Headwaters Restaurant at Millcroft Inn & Spa
55 John St, Alton (Caledon), ON L7K 0C4
Located within Caledon, ON, in a little town called Alton, this restaurant is a hidden gem within the palace of Millcroft Inn and Spa. My boyfriend, Nico, and I had the privilege to dine at this restaurant and catch up with his previous Chef who is now the Executive Sous Chef at this prestigious spot. With a short one hour drive North of Toronto, and feeling like we were lost in the wilderness (but we had our trusty GPS!) we finally arrived and instantly wished that we were staying for the night and not just for dinner. You feel like you are in a different world on their grounds.
These photos do not do the location justice! Heck, I wish we were able to walk around the entire grounds so I can show you all of the beauty that Executive Sous Chef Dave would tell us about. As we are city people, we arrived at the restaurant just 15 minutes before our reservation and unfortunately, only had time to look around the area towards the check-in section.
Upon arrival, we discover that the guest check-in is located in the same building as the restaurant. When you enter the building, the check-in desk is on the left and straight ahead you see the Headwaters Restaurant & Lounge; which must be very enticing for their guests.
As we were approaching the host table, Nico recognized a familiar face. The gentleman that greeted us, Amar, was a previous coworker of Nico’s and it was a very happy reunion. Amar, kindly (and professionally) walked us over to our table where we were seated, asked us what water we would like and presented to us our menus.
Right before our dinner was presented, Executive Sous Chef Dave came out to welcome us and catch up Nico for a bit. It was great to see him, and it was as if not much had changed when they were talking.
On to our dinner! We were told that the kitchen often forages in their wilderness backyard and will use those ingredients in their dishes whenever they can. We ordered two appetizers, two entrees and one dessert from the dinner menu. In addition to those dishes, we were surprised by Executive Sous Chef Dave with two off menu items to begin our meal with.
Off Menu Items
As Dave mentioned to us, this dish is the dish that helped him score his position with Headwaters/Millcroft Inn and Spa. We can see why they hired him with this dish! The grilled octopus was perfectly prepared that it did not have a chewy consistency as most grilled octopi dishes do. Once you gather each aspect of the dish into one bite, you get this great combination of flavours and textures from all of the elements. The dressing for the fennel salad helped provide a creamy texture while the octopus and sausage provide that soft but yet firm bite, in addition to the salmon roe that provided tiny pops of delicious salt to bring the entire dish together. Throw in the unique red pepper dust, and you have a more roasted taste to round it out.
I am a huge fan of gnocchi, so when I saw its lighter fluffier cousin, gnudi, arrive in front of me, you can believe how excited I was to see this plate. Gnudi is made similar to gnocchi, but it is made with ricotta rather than potato, thus providing a lighter and fluffier dish compared to the dense and chewy gnocchi. This gnudi just had the perfect texture and density; like little pillows! Mix in the goat cheese in the middle of the dish with the gnudi and the sun-dried tomato oil creates such an umami that is difficult to explain. Having the goat cheese adds a definite bite within the dish while the gnudi helps to calm it down at the end. Once you have some of the burned onion dust added, it gives a smoky like taste that just adds an additional dimension to the entire dish.
I like to think that scallops are the ocean’s candy. When prepared correctly, scallops have this remarkably sweet taste to it with a buttery texture. These scallops were perfectly prepared that I took my time savouring every bite of the scallop. The purée adds a creaminess and mixes with the double smoked bacon jus creating even deeper flavours. Assembling a bite of this dish definitely takes account of the textures and counters the soft, smooth textures with the pancetta crisp.
Two words – Ravioli Garnish. Any dish with a ravioli garnish, you know it will be amazing. The filling of the ravioli was rich and creamy within the perfectly cooked ravioli shell. The veal cheek itself was super tender and easy to do a fork pull. Add in the various crunchy accompaniments, and the dish is complete.
The above is the entree that Nico selected of the monkfish along with a side of shrimp. The monkfish presentation is very vibrant and full of colour that welcomes in the spring season. This was my first time having monkfish, and I wish I chose this dish. Monkfish is a fairly meaty fish that the texture reminded me of crab. The way they prepared the monkfish provided a rich flavour of the butter throughout and ensured that the fish would be moist with every bite. Shrimp is Nico’s most favourite food item, and this side did not disappoint. Simply grilled and seasoned thoroughly, the shrimp were perfectly cooked and allowed its natural sweetness to shine.
I love duck, so I opted for this entree to see the various ways that duck can be prepared. Out of the three options, I have only had seared duck breast before. This trio provided great textures and different ways that duck can be prepared and consumed. This dish was like eating three smaller dishes on one plate! Each duck preparation was served with its own side(s) that created a balance in textures and flavours to accentuate each duck dish. My favourite of the three preparations was the pâté en croute. My childhood consisted of beef pâté and toast for a quick savoury snack. Having this pâté en croute brought back childhood memories and made me wish that I had a pickle onion jam and sweet pickle when I ate pâté as a kid. The combination of rich savoury and pickled sweet is always one of the greatest in my books; it allows for you to enjoy the rich savoury while having the pickled sweet to cut the richness before it overpowers.
Headwaters created this selection in honour of it being maple season. Executive Sous Chef Dave mentioned that they create the maple in-house using the sap that they collect from the maple trees on the premises. The maple that they produce is not too sweet and works well in the different ways they were incorporated. I loved every single preparation and found that it is not too sweet for each, but you can definitely taste the maple. Next maple season, I will definitely come back to venture onto the grounds and see the sap collection.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Headwaters; both with the food and the actual dining experience. Jacklyn, our waitress, was very attentive and made sure that we were enjoying ourselves. She was very respectful when I was taking these photos and even commented on how intense it all seemed (thank you!). We experienced above and beyond hospitality in service and food. We will come back again, and this time stay at least one night to get the whole experience!