Going up to Collingwood brings to memory many unmemorable dining experiences in chain-like restaurants at the Village at Blue. Many places that fill up on busy weekends, serving lacklustre overpriced uninteresting dishes slung in front of you by burned out ski-bunnies. The good experiences were few and far between, and subject to the risk that the seasonal help would fly out the door at the drop of a hat, leaving you with untrained newbies the next time out.
Now there is Fud (there is one of those phonetic lines over the U which doesn't appear on my keyboard) in Stayner, a few minutes south. A nicely redone space on the main street (only?), with clean decor and an open kitchen at the back of the ground floor level. When you walk in, you're hit with the sense that this might be something. No illuminated beer signs, no antlers, no antiquated sporting equipment, and no nametags on the servers.
The wine list is short and well-chosen, with some nice Vintages selections, including the utilitarian Liberty School cab at a reasonable $38 per bottle ($19.95 at Vintages). Good wines by the glass, as well.
The menu is fairly reasonably priced, with starters from $6 to $10, and mains from $12 to $24.
To start, we had the calamari, bruschetta, and crab dip, all of which were quite well done and presented. The calamari, in particular, was crunchy without being overly battered, with the inside beautifully tender. Sauce choices were a garlicky housemade tzatziki or a chipotle aioli with nice heat.
Then came the steaks. They were advertised as 10 ounce baseball-cut sirloins, and the servers were extremely precise in asking how we would like them done. With our expectations not particularly high, we received these almost melting pieces of heavenly bovine, done perfectly to the multiple parameters of doneness that we had requested, down to the sauces (peppercorn or red wine demi-glace). For steaks in the low $20 range, the size and quality of the meat would be double if not triple the price in the Big Crabapple, let alone Collingwood.
Service was very good as well. The front man came from the O&B chain, and you can see that he's got a close reign on the staff. The response to a small miscue that hadn't resulted in a complaint was a gigantic dessert platter on the house.
These folks are also making an effort to focus on local, high quality ingredients, which resulted in one of the best steaks I've had this year. Worth the drive if you're staying in the area.