If I’m close to the water, whether it be lake, ocean or river, you could tell me all kinds of bad news, and I really wouldn’t mind. Being near or in water is the most soothing feeling for my body and soul so when I heard that Vista Eatery had recently opened up at Ontario Place, I was excited to check it out. Thankfully, I was invited to a media tasting at this lakeside patio to experience it for myself.
If you haven’t been to Ontario Place since the revamp, it’s completely different. Although I lived in the area for seven years, I hadn’t visited the park since the massive renovation so it took a few minutes to get my bearings. As far as I can tell, Vista Eatery is located on the easterly part of the island, close to where the gigantic water slides used to be at Ontario Place. If you’ve been to the CBC Music Festival, it’s just south of Echo Beach.
The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at Vista Eatery is this: the view of the lake is phenomenal – expansive and unobstructed. You really need to breathe it in before even considering what’s on the menu. We Torontonians are blessed to live in a city situated on the shores of a Great Lake; however, that desirable waterfront real estate doesn’t come cheap, which means there are far too few places in Toronto to dine near the water.
If you’re wondering what to expect foodwise, Vista Eatery at Ontario Place offers affordable casual dining on its waterfront patio. This new Toronto patio is overseen by Executive Chef Daniel Janetos (formerly of Buca and Farmhouse Tavern) and now heading up the new Liquor Donuts in Kensington Market. Janetos is known for his French culinary techniques, and uncompromising food ethics and has appeared on Food Network Canada and The Marilyn Denis Show. Acquiring vast experience cooking for the rich and famous in 13 countries, Janetos also co-founded North America’s largest Mac and Cheese Festival.
Vista Eatery’s cuisine is several steps – no, a full ladder! – up from neighbouring patios and takeout places at Harbourfront and Sunnyside. Guests place their orders at the counter and then can enjoy their meals at one of the patio chairs and hardwood tables (that you might recognize from Buca) or at one of the pristine Muskoka chairs facing the lake.
Although Chef Janetos does not want to be known for his Farmhouse Burger, that legacy (thankfully for those of us who enjoy beef every now and then) continues at Vista Eatery. Further, Janetos has compiled the favourites from his previous restaurants and showcased them on Vista Eatery’s menu. We’re talking paninis, burgers (both beef and veggie), noodle and grain bowls, salads, donuts and pastries. In the beverage category, this licenced patio is serving Rosehall Run wine, beer (Ace Hill, Collective Arts, Mill Street, Corona, Guiness), cider, as well as cold pressed juice and fresh lemonade to quench your thirst.
We were treated to a number of items on the menu including the aforementioned Farmhouse Burger, $9, roast beef, grilled veggie and tomato mozzarella paninis, $9, Greek Pesto Pasta Salad, $10 and Vegan Caesar “Bacon” Crouton Salad, $10. I understand the hype about Janetos’s burger. It’s definitely a must order for non-vegetarians – juicy, flavourful and lean with an addictive house-made Mac sauce.
The Grilled Chicken, Kale and Quinoa was also a favourite of mine. Chef Janetos’s menu emphasizes healthy eating, which was clearly evident in this nutritious yet tasty salad. I tried another one of the salads – the Vegan Caesar “Bacon” Croutons – and couldn’t really tell that it didn’t contain dairy.
If you’re looking for something sweet, try the delicious lemon curd to top off your meal.
If you’re visiting the CNE, taking in a Toronto FC game, blading along the Martin Goodman Trail, or just hanging in the Liberty Village area and need a lake-and-food fix, check out Vista Eatery at Ontario Place. The closest parking lot to Vista Eatery is the east parking lot at Ontario Place approached from Ontario Place Blvd.
Vista Eatery at Ontario Place is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (barbecue closes at 10 p.m.).