The Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” is playing and Sand and Pearl co-owner Nate Hynes, in baseball cap and jean shorts, is elbow-deep in oysters. “This is such a great song!” he exclaims, like you would at your backyard keg party – only with better food and a dialed-in beach-shack energy.
A two-and-a-half-hour drive east of Toronto, this former pizza joint has been given coats of turquoise and white paint and a serious sound system for a party vibe that just won’t quit. Chalkboard signs on the washroom doors mark them for “Dudes” and “Dudettes.” This is where you’ll want to head after a long day at nearby Sandbanks Provincial Park, freshly sun- burned, with sand between your toes. Locals and weekenders from the city belly up to the white-tiled bar to order, then retreat to the screened-in porch to nurse local Parsons Hula Hoop sour beers or Trail Estate Skin Ferment Riesling, and food that lifts fish-fry fare with cheffy touches.
Our peppy server practically dances up to our table with pristine Fogo Island snow crab legs, buttery lobster rolls and smoked Manitoulin trout niçoise salad that pops with pickled green beans and lemony crème fraîche. Hynes instructs newbies on how to crack the long crab legs: thumbs pressed at the midpoint, a quick snap then a tug. Head chef Suzanne Barr joined the seasonal restaurant for the 2018 season; another chef may be at the helm when the room reopens in May. Until then, this place will remain the beachy, sunshiny spot of my winter dreams.