When you walk into The Social Bar + Table, you’re instantly hit with that unique Northumberland County vibe. Above the bar is a chalkboard listing what’s on tap, the best breweries in the region, naturally – and the dining room is dressed with photos of farmers and their products. Big, bold letters proudly read: “We support local farms. Fresh and local every day”.
“We want to change the way people think about food in this area,” says Chef Eric Dreher. “For too long, people were just eating for fuel. I think people deserve better than that.”
Eric moved to the area from Toronto with his family a few years ago. They were drawn to the small-town vibe of Port Hope and the access to green space. Like many young families, the lure of open space and a tight-knit community lured them to the area.
“Our guests are our farmers; they’re producers in the area. So many people in this area work in food, it makes sense to support them. Our customers are what make this place special – they’re what make Port Hope special.”
“Our beef is from a farm down the road. Honestly, sometimes we lose money on it – but we still serve it. It just makes sense to use stuff from down the road and support those businesses,” he says.
The Social is known for grilling a mean burger, but they’ve got good quality, Ontario beef on the menu a few different ways. We opted for a steak frites and a steak salad because who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked steak!
“The steak salad is our favourite thing on the menu right now,” says Eric. “The staff eats it almost daily.” It’s served with an array of fresh seasonal vegetables – in this case, it was arugula, black radish, plus the last of the summer cherry tomatoes. The last, perfectly decadent touch are two meaty shiitake mushrooms, fried in plenty of butter.
“We get those mushrooms from Kendall Hills. They grow really beautiful mushrooms,” says Eric, “and they’re not that far from here.”
The steak salad with butter basted Kendall Hills mushrooms and farm greens, part of the autumn menu at The Social Bar + Table in Port Hope.
We were only in The Social for a couple of hours, but in that time, a steady stream of locals and regulars came through the door. They ordered heaping plates of fries and fried chicken sandwiches. Pint glasses were clinked and cheers were wished over and over again.
It’s a community place. People gather here.
It’s not just because of the name – it’s called The Social after all – it’s because of their support of the community and it’s people at large. We can’t wait to come back and see what they’ve been up to!
The Social Bar + Table is located at 26 Ontario St in Port Hope, Ontario.
They’re open Noon – 9pm, daily.