Celebrate unique Northern Ontario cuisine with the Savour Muskoka dining program and the region’s many outstanding restaurants.
It was not so long ago that “eating out” in Muskoka meant a wiener roast following a placid canoe trip, or grilling up the fish you caught earlier in the day. In recent years, however, cottage-country dining has gone increasingly upscale, and acclaimed restaurants seek to please the palates of sophisticated residents and vacationers alike.
Muskoka is now home to superlative chefs capable of crafting the most intricate of entrees. Thankfully, these culinary stars, and the establishments at which they toil, still have a sense of what makes this expanse of geography so special—its natural bounty. From berries and mushrooms to myriad vegetables and maple syrup, the region is blessed with an abundance of indigenous and farmed foodstuffs. These often-organic ingredients are highlighted as part of the Savour Muskoka dining program.
Now in its fifth year, Savour Muskoka brings together top chefs and local produce. The results: greater environmental sensitivity through the use of seasonal, sustainable ingredients, and a fresh and distinctive culinary experience you can’t find anywhere else.
Where best to indulge in these delectable dishes? Booking a table at one of Muskoka’s popular inns and resorts is a reliable option. The restaurants at venerable Deerhurst Resort boast a founding member of the Savour Muskoka association as their executive chef. At the hotel’s Eclipse restaurant in particular, chef Rory Golden employs such ingredients as Bala cranberries, bread from Huntsville’s Windmill Bakery and even honey from an on-site apiary in cuisine that also features the flavourful accents of French, Italian and Middle Eastern cooking.
Three Delta-owned properties—the Grandview Resort, Rocky Crest Resort and Sherwood Inn—are also prominent local-food boosters, sourcing seasonal produce from Brooklands Farm in Milford Bay and Grenville Farms in Severn Bridge, plus hormone-free beef from the Bliss Family Farm in Utterson. Or, venture to recently opened The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa for a regional gastro-tour at three fine establishments. Among other ingredients, Ontario-sourced beef is exclusively served here. Order the classic steak frites at traditional dining room Cottages, or try it unadorned as beef carpaccioat Italian-inspired Teca; golf course steakhouse Fairways Grilleis committed to the farm-to-fork philosophy, too. Elsewhere, the charming Inn at Christie’s Mill, offers up-market delicacies including pecan- and honey-crusted pork tenderloin, the sweet nectar a product of local bees, of course.
Independent restaurants, both long-standing and newly established in the region’s close-knit communities, are also major participants in Savour Muskoka. These businesses maintain strong links to local growers and are constantly adapting their menus to reflect the best available ingredients in any given season. A few of the leaders in this regard are North Restaurant & Lounge—chef Alain Irvine oversees a cottage-meets-condo space that serves appetizing concoctions like roasted Grenville Farms candy cane beets with Algonquin honey—and Rosseau’s Crossroads Pub & Grill, where chef Richard Lalonde favours naturally raised beef and Berkshire pork from Utterson farm Winding Fences. In Bracebridge, award-winning Riverwalk is notable for David Friesen’s varied tasting menus, which are often flavoured by such treats as hand-foraged mushrooms, fresh strawberries and, those little bites of heaven, wild Muskoka blueberries.
With so many mouth-watering options at numerous lauded restaurants, choosing just one (or two, or even a few) is bound to be a challenge. On June 11, The Rosseau hosts Flavours of Muskoka, where visitors can sample the signature tastes of more than 20 local restaurants—including Savour Muskoka participants Riverwalk, Crossroads and the Moon River Lookout—as well as Ontario vintners and breweries. Advance tickets for the popular charity event are $60, and can be purchased by calling 705-765-1048.