Waterfront dining carries a certain je ne s’ais que – a special ambiance and a memorable experience that can only be attributed to the beauty and sheer calming effect of the water. It can even make a meal taste better and often causes patrons to happily pay double what they would normally pay for the same meal elsewhere. So it’s no surprise that such settings usually do well and attract a large audience, particularly during the spring and summer months when temperatures and scenery are at their best.
Now, take that mental image you currently have of a waterfront eatery and add a rooftop patio festooned with flowers and umbrellas, and include views of a marina filled with colourful boats, as well as visions of a beachfront and Lake Ontario just beyond it. Sound beautiful? Well… it is. Yet despite such a scenic backdrop, the restaurant name is actually quite simple – Waterfront Bistro.
Nestled in an upscale lakefront neighbourhood of Pickering, Ontario, designed to resemble Cape Cod and with an adjacent marina called Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club; the Waterfront Bistro serves crowds of beachgoers, boaters, weekenders, and even businessmen and women looking to ditch the nearby office scene for an hour at lunch.
The restaurant is essentially divided into 4 parts – the main floor dining room which is decorated with stereotypical sailboats and nautical items, a cozy outdoor patio, second-floor banquet facilities suitable for special occasions and events, and a seasonal rooftop patio that faces the lake and wraps partially around the building for views that also include the marina next door. The patio can be accessed from inside or from an outdoor set of stairs. During the summer months, this is undoubtedly the preferred place to sit.
For a long while, the patio was shaded with an attractively striped awning but it was removed a few years ago in favour of tables, some with individual sun umbrellas and some without. Although the set-up is picture perfect, the only drawback is that during the day most diners prefer to be shaded from the direct sunlight (which is made stronger due to the rooftop setting and the restaurant’s proximity to the water) so it often creates a backlog of people waiting for an umbrella table. It can also cause frustration on a breezy day if the umbrellas catch the wind.
Waterfront Bistro offers daily specials that range from food to drinks, it features a popular and delicious weekend brunch and provides a daily menu that features plenty of seafood options, as well as burgers, sandwiches, pasta, steak, and chicken, all with a gourmet flare. To that end, lamb shank is among the dinner options. Although the menu isn’t huge, there’s enough variety to please most any palette. Starters range in price from $10-$18, burgers and sandwiches average $15, and most dinner menu items span $25 to $40, with Surf & Turf at $60. The patio menu varies slightly from that of the main dining room.
Most everything on the menu is good here, but if pressed to name some of our personal favourites, they would include the beer battered Fish & Chips; the Prime Rib French Dip; the Waterfront Burger which features bacon, jack cheese, and sauteed onions; and the house made creamy tomato soup topped with Boursin cheese. And you can’t go wrong with the bruschetta and feta on Vienna bread as a starter.
The restaurant is open 7 days a week, but as one would expect the crowd intensifies as the weather gets nicer and diners look to return to the outdoor patios. Reservations are accepted for the main dining room, but not for the rooftop patio. If you’re looking to stay beyond dinner time, the Bistro offers live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings. All considered; it’s no wonder this place is so popular.
If you live in the Durham area or plan on visiting, this is a restaurant you should visit at least once.