The Culinary Quest
Search & Savour: Make the Lake Huron shoreline the target of your culinary quest. Gastro gems from the Lake and fertile farmland are prepared with creativity, care and flair. Savour the flavours created by local chefs and brewers who bring their unique vision to meals and beverages produced locally. Be sure to share your discoveries on TripAdvisor, a “like” on Facebook or a food porn image with tag on Instagram.
Opened in 2020, Whitecaps River Shack (Grand Bend) is nestled beside the harbour on River Road, offering sunset views with locally-sourced freshwater fish and other favourites like ice cream treats. Scoring one of the outdoor deck-dining tables at The Growling Gator (Grand Bend) promises a perfect sunset and people-watching spot to accompany your meal. The Gator’s group- and family-pleasing food and beverage menu will ensure everyone finds something they like. We recommend the dinner-size salads, tasty pastas and huge Pina Coladas.
Across the street, Willie’s Beach Bar and The Tipsy Pelican are not to be outdone. Willie’s, a beach bar and restaurant, boasts a patio space doubled in size when full-glass, roll-up garage doors are opened to lake breezes. Along with updated twists on traditional favourites, like Cheese Louise Grilled Cheese platter and Havana Hottie Pulled Pork, with bacon, pickles and cheese on sourdough bread, enjoy creative sand pail drinks. Likewise The Tipsy Pelican offers creative and modern food and drink offerings in a delightful curated vintage setting. Begin with Mushrooms on Toast or Crab Cakes, followed by a Beet Salad, Butternut Squash Ravioli and a Cheesecake Doughnut accompanied by a Love Buzz!
The deck space of The Docks Restaurant & Bar stretches the length of the restaurant and provides a balance of marina views and tree-shaded tables at which to enjoy their famous “funked-up” fries – try poutine or Rippin’ Ranch. Summertime favourites as well as fresh Lake Huron White Fish, Yellow Perch pair easily with local brewery offerings.
One of our favourite views is from Dave’s Pub & Grill (Oakwood Resort, Grand Bend), which offers a serene golf course view adorned with a water feature. Seated inside or on the deck, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the ambience is sure to contribute to menu favourites like flat bread pizzas, slow and low braised pot roast on house-made Yorkshire pudding with pan drippings or any of the burger, pasta and appetizer staples.
Golf course and water feature views are also enjoyed at the White Squirrel Golf Club’s huge patio and restaurant. Their seasonal menu will not disappoint, while pub classics and old favourites are always available. Start with the charcuterie board to share before moving on to braised beef short ribs or a health conscious protein bowl. Widder Station Golf, Grill & Tap House, as the name suggests, has multiple food and beverage offerings to enjoy from a raised, extended and renovated open air Tap House and patio. Along with Widder’s own Train Wreck brew, sample 17 other local beers and ciders and feast on their famous locally-raised 100% beef burger.
Originally built in 1907, the Beach Street Station (Goderich) is a converted CPR train station relocated to Lake Huron’s shoreline. Sip a “Man About Town” signature cocktail and snack on pomme frites dusted with truffle salt, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, all while gazing out to the lake from the deck.
A couple of years ago, Aunt Gussie’s Country Diner morphed into The Lake Hound and Completely Rooted (Grand Bend), the newest incarnation of a five-decade, family business legacy. The Lake Hound offers an updated take on family dining, providing traditional favourites alongside vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Breakfast served daily to noon. Meanwhile, Completely Rooted offers farm-to-table, organic healthy-eating options to the restaurant and for take-out. From fresh organic vegetables to trail mix muffins, power bowls, cheesy kale chips, chocolate banana cashew cheesecake and almond oat hemp energy bites, you can order and pick up enough healthy meal options for the week.
For more than 145 years, The Albion Hotel (Bayfield) has hosted travelers for food, drink and rest and even, some say, a resident ghost. Here, a “taste of the country” features local Cedar Villa Black Angus beef, think 10oz steak smothered in sautéed mushrooms and onions, or perhaps the “Hipster Bowl” is more to your taste with health conscious steamed broccoli and spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, jackfruit, crispy chick peas and other assorted veggies topped with home-made tahini. Enjoy outside dining on one of two patios or inside at the bar and dining room.
Converted 1878 grist and wool mills form part of Benmiller Inn & Spa’s (Benmiller/Goderich) scenic property where The Ivey Dining Room, winner of CAA’s Four Diamonds Award, offers Sunday Brunch year-round. At dinner try Moroccan Lamb Tagine or Beef Wellington.
Located in a renovated 1920s hotel, the Ipperwash Beach Club (Ipperwash) boasts 125 ice cream flavours to complement their extensive menu of starters, salads, burgers, wraps and dinner entrées. Their patio is a mere stone’s throw to the beach.
F.I.N.E. offers patio and indoor dining where you can tempt yourself with roasted cremini mushrooms, crisp parsnips and cambozola cheese over a bed of arugula, move along to a lamb Bolognese, and finish the taste bud extravaganza with ginger crème brulé.
Eddington’s owner, James Eddington, is not just Chef - he’s also tour guide. James has hosted several culinary tours to Tuscany, France and Ireland. While Exeter, Ontario may not offer the same je ne sais quoi, Eddington’s menu still delights with echoes of first-class European cuisine. Try fresh Atlantic salmon with seared jumbo prawns, gnocchi and seasonal greens tossed in saffron butter sauce and finish with White Squirrel cheesecake.
A stay at the lake is not complete without a meal at one of these two fine yet casual dining hotspots.
A frequent question asked of Welcome Centre staff is where to go for more than just a burger. Steps from the beach you’ll find Midori Sushi (Grand Bend) offering Japanese cooked fare and specialty sushi rolls. Our favourites include Dragon Roll made with shrimp and sweet potatoes topped with smoked salmon, and Kamikaze Roll made with salmon, crab, avocado, cucumber, red pepper and cream cheese, battered and fried and topped with sesame and sweet soy!
Hessenland Inn & Schatz Winery (St. Joseph) boasts authentic German cuisine, Mongolian Grill nights and Vineyard Dinners, as well as their own estate wine and beer. Schnitzel, beef rouladen, or house-made garlic and herb Oktoberfest sausage with a side of red cabbage goes well with Hessenland’s Helles beer or their not-too-sweet “Sisters” rosé wine. Be sure to leave room for Christa’s German cheesecake.
Home-style Serbian cooking is on offer at Veslo Family Restaurant (Port Franks). Discover Chevapi, a Serbian sausage made with pork and beef served with traditional sides, like home fries or wrapped up in warm lepina bread. The menu boasts seven types of schnitzel. Can’t decide? Order one of the combo platters.
Simply House Grand Bend (Grand Bend) offers take-out only gourmet Chinese and Thai food. Sample Thai Cashew Chicken or Tom Yum Goong (chicken soup with lemongrass, tamarind, lime leaves and more), Thai curries and classic Chinese favourites.
Full service restaurant Exeter Thai Cuisine (Exeter) offers daily lunch and dinner specials and culinary specialties like Crispy Garlic Chilli Chicken or Mango Salmon or Green Chicken Curry with Jasmine Rice along with traditional favourites like Pad Thai (spice level to your liking).
The curry cultural crossover happens at Paddington’s Pub (Grand Bend), with British style chips served with curry sauce. Their Butter Chicken Curry is also a local’s favourite as is their extensive range of local brews.
Riverbend Pizzeria (Grand Bend) serves up panzerotti and pizza, as well as specialties like Greek salad and Mexican fries; vegan pizza and vegetarian wings available.
Grog’s Pub & Grill well known for its homemade pizza dough and unique pizza flavour selections and is doubly famous for their all-you-can-eat fresh PEI mussels steamed in white wine garlic sauce, served as an entrée or appetizer.
Two iconic Canadian foods are available locally. Beavertails (Grand Bend) – the shop and the snack – are uniquely Canadian. A donut-pizza crossbreed snack resembling a beaver tail in shape, beavertails are served warm. Select from 120 toppings; popular options include Nutella, cinnamon sugar and various crushed-up candy bars and icing combos. Enjoy a beavertail with homemade ice cream.
At MacPherson’s Restaurant (Port Franks) discover freshly made butter tarts. For those not in the know, butter tarts are flaky pastry filled with buttery, sugary, maple syrupy filling – some varieties include raisins or nuts. Truly, a Canadian essential and a tiny personal-sized bit of pie heaven.
Fish & Chip aficionados have their favourites, but here are three top local options to get you started.
Paddington’s Pub (Grand Bend) offers Haddock cooked in a British style beer batter that’s light and fluffy and full of flavour. Watch for Thursday Fish & Chips deals.
But it’s Friday you say, okay head over to the White Squirrel Golf Club Restaurant (St. Joseph) and enjoy their one-piece or two-piece beer battered fish and chips.
Out of the Blue Fish & Seafood Market (Bayfield) is known for its wide variety of fish and seafood, fresh and frozen, retail and wholesale. Open year round, they offer freshly caught Perch, Pickerel, Whitefish, Lake Trout and Rainbow Trout and arguably, the best smoked fish on Ontario’s West Coast.
No fuss, no muss! Make a Wish Cakes (Exeter) creates stunning and sensational-tasting custom cakes – think Raspberry Lemonade Cake, Caramel Banana Cake and cupcakes galore!
Catering ranges from hors d’oeuvres to barbecue from Back ‘N Time Catering (Grand Bend), offering hot take-out lunch specials, frozen meal options, and BBQ ready frozen meats.
Pineridge Barbecue Co (Hensall) offers meat choices including chicken, pulled pork, and baby back pork ribs with hot or cold sides. Finish with fruit crisps or a build-your-own sundae bar.
Old-time church supper recipe book favourites, turkey, ham, beef and baked goodies are popular at Jerry Rader’s Homestyle Catering & Market (Zurich).
Farm-fresh foods and locally-produced specialties are plentiful throughout the region. This sampling is just a taste of what you can discover.
From the Earth, Busy Hands & Busy Bees
Family-run Bayfield Berry Farm (Bayfield) grows, processes and sells berries, vegetables and food products at the home market, bakery and café. Pick your own and buy in-season raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and saskatoons. Take home the farm’s bounty in their own homemade jams, sauces, salsas, fruit wines, ciders, wine coolers and schnapps.
Enjoy freshly baked goodies from farm-grown ingredients. Jerry Rader Homestyle Catering & Market (Zurich) also offers on-site baked goods, select from more than 26 dessert pies, loaves, muffins and cookies. To avoid disappointment, be sure to buy several packs of cookies, we love Ginger Molasses or Oatmeal Raisin.
Zehr’s Country Market (St. Joseph) offers homemade fruit pies and butter tarts, local honey and maple syrup, as well as Mennonite farm-raised meats and seasonal produce. On a busy Saturday, the pie-baking ladies produce about 350 pies; get there by 10am to get one!
Continuing with sweet, visit Ferguson Apiaries (Hensall) for fresh local honey, bee pollen (rich source of vitamins), homemade honey spreads, butters, sauces, lotions and creams, and an incredible variety of natural beeswax candles.
Fourth-generation-owned Crunican Orchards (Elginfield) grows about a dozen apple varieties to suit every taste, and sells apple cider vinegar, apple cider and much more.
Masse Fruit & Vegetables (St. Joseph) grows everbearing strawberries and sells seasonal produce. Watch Facebook for their strawberry announcements!
Home Grown & Raised Right
Since 1948, three generations of the Hayter family have raised premium quality turkeys free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. They are the only turkey farm in Canada that raises birds and processes their products on-site. At the Hayter’s Farm retail outlet store (Dashwood) you’ll find homemade turkey kabobs, fillets, sausages, roasts, burgers and more, as well as locally grown garlic from The Garlic Box (Hensall). The Garlic Box uses only the best heirloom varietals providing a full, robust, earthy flavour that’s superior to imports. Fresh, chilled or frozen, or turned into sauces, preserves and dressings, look for The Garlic Box display in the middle of the Hayter’s Farm store.
Cedar Villa Angus Farms (Zurich) is run by a fifth and sixth generation father-and-son team. Cows and calves pasture together and are free of added hormones and steroids. Buy roasts, steaks and other beef products directly from the farm online or at local farmers’ markets.
The Whole Pig (Dashwood) is a registered CQA (Certified Quality Auditors) family-farming operation whose pigs are fed grown-on-farm ingredients. Their quality meats supply many local restaurants and are available direct to you from their farm retail store.
Buy locally-raised, in-store-made cold cuts and specialty meats from Metzger’s Meat Products (Hensall), a European-style butcher store. We’ve heard of area visitors heading home with a cooler full of meat after making Metzger’s their final stop before hitting the highway!
Williamson Farms Country Store (Forest) sells pork and beef from its own farms, maple syrup from their sugar bush and a selection of Ontario cheeses along with an extensive gift selection.
Coffee, Tea & Kombucha
Small-batch roasting and grinding key at Shopbike Coffee Roasters (Bayfield); they source organic and fair trade coffee beans; regulars like the tea and hot chocolate here too. Try sippers’ favourites Coffee Americano or a Maple Latte or a Magical Matcha Latte.
Owners of Coastal Coffee Company (Goderich) travel to family-owned coffee growers in Nicaragua, Columbia, Rwanda and Brazil to source top specialty grade beans that are small-batch roasted. The long-standing partnerships with their growers develop into friendships as well. Look for Coastal Coffee at local retailers or order online directly from their website. You could even subscribe to one of their coffee refill services!
Registered Holistic Nutritionists at Culture Shock Kombucha (Grand Bend) brew up phytonutrient, antioxidant, probiotic infused kombucha beverages using local and organic, quality ingredients, including reverse osmosis water. Sample nutritious and delicious Morning Brew Cultured Coffee and various Kombucha flavours including Pear Ginger, Cranberry-Orange, Vintage, Strawberry Basil and Root Beer Kombucha.