Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Barrie named best city for quality of life by PIE Bookazine: Barrie as a home and destination

Part 1 of 10: Barrie as a Home and Destination

Since the inception of PIE Bookazine, Sandra has always pictured the home base of the business and operations in Barrie, Ontario. She has a passion and love for the city that is continuously portrayed in the pages of PIE. The PIE team decided to visit some of our favorite locations in Barrie to show our readers that our home town is ideal for a vacation without battling the North and South bound 400 highways.

 Amanda Coughlan at the Harbourview Inn arranged for us to stay the evening in the stunning executive suite on the third floor of the reconstructed Victorian-era building. The master bedroom had a king size bed, flat screen TV and a beautiful view of the lake from the bedroom window. The suite also had a TV room with a leather pullout couch, a desk and workspace as well as a kitchenette. The washroom had a spacious jacuzzi tub with jets on all sides. It certainly defined the epitome of a luxury stay in Barrie.

A visit to Barrie would not be complete without scoping out the downtown street fashion. Barrie has such a beautiful downtown and it is home to many fabulous restaurants, shops and creative spaces. We spent just a few hours on the streets and bumped into a few friends, stylish dressers and even a few local celebrities.

We stopped into a few of our favorite downtown shops to show our readers what Barrie has to offer on the main Dunlop Street strip. Helen's bridal, now under the new ownership of Yarka, has the latest styles for Summer and Fall wedding dresses. We had a blast trying on the latest designs. Stacey was incredibly friendly and helpful. She was quick getting us into the elaborate dresses and assisted us in lacing up corsetted backs. Thank you so much for the wonderful service ladies!

Tropical North is booming with its Standup Paddle Board rentals and awesome Summer and Fall clothing. Tropical North carries lines such as Billabong, Roxy, Quicksilver, Volcom as well as many other well known skate and surf brands. Jeff has been working closely with Ann from Studio Bliss to arrange for Paddle Board rentals and lessons on the water. 
It never ceases to amaze me how friendly and accommodating the staff at Tropical North are, right down to their willingness to dress up in a grass skirt and coconuts to ensure that we capture the best images for the blog. Jay is a long time friend of Sandra's, who's reputation in the skateboarding industry and in our community is renowned. Jay and his peers are responsible for developing the skate park in Barrie's downtown. 

Calm before the storm

Our wicked pillow fight before heading out for martinis 

 Kent Smith at The Side Door invited us in for martinis. Our martini hour has become know as "Friday at Five" because The Side Door is the ideal location for drinks on the patio after work. If you have not been to The Side Door you certainly need to visit their location. Kent has been in the hospitality industry for a long time and he is truly invested in Barrie's downtown. His longevity in business is to be complimented and he works closely with other leading restaurant owners in Barrie to ensure that their guests are receiving the best experience in hospitality. His belief in hospitality and the quality of people that he works with truly shows in the enjoyable dining experiences time after time. The chef at The Side Door has been there for over 6 years and he is extraordinarily talented. It is a great place to grab a drink on the patio, enjoy their exceptional calamari and to eat in their spacious dining room. 

After our drinks at The Side Door we ventured over to Painter's Hall for a delectable dinner. Shane and Erin Burrows have created an exquisite restaurant with a solid business philosophy and strong family values which are reflected in their amazing staff and service.

Erin sat down with us and demonstrated how to garnish our oysters with a splash of vodka. The crab cakes were luscious and baked to perfection. 

 Our main course consisted of grilled beef striploin, pan seared salmon fillet and brie stuffed chicken breast. Each plate came out with remarkable presentation and and the flavors were to die for. Thank you so much to Shane and Erin for their wonderful hospitality.

Painters Hall is the home of one of Canada's brightest star chefs. Chef Jim Garraway delights regulars and newcomers alike with solid, creative riffs on classic Canadian and European cuisine. At the age of 20 he moved to Whistler B.C. to do his apprenticeship with some of the country's best chefs. He then moved to Tofino and became the Chef at the world renowned Wickaninnish Inn. Barrie is very fortunate to have such a renowned chef cooking within our city. 


Painter's Hall has live entertainment in the bar atmosphere of the restaurant. Come in and visit Jon, a well known local artist who plays several live performances downtown every week.

In the evening we returned to the cozy Harbourview Inn. There was a strong sense of welcoming and nostalgia in the charming inn. It is the only boutique heritage hotel in downtown Barrie and every suite includes a kitchenette, pillow top beds with cloud like duvets, cable TV and private washrooms. There is also ample parking and daily housekeeping services. It is located at 1 Breczy Drive, just moments from the main shops and restaurants on Dunlop Street.

Jenni Baldwick is one of PIE's key makeup artists. Her 8 plus years of experience brings an element of beauty and creativity to our team. 

 In the morning we had Amanda Buck come to the lakefront to train us through a round of water aerobics. Her energy and enthusiasm made the early morning workout fun and enjoyable but no less tough. Amanda trains out of the studio at Om Sweet Om in downtown Barrie.

Len at Bradford Greenhouse had John, one of his helpful and knowledgable staff members help us choose some plants for our gardens. The greenhouse has a wide selection of lawn furniture, pond accessories as well as plants and tropical flowers. The seemingly endless rows of seasonal and perennial flowers and plants never cease to amaze me. John showed us a large variety of Japanese Maples, Banana Daisies and exotic tropical flowers.

The generous staff at the Lakeview Surgery Clinic offered Sandra a Laser Skin Rejuvenation session. The Intense Pulsed Light Laser (IPL) corrects a variety of benign skin conditions, such as facial skin imperfections, birthmarks, brown spots, and unsightly small veins. The treatment is also known as photorejuvenation treatment. IPL treatments will result in smoother skin with a more even tone and color and the best part is that there is no “down time” involved. Sandra was able to head out to lunch only moments after her treatment. 

 Marco from The North restaurant provided our team with phenomenal hospitality for literally hours on Friday afternoon. His team of incredible chefs prepared samples from everything on the Barrielicious menu including poached apple, vegetable cowder, smoked brisket, and risotto . One of Marco's signature flavors is lobster and he tries to include it in at least one menu item. For Barrielicious he created a poached lobster plate that was full of flavor and mouth wateringly delicious.

Cheers Barrie! Thank you for a wonderful time in PIE Bookazine's home base and favorite city for all things luxury. We encourage our readers to come down and visit beautiful downtown Barrie. Part 2 of the Barrie blog is coming shortly. If you would like to be apart of our blog please contact Sandra Roberts at