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Muskoka’s Top Restaurants – A tradition of excellence

Blog by Susan Brown | September 27th, 2017

When it comes to great restaurants, Muskoka certainly delivers. In fact, few places in Ontario can boast as many superb choices when it comes to dining. Best of all, most of the top Muskoka restaurants make a point of serving locally sourced ingredients, from scrumptious maple syrup and cranberries to homegrown vegetables and herbs, as well as local fish and game.

Cottage country is also where you’ll find some of Canada’s top chefs, all proud to be part of Muskoka’s first-rate food scene.

If you’ve not tried the restaurants on the following list of Muskoka’s top places to dine, now’s your chance!

Spencer’s Tall Trees Restaurant, Huntsville

One of Muskoka’s longest-running and most successful restaurants, Spencer’s Tall Trees in Huntsville has been hosting guests for some 25 years now, and never disappoints. Noted for the quality of its food and wine menus – not to mention its hospitality – the restaurant is run by owner-come-chef Randy Spencer and his wife Karen and places a great deal of emphasis on its simple yet elegant fare.

Highlights include the chef’s daily three-course table d’hote, as popular with cottagers and visitors as it is with residents. Favourite dishes include its pastas (try the penne with curried chicken), steaks, lobster and delicious veal. For dessert, try the flourless chocolate truffle, or see what the chef has laid on for his ‘daily inspiration’.

Also, when making a reservation in summer (always a good idea!) be sure to ask about the availability of the lovely Muskoka room overlooking the restaurant’s lovely gardens and Hunter’s Bay (an special treat at sundown).

Visit their website at http://www.spencerstalltrees.com for further information.

The Main Street Local, Huntsville

One of Huntsville’s newest restaurants, the excellent Main Street Local (look for #24, Main Street East) has been quick to make a name for itself. With a focus on “feel good food” the team here, led by Chef Ryan Clarke, uses locally sourced ingredients and serves up a variety of dishes that’ll keep you coming back for more. Highlights include the ‘Main Street’ breakfast of eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausages, ham and home fries; the incredible ‘Turkey Club Burger’ made with fresh local turkey with all the trimmings and a choice of Sriracha or pesto mayo (available lunch and dinner); and the ‘Ratatouille Tart’, a mix of seasoned vegetables, all wrapped up in pastry.

And dessert? Go for the homemade Main St Cheese Cake topped with either chocolate or caramel sauce. Delicious. Also available are a variety of locally produced beers, as well as wines selected to accompany their casual Canadian fare. Catering and private dining are also available.

Visit their website at https://mainstlocal.ca

Arowhon Pines, Algonquin Park

When it comes to rustic settings, few locations can beat the incredible views at Arowhon Pines. Located within the gates of Algonquin Park, the resort has been serving incredible meals in its huge six-sided log dining room overlooking pretty Joe Lake since 1938. Best of all, you don't have to be staying at the resort in order to enjoy the food here, making it the perfect choice for those living in Muskoka full-time or at the cottage for the summer.

Autumn is an especially good time to visit for the beautiful fall colours, and for the fact the massive central stone fireplace will likely be lit, adding a real cottage country flavor. While day-trippers are welcome for breakfast and lunch (reservations required), it’s dinner that really stands out. The food served – and there’s always plenty of it, with second-helpings included in the price – is a mix of Canadian and European dishes made with local fresh seasonal ingredients, including resort-grown edible flowers, herbs, and rhubarb.

The fixed menu changes daily, with favourites including pork, lamb, venison and salmon, sometimes accompanied with foraged foods including mushrooms and fiddleheads. Desserts include such tasty treats as berry pies, butter tarts and chocolate mousse. And to drink, bring your own wine: Algonquin doesn't permit the sale of liquor, but take your own and the staff will uncork it at no charge.

Find out more at www.arowhonpines.ca

Eclipse at Deerhurst, Huntsville

One of Muskoka’s oldest resorts, Deerhurst just so happens to be one of the region’s most famous, thanks in part to its role in hosting the 2010 G10 Summit. In addition to its great lakeside accommodations, it’s also earned a worldwide reputation as great place to dine (all those hungry world leaders had to be fed, after all).

The jewel in the crown at the resort is undeniably Eclipse, a restaurant with some of the best views in cottage country. Its sophisticated menu infuses fresh local ingredients with a distinctly exotic twist thanks to Chef David Bakker. Highlights could include dishes inspired by seasonal offerings as maple syrup, shiitake mushrooms, honey and herbs, all of it produced on site and often embellished by foraged items including cat tails, wild leeks and sumac. The menu changes with the season, but usually includes smoked trout from nearby Milford Bay, locally raised lamb, and Ontario pickerel.

Book yourself a table at www.deerhurstresort.com

Bigwin Island Golf Club, Lake of Bays

One of the most exciting dining opportunities in Muskoka is to be had at Bigwin Island Golf Club. Accessible only by water, your culinary adventure begins the moment you hop on the Club’s ferry and are whisked across beautiful Lake of Bays. Once ashore, you’ll be ushered into the 1920s-era Marine Dining Room with its incredible lake views, especially lovely come sundown.

Like so many of the top Muskoka restaurants, the focus is on fresh local produce and ingredients wherever possible. While the menu changes with the season, you can always expect a good fish dish here, along with traditional steaks and pastas, and a weekly special based upon local ingredients available at the time. Be sure to ask your server for pairing tips for menu items from their broad selection of fine wines, beers, spirits and cocktails.

Although a private club, non-members are welcome in the dining room during the shoulder season. Many locals and cottagers also make use of the privileges made available through a dining membership. For dining details, visit their website at http://www.bigwinisland.com/Dining.aspx.

3 Guys and a Stove, Huntsville

Owned by local celeb chef Jeff Suddaby (he’s got a few best-selling cookbooks under his belt… or apron), the always-fun 3 Guys and a Stove located off Hwy 60 in Huntsville has become something of a must-visit when in Muskoka.

With a bevy of great dishes inspired by his regular overseas travels, Suddaby’s great menu demonstrates his flare for using spices to breathe exciting new life into traditional comfort foods. Depending on the season in which you visit, you can expect to sample plenty of great seafood – his coconut-encrusted shrimp are incredible, equaled only by the crab cakes – often served up with generous portions of rice. Those who enjoy spicy foods won't be disappointed, while sweet cravings can be satiated with his delectable desserts, one of the most popular being the fresh-baked white chocolate cheesecake.

For reservations and details, visit http://3guysandastove.com

Dock of the Bay, Gravenhurst

Another great waterside restaurant in Muskoka is Dock of the Bay in Gravenhurst. Located on the stunning Muskoka Wharf on the southern tip of Lake Muskoka, it boasts what is definitely one of the best patios anywhere. Overlooking Muskoka Bay, this large and partially covered seating area is all the more unique for the fact it’s actually built over the water. (Tip: if you can, try to visit during lunch or dinner in Wednesdays during the summer – you’ll catch the crowds heading to the town’s farmers’ market during the day then catch a waterski demo on the lake in front of you come evening!).

Menu highlights include an always-popular fish dish such as Georgian Bay trout. For a hearty appetizer, go for the beef slider – it’s pretty much a meal in itself and consists of a strip loin, onion ring, goat cheese mashed potato and a delicious mushroom cap… then topped off with a creamy gorgonzola sauce. Other dishes of note often include the grilled pork rack chop.

For further details and reservations, check the website at http://www.dockofthebay.ca

Blue Willow Tea Room, Gravenhurst

Another great restaurant on Gravenhurst’s Muskoka Wharf is the Blue Willow Tea Room. It’s hard to believe this excellent location – much more than your traditional tearoom – has been serving up its first-rate, always homemade and fresh meals for close to 10 years now.

With large windows overlooking the Wharf’s central square and historic steamship RMS Segwun’s berth, the Blue Willow has made a well-deserved name for itself among cottagers and residents alike for its excellent breakfasts, lunches and dinners. A must is the superb traditional English breakfast consisting of egg and bacon, sausage, grilled tomatoes and beans. Come lunch, a favourite is the classic egg sandwich with fresh soup of the day, or possibly pork tenderloin if it’s available. For dinner, what could be more British than good old roast beef and Yorkshire pud or a steak and mushroom pie? And for dessert, it simply has to be the incredible sticky toffee pudding.

For more information, visit their website at www.bluewillowteashop.ca

Cottages, Rosseau JW Marriott, Minett

Have you spotted a theme yet? Pretty much all the very best restaurants in Muskoka come complete with great views! And the excellent Cottages at the Rosseau JW Marriott Resort in Minett has one of the very best of all views. Whether seated inside or on the restaurant’s huge patio, you’ll be treated to spectacular lofty views over stunning Lake Rosseau, home to some of the most expensive luxury real estate for sale in Muskoka.

Priding itself on tasty, healthy farm-to-fork dishes using fresh local produce as much as they can, starter staples include excellent chowders, Italian inspired meatball sliders, shellfish dishes including mussels and lobster. Come main course, go for the beef tenderloin if it’s available, or halibut.

For details, visit www.therosseau.com