It’s time to take a trip to Vienna, Austria – Main Street Unionville style! I know nothing beats the real deal. The sights, sounds, tastes, and aromas of another city, state, or country are like no other. But when you can’t go on vacation, eating authentic, delicious food in a beautiful setting in your own city really isn’t too shabby, especially when the beautiful setting in question is the Old Country Inn on Main Street Unionville in Markham. While Main Street Unionville has several casual, fun, low-key spots (Jake’s on Main Pub & Grille, Unionville Arms, Old Firehall Confectionery, ice cream booths and parlours, and coffee shops), I’d say that the quaint, picturesque, Victorian village that houses all of these eateries boasts more fine dining options than it does hole-in-the-wall or casual watering holes.
The Old Country Inn is a spot I have wanted to visit for years and years. It is so beautiful and full of character and given how the house has been around for over 100 years since the beginnings of Unionville settlement, it has cemented its reputation within the community and beyond as a restaurant with delicious, authentic Austrian and German food. I know I explore the city a lot, but I can’t think of one place with the exception of Wvrst on King Street West that does German and authentic central European food. Yes, Roncesvalles is known for its Polish eateries and bakeries and Bloor West Village hosts the annual Ukrainian festival, but we’re talking Austrian food and I don’t know of any other spot aside from Old Country Inn that serves Viennese cuisine and this makes them extra special in my book.
Old Country Inn is known for their authentic Austrian and German food and drink – with a beautiful vintage outdoor wine cellar to boot! Their menu is chock full of classics and dishes known to Viennese and German cuisine: herring in rahm (a special type of cream sauce), schinkenrolle (ham wrapped around asparagus), kartoffelsuppe (potato soup), goulash, liver dumpling soup, six different types of schnitzel (breaded cutlet), bratwurst and sausages, pork dishes including schweinsbrten (roast pork with sauerkraut and dumplings), a host of beef dishes including sauerbraten (German pot roast/roast beef with sweet and sour sauce with red cabbage and dumplings), rump roast, and plenty of fish and seafood options. Even their dessert menu gives you a sweet, healthy dose of Austrian and German flavour with sweet endings such as eiskafee (a German coffee drink with ice cream), sacher torte (Austrian chocolate cake), palatschinen (Austrian dessert crepes filled with fruit jam), and of course, the ever popular strudel!
Phew, that is a LOT of food! But I guarantee you that even if you don’t live around Markham, it is worth the trip to Main Street Unionville just for this. Even before my first visit, I heard rave reviews from one of my best friends (whose standards are high!) who said Old Country Inn was one of his favourite spots in general, and from one of my best friend’s coworkers who said it was her favourite place on Main Street Unionville. And after my gut-busting meal, I completely understood why.
It’s definitely more of a special occasion type of place in terms of price ($15-$25 for most mains),but the food is great and the inn and outdoor patio and terrace is lovely. Since I enjoyed my meal out on the patio, I don’t have photos of the house’s inside but I promise to snap some for the next time. I figured since it was summer I’d dine al fresco. That and because the sun was setting so I knew I wouldn’t have enough decent lighting streaming in through the windows to take good photos. I plan these things!
First things first: bread and butter basket. Based on the texture, taste, and appearance, I’m almost positive the sliced bread was a sourdough medium rye. What intrigued me the most though were the crispy crackers! There were these beautiful, long and thin, jagged-edge crispy crackers covered in light and black sesame seeds and they tasted toasty and all sorts of lovely. Even though I like baguette and butter, having these crackers in addition to the bread was such a nice change from the regular baguette slices.
Then, onto the main attraction. There were so many things I wanted to try, but I decided to go totally classic for this first go-around: schnitzel! You all know about my foodie love affair with mushrooms and cheese so I was delighted to see a mushroom and chesse stuffed schnitzel meal (Tiroler Schnitzel, $19.95) on their menu! All of their meat mains are served with sides, and schnitzels are served with potato home fries and vegetables with creamy cheese sauce; in my case, broccoli. Traditionally, schnitzel is served with a garnish of lemon and potato salad so this meal was bang on.
Oh my goodness was this schnitzel ever humongous! It covered about two-thirds of the plate. It was beautifully breaded with a smooth and crispy layer of fine bread crumbs with the juiciest, most moist meat on the inside and creamy melted cheese and sauteed mushrooms. I could not get over how moist the meat was and I was over the moon at how ungreasy it was as well. It was amazing how they kept the meat so soft and juicy while there wasn’t an ounce of fatty grossness hanging off of it and I loved it. The thin crispiness of the breading combined with the moist was delicious and I thought to myself, “this is what it feels like to have real schnitzel!” The potatoes were much like what you would expect during breakfast and brunch and they were super soft and flavourful and not overly salted or mushy, and the creamy sauce over top my broccoli afforded me with a little fun dipping action for my potatoes and schnitzel.
And then came the sweet finale: palastchinken! Palastchinken are soft, warm dessert or breakfast crepes filled with fruit jam such as strawberry or apricot and at Old Country Inn they filled theirs with warm, sweet and fruit apricot jam inside. The two rolled crepes ($5.25) are dusted with icing sugar and served with warm and oh my lord are they ever amazing. I was too full to finish both so I brought the second one home which my mum took a go at and she was absolutely in love with it. The crepes are so soft with the most delicate, crisped edges and the apricot jam is so fruity and sweet and delicious and everything just melts in your mouth.
Old Country Inn is such a gem and I feel really lucky to have it up in my neck of the woods. I’m so looking forward to planning another visit (and another one after that) so that I can snap photos of the restaurant from the inside and to try some of their sauerkraut, dumplings, pork loin, and a whole host of other delicious dishes!
The Old Country Inn is located at 198 Main Street Unionville in Markham. They serve lunch and dinner 7 days a week and are open from 12pm-9pm Sunday-Thursday and from 12pm-10pm Fridays and Saturdays. You can visit their site HERE for more info and to view their menus.