Stand up: Tim and Helen, Cottage Kitchen

The Stand finds out more about the couple behind the Cottage.

Isabelle Arnson

What used to be a children’s clothing shop is now The Cottage Kitchen, the café equivalent to having a guilt-free, gossipy conversation with your grandma. The building exudes character and quirk, with an old fireplace lodged behind the toilet and obscure hatches located throughout.

Its walls seem to radiate a soft hum of the stories and conversations they’ve absorbed throughout the years, with the eclectic furniture lending an ambient quality of nostalgia to the establishment. Aesthetically, it’s kind of like if Laura Ingalls Wilder had her own restaurant, in the best way imaginable.

The menu boasts a wide array of fresh foods and desserts, each made with ingredients grown in the residential garden or purchased locally. It can be hard to pull off the whole home-grown organic thing without being even a little bit douche-y. Cottage Kitchen married owners Tim and Helen, however, bridge that divide nicely.

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The Cottage Kitchen opened August 6, and has already welcomed overwhelming success.

“It’s all so exciting,” Tim explains, “so much more than we could have expected. We’re juggling a lot of crowds – old ladies, students, families. And people share tables! I love that.”

They acknowledge the void created by the disappearance of Butler’s Wraps, and believe their menu has a unique appeal to students. “Everything is fresh and bought from local producers. Local butchers, even local coffee from an old man who shouts at me for not giving him enough notice. Students really seem to have embraced fresher foods. They tend to get salads, wraps… they’re always asking if we have gluten-free or vegan options. Of course we do! They act so surprised when we say we have soy milk!”

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The food is healthy, but not obnoxiously so. The whole homegrown hipster vibe has never been more endearing.

“We make our own jams, chutneys – oh, the old women love to give us hints on how to improve our jams. Helen does all of the baking,” Tim adds, “I did it myself on Monday, and it was horrible.”

“Yes, my favorite part has got to be the baking,” Helen explains. “The cakes are my favourite, but the scones and blondies are delicious as well.”

“Oh, but these cakes aren’t healthy,” Tim interjects. “Even when they’re called carrot cakes.”

So, what’s next for Tim and Helen?

“At the moment,” Tim explains, “it’s all so exciting. It’s so much more than we had expected. We’re so grateful to you customers.” Obtaining an alcohol license remains on their radar, but until then, Helen’s cakes and Tim’s cappuccinos are intoxicating enough. That’s a terrible play on words, but my love for The Cottage Kitchen is really shrouding my better judgement.

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Images courtesy of Lallie Doyle

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