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Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Port Sydney -- where to buy the best cottage food?

We're renting a cottage on the Muskoka River (2 minute drive from Port Sydney) for a week starting Monday and I know nothing about the towns nearby.

Can anybody suggest the best places for baked goods, meats and cheeses and basic groceries?

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  1. I typically stop in Barrie on my way up. Can't speak of the Hwy 11 side, but there's not much choice in Bala or Port Severn.

    1. I catered a movie shoot on Lake of Bays last Fall, and found that the large grocery store in a mall (Sobey's ? I can't remember which brand) on the outskirts of Huntsville, as you drive into town turning left more or less at the intersection of Rtes 60 and 11 it was on the right - in your case it would be coming up Rte 11 from Pt Sydney, proceeding through Huntsville's main shopping street, then to your left - had a surprisingly sophisticated selection of groceries for these parts. I was able to purchase decent parmesan, diverse veggies, fresh pasta and so forth. Also on the main street of the town to the left from your direction there is an internet café (I asked if there was one and was quickly pointed to it) that does quite reasonable home baking. On the outskirts of town as I was driving in on Rte 60 there was a clearly-signed "gourmet" take out place to the left that has all sorts of casseroles and desserts, not bad quality, and on the right, a creamery with any number of ice cream flavours. Good luck.

      1. If you can get into Haliburton, check out the Butchers Daughter for meat and great prepared dishes, the Farmers Daughter for produce etc and the ice cream shop beside the Farmers for milk/dairy products. You can get everything you need at these three shops, and the LCBO is just up the street with a great vintages section.

        2 Replies
        1. re: stapler

          Just to clarify, stapler---do you mean Huntsville?

          1. re: cherrypicker1972

            sorry, yes, i do mean huntsville. they're easy to find. also check out a cool new rest called soul sistas (yes, a goofy name) but lovely honest food, coffee and tea. and the northern bakery, i believe it's called, has great breads and butter tarts and other lovely treats...

        2. Alright, I've lived in Muskoka most of my life so I can give you the inside dope. Huntsville does have the best options in terms of grocery stores, but if you're coming from the south it's easier to stop in Gravenhurst at the Independant (YIGS), fairly standard selection wise. Up the street from YIGS across from the Giant Tiger is a fantastic bakery, with great chelsea buns. Further down the main street of Gravenhurst, Muskoka Rd, is gourmet shop restaurant called North, that has good food and also offers some local delicacies. The Milford Bay smoked trout and/or trout pate are great, also available at YIGS. On Wed there is a farmers market across from Muskoka Wharf that I beleive goes till thanksgiving. Bracebridge offers quite a few shops, including a good butcher, but it's removed from the highway and will take some time to access. Port Sydney has one good restaurant in a cute house, but I can't recall the name. Huntsville is 20-30 mins up the hwy from Port Sydney. I hope you enjoy muskoka and respect the space. Cheers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: skills

            skills wrote:
            "Port Sydney has one good restaurant in a cute house, but I can't recall the name."

            That would be Beau Ideal, but sad to say it was reported by a Chowhound to be closed. Sad, because IMO it was a true gourmet restaurant, owned by an experienced chef.

          2. Zanetti's grocery store is right in Port Sydney, with a variety of fresh food and other staples and a very good ice cream counter. Chris Zanetti the owner got tired of the rat race as a photocopier salesman and opened the store a few years ago. He has a smart head for business, and has chosen an efficient and friendly staff.
            There's a greater assortment of food including fresh baked goods at a Freshmart next to a small strip mall just off Highway 11 at Stephenson Rd. 4 (South Mary Lake Rd.) You go by ths Freshmart when you take that exit which heads into Port Sydney.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Bob Catt

              Bob and Skills: Thanks for all the gems. I'm going to map it all out this weekend and "go to town" so to speak, on Monday.


              1. re: cherrypicker1972

                Hey, report back and let us know what you did...

                  1. re: cherrypicker1972

                    Definitely the Butcher's Daugher and the Farmer's Daughter, as I've written here before. Both on Hwy 60 in Huntsville. Check them out...

            2. Morley Stephans is a butcher in Port Carling who we used to buy meat from for years. I believe his kids have taken over the biz. I is usualy packed on a weekends, so go early.

              1. If you are in the market for fresh seafood, make a stop on your way north at Orillia. Orchard Produce is just off Highway 11 - Highway 12 WEST or Coldwater - which is the 2nd (?) exit I believe. It's on the east side of the highway and has a "big banana" on the sign, you can't miss it. They have a great selection of fresh veggies and meat as well, but seafood is fantastic - bacon wrapped scallops, homemade crab cakes and the like. Lots of gourmet items to boot.

                2 Replies
                1. re: LoN

                  Well folks, I'm back and I said I would give you the goods.

                  Because we arrived on a Monday, we got off to a bad start because everything seemed to be closed. But I returned on the Tuesday and went to "The Bakery" on Brock St. in Gravenhurst. I can easily say that the chelsea buns deserve the hype. They were amazing. Moist, buttery, chewy with delectable carmelizing on the top.

                  I got the meat pies too and they were quite good but not amazing. Filling was decent but pastry was a bit too doughy for my liking.

                  The FreshMart at South Mary Lake Rd, and Hwy 11 was good for basics, and I actually picked up a good sirloin tip roast for 6 bucks.

                  Unfortunately, I didn't get to Farmer's Daughter or Butcher's Daughter---although I'm familiar with Farmer's Daughter on Kingston Rd. in TO, and it's a quality joint.

                  Word of advice--- don't waste your time at Crabby Joe's in Huntsville. Mediocre with a capital M.

                  C'est tout. Thanks for all the tips!

                  1. re: cherrypicker1972

                    Too bad you didn't get to the Farmer's Daughter and Butcher's Daughter. Both great places. We had a lasagna from BD last weekend. Amazing.

                    I agree 100% about Crabby Joe's. It sucks. About the same as Kelsey's.