The Gist: Nestled in the Caledon hills, Spirit Tree Estate Cidery is a cidery, bakery, kitchen, and farm store owned by husband-and-wife Thomas Wilson & Nicole Judge.
The large environmentally friendly property surrounded by apple orchards offers local products and produce as well as their homemade, award-winning cider, bread, and pastries.
The on-site restaurant Ciderhouse Bistro, offers flights of ciders alongside homemade fare comprised of under 100km local ingredients. Breads are made in the hand-built wood-burning oven and wood-fired oven pizzas are available Friday and Saturday nights (Choose from the weeknight or weekend menus). Dine inside, on the porch or on the grounds underneath a tent.
Spirit Tree was one of the first founding members of Ontario Craft Cider Association that was formed in 2012 to promote craft cider and lobby the Ontario government for regulatory changes. Spirit Tree and other members of the OCCA have seen cider sales at the LCBO lead all beverage categories the last few years. This year’s target? To make 180K liters of cider, up 80K from last year.
Grub: Food is carefully thought of and composed. It’s all made on site from scratch with very seasonal and local ingredients – some coming just 14 km away, well under the usual 100km. Cider and apples are found in many of the dishes by way of chutneys, cider vinegar, etc.
It’s not just the ingredients that are extraordinary. Despite the casual comfy setting, execution, presentation, and taste are all exquisitely fine dining.
This is a restaurant worthy of not just the drive, but many visits to follow. And with each visit, the menu will feature a host of new items to try.
Libations: Of course the focus here is on the European style premium ciders. Different heirloom varieties are used from their crops – Tolman Sweet, Northern Spy and Ontario Golden Russet – with the cider aged for roughly four months.
Located in the Ciderhouse Bistro, there’s an 8-head tap filled with Spirit Tree varieties with at least 10 one-off cask ciders and you sample by the glass ($3-$6) as well as Tasting Flights (3/$8, 5/$15).
Looking for something non-alcoholic? There are still a host of cider options - Cold Sweet ($3), Hot ($3), Sparkling ($3.50) and Sweet Cider Slushie ($4.50)
p.s. You can also find Spirit Tree English Draught Cider closer to home at your local LCBO. p.p.s. Cider is naturally gluten-free and vegan.
Fixtures & Fittings: The couple built the structure from the ground up, out of straw bales. Heating and cooling of the building is provided by a geothermal system – making it an environmentally-friendly building. In 2015 Spirit Tree was recognized by the LCBO with an "Elsie" award for Environmentalist of the year.
The antique feel comes from many antiques placed throughout – old barn boards, an apple crate stenciling kit on the bar, tractor seats on bar stools.
Off the Menu:
Wood-Oven Bread & Butter ($4) Insanely addictive housemade, wood-fired oven bread, served with butter. Thank goodness they have loaves for sale at the front. (left to right: Rustic, Farmhouse, Tartine, Sourdough)
Charcuterie Board (3/$26, 5/$33) Il Tagliere Salumeria Artisanal Cured Meats, pate, terrine, pickled Mulberry Moon Farms onions and vegetables, dijon, and olive tapenade. Today’s selection is extremely local – from just 24km away. (left to right: Top – Lonza, Capicola, Guanciale, Prosciutto, Pancetta. Bottom – House Salami, Calabrese, Kielbasa, Chorizo, and Mortadella)
Small Batch Pickle Plate ($7) Local vegetables, pickled in a variety of styles, served with bread. Today’s Plate - Sweet to sour selections of cauliflower, garlic scapes, fennel, red peppers, yellow beets, coloured carrots, green onions and cucumbers.
Terrine ($14) A plate of coarsely cut meat and vegetables served with bread. Ask your server for the daily selection. Today’s Terrine – Pork ham hock braised in its own juices, served with Dijon Apple Chutney. Simply outstanding.
Mushrooms on Toast ($14) A selection of Fresh and Tasty Mushroom Farms Mushrooms with a garden herb chimichurri, Woolwich Dairy goat cheese, Aqua Greens micro-cress served on housemade bread. Today’s Toast – oyster, cinnamon caps, yellow, shiitake, all grown just 24km away. As delicious as it is beautiful.
Mulberry Moon Farms and Aqua Greens Salad (side $7, main $11) Caledon Soil Grown & Aquaponically Grown Greens with locally farmed fruits & vegetables with a daily vinaigrette. Today’s Salad – Beet.
Fresh Vegetable Ragout ($17) Seasonal vegetables with Fresh & Tasty Mushroom Farms mushrooms and potatoes in a butter sauce. Finished with Woolwich Dairy goat cheese. Today’s Ragout – Very light and refreshing blend of potatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, onions, cherry tomatoes and radishes.
Beast (MP) A locally and sustainably farmed protein, served with a seasonal sauce Today’s Beast – Mulberry Moon Farm Porkchop ($27), naturally-fed, served with braised apples. Also Braised Short Rib ($24) with harissa, fried chickpeas and salsa verde.
Reids Potato Farm Plate ($8) A selection of Reids Farm Heirloom Potatoes cooked different ways, with caramelized Reids Farm onions and cheese from Best Baa Dairy. The deep fried leeks, caramelized onions and Best Baa Yuda Cheese, take the potatoes to the next level.
Desserts: You are going to want to save room for these dessert breads and sweet treats. (left to right: Dessert Breads - Chocolate Cherry, Apple, Raisin - Lemon Poppyseed Scone, Spirit Tree Cookies – Oatmeal Raisin Pecan, Everything with Chocolate Chip) with Apple Butter Butter and Lime Butter. $5.50 each.
Cheese Plate (3/$24, 5/$33) A selection of local cheeses, served with local honey, spiced nuts, house-made jam, dried fruit, crostini and apple. (left to right: Avery from P.E.I., Blue Elizabeth from Quebec, French from Quebc, Ewda Sheep’s Cheese from Best Baa Dairy, Fergus Ont., Chevre Noir goat cheddar from Fromagerie Tournevent in Chesterville Quebec, Grey Owl from Quebec, served with housemade jams and chutneys. Particularly stunning – the Branston Pickle).
How Cool is This?! The barn is made out of straw. Really! And be sure to say hi to Bramley, Thomas & Nicole’s lovable Lurcher.
At the Stove: Sarah Ewins & Nelson Singh
In Front of the Oven: Tobey Deys
In the Cellar: Thomas Wilson & Phil Bourque
FOH: Brittany Pierson
Head Honchos: Owners & Founders Thomas Wilson & Nicole Judge, Sarah Shaw, AGM
Deets: Ciderhouse Bistro seats 40 guests, including 10 at the bar. You can also dine on the porch overlooking the pond (room for 25) as well as covered picnic tables and tents for events.
Visiting Hours: Wed & Thurs 10am - 5pm
Fri & Sat 10am - 8pm
Sun 10 am - 5pm
Map It: 1137 Boston Mills Rd. in Caledon
Phone It In: (289) 206-1215
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.