Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Going local: Buskers opener and Solé summer dishes

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This region has a Twitter hashtag, #kwawesome, that seems a little needy to me. Places that are truly awesome don’t need to proclaim that fact.

Still, they truly do some things well. The initial, widespread criticism over uptown Waterloo’s public square has long since died down. While certainly not as pretty as downtown Kitchener’s City Hall site, it has proven itself as a great location to hold a wide variety of public events that do bring uptown. This weekend, it’s the Waterloo Buskers Festival.

It’s the 25th year of the event, so the city sponsored a special opening event: a free concert by Steven Page, formerly of the Barenaked Ladies. I got on the iExpress right from my office door to uptown (you see I was determined to fully partake of regional services) to take it in, on what turned into a beautiful summer day.

Steven Page at Waterloo Buskers

Mr Page played with one other musician, a cellist who also sang backup. He naturally did some of his solo material, which I admit I didn’t know, but that did demonstrate he hasn’t lost his ability to write catchy songs with clever lyrics. But he also offered a generous dose of Barenaked Ladies material as well, including “The Old Apartment”, “Enid”, “What a Good Boy”, “Jane”, “It’s All Been Done”, and of course, “Brian Wilson”, the closer (before an encore). In between, he offered amusing commentary. He played for about an hour, which is quite reasonable for a free show!

Why Steven Page, a Toronto guy, for this? Because—and while I think I’ve heard this before, I’d forgotten—the Barenaked Ladies played at the Waterloo Buskers Festival way back in 1990, when no one knew who they were. Not only that, but while they arrived a trio, they left a quartet, because they met drummer Tyler Stewart at the Festival. Unlike Page, he remains in the band to this day.

Jean joined me for only the last part of the show (work!), then we walked over to Solé Restaurant to try this year’s Summer Dishes menu: three courses for $33, using local ingredients.

There was no going wrong with the first course: Tomatoes and feta with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil. Lovely. For the main, I talked Jean into taking the pork with apple and sausage stuffing, sweet potato mash, and sugar snap peas, while I stuck with the trout with potatoes and corn that we’d both been eying at first. Lucky for him, as that turned out to be the better offering—really delicious all around. As for the trout, it was nicely cooked, corn is amazing this time of year, and potatoes are pretty decent, too. The problem, to me, was the remoulade on the fish, which just seemed too heavy, disguising the fish too much.

Main courses at Sole

They weren’t offering wine pairings this year, so we figured it out ourselves. I started with a glass of Cave Spring rosé (local, local!), while Jean had a French sparkling of Blanquette (not Champagne). For the main, we shared a half bottle of Tawse 2010 Pinot Noir. It wasn’t as rich as we thought it might be, given that 2010 was a pretty warm summer, but it was still a nice wine.

For dessert, we both opted for blueberry yogurt from Whole Lot-A Gelata, another local restaurant, and it was just delicious. (Maybe even awesome.)

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