Mount Julian, built in 1874 as an Inn; is part of Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake. It’s been beautifully preserved and the perfect setting for the fine dining the resort is becoming known for. This dining room is steeped in history, right down to the creaky floorboards; it felt like I’d slipped back in time.
We were warmly greeted by Executive Chef Kevin McKenna who took us on a tour of the restaurant. We started with the wine cellar in the basement; it’s stocked predominantly with Ontario wines and a few European for good measure. They have a well-stocked pantry with jars of preserves, pancetta, cured meats and dry aged beef all house-made, along with many containers of spices.
On the second floor there’s a rooftop garden, just waiting to be planted and a temperature controlled room where McKenna is growing various herbs and seedlings for planting.
Well entrenched in Ontario’s culinary scene, McKenna is a founding member of “The Group of Seven Chefs Ltd.” and has been invited to cook at the James Beard House. Prior to taking over the reins at Viamede Resort, two years ago, McKenna spent a number of years at Muskoka’s Taboo Resort where he introduced vegan dishes to the menu.
Dining at Mount Julian is an exquisite experience. Guest’s choosing from a 5, 7 or 9-course tasting menu, each matched with Ontario wines. McKenna is a fan of sourcing ingredients and foods locally. Viamede has their own working farm which is stocked with ducks, pigs, and chickens from spring to fall. It was a huge draw for him when resort owner Ben Samaan, brought him on board. Working closely with farmer/gardener in residents, Jarrod Craig, vegetables are grown to be used in McKenna’s dishes. Jarrod also produces maple syrup from sap he collects on the property, this too is used throughout the year in various dishes.
One of Mckenna’s goals is to find inspirational ways of serving local foods; in fact, he’s keen to take guests on foraging trips for wild leeks, herbs, and vegetables. The Mount Julian menu reflects dishes that are seasonal and changed to reflect what he finds locally.
Local lake white fish is served with Hempola seeds ‘Tabbouleh’ and burnt Carrot. Hot smoked Manitoulin Trout is accompanied by Heikuri Turnip, wintergreens, and spruce tip glaze.
Hot smoked Manitoulin Trout is accompanied by Heikuri Turnip, winter greens, and spruce tip glaze.
Mckenna’s loves to cook game; you can expect to see duck, boar, elk or venison on the menu. Primal Cut’s butcher in Peterborough is his go to place for good cuts of meat.
The cheese course is impressive, he uses local cheeses and some sourced from the Cheese Boutique in Toronto, a favourite spot of McKenna’s.
No meal would be complete without bread and the dessert course beautifully prepared by Pastry Chef Dylan T. Smith. Mckenna and Smith share a long work history, as Smith is also an alumna of Taboo Resort.
In the winter, the resort is only open weekends, during this period you’ll find Chef McKenna – inspiring the next generation of chefs – teaching 3 days a week at Lakefield High School. It’s a dual credit cooking course for students prior to attending college. In the summer, the resort along with Chef McKenna are running at full tilt.
Learn more about Viamede Resort via companion article: Getaway to the Kawarthas: Viamede Resort
If you go:
595 Mount Julian-Viamede Road
Woodview, Ontario K0L 3E0
Cost: Deluxe room ($149) for an overnight stay including breakfast.
Location: Viamede Resort is a year-round resort. Its two-hour drive northeast of Toronto, on the edge of Stoney Lake. For more information visit
Note: My visit to Mount Julian was hosted by the resort, but all opinions expressed in this article are my own. Pricing for dining at Mount Julian vary depending on the tasting options you select. A la Carte menu is also available.