All photos: Kim Kerr / Riley
Contributors Hanna Dykstra and Kim Kerr visited the Cast Iron Restaurant in Baysville to sample this popular Muskoka eatery’s 2023 menu.
Muskoka is fun to explore at any time of year, especially when you include a stop at one or two of cottage country’s best restaurants. Whether it’s snow and ice you’re here for or summer fun boating on the lake, you’re never too far from somewhere great to eat.
One of the best food experiences in Muskoka can in fact be enjoyed in the quaint village of Baysville. Located mid-way between the town of Bracebridge and the equally small community of Dorset, the popular Cast Iron Restaurant is something of an oasis on the local food scene and offers no end of great reasons for you to pay a visit, whatever the season.
Since it opened its doors in 2015, the Cast Iron has elevated the Lake of Bays dining scene, offering residents, cottagers and tourists alike a taste of authentic home-made cooking imbued with a wide variety of influences.
Cast Iron Restaurant: A Comforting Family Atmosphere
Walking in the door of the Cast Iron certainly feels familiar. To the left, a cozy bar with locals enjoying a pint from Lake of Bays Brewery while chatting with the servers. Then comes Andrea Beckmann, the restaurant’s owner and, on this occasion, our greeter. Her warm, welcoming spirit and endless enthusiasm makes you feel like an old friend.
She introduces you to her servers and bartenders as if to say, “We’re all here as friends” and sits us down, Knowing it’s our first time and that we’re here to sample their restaurant in order to see if it should be included on Riley Media’s lists of the best restaurants in Huntsville as well as a list of the top restaurants in Muskoka (spoiler: it is!!), Andrea immediately brings over a book that covers the history of her adventure at Cast Iron.
That adventure, which saw she and her husband Tyler (the restaurant’s head chef) turn a former cold and lonely looking building into a cozy cottage oasis has certainly turned out well. Thanks to this dynamic duo, those of us who seek quality dishes prepared with fresh ingredients, rather than the all-too-common frozen and pre-packaged variety, now have a top-notch place to eat in Lake of Bays.
Enjoy Awesome Starters
Andrea suggests we start with some drinks to whet our appetites. One of us opts for a pint of Spark House Red Ale from Lake of Bays Brewery, handily located just a few doors down. It, along with a Red Sangria made from Andrea’s “secret” recipe (don’t ask, she won’t tell!), was to prove the perfect match for the Brussel sprout and bacon dish and the salad we ordered as a starter.
The sprouts were delicious and were served with bacon jam, smoky bacon, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. They were crispy and smoky with a nice touch of sweetness from the bacon jam. Delicious.
Now… the Main Event
We had a chat with Andrea about what we should try for mains, and as quickly as we asked, she had an answer: jerk chicken skewers made fresh in house by her husband Tyler and inspired by family visits to Jamaica. The chicken is spiced to perfection with a thick crust of jerk spices on a bed of rice beside a delicious bean salad.
We also ordered a second main dish: the Blackened Trout. Tyler had certainly perfected the art of “blackening” and, we agreed, had hit another home run on this tasty menu item, one we found out was something of a staple on the Cast Iron restaurant’s menu.
We also sampled a taste of the kale Caesar, a trendy option alongside a few of their famous honey hot chicken wings. The hot sauce on the wings is not for the faint of heart. Plus, just to be sure they were as good as Andrea claimed, we also had a small side of their done-to-perfection (i.e., brown) fries with Tyler’s famous prime rib gravy to dip them in. Good? Think the best French fry experience you’ve likely ever had.
Getting our Just Desserts
Our food was served hot and quick, the beer was cold, the Sangria definitely more-ish. After struggling with what to have for dessert, it was decided for us by Andrea. First up was the cheesecake, so popular we were told it often sells out. And so popular, in fact, that they’ll sell whole cheesecakes for their customers to take home with them.
As for dessert #2, it was a no-brainer. We hadn’t tried anything cooked in an actual cast iron pan as yet, so, at Andrea’s suggestion, we had to try their popular “pan Cookie.” Served piping hot and with a large dollop of vanilla ice cream… well, what more needs to be said?
Both deserts were simply to die for. We washed them down with a very large mug of freshly brewed coffee and didn’t stop till our plates were practically clean.
The Verdict? Family Charm and Great Food
Eating at the Cast Iron Restaurant in Baysville feels a little like you’re actually dining in Andrea and Tyler’s home. It’s easy to see they’re serving food that they’re truly passionate about.
In fact, Andrea speaks so fondly about her staff and husband that you can tell she really loves doing this job. And it shows in everything from the cleanliness of everything from the bar area to the tables and chairs, even the washrooms, all sparkling clean.
A few things to keep in mind when visiting the Cast Iron:
- Weekly specials are featured during the cooler months, including a popular wing night.
- The house is usually so packed they don’t take reservations, unless you’re booking for a group of 10 or more.
- Fridays are for fish and chips, and their popular prime rib is available on Saturdays.
- Andrea, Tyler, and their staff take well-deserved breaks November and April… so plan your visit accordingly.
The Verdict? The writers at Riley Media have dined in establishments as far afield as Switzerland, England, and of course across Canada. But there’s no greater pleasure than discovering a world-class dining experience on your doorstep. The Cast Iron Restaurant is a must-try Muskoka restaurant that deserves each and every one of the accolades it has received.
While Riley doesn’t normally indulge in such things, we whole heartedly give Baysville’s Cast Iron Restaurant two great big thumbs up. Be sure to visit!
Hanna Dykstra is a Muskoka-based freelance writer. Kim Kerr is a travel writer and Co-founder of Riley International Media.
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