A Canadian restaurant promising mouth watering cuisine. Welcome to the Ontario Canada, spelled with a K, restaurant in Dresden, Germany.
It’s not everyday that you encounter a Canadian-themed restaurant proudly displaying signs of typical, if clichéd, visions of Canada in another country. I’ve been to Canadian-owned bars and restaurants in other places but they are typically not demonstrative about their Canadian connections.
While I don’t make it a habit of seeking out Canadian cuisine when traveling, the logo complete with Maple Leaf and Mountie, raised my pride up a notch and I just had to go in.
The waiter came to take my order and like the proud Canadian I am, I tried to engage him in conversation, mentioning that I was excited to be dining there. I got no reaction.
Setting aside my disappointment I asked what kinds of Canadian beer they had. He mentioned Moosehead and Mill Street but with a price tag well over most German beers. I opted for a local brew instead, casually mentioning that I was Canadian again so it was better to drink German beer in Germany.
That garnered nothing more than a nod and I momentarily felt silly for mentioning my Canadian-ness yet again.
Opening the canoe and Polar bear adorned menus I was confronted with iconic pictures of the Rocky Mountains, cityscapes from Toronto and Vancouver and even a Canadian souvenir page, where you could buy your very own Canadian flag coffee cup and wooden moose, if that’s your thing.
The cuisine on offer was an interesting mix. There was beef, although no indication it was Alberta beef and when I asked, I was told they didn’t think so but weren’t sure. There was also a variety of salmon and lobster dishes.
I ordered a sampler plate that included candied salmon, and what turned out to be lobster bisque to dip bread into. Each dish was appropriately laced with, you guessed it, maple syrup and it was surprisingly good.
When it came time for dessert I contemplated a Vancouver lemonade, apparently a combination of Canadian Club whiskey, apple juice and ginger ale or even an Ontario Bull, a mix of crown Royal, Red Bull and cranberry syrup. But in the end, I settled on a Nanaimo bar.
I noticed that the restaurant was really filling up. I was interested to see whether the other diners saw the restaurant as a representation of Canada. I asked a couple of diners close to me but they didn’t speak English and just gave me a thumbs up, presumably indicating they liked it. If their empty plates and smiles were any indication, they seemed to like the Canadian cuisine.
Another man, who spoke a little English said he had picked the restaurant because it looked good. When I asked what he knew about Canada he said not much but he had heard it was beautiful. He admitted he hadn’t heard much about the food though.
As I paid the bill I asked the waiter if the owners were Canadian or if they had a special interest in Canada. He said he didn’t know and just mentioned that there were several other country-themed restaurants all owned by the same group in Dresden. He pointed across the square to where there was a Swiss restaurant and down the way an Australian restaurant.
I was momentarily disappointed that Ontario Kanada, wasn’t in a league of its own in Dresden but then realized Canada was in select company, and it isn’t everyday you encounter a restaurant in a foreign land solely devoted to the place you call home.
Melanie de Klerk is an assignment editor at Global National. She is currently living in Berlin as one of the 2016 Arthur F. Burns Journalism Fellows.