In early April, I ventured up to Deerhurst Resort, in Ontario’s Muskoka cottage country, and sampled Compass Grill & Bar, located off the spacious lobby.
It’s a bright, high-ceilinged room whose visual centrepiece is an enormous, illustrated Muskoka tourist map emblazoned on the walls that soar up to meet the ultra-high ceiling.
Dinner begins with black bean soup, thick and earthy, speckled with chunks of smoky ham, and another soup, apple parsnip, that is sweet and silky.
An anchovy- and garlic-inflected vinaigrette moistens crisp romaine leaves dotted with focaccia croutons, while a brightly flavoured honey vinaigrette animates a kale salad loaded with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, apple and red onion.
Among mains, there’s generous (four bones!) rack of Australian lamb, mild, ultra-tender and beautifully complemented by celery root puree, baby potatoes, pickled butter squash and cranberry jam. A fat slab of salmon is roasted to moistness and accessorized by wild-mushroom spaetzle and braised red cabbage. Bison ribeye carries a good char and deep mineral tang, from the grill.
Ending the evening are a silky vanilla bean crème brulee; apple strudel anchored by tender, flaky crust and fruit that’s just-sweet-enough and perfectly textured; and four mini-creations, all with a maple theme: sugar tart, cheesecake, shortbread cookie and espresso crème brulee.
Compass Grill can host up to 25 for dinner and can be booked for groups of up to 100 for late-evening hospitality.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,300 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.