Burleigh Falls Inn
North Kawartha, Ontario
The beauty of Burleigh Falls is the kind that sneaks up on you. A tiny village nestled in the Canadian shield, it’s easy to drive through, on the fast lanes of Highway 28, and fail to appreciate the overall loveliness of the place.
First, the falls themselves, which cascade between three lakes—Lovesick, Lower Buckhorn, and Stony—forming a carpet of frothing white out of the dark, fast-moving water. And also, just to the north, Lock 28 on the world-famous Trent-Severn Waterway, which ushers thousands of leisure boaters up and down this series of canals, locks, lakes and rivers, connecting Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay.
Between these two flowing features sits the Burleigh Falls Inn, set on an eleven-acre island, its muted grandeur a fixture here since it opened as the Park Hotel more than a century ago. (It was preceded by a more rough-and-tumble version catering to local loggers, built in 1857.) Technically, this area is known as the “land between,” rockier and hardier than the farms just to the south, but not as rugged as the heart of the Shield, just to the north.
And, not surprisingly, co-owner Jennifer Craig and Chef Tammy Laroche aim to make the dishes they serve here as lovely (and local) as their surroundings. For example, a signature dish, still in the planning stages—and thus, for the moment, without a name—with pulled bacon on a flatbread, with mixed greens and a poached egg. “It’s wild and crazy, that smoked, pulled bacon, on a raft of flatbread, and the surprise of the egg,” says Laroche. “Like going over the falls in a barrel.”
Craig adds that they source as many of their ingredients as possible from local producers. For example, their main proteins, which come from Leahy Stock Farm in Lakefield—including that bacon on that raft. She also shops a variety of area producers at the Lakefield Farmer’s Market, and sources greens from a place called Pure Home Grown Aquaponics just down the road in Young’s Point. “I just got some living basil from them—it’s actually alive, in water, with a root system,” she says. “I’ve never smelled basil as fresh as this.”
And, on my plate, today, a seared pork loin (from Leahy’s), marinated overnight with olive oil, thyme and rosemary, on a bed of light and creamy mashed potatoes, topped with a rhubarb chutney. “That rhubarb came right out of my garden,” says Laroche. It’s preceded by a flavourful olive tapenade (on flatbread), and accompanied by light, fluffy gougeres.
I enjoy it outside, overlooking the lake and marina. The view, of the land between? Lovely. But, I’ve got to say, the food is even better.