Five years ago I started to re-visit the area where my mother lived, namely Thornbury. In Toronto I was caught up in a whole other world of weekends at the art gallery, having brunch with friends and shopping at Holt Renfrew.
Those days are long gone. (Testimonials available from my friends who want to burn the sweater I have been living in for the past two years.)
I chose a much slower pace of life and moved full-time to Thornbury in January 2004. There are two things you should understand about moving to a small community. One: when you think you have a secret, you actually don't (everyone knows it) and two: everything is so much slower. Patience is learned. My cousin Rendle Reeve-Newson and his wife Donna van Brussel welcomed me to the area and introduced me to the local restaurants.
One of their favourites is a place called
"Ted's Range Road Diner," dubbed "the Double RD" or just plain "Ted's" by the locals. Anyway, I was in for the ride and oh, what a ride it was. The deal was that Donna and I would bike from Thornbury to Ted's and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow would be a "Ted's Big Breakfast." I was in. The bike path to the diner is basically an uphill grade from Thornbury to Meaford. Note to the reader: if you know what I look like, this would be a huge struggle. (Too much roti, sushi, pad thai and drinking in the city).
One hour and 20 minutes later I was at the top of the hill, at the Range Road Diner, panting wildly and looking at something that appeared to be a half sunken, oversized steel culvert. "This is the place?" I asked, thinking:
"Oh, my. If my friends could see me now!" It is, eerily, the same feeling I had back in my college days at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. (Think weekends spent visiting older relatives at their Florida senior's trailer park who insisted on parading me around on those over-sized tricycles with the flags on the back). Dear God.
Hesitant, I was in for a huge surprise. The structure of Ted's is called a Quonset hut and it's in the middle of nowhere. The decor inside is most unusual with chipboard covered walls, a concrete floor and a tabletop Pac-Man video game from the early eighties. What could one expect? My initiation was "Ted's Big Breakfast" and I ate everything on my plate. (Not unusual.) Donna particularly likes "Ted's Gastronomic Sandwich." The breakfast was outstanding and the presentation beautiful. The food is first class. I made a mental note to myself that I would be back. I have since eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner there and Ted's has become one of my favourite eateries. And on the entertainment front, Wednesday nights are hopping at Ted's with local rock bands and country singers taking turns to jam. Recently I was at Ted's and had a chance to ask him a few questions about the restaurant and life in general for Mountain Life magazine. SUSAN: On the menu boards, items such as elk, venison, quail, musk ox etc are listed. In your mind what is the most unusual food you serve? TED: Alligator and Caribou.
S: What is the most ordered item on the menu?
T: Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding.
S: I heard that last summer some private helicopters landed in the field across the road from the diner to eat at Ted's. Was this the strangest mode of transportation for your clients?
T: Helicopters, horses and a stretch limo that contained about 20 people.
S: Since the restaurant is located in the middle of cow pastures, what is the wildest event that has happened out here?
T: The night that Ted's first opened its doors, there were about 15 cattle in the parking lot.
S: I understand you are trying to get the mountain bike trail behind Ted's re-opened. What are the plans for the future of the trail?
T: My plan is to reopen the trail. I am just hav-ing a few discussions with new landowners.
S: And, finally what is the perfect day at Ted's?
T: Wednesday's Jam Night.
I highly recommend a visit.
TED'S RANGE ROAD DINER:
To reach Ted's Range Road Diner, take Highway 26 three kilometres west of Meaford and turn right onto County Road 112. After roughly a five-minute drive uphill, you won't miss the large Quonset hut on the left. Phone: 519.538.1788.
Story by: Susan Meingast
Illustration by: Kathy Boake
Reprinted from Mountain Life Magazine – Spring 2006
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