I first went to Terra Cotta Inn after a rigorous 4 hour hike at Terra Cotta conservation nearby. Maybe it was because I was so hungry after my first real hike in Ontario. Maybe it was the feeling that I had earned the right to eat as many calories as I wanted. Or maybe Terra Cotta Inn is just that awesome.
There is a formal dining room upstairs, a patio outdoors and a casual pub-like room downstairs. Each has their own menu. The first two times, I went to the pub. After a hike, you want a cool, basement atmosphere with little fanfare, cool air conditioning and a laidback but efficient server. A tiny bar with a nautical theme I think, at the corner, tables around the room, the specials written on chalkboards hanging on the wall. There’s a speakeasy vibe with the basement windows that stream sunlight in with overpowering the room. The food here is consistently good, and the offerings are actually a step above your typical pubfare. There are the usual burgers and nachos of course, but there is also calf liver, curried shrimp and vegetables, a variety of pasta dishes (particularly sea food options). What I like best is the atmosphere. Every time we’ve been here, the server was quick to take our orders, relatively quick to bring our food, and timed it just right to come and ask us if we needed anything else. But there was no one rushing us, no feeling of impatience – it feels like the sort of pub that your neighbourhood (in a small town) would just drop by, and sit in. Which fits the flavour of Terra Cotta as a whole, this village in Halton Hills.
When I went there today, the weather was perfect to sit outside in the patio. While the views are amazing (the place does have beautiful grounds that can host garden parties/weddings), I think I still prefer the pub side of the restaurant. But the food here was more fine dining, and subsequently, more interesting and expensive.
Terra Cotta Inn is about 35 minutes north of Mississauga, and yet it feels like a world away. There’s a sleepy quality in the surroundings, as though the people who live here are from an era long ago. Who go to bed at 8 pm. Wake up at dawn. All know each other. It’s not true of course, but it makes me feel like I’m down the street from Anne of Green Gables. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back.