Tuesday, 5 August 2014
The Newest Destination Hotspot: Gananoque
I have had the pleasure to travel throughout Eastern Ontario, New York State and Quebec over the last few years with my family and for my blog. I have documented some of my favourite restaurants, festivals, hot spots and overall spectacular places to visit- but this past weekend I found my newest favourite and guess what? It’s in our own backyard- Gananoque, On.
Nick and I have driven as far as 8 hours in search of the best food, accommodations and attractions for our date nights. As he travels a lot for work and I’m busy blogging, supporting community events, being a mom and running a business- we truly do covet our date nights. As busy as we are, those who we trust to leave our children with are equally as in-demand. Time is not frequently available, so we make the most of it when we do get it. That’s why, when my fabulous Aunt offered to take our girls for a night at their farm- we jumped at the chance to book at the newly renovated Comfort Inn and Suites in Gananoque.
I've been eyeing this hotel for months now, seeing it undergo an amazing transformation- I couldn't wait to check it out. We booked a Jacuzzi suite (why not!?) and jetted off for the evening. Upon check-in we were greeted by very friendly staff. The ladies let us know the amenities of the hotel and also informed us of some wonderful near-by attractions, restaurants and other town favourites. We checked into our room and had a short rest before heading to dinner. The room was spacious, immaculately clean and very romantic. We had a fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and wonderful big windows with lots of natural light. Best of all- the King-sized bed! It was so comfortable and full of pillows. I could have stayed in bed all night, but we had dinner reservations at another local hot spot- Riva. Also worth mentioning is their fabulous INDOOR POOL. We didn't get a chance to take a dip, but the pool was always well-attended and looked great. Next time!
Riva, also newly renovated- was a stunning restaurant next door to the Comfort Inn and Suites. This stone building has undergone extensive renovations in the past few years and the completed project is worth the visit alone. Nick and I started with the antipasto platter and spirits. It was complete with local cured meats, cheese and Italian favourites such as olives and spiced green beans.
Next we moved onto the main course, I ordered “brasato di manzo” which is Tuscan-style braised beef short rib, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. Writing about this dish simply does not do it justice. If taste could only leap off the page, you would understand how flavorful and tender this dish was. It fell apart as I made my way through and each bite was a taste of heaven. It was THAT good. Nick ordered the ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a fresh, local tomato cream sauce. He is a huge fan of fresh pasta and said this was the best he has ever had.
Although comfortably full, we had to try dessert (I mean, who wouldn’t?). I ordered the flour-less chocolate cake with walnuts and Nick wanted to try the tiramisu. Both, like the proceeding courses, did not disappoint. It seemed that every detail was important to Riva. From the exceptional service (Thanks Emma!) to the delicious food, laid back and trendy atmosphere - we were very well taken care of and will definitely be back.
After dinner we had plans to meet with Leeds Grenville MP, Gananoque Businessman and good friend, Gord Brown. Gord had arranged a tasting at the newest attraction, The Gananoque Brewing Company. As he has mentioned great things about the Brewery in the past, we were really looking forward to checking this out. I had never been to a Brewery before so I had no idea what to expect. I have read countless blogs on Brew Pubs and the entire culture that seems to be popping up around them but this was different.
The Gananoque Brewery is not a restaurant or pub. In fact, they don't ever want to be. When talking with Bruce Davis, the owner – he mentioned how the area has a tremendous amount of wonderful eateries that carry his beer and he would never want to compete with them. To Bruce, it is all about supporting local. Even the ingredients in most of his beers are local. The hops, Wheat and rhubarb (Yep- they have a rhubarb beer!) are all sourced from local farms. Although you can’t eat at the Brewery, you can certainly sample their different brews and soon will be able to see production first-hand. You can find their Beer in the LCBO, GananoqueInn and Spa, Stonewater Gastro Pub, The Socialist Pig and quite a few other great local places. There is also a very cool festival (Gananoque Brewing Company Festival) happening August 22nd to September 21st. You can tour the farms involved, the brewery, check out the markets, the historic mills and enjoy entertainment and local cuisine. It is a “Must-see” on my list of attractions.
After the busy evening, we decided to head back to the hotel, enjoy the room and rest up. The next morning we had planned to check out the Socialist Pig, which in my humble opinion- has the BEST coffee around. We ordered a delish breakfast to share (spiced sausage, fresh eggs, and sautéed potatoes with onions, bacon and ham). It was plentiful, so we were very happy to share and we enjoyed that famous French-pressed coffee. It was the perfect end to our stay in beautiful Gananoque.
I was very impressed with the whole stay. Gananoque has a renowned theatre, popular boat cruises, helicopter tours, great beaches and parks and the Harbour District that we stayed in was the icing on the cake. If you pick one spot to travel to this year- make it Gananoque, Ontario- The Gem of the 1000 Islands!