Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
MINETT, ONTARIO — For JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa executive chef Shaun Crymble, plying his trade at Muskoka Chophouse is just another sign he’s finally home.
The Rosseau Muskoka is a luxury conference resort located an easy two-hour drive north of Toronto, in Ontario’s scenic cottage country. At the Rosseau Muskoka, recipient of two prestigious Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence and Condé Nast Traveler Gold List ranking, visitors enjoy inspirational views and an opportunity to explore nature.
Crymble has spent the last 20 years with Marriott hotels, first at the Long Wharf Marriott in downtown Boston, and then the JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, California, where he says he fell in love with the hotel brand. When offered the opportunity to return close to home and to become the executive chef Canada’s first JW Marriott property, the native of suburban Mississauga didn’t hesitate.
The timing for his return couldn’t be better. Muskoka Chophouse, the Rosseau’s newest dining expansion, is the perfect place for Crymble to practice his specialty – grilling.
Muskoka Property Shows Its Culinary Chops
“For me, my favourites are the bone-in rib eye and the New York strip loin,” Crymble says of the steaks he prepares. “Those are definitely two great cuts. You really get the flavour and the moisture from the bone-in rib eye. Myself being a self-proclaimed carnivore, we have a wonderful 32-ounce porterhouse, so you get the great New York strip loin and the great tenderloin on that piece. It’s great if you feel like you’re a starving individual, because 32 ounces isn’t a small chunk of meat.”
Joining the team is Canadian-born executive sous-chef Robin Little, who trained as an apprentice chef for Mark McEwan. Little has played a major role in refreshing the spring menu with a southwestern flavour profile. New menu items include Brick-pressed Cornish Hen ($35), Arctic Char Fillet ($35), Black Truffle Mac n’ Cheese ($9) and Parmesan Truffle Fries ($9).
Little has developed his culinary talents at various resorts and award-winning restaurants around the globe, including Fairmont Banff Springs’ the Banffshire Club and the Newport Room at the Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda Resort.
Creating the Chophouse wasn’t easy and presented some risk. Crymble explained in order to carve out the restaurant it was necessary to take some space away from the main restaurant area.
“We lost part of our seating from the main restaurant, but we were able to embrace this new outlet inside the hotel as well,” says Crymble. “It gives us the opportunity to create uniquely crafted items, everything from seafood to chicken breasts to great steaks, lamb and everything. So we really worked with the culinary team to create different unique items that we run as features on a daily or seasonal rotation.”
While I came for the steaks, what’s equally good at Muskoka Chophouse are the appetizers and side dishes. Without a doubt focusing on quality steaks is a good thing if you’re a chophouse, but many restaurants make the mistake of not paying as much attention to other aspects of the menu, like appetizers, refreshments and, yes, chicken.
No issues with that here. What I find impressive at Muskoka Chophouse is the amount of preparation and thought that has gone into these delicious delights, and I find I had to be careful not to overdo it before my main course. Muskoka Chophouse appetizers include plump shrimp and tangy sauce, rich Atlantic lobster bisque, a crunchy and tangy wedge salad, and an outstanding crab cake packed with lump crabmeat and finished with pickled scallions and chipotle aioli. The grilled asparagus is delicious, as is the roast garlic mashed potatoes and mushrooms.
Having opened its doors in May 2015, this 60-seat restaurant offers wonderful views of the surrounding hotel through large windows. Polished wooden floors, a wine rack and modern brass light fixtures create a warm feeling to the dining area.
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa general manager Tony Tamburro says Muskoka Chophouse has exceeded expectations. Tamburro added the resort is expecting 2016 to be a great year for the hotel and the restaurant.
“As spring approaches and days get longer, visitors to Muskoka Chophouse will be able to step outdoors to see the magnificent view of Lake Rosseau from the terrace. The view is a highlight of every visit to JW Marriott Muskoka,” Tamburro says.
MORE ABOUT MUSKOKA CHOPHOUSE
Address: 1050 Paignton House Rd, Minett, ON
Dinner Menu: www.therosseau.com/files/jw-chophouse-menu-web.pdf
Dessert Menu: www.therosseau.com/files/msk-chophouse-dessert-menu-web.pdf
House: Open nightly from 5 pm. Reservations recommended, particularly on weekends.
MORE ABOUT JW MARRIOTT THE ROSSEAU MUSKOKA RESORT & SPA