It’s hard to find time these days to sit down and enjoy a proper meal with your loved ones. In the age of food delivery services like Uber Eats, Door Dash or Skip the Dishes, and with meal kit delivery services like Goodfood and Hello Fresh, it can be a little daunting to remember the purpose of enjoying a meal that you pay a little extra for: to experience the flavours, senses and tastes of a gourmet chef.
I find that when I actually take a moment to plan going out to dinner with someone, it allows me to experience the difference of flavours and ideas that different chefs can have. Sometimes I may get stuck in the rut of cooking similar dishes over and over at home since it’s easy, so going out to see what’s new and fresh in the culinary world makes a night out extra special.
Fret not, though. In order to truly appreciate a night out, there’s no need to head to Toronto or wait until you’re taking a family vacation. There are plenty of fantastic options for places to dine and things to eat across the regions of York, Durham and Headwaters.
It would be a bit much to suggest checking out all of these restaurants in one day or back to back, but maybe this list can provide you with the justification you need to plan out a few dinner dates over the next few months to remember the purpose of going out with dear friends or family and enjoying some great food.
Landman Gardens & Bakery
Located just north of Grand Valley, ON, Landman Gardens & Bakery is a family operated farm which provides an opportunity to experience sustainable, delicious cuisine in a unique setting. While they do not operate a complete restaurant, their unique offering is one of their Blackhouse dinners. These take place in their one of a kind Blackhouse, which is a traditional Scottish house which used to be found commonly in the Scottish Highlands.
Landman Gardens’ Blackhouse dinners take place between the months of May to September in their three season Blackhouse. They feature a set menu of their choosing, based on what’s in season and what they feel is best to eat during the time of your visit. The Blackhouse can seat 10-16 people comfortably for dinner, and they offer flexible options for you to book depending on the size of your party. You have the choice of purchasing individual tickets in advance of a scheduled dinner, or booking a private dinner for yourselves and other guests.
With everything from Homemade Pickles to Hand-Breaded Pork Schnitzel or Homemade Carrot Cake, there are so many tasty options to have in this one of a kind dining room, so it’s really a no brainer that you have to check it out.
Named in honour of the first structure built on the property of Hockley Valley Resort in 1865, Cabin is a modern yet rustic restaurant which has become a welcomed addition to the community. With a team of talented chefs on hand and with the Hockley Valley grounds and gardens on the premises, Cabin offers a premier class of farm to table and local dining in Headwaters region.
Built with an open concept kitchen in mind, where guests (depending on where they’re seated) can enjoy the experience of watching their delicious dishes come to life, the atmosphere provides a refreshing ambiance to its guests. Open 7 days a week, they offer both lunch and dinner menus a la carte, with a focus on fine Italian cuisine peppered with some local favourites.
Although it may seem to be too classic and easy, their Spaghettini truly reminds you of how high quality ingredients such as mozzarella and basil, along with hand-made pasta mean that there’s no need to overdo your flavours when you cook with fine dining in mind. You should definitely consider trying the Peanut Butter Cheesecake for dessert. I don’t think that requires any further explanation.
In the heart of Unionville, Terre Rouge is a modern restaurant which features a range of dishes and flavours spanning from local favourites to integrated tastes from around the world. Born and raised in Shanghai, Terre Rouge’s head chef Forrest Liu is inspired by the worldliness of cuisine that his hometown is known for. With dining areas spanning two floors, an outdoor terrace and a bar perfect for cocktails, this restaurant makes for a fun and exciting addition to the Unionville food scene.
Offering a full lunch, dinner and desserts & drinks menu, there’s something at this restaurant to suit all tastebuds. Their lunch menu focuses on several different staples such as Mussels and Pizza, but also offers exciting options like Lobster Tacos and Steak Frites. Shifting to their dinner menu, they offer a Prix Fixe three-course menu option for $60, and several a la carte options to tickle your fancy. With everything from Beef Tartare to Foie Gras Torchon, this menu delivers with a heavy hitting “we-came-to-play” delivery. There are so many fantastic options to check out at this spot. You have to give it a try.
Nestleton Waters Inn
Just north of Port Perry, the Nestleton Waters Inn is an aptly named and charming bed and breakfast and event space in Durham Region. But something that may not be as well known to you is the high level of cuisine that their Executive Chef Aaron Moss brings to the table for all of their special events.
Whereas many special events happen to be weddings or large parties at the inn, they also specialize in their fondly known “Dinner Dates” which feature a delicious cuisine of local ingredients planned and prepared by Chef Moss himself. The Nestleton Waters Inn’s Dinner Dates feature a five course meal which is sourced as locally as possible. These Dinner Dates are a real treat, and since they only hold each one for around 20 guests, it makes for a truly intimate setting for a romantic or family enjoyed treat for you and those dining with you.
Located in the heart of historical Whitby, KB Food (named by and for Chef Kevin Brown) was designed with the intention of putting exceptional food and refreshments on the table in a way that customers would value. They pride themselves in their fun and personable approach to delicious and sustainable cuisine.
While they may only serve a nightly dinner at KB, their menu is full of many tantalizing options. They have several seafood options on the menu such as East Coast Oysters and a Filet of Ahi Tuna, and they also have several landed favourites such as an Ontario Venison Sirloin or a Roasted Pork Rack. If vegetables are more to your liking, they offer a few delicious vegetarian menu options as well, such as their Blackened Baby Eggplant. If you’re more into breakfast options than dinner, you’ll be pleased to know that they also offer a Sunday Brunch menu from 11-3 each week at KB. With everything from French Toast to Chili Tacos, you’ll be certain to find the breakfast foods you’re craving to end your weekend off right.
Along with their regular dinner menu and dine-in options, KB occasionally hosts events such as their Harvest Feasts in the fall, which they host at their very own Harvest Heights Organic Farm in Dunsford. Packages for these meals include all fees, beverages and transportation, so the idea to come and join in for one of these feasts is very tempting!
Set right in the centre of Uxbridge, Urban Pantry prides themselves on being a trendy, casual eatery with a delicious menu of globally influenced foods. The sleek and clean feel to this space is a truly inviting one, and with a patio to enjoy outside or with ample dining space inside, there are several options to make your experience a memorable one.
Serving lunch, dinner and breakfast (only on weekends for that last one), Urban Pantry’s menus have a wide variety of tastes to choose from. Their weekend breakfast menu features options like Blueberry Pancakes and even a Shrimp Salad. For lunch, try their Yellowfin Tuna Salad or their Chicken Cacciatore. Their dinner menu has some fine options as well, with everything from Lamb Loin to Vegetarian Curry to Steak Frites. There are so many delicious, locally sourced options here at Urban Pantry. They are sure to offer the type of meal you’re looking for.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little food tour through the region. There are so many amazing options throughout York, Durham and Headwaters to offer the opportunity for you to sit down and enjoy the company of the people you hold near and dear.
If you feel like there are any restaurants that should have made this list but didn’t, feel free to leave a comment on the website or on the Facebook page to let us know. After all, I know I wasn’t able to include all choices of restaurants here, but this community is all about sharing and growing together.
Written by Bri Mitchell
Bri Mitchell is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She has travelled to over 50 countries and loves to learn a little more about the world (and herself) with each trip she takes. Bri currently lives in Toronto with her partner in life and travel, Christopher Mitchell (travelingmitch.com), and their Turkish street cat turned Prince of the Great White North, Kotu. You can follow her travels and meanderings around Ontario and beyond on Instagram @mstravelingmitch or her Facebook page.