Pan-Fried-High
Photo by Colin Field

6 unique dining experiences in rural Canada

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Being away from major urban centres can sometimes pose an issue for dining out: do you choose the solo pub, the fry stand, or the one “fancy” restaurant? While cities like Toronto and Vancouver can host foodie-tourist adventures like dining in complete darkness, the recent locavore movement, along with buzzwords such as organic, natural, and wild have brought attention to local restauranteurs in Canada’s smaller, rural communities. From viking-style meals on the East Coast to intimate and remote gems, here are some of the most unique dining experiences you can find in rural Canada. 

The Grizzly House, Alberta

The Grizzly House
Photo courtesy of 10best.com

The Grizzly House, with the tagline, “For Lovers and Hedonists” sounds like nothing but a good time. From the outside in, the building looks like a rustic lodge plucked from a mountain town decades ago, featuring wood-panelled walls, bearskin rugs, totem poles, and a buffalo head. The eclectic Grizzly House was once a disco nightclub that still has subtle hints of its previous life, including fully-functional tableside landline phones and non-stop ’70s music. The restaurant, which has been in business for nearly 50 years, is known to have Banff’s best cheese fondue and is special based on the variety of game meats offered on the menu, including rattlesnake, shark, and wild boar to name a few. More info: www.banffgrizzlyhouse.com

The Great Viking Feast Dinner Theatre, Newfoundland & Labrador

Great Viking Feast
Photo courtesy of jamiesarner.com

Throughout the summer, the East Coast houses what is arguably the most interesting dining experience Canada has to offer. The restaurant is located at the northern tip of the province near the 1000 year old L’anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site, where real Vikings once roamed. The dining experience takes place in a barely-visible, sod-covered hut (picture where Hobbits live), staged in complete 1000 A.D. decor. Tour groups or individuals can partake in a true Viking experience, complete with costumes and a buffet that has included moose stew, cod tongue and squid fried rice alongside salad and rolls. More info: www.lightkeepersvikingfeast.com

Cabane a Sucre Au Pied de Cochon, Quebec

Sugar shack
Photo courtesy of ramblingsfromthecomplexmindl.com

If you didn’t know, Quebec is the world’s biggest producer of maple syrup. Naturally, Canadian chef Martin Picard has created a gourmet sugar-shack-to-table dining experience in rural Quebec. If you forget that reservations are sometimes required a year in advance and that an adult meal goes for $62 a head, Cabane a Sucre is still a typical forest shack with diners seated at long, communal wooden tables. The feast typically features interesting meat-centric dishes (past offerings have included a mackerel omelet; Picard’s sister restaurant in Montreal served squirrel earlier this year) and every menu item features the main attraction: syrup. More info: www.aupieddecochon.ca

Henry’s Fish Restaurant, Ontario

Henry's Fish
Photo courtesy of Colin Field

Henry’s Fish Restaurant near Georgian Bay offers a great opportunity to work up an appetite before actually getting to your food. People interested in tasting Henry’s world-renowned fried fish can arrive via rented seaplane. Available from nearby Parry Sound or Midland, the “Fly and Dine” package allows guests to hitch a ride to aptly-named Frying Pan Island where the restaurant is located. More info: www.henrysfishrestaurant.com

Crystal Hut, British Columbia

Crystal Hut
Photo courtesy of legacy.pitchengine.com

If the Rockies weren’t innately beautiful, unique and Canadian enough, how about a little mountain-top dining? Located in a cozy log-cabin setting atop Whistler’s famous Blackcomb, Crystal Hut has been recognized as one of the best mountain-top restaurants. If that isn’t enough, the patio legitimately leers over the edge of Crystal Ridge and the menu boasts all-day Belgian waffles. More info: www.whistlerblackcomb.com