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Muskoka restaurants

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Andrew Dymond

By CRAIG MOY

As executive chef at Taboo Resort, Dymond heads up the luxury property’s lauded Elements fine-dining restaurant, tasting-menu-oriented Culinary Theatre and casual Boathouse eatery. Having cooked at distinguished hotels in southern Ontario and Europe, he crafts globally inspired cuisine based on the freshest available ingredients.

LOCAL BOUNTY

Grenville Farms and Four Seasons Greens provide Dymond and his staff with a wide variety of Muskoka-grown produce, while Windermere’s Winding Fences Farm is his source for naturally raised beef and Berkshire pork.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Randy Spencer

By CRAIG MOY

Chef Spencer has been a gastronomic standard bearer in the Muskoka region for many years. With his wife, Karen, he owns Spencer’s Tall Trees, a venerable restaurant in a century-old house overlooking Hunter’s Bay.

LOCAL BOUNTY

Spencer’s menu balances classic and contemporary elements in dishes that are at once cosmopolitan and clearly Canadian—rack of lamb with mint-infused spaetzle and hoisin-glazed baby back ribs are among its recent offerings. In summer, vegetables are sourced from Brooklands Farm in Bracebridge. A significant portion of the restaurant’s award-winning wine list is composed of Niagara vintages, while its own house-made pies are a sought-after delicacy distributed by a number of Muskoka retailers.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Shaun Crymble

By CRAIG MOY

Toronto-trained chef Crymble manages the culinary operations of two restaurants, a bar, a poolside café and room service at The Rosseau, crafting continental and Italian-influenced menus for the resort’s discerning guests.

LOCAL BOUNTY

A rooftop herb garden supplies some subtle flavours and aromas for summer offerings—basil is particularly favoured for pizzas and fresh breads, while The Rosseau’s bartenders clip mint for mojitos. Tasty, too,
are the Ontario cheeses that Crymble plans to use this season. Cranberries from Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala are also a staple.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Rory Golden

By CRAIG MOY

A longtime proponent of the Savour Muskoka culinary initiative, Deerhurst Resort executive chef Rory Golden is committed to filling his menu with seasonal ingredients found close to home. In summer he also highlights the power of the barbecue with lots of grilled meats and vegetables—even grilled desserts.

LOCAL BOUNTY

You’ve heard of the 100-Mile Diet. At Deerhurst it’s more like the 100-metre diet—herbs, mushrooms, honey and maple syrup are all on site. Farther afield, Golden sources Ontario ingredients such as omega-3-enriched pork from Willowgrove Hill farm near Stratford. The chops are given a maple glaze and served with a tomato and locally made Big Ass Garlic “jam”.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: Christine Bib

By CRAIG MOY

With her eponymous company, Christine Bib Catering, Chef Bib creates simply prepared, seasonal menus for all manner of clients in both Toronto and the Muskoka region.

LOCAL BOUNTY

Trout is a favourite ingredient; Bib often serves Milford Bay smoked trout, for example, on a potato latke with crème fraîche and dill, and grills fresh trout—farmed off of Manitoulin Island—on a cedar plank with a citrus-soy marinade. Later in the summer she takes advantage of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable harvest, from tomatoes and corn to peaches, pears, apples and wild blueberries.

Spotlight on Muskoka Chefs: James Brown

By CRAIG MOY

Originally from Niagara-on-the-Lake, chef Brown has spent more than two decades cooking in wine-and cottage-country kitchens (he moved to Parry Sound in 1993). At Kudos Kuisine (one of Where’s best new restaurants of 2011), he combines the skills he developed in Niagara with culinary influences from Northern Ontario, including traditional inspirations from the Shawanaga First Nation.

LOCAL BOUNTY

Georgian Bay pickerel is marinated in maple syrup, crusted in cornmeal and pan fried, while wild shiitake mushrooms are incorporated into a sauce for the restaurant’s AAA striploin steaks.

Where’s Best New Restaurants 2011

Canada’s best new restaurants of 2011, chosen by the editors of Where

Where Canada‘s Best New Restaurants is an annual award program dedicated to recognizing the country’s top chefs and innovative restaurateurs. (more…)

Top Chefs: Alain Irvine, North Restaurant

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, the region offers another excellent incentive thanks to the tremendous growth of its dining scene. We asked some of Muskoka’s most prominent kitchen captains about their restaurants, their cuisine and the area’s emergence as a foodie-friendly destination. Watch this space for a new chef every week of the summer!

CHEF ALAIN IRVINE
North Restaurant
, Gravenhurst

Can you tell us a bit about your restaurant and its philosophy?
Our culinary philosophy draws upon these four key elements. First is our cuisine. Through the application of traditional techniques and modern flair along with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, we seek to redefine original dishes to create an unparalleled restaurant experience. Our service exudes warmth, intuition and honesty—always attentive and articulate. Diners are made to feel welcome, and can be confident in our staff’s knowledge and expertise. The third element is our setting. Our dining room compliments our cuisine; it’s an urban oasis in Muskoka. And finally there’s aesthetics—we believe that combining cuisine, service and setting with a touch of magic creates an inimitable journey to savour.

What are your thoughts on the local food movement?
More and more people are looking for local food from farmers’ markets, farms, or even from their own gardens. Locavores believe food tastes better because it’s fresh and that it’s more nutritious. Farmers’ markets are becoming trendy again, people love to get out and be seen.

What culinary trends do you predict in Muskoka in the near future?
The trend will always stay the same; we still use nuevo cuisine from the ‘80s. Everything is just a good chef taking the best available products and creating a great centre-plate experience.

Can you tell us about one of your signature dishes?
I don’t really have a signature dish. I love to cook, so everything on the menu has 40 years of experience put into it. It’s always the details that separate an average dining experience from a great one.

Aside from indulging in fine dining, how else would you suggest visitors to the Muskoka region make the most of their time?
Explore the endless lakes and countless islands. Muskoka’s three big lakes—Joseph, Rosseau and Muskoka—and their lakeside communities are playgrounds for tourists, cottagers and residents.  Algonquin Park is full of wildlife and great trails.

Top Chefs: Richard and Julie Lalonde, Crossroads Pub & Grill

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, the region offers another excellent incentive thanks to the tremendous growth of its dining scene. We asked some of Muskoka’s most prominent kitchen captains about their restaurants, their cuisine and the area’s emergence as a foodie-friendly destination. Watch this space for a new chef every week of the summer!

CHEFS RICHARD & JULIE LALONDE
Crossroads Pub & Grill
, Rosseau

The Muskoka region is gaining popularity as a dining destination. Why do you think this is?
Chefs are using more local products and produce. People and families from Ontario are choosing to remain in the province when travelling, which naturally brings more visitors who want to discover this all-around beautiful area.

What are your thoughts on the local food movement?
Finally! We have so much to offer and to be proud of here. It’s time that we all get back to cooking and supporting what we have grown.

Can you tell us a bit about your menu?
We create all of our dishes using local ingredients—beef and pork from Winding Fences farm, honey from Papa Jim’s, and produce from Brookland and Grenville farms. It’s a combination of great products and a passion for food.

What inspires you to cook?
Everything! Changes in the seasons; local products that are fresh and flavourful; cooking for our family and friends and introducing new foods to them. We love to give diners real value for their dollar and to show them what food should taste like.

Top Chefs: David Scoffield, Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, the region offers another excellent incentive thanks to the tremendous growth of its dining scene. We asked some of Muskoka’s most prominent kitchen captains about their restaurants, their cuisine and the area’s emergence as a foodie-friendly destination. Watch this space for a new chef every week of the summer!

CHEF DAVID SCOFFIELD
Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa
, Port Severn

Can you tell us a bit about your restaurant and its philosophy?
The dining room at Christie’s Mill Inn & Spa is truly unique. Located on a peninsula, the room itself is circular in design with an amazing waterfront view. Our philosophy is to offer a culinary “experience” that, along with our spa, acts as a calling card to attract guests to the inn.

The Muskoka region is gaining popularity as a dining destination. Why do you think this is?
Muskoka’s proximity to the Greater Toronto Area allows people to travel a reasonably short distance, yet find themselves in a totally different environment from the city. We’ve also benefited from organizations like Savour Muskoka, which promotes the region’s culinary opportunities and showcases the many talented chefs that work and live here.

What are your thoughts on the local food movement?
The local food movement is great; however we are at times limited by the lack of variety of foods available. Year-round properties such as Christie’s Mill face further limitations in the wintertime—that’s simply a reflection of our climate and geography.

What culinary trends do you predict in Muskoka in the near future?
A good chef is always researching and trying to incorporate new ideas into menu development. It’s my hope that chefs will stay in touch with culinary trends, but continue to incorporate some local flair into their cuisine.

Describe for us the quintessential Muskoka meal.
Is there a quintessential Muskoka meal?  I think our region is as diverse as the guests that visit us. At Christie’s Mill you’ll find offerings ranging from Raz el Hanout spiced Peking duck breast to Thai glazed baby back ribs.

What are the benefits and challenges of cooking in a resort setting?

One of the great benefits at Christie’s Mill is its more relaxed setting, which allows for great interaction with the guests. Going to work everyday at a place like this sets the right mood for a positive and productive day. While it can be challenging finding local creative talent, it is rewarding to be able to inspire someone and see his or her skills develop.

Top Chefs: David Friesen, Riverwalk

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, the region offers another excellent incentive thanks to the tremendous growth of its dining scene. We asked some of Muskoka’s most prominent kitchen captains about their restaurants, their cuisine and the area’s emergence as a foodie-friendly destination. Watch this space for a new chef every week of the summer!

CHEF DAVID FRIESEN
Riverwalk, Bracebridge

Why do you think Muskoka has gained such popularity as a dining destination?
More great chefs are making the move outside of the city and opening more great restaurants. Over the last few years the Savour Muskoka program has helped brand the region as a place to enjoy local food products.

Your thoughts on the local food movement?
I love it. Using seasonal product has always been forefront throughout my 20+ year career. It’s great to be able to go straight to farms and speak directly with farmers. They’re responding with open arms and asking chefs what we want them to produce. This is a win-win situation.

Can you tell us about one of your signature dishes?
Crackling skinned organic chicken with handmade corn noodles—local chicken, farm-fresh eggs for the noodles and seasonal Brooklands Farm corn. Mmm!

What inspires you to cook?
Tastes, textures, smells. bringing those elements together in harmony and creating memories through the senses.

Top Chefs: Rory Golden, Deerhurst Resort

There are many reasons to visit Muskoka: the small town ambience; the pristine lakes; its world-renowned golf courses. These days, the region offers another excellent incentive thanks to the tremendous growth of its dining scene. We asked some of Muskoka’s most prominent kitchen captains about their restaurants, their cuisine and the area’s emergence as a foodie-friendly destination. Watch this space for a new chef every week of the summer! (more…)