With stunning lakes and rivers spread throughout the district, Muskoka has no shortage of beautiful outdoor vistas that make for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The farm to fork philosophy that guides the region’s culinary creations ensures that you’ll be treated to the freshest ingredients from local farmers, growers, and organic businesses who love to deliver quality right to your table. Take a look at this trio of fabulous restaurants that serve up the area’s most mouthwatering fare on spectacular, scenic patios - all with a “side dish” of sweet summer breezes.
Il Buco Ristorante
Recipient of the 2017 ‘Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in Canada’ award by OpenTable, Il Buco sits in Barrie at the gateway to Muskoka cottage country. The Old World charm that emanates from its picturesque Italian architecture ensures that you’ll receive a warm welcome into the region, and its amazing dishes have garnered it a regular number one ranking on TripAdvisor.
Muskoka natives Sue Varga and her executive chef husband Enrico Angelucci opened the authentic Italian restaurant ten years ago, along with partner Karl Sawyer. It remained one of the region’s best-kept secrets for many years due to its somewhat hidden location in the downtown corridor, and that’s why the family agreed to the name it Il Buco, which means “the hole” in Italian.
Now that the secret is out, guests flock to the quaint locale for authentic dishes such as the popular roasted garlic appetizer with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese sauce, Veal Contadini sauteed in roasted garlic jus and mushrooms, herb-seasoned lasagna, and featured fresh fish of the day. The lunch and dinner menus each showcase a wide array of salads, pastas, and finely crafted dishes that will have you singing ‘That’s Amore’. During the summer months, diners get an extra treat with the outdoor seating available overlooking gorgeous Kempenfelt Bay. Come out and enjoy a delectable meal, and don’t forget to indulge in the mouthwatering Tiramisu while you watch the stars rise over the enchantingly beautiful waters of the bay.
Il Buco is located on the second floor, with wheelchair accessibility and parking available in the back off Dunlop St. West. Lunch is served every Tuesday through Friday and dinner service is also available on Saturday and Sunday. Hours may vary, and reservations can be booked online.
Lady Muskoka’s own resident chef David Friesen serves up his signature seasonal tastes and textures that enchant guests’ palates at the Riverwalk Restaurant every Tuesday through Saturday all summer long. As both executive chef and owner, Chef David is one of the leaders of the Savour Muskoka movement to source more local foods into area restaurants. The Riverwalk’s fresh market fare attests to his skills at transforming regional ingredients into gourmet entrées that delight the senses.
Enjoy a brunch of select house salads and specialty frittatas on the patio that looks out onto breathtaking Bracebridge Falls, or take in the scenery from the Mediterranean-style dining area as you delight in oven-roasted chicken, Asian-style beef dumplings, and soya-glazed salmon. Dinner guests can savour a wide array of meat and poultry dishes featuring wild and sauteed mushrooms accentuated with truffle elements. Complement your meal with a choice wine from Niagara cellars or an international list of American, Chilean, Argentinian, Australian, New Zealand, and European selections.
Vegetarian and vegan options are available upon request, and reservations are accepted daily. Lunch is served from 11:30-2:30 p.m. and dinner hours are 5:30 p.m. forward.
Walker Lake Resort is situated ten minutes outside of Huntsville and is home to the historic Norsemen Restaurant, renowned for its French-inspired and international cuisine. First settled in 1876 by Scottish-native Robert Walker and his family, Walker Lake eventually formed as a partnership into a resort, and the Norsemen opened its doors in 1970. The historic lodge has recently undergone 19th century-inspired renovations with stone fireplaces, newly accented windows, authentic wood floors and ceiling beams, and a warmly muted colour palette that transports guests back in time.
OpenTable awarded the restaurant the Diner’s Choice Award, and the focus on culinary perfection is a big reason for the honour. Those who’ve visited rave about the tender and succulent lamb with maple and juniper reduction, as well as the unique fare like handmade tortellini with crab and pea velouté. Summer Kalentil salad is served alongside classic steak frites, and the simple yet delectable dessert menu features crème brûlée, meringue au citron, and maple cheesecake.
Rugged and awe-inspiring views of the glistening water paint an unforgettable picture from the beautiful outdoor patio. The scenery at Walker Lake captures the imagination and is the perfect complement to your meal. The restaurant also welcomes live folk, jazz, and swing acts during the summer season to create a night out that is as memorable as it is delicious. You can reserve your dinner table between 5:30-9:00 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, or come out for brunch from 11-2:00 p.m. every Saturday during the summer.