It’s my favourite time of year: the time where we don’t need layers upon layers to go outside, our skin can relish the warmth of the sun, and we can create the memories that will keep us warm through those long, cold winters we know all too well. That’s right – it’s patio season!
Here’s why I love it: it’s the chance to gather with friends in a summertime setting where we can relish the scent of cooking food wafting past us without any of the work; laugh as loud as we want without worrying about the neighbours; be as casual as at home and as relaxed as on vacation; escape the confines of the indoors and feel sunshine and breezes against our smiling (and stuffed) faces.
Each year, I set out on a mission to uncover the newest, liveliest and most welcoming patios to visit with my favourite people. This summer, these are my top four places for making memories in the sunshine.
1) Daisy’s Dockside Patio, Haliburton
The familiar summertime taste of barbecue is as vibrant as the conversation every time I visit Daisy’s Dockside Patio. Even while my mind focuses on the banter of my friends, the lapping of water under the dock always soothes my spirit. This is a place where stories fill the air and surround you with tales from boaters, bikers, and summer-roamers who gather on the patio to share good times.
Must Try: The BBQ Chicken Panini. Not only is it one of the best things that’s ever happened to (panini) bread, but the smoked BBQ sauce that it comes with is to die for!
2) McKeck’s Tap & Grill, Haliburton
This place makes my taste buds tingle – even just the thought of savouring the familiar (and delicious) roadhouse wings and quesadillas can set them off. Aside from the food, I love this rooftop patio for the view it offers. It’s the chance to watch the world go by, to survey Haliburton from my perch while I chew away at how different the setting is compared to my everyday sights.
Must Try: Wing Night! (Tuesdays starting at 4 p.m.) I don’t think two words were ever so perfect together. And there’s no better way to break the ice with friends you may not have seen in a while than by sharing several bundles together over a beer. There’s something about digging into a batch of wings with your hands, sauce everywhere, that says, “You get me. You don’t judge.”
3) The Granite, Bancroft
It’s a delight to sit in a patio perched on a hill and take in the ever-changing view of passersby and vehicles while the sun makes its way across the sky. For as long as we’re here, my friends and I can disconnect completely from city responsibilities, absorb the afternoon, and never run out of things to talk about.
Must Try: While everything on the menu will comfort the soul, don’t leave without trying the House Made Creme Brulee. It’s the perfect wrap-up to an afternoon of lively conversation.
4) Fiddleheads Bar and Grill, Perth
Fiddleheads’ heritage-building patio never fails to feed my busy mind’s desire for beauty. Visiting this patio offers the chance to drink in the blues of the Tay River and the greens of Stewart Park, and is a reminder that we’ve escaped the ordinariness of the every day.
Must Try: The Tay Water Torpedo. Made up of Southern Comfort, melon liqueur, Amaretto, Peach Schnapps, pineapple juice and Pepsi, it’s a one-of-a-kind cocktail you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, it sounds really cool to order (a good chance to impress your friends).
Storyteller: Jennifer Gilmer. Hometown: Port Hope, ON
Jennifer is a lover of cats, small towns, and everything chocolate. When she isn’t looking for opportunities to try out new recipes or dishes, or reading countless books, she’s busy planning her next road trip and encouraging others to search out hidden gems. Some of her happiest moments include basking in the sun at the end of a dock, laughing the day away at a backyard barbecue, or letting her creativity flow during an evening of sketching with a glass of wine at her side.