Beyond the BBQ: The best fine-dining spots in cottage country

Grilling burgers on the barbecue and making s’mores by the campfire may be an essential part of any cottage experience, but the good news is that when you’re ready for a culinary change of pace, you can often find great meals just a short drive away—there’s no need to head back into the city!

From luxurious resort restaurants to award-winning farms and charming waterfront bistros, there’s no shortage of fine-dining experiences, even in rural cottage country. And if you’re sharing a cottage with friends and family for the weekend, the redesigned 2020 Audi Q7’s seven-seat capacity lets you arrive in style and comfort, while the Audi connect service gives you and your companions a range of information, entertainment, and security features—kind of like having your own personal assistant along for the ride.

Mount Julian at Viamede Resort, Woodview

Open by reservation only during the summer months, this intimate Stoney Lake, Ont., restaurant at Viamede Resort has just nine tables. Book one of the five-, seven-, or nine-course tasting menus and be prepared for an unforgettable meal featuring locally sourced meat and produce. The dishes on the menu change frequently, and Ontario wine and beer pairings are available. 

Riverwalk Restaurant, Bracebridge

Under the direction of executive chef David Friesen, this highly rated restaurant next to the scenic Bracebridge Falls in Muskoka is open year-round for lunch and dinner. The menu, which favours Muskoka-region ingredients, changes seasonally. Dinner highlights include the house-made wild mushroom pate, oven-roasted Quebec duck breast served with rösti potatoes and chutney, and braised beef short rib with handmade linguine. 

Eigensinn Farm, Singhampton

Just south of Collingwood, you can find a one-of-a-kind dining experience at Eigensinn Farm in Singhampton. This family-owned farm raises livestock, grows vegetables, collects maple syrup, has two bee hives, and sources fish and wild-foraged ingredients locally. But heads up: reservations are essential to experience the farm’s much-coveted tasting menu. 

The Artisan House, Huntsville 

At this cozy, popular fine-dining destination in Huntsville, Ont., open for dinner from April to December, you can expect seasonal, locally sourced dishes prepared by executive chef and owner Reto Ballat. Look for comfort food such as Arancini di Riso and homemade tagliatelle alongside more adventurous specials like bison tartare.  

Merrill House, Picton

There are a plethora of superior dining options in Prince Edward County, and one of the most exciting new restaurants might just be at the Merrill House hotel in Picton, Ont. Open for afternoon tea and dinner, the restaurant offers delicious, contemporary takes on classic dishes such as seared duck breast and roasted Cornish hen. And every dish is available with a recommended wine pairing from a local vineyard.  

Vintages Dining Room at Sherwood Inn, Port Carling

A Muskoka institution, the charming Sherwood Inn has been open since 1939. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from mid-May to mid-October (and on the weekends in the off-season), the inn’s Vintages restaurant boasts a 2,000-bottle wine cellar and a romantic view of Lake Joseph—perfect for date night and special celebrations. 

Bartlett Lodge, Huntsville

Set inside Algonquin Park, this unique lodge gourmet restaurant is a cottage-country delight that’s accessible only via the lodge’s complimentary antique freighter canoe or solar-powered pontoon boat. Dinner includes a gourmet four-course meal, enjoyed inside the Lodge’s cozy, historic dining room.

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