any info on pre-vacation. But during my sleepless hours of the night before, I discovered that it had something else — a little hole in the wall restaurant that had gotten some bad reviews from travelers for that very reason — because it was a little hole in the wall restaurant. Reading further I noticed something else. The place was getting good reviews and was favorited by locals. That, to me, was more telling. Locals often know things that travelers don’t take the time to find out. Erieau sounded like just the sort of place the four of us would enjoy exploring for breakfast.

We drove about an hour to reach Erieau. It was sort of what we expected– a quiet, little place on Lake Erie’s shore that is filled with small homes and summer cottages. We drove up and down what we figured was the main street a few times looking for the “Gallery Grill Pub” — the name of the place I had found on Tripadvisor. The only place we could find that was open and looked like it might be a restaurant had a big sign that read “Eau Buoy.” After the third time around, we decided the Gallery Grill Pub must no longer exist. We needed to eat and since the Eau Buoy seemed our only option, Rory turned the car around and drove toward it. As we approached the parking lot, Kay spotted a small and obscure sign on the side of the building that read “Gallery Grill Pub.”  It was the place we were looking for.

A confusion of names seemed appropriate. The look of the place caused us to think it might be part restaurant, part pub, part general store, maybe part auto repair, barber shop, and camp store too – I don’t know. It was the kind of place that might offer most anything depending on the time of day, or at least, be able to tell you where to get it. It was also the kind of place that might scare a hungry tourist back to the highway and the nearest Tim Horton drive thru. Not us. We forged ahead with confidence knowing that these sorts of off-the-highway places often serve the best food. As we parked right next to the door (eliminating any need for an umbrella) a woman sitting under the overhang watched us with curiosity.

We approached the door.

“Is the coffee good?” Kay asked breaking the ice.

“The best!” the woman answered.

“That’s what we’re here for.”

The woman smiled.

I don’t recall if there was anything on the door that indicated this was a restaurant. But since it was a door, we used it. A large group of people were seated around a table in the center of the room. It looked more like a town meeting than a breakfast. A waitress, holding a pot of coffee in her hand, stared at us from across the room, speechless, as if surprised to see faces that were unfamiliar to her. I hoped that her surprise wasn’t going to cause her to drop the pot.

One of the men sitting at the center table called out for us to “sit anywhere.” We chose a large table in the corner.

The waitress (sadly, I don’t remember her name) quickly recovered and brought us menus and coffee. I ordered scrambled eggs, mini pancakes and what I thought was a choice of 4 strips of bacon, 2 sausage, or a slice of ham. Not being a big meat eater, I expected to choose one of the meat options on the list. Instead, I got all three.  (Holy Moly). This was a breakfast to die for (and I would have, had I actually eaten all of that meat). The pancakes were the fluffiest ever (like pancakes your mom makes using real eggs and milk and not one of one of those “complete” mixes where you just add water). The syrup was so good that Kay, who grew up in the heart of maple syrup country, even asked if it was real maple syrup. (It wasn’t but it was a great knock off). Everybody likes bacon but there was something extra special about this bacon. I don’t know where they got it or what they did to it, but it was the best bacon I’ve ever eaten. All that plus a friendly waitress and a good cup of coffee, kept us sitting and talking for much longer than it took to eat the remarkable meal.

It was a homey place reminiscent of sitting around Grandma’s kitchen table. (This would be your poor Grandma. Not the wealthy one!). There’s nothing fancy here but like Grandma’s table, we weren’t anxious to leave it. When the waitress got busy and disappeared, Kay got up and found the pot of coffee and brought it over to the table to refill our cups. The waitress ran to our table filled with apologies, apparently not used to crazy strangers making themselves at home. We assured her she was doing a fine job. It opened up further conversation about who we were (travelers from the opposite side of the lake in Ohio), where we going (driving the entire coast all the way around Lake Erie) and what on earth had brought us into Erieau? (“Breakfast, of course!”).

Rory paid our bill and then headed off to explore the store side of the building where he picked up some great stories. He shared them with us as we drove out of town. More tales we would remember as a part of our visit to beautiful Erieau with its friendly people and memorable breakfast at the Eau Buoy/Gallery Grill. Whatever they call this place, it’s the place you want to eat your morning meal.

Sandpiper on the beach
© Photo by Pamela Hammond

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