400 Memorial Ave, Orillia
Situated in the centre of Ontario’s Lake Country, the Grape and Olive Wine and Martini Bistro can be found within Orillia’s Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre on the city’s Memorial Avenue. Taking the sixth place spot out of all the eateries in Orillia, it has also been awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for three consecutive years – 2015 to 2018 – and executive chef Paul Laforet has a man who has worked in several notable restaurants before taking control of the Grape and Olive’s kitchen. The restaurant has also been featured as part of Flavours of Lake Country and the region’s annual ‘BarrieLicious’ – Barrie’s premier food festival celebrating local chefs and eateries – and its website states it is ‘committed to providing an outstanding dining experience.’
While the Best Western Plus’s exterior is a drab and uninviting single-storey slab of greys and beiges, the Grape and Olive’s dining room is lush and welcoming: spacious and airy, plenty of dark wood, wrought iron, and black and white tiles cover the room, while cream painted brick walls provide light and warmth. The overall effect is elegant, bordering on the formal, with the central self-service section dominating the spacious dining area and a separate ‘Grape Vine Bar’ offering customers ‘an outstanding martini menu and extensive wine selections from around the world.’ Many online reviews praise the space and formal air, but one Google reviewer thought the ‘atmosphere is cold and reminds me of a cafeteria.’
- Great for large groups, business meetings and conferences
- Outdoor seating areas
- Ample car parking space
- Wheelchair accessible
- Vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free options, vegan options
- Drab exterior
- Service can sometimes be slow, especially when the restaurant is full
- Can lack atmosphere on occasion due to size
Food at the Grape and Olive is high-end, bordering on fine dining, with extensive breakfast and dinner menus. The choice at breakfast is comprehensive, including a ‘breakfast favourites’ section that features home-fried potatoes and an English muffin that you can pair with, for example, eggs and back bacon. A variety of omelettes, eggs ‘benny’, and hearty options such as pancakes and waffles are on the menu, along with a choice of sides and a selection of hot and cold drinks. For dinner, patrons can choose from appetizers such as mussels, sea scallops or Parisian snails, while the soups and salads feature several classics like Caesar and Greek. There is a selection of sandwiches, burgers and steaks, while the main course section contains choices such as a rack of lamb, BBQ salmon, seafood paella and a duo of local ducks. The Grape Vine bar also has a menu for bar meals that includes favourites like nachos, wings, fish and chips, and tacos.
As well as the main menus, the Grape and Olive offer Monthly Themed Brunches, such as Breakfast with Santa in December, and Sunday Brunches to celebrate, for example, Easter or Father’s Day. These typically cost around $30.95, run from 10 am to 2 pm and are half price for children aged 3 to 10 years of age (under twos go free) – the self-serve brunch offers ‘The Basics’, which are a waffle station, omelette station, pasta station, carved, slow roasted prime rib, plus a variety of salads, fruits and desserts.
Reviews for the Grape and Olive are generally positive, with one Facebook reviewer stating they ‘had my birthday dinner there last night and had an awesome time. Every one – all 11 of us – loved the Food, and the service was excellent. Thanks!’ while a Google review stated it was a welcoming and comfortable place, the overall experience was top-notch. Meanwhile, the negative reviews focused on the Food, with one Google reviewer complaining that the ‘menu tries way too hard, with pretentious descriptions but completely misses the mark. Food is inconsistent, poorly cooked and absent of flavour’ while one unimpressed Yelp contributor posted, ‘Food is good, but not super impressive. Service is a little slow. Price is on the higher end.’
The Grape and Olive’s executive chef, Paul Laforet, offers cooking classes on select days, with a different cuisine ‘theme’ every few months – for $55 per person, customers get a three-course meal, hands-on instruction and recipes to take home. The restaurant is open for breakfast (Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 10:00 am, Saturday 7:00 am to 12:00 pm, Sunday, 7:00 am to 12:00 pm) and dinner (Sunday to Thursday, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday, 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm).