The Inn at Mount Julian is an unassuming, intimate, cozy space. The Inn is part of Viamede Resort, a century old, newly renovated family and couples resort, on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas area north of Toronto. The Inn at Mount Julian is a fine dining experience, grounded clearly by the area’s landscape and the abundant local farms and resources. The resort and The Inn subscribe to a locavore food philosophy that means all the food is locally sourced.
This is the story of the meal I almost didn’t eat. It was a near tragedy, but in the end is a love story for foodies or romantics, or even MOMS and Dads who rarely have a chance to sit and eat, much less have time to relax and savour a five course meal, which was an exercise in near culinary perfection. This is the story of the best meal I have ever eaten.
I have a handful of favourite dining experiences throughout the last 40 years that remain with me. I am not a foodie, but I can tell you where I found the most divine turkey leg I have ever eaten – Chicago. And I can point out my favourite calamari to date so far – Azure at The Shores in Daytona Beach, Florida. I remember an epic artful desert with a spun sugar cookie of sorts that looked like a ferris wheel in Puerto Vallarta, and the cruises we have taken have always produced at least one knockout dish. I have numerous sumptuous food memories, but Viamede Resort’s Inn at Mount Julian is now the highlight.
Originally when we planned to visit Viamede Resort we hoped to have dinner at the Boathouse one night and then get a barbecue basket, which are both two great options at the resort. This was a family weekend after all. We had our kids with us. They are 12 and 14, and although technically they could stay on their own or dine in the cottage together, they both still fight too much as siblings. My youngest has a lot of impulsivity and it’s too much to expect her older sister to babysit her.
Our last night at Viamede was Easter Sunday. It felt like a night to celebrate and it also felt like we had come too far together to risk not tasting the five course meal at The Inn at Mount Julian. So we made a reservation and we dressed neat but casual and decided to see what the Inn had to offer.
The weather was kind of overcast, but the view of Stoney Lake was great. Our server was extremely knowledgeable about wine pairings. We ordered the five course meal and were almost immediately rewarded with some canapés. Our first wine pairing was a delicate white Ontario chardonnay.
The service was attentive and the server was friendly. We were treated to exquisite wine pairings with each course and the server explained exactly why each wine pairing went with each particular course and how the flavours complemented, or did not compete with the course being served. She elaborated a bit about the wineries and areas each local wine came from (one exception to that was an Australian chardonnay.) I learned a great deal about wine from listening to her talk about it. The starter canapés, included a potato and pear tureen, cured duck wrapped around a really light airy puffed rice, and some cheese balls that cleansed the palate.
The kids even loved the cheese canapés and they were surprised they enjoyed duck so much. After that the soup came – golden carrot and stinging nettle. The carrots were extremely flavourful and the soup was creamy, featuring first of the season back 40 Maple and carrot bacon and birch milk.
Wild edibles consisted of fiddleheads, leek and ginger and Mount Julian garden greens with a hint of maple too. I had never tasted fiddleheads before and these were flavoured lightly for a really refreshing taste that worked with the wine pairing we had. After that was maple smoked duck breast, shown above, which both of the kids really enjoyed as well. I’ve had duck many times before but this was moist and cooked perfectly.
Charcoal Organic Trout was followed with some artisan breads that everyone loved, accompanied by chestnut puree and blueberry gastrique. The chestnut puree was remarkable like a lighter almond or nut butter.
The dinner was complete with an ice wine pairing (which I wish I had written down because it was really unique) and chocolate/beet dessert that on paper sounds bizarre, but was really brilliant. Chocolate goat’s ganache with salted beet and garden radish cress ice cream was memorable. I was surprised I enjoyed the radish cress ice cream as much as I did.
I can’t compare this to anything we have ever experienced. The five course Chef’s Tasting Menu at The Inn at Mount Julian is the best meal we have ever eaten. The entire resort has a locavore philosophy and everything is very earthy, fresh and memorable. The Inn at Mount Julian alone was worth the drive from my home in southern Ontario. Find the time to visit Viamede then make this restaurant your top priority. It’s so worth it. Read more about what I thought of Viamede Resort here.
We were guests at Viamede Resort over Easter weekend. My opinion is truthful and all my own.