Appetizing Pairing: Waterloo Region’s Food and Music

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Waterloo Region has a wide variety of warm and appetizing blends of food and live music at several venues, and when live music isn’t on stage, there may be DJs creating the acoustic atmosphere to go with what you’re eating. This is not comprehensive: while many restaurants may feature live music on an ad hoc basis, here’s a short-list of some favourite venues for food and music in Waterloo Region.

Note: Please check with individual venues for updated information on performances.


Easy Pour Wine Bar (Blair, Ont.)

A cozy and warm venue of about 60 seats serving a full menu from appetizers and shareable boards to sandwiches and meals.

Tuesday nights feature Juneyt Yetkiner and his flamenco guitar. Saturdays see various local performers playing jazz, blues or acoustic guitar. “Our music is intended to be casual and background music, so it’s a bit softer until 9 p.m.,” says Easy Pour co-owner Nicole Schickler.

For owner Nicole, music and food go together like … “wine and cheese.”


Rhapsody Barrel Bar

“It’s different every day of the week,” says Rhapsody owner Tammy Lawrence. “We don’t stick to one genre of music.”

The restaurant and music venue (with a clothing and accessories store adjoining) is in Kitchener’s centre block. Monday is open mic, Wednesday is acoustic night, Thursday showcases women in music, while Friday and Saturday is reserved for touring acts. Sunday is jazz or blues for brunch. Through the week, performances start at either 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.

The menu is full service and features sharing plates.

For owner Tammy, music and food go together like … “Johnny and June Cash – perfect love and harmony.”

Lancaster Smokehouse

You’ll find a classic pairing with blues and barbecue at the Lanc in Kitchener’s Bridgeport neighbourhood. “When we started, there were more venues than performers to fill them. Now, it’s the other way around,” says owner Chris Corrigan.

John McKinley House Band performs Friday nights. Saturdays are reserved for musicians outside the Region or who aren’t widely played. “We’re very active promoting local but like to sprinkle with the seasoning of some out-of-town flavour.”

Piano man Matt Weidinger performs Wednesday nights, and there’s also a monthly Grand River Blues Camp jam.

For owner Chris “The General” Corrigan, music and food go together like … “red beans and rice.”

The Boathouse

Located in Kitchener’s beautiful Victoria Park, The Boathouse is renovating and re-tooling as a venue that blends food and music more amenably, according to owner Mark Forwell. “We want to get the music and the food to sit well together in this single room,” he says. “Piano players and performers like that. No sound checks with a punk band while people are trying to eat,” he laughs.

Late Mondays is musicians’ Open Mic, while every second Sunday there’s a monster jam. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays are the big music nights.

For Boathouse owner Mark Forwell, music and food go together like … “Beethoven and beer.”

[ N.B.: The Boathouse is closed for renovations October 30 – November 6. ]


White Rabbit

This is a good kind of rabbit hole to go down: uptown Waterloo’s White Rabbit with a thumper of a back bar and lots of cocktail culture to go with the food. There’s DJ music on Tuesday and Sunday evenings and live music with a Latin jazz band each month.

For owner Kypp Saunders, music and food go together like … “whiskey and cigars.”

The Jane Bond

The Starlight features local “under-the-radar” bands, says manager Renee Lees. “We also have groups from across Canada and into the States, too.” For food, however – and vegetarian dishes like eggplant parmigiana or jerk tempeh burrito – head to sister venue, The Jane Bond Café. The 80 capacity venue does more local bands and those of a “quirky nature that plays better in a smaller room,” she says.

Early in the evening, The Bond gets a wide range of age demographic. “By 10 o’clock, it turns into more of a night time scene,” Lees adds. DJs play several nights a week with live acts on weekends.

For manager Renee, music and food go together like … “long walks and beaches.”


Scran and Dram Scottish Public House

Co-owner and executive chef Dave Hutchison says the Scran has an open mic night for Celtic and local musicians the third Sunday of every month starting at 2 p.m. First Saturday of the month is reserved for karaoke. “There’s always a band of local musicians on Saturday night, usually starting about 9 p.m.,” Hutchison says.

For Hutchison, music and food go together like … “chips and curry sauce.”

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