On a cool late-winter afternoon, we drove the gravel roads out to Pinecroft, an attractive property located southwest of Aylmer. Established in 1948, Pinecroft is celebrating 70 years in business this year, which is quite an accomplishment. The owners market the experience for guests as ‘A Little Muskoka Serenity’, a clear reference to the tall pines and peaceful pond on-site that make the setting feel closely related to the Muskoka landscape.
How is the Setting?
In a word, lovely! Central to Pinecroft is the original 1934 log cabin, which includes a pottery gallery, gift shop, and the Green Frog Tearoom. Sitting by the windows in the cabin, one can look out over the pond and observe birds arriving and departing.
The surrounding pine forest covers 54 acres. One of the simple pleasures of driving into Pinecroft is navigating the forest and finding a parking spot among the trees. If the wind is blowing, Richard Manuel singing ‘Whispering Pines’ might come to mind.
Atmosphere & Hygge-Factor
We are fans of the Danish concept of hygge! Basically, this is a word that refers to how we make ourselves comfortable and cosy. Powered by The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, the art of ‘making things cosy’ has gone global. Interestingly, Wiking suggests that the Canadian version of this is ‘hominess’.
The team at Pinecroft have been making hygge happen for years. The pine and natural light and hand-crafted pottery set the scene. Candles on the tables would be an interesting touch.
The menu at Pinecroft does not change too much: soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrées. It may be that the familiarity of the offerings is exactly what keeps people coming back. Why change? Everything feels home-cooked and presented with care. Still, it might be interesting to source a bit more local food and reflect that on the menu.
During our visit we went with crêpes. The Rueben Crêpe and the Chicken and Broccoli Crêpe were both satisfying for lunch. Our co-worker Alex tried the Pinecroft Sirloin Hamburger, and once he managed to work the bun into something manageable, he was a big fan!
Food & Drinks
The beer and wine list is limited, but that makes sense – Pinecroft feels more like a place for a warm cup of tea. There is a lengthy list of specialty and loose-leaf herbal teas. The Toffee Caramel looks intriguing: a blend of honey bush, mate green, liquorice, verbena and cardamom.
Servers come and go coolly and efficiently, letting everyone focus on the setting and atmosphere.
Did We Feel at Home?
Pinecroft is one of those places that, if someone suggested the concept as a new business venture, investors may be reticent. Will people really make the drive out to the property, however serene the setting may be? Of course, the tourism and hospitality industry has an inner logic that is hard to decipher, and sometimes things just work – or not. Pinecroft works. The setting is calming. The meals enhance the cosiness of the place. Pinecroft feels like home.
Article by Andrew Gunn with contributions by Maddie King