In the restaurant business, being all things to all diners really does come with risks. It’s difficult to provide an all-encompassing menu without being weak in certain areas thus alienating some segments of your audience. But since Tracey Greer, husband David and brother David Jordan took over this Pakenham main street location in November of 2016, they have continually served up proof that you really can be versatile without sacrificing quality.
My partner and I were joined by our neighbours for a Friday night dinner, and reservations were definitely a good idea. The place was busy when we arrived and it stayed that way throughout our evening. In fact, it got even busier as we left.
The amount of patrons coming in wearing snowmobile suits took us off guard until we realized that a major recreational trail runs right by Bridges’ Mississippi River frontage. This expansive willow-treed lawn is a major draw throughout all 4 seasons as they host outdoor parties and events (including smaller weddings) and have a great patio for a beautiful view of the riverscape. And as the quality of wedding dinners go a long way to making great matrimonial memories, few couples will ever find themselves short of happy stories to tell about their venue-find of the century.
Bridges Bar and Grill’s comfortable and welcoming interior is divided into two sections, an upscale dining room at the front and a traditional pub room at the rear facing the river, with plenty of windows to let diners enjoy the terrific views.
The formal area seats about 30 and can be reserved for private functions while the pub is slightly larger holding 40 when space is reserved for live musical entertainment (a regular occurrence) and more when no bands are present. They are, of course, fully licensed and carry a wide selection of wines, beers, and liquors with some great local craft beers available.
Bridges head cook/manager Lance Bowes, a 20-plus year veteran of the kitchen, seems to have no trouble keeping up with local tastes and Greer’s love of an inclusive menu. From homestyle breakfasts to traditional pub grub (pizza, wings, burgers, apps) to splurge lunches to deliciously crafted full-course meals, they do it all with flair and flavour.
I had one of the evening specials, a great take on shepherd’s pie, while my partner tried the shrimp-skewers and rice. My neighbours tested fish and chips and fish tacos. We started off things with an app sampler platter of deep-fried cheese curds, cauliflower, and pickle slices; heavenly.
The service was fast, even though the joint was hopping proving they don’t scrimp on staff levels. Deep-fried items had no oily taste, and veggie sides were generous and cooked to al-dente perfection. My neighbour professed his fish and chips were the best he’d ever tasted. Side salad greens were fresh tasty and served with dressing on the side. Side note, their gluten-free options are the most comprehensive I’ve seen. No matter where you sit at Bridges Bar and Grill, it’s definitely an upscale dining experience. Dinner entrees range from $13.99 to $22.99; great value for your money.
They’re open Tuesday through Sunday and are located at 2496 County Rd 29 (Pakenham’s main street). You can find them on Facebook (great page to check for all their special events), or you can call 613 624 5939. They are wheelchair accessible with a small ramp and front door vehicle access (parking is across the street).