At Thermëa by Nordik Spa Nature’s Restö you can dine in your robe.
And not just dine – we’re talking about piling Manitoba bison tenderloin carpaccio with chili garlic oil and aioli onto a crostini, or tucking into a beer-braised lamb shank served on parsnip purée (both of which you are totally cool getting on your pillowy white robe, as you won’t be the one doing the washing after).
While doing this, you can wash it down with a local craft beer from the tap, or perhaps a handcrafted blood orange daiquiri, or – as is our usual – a crisp glass of dry rosé from California’s Decoy winery.
While you are doing this, you may be seated around the fire in the lounge, or in the dining room overlooking the main thermal pool, or on the outdoor patio where the aromas of the spa – which include birch logs burning over the communal fire pits – is all part of the tranquil ambiance.
And remember: All of this in your robe.
This gorgeous outdoor spa is located in the forests of Fort Garry and is the embodiment of tranquility, with its thermal pools, Finnish saunas, steam rooms, relaxation chambers, heated hammocks and tree-lined beach.
And while all of that is all well and good, we are going to keep talking about the food as chef Thomas Stuart – who has been at Thermëa since the beginning, in fact even before that as he also helped out with some carpentry and odds and ends while they were building the place – is always coming up with delicious and often holistic dishes (this being a spa and all) that utilize local ingredients.
“The idea of the restaurant within Thermëa has always been to enhance the whole [spa] experience,” said Stuart.
“Because people come to the spa for different reasons, we try to accommodate that. So we have both comforting and filling food, to dishes that people might expect more at a spa, dishes that are more tailored to nourishing the body to give you the wellness kind of experience.”
Outside of the spa, we’ve been treated to some excellent dishes from chef Stuart, including at this past year’s Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (formerly known as Gold Medal Plates). Here, Stuart took bronze with a version of smørrebrød that utilized butter-poached walleye surrounded by dots of two different kinds of fluid gels – one composed of elderflower and white wine, the other of bergamot orange and hibiscus. These two gels were two of the best things we tasted last year, almost effervescent on the palate (they almost bubbled like cava), while the fish took on a whole new richness, as if it were a butter-poached lobster tail.
Taken as a whole, this dish really encapsulates many Restö dishes, in that it is healthy and somewhat light, while still providing some indulgence.
Another example is a soup we had when Thermëa first opened and we were getting a sneak peak of the Restö. On that night, Stuart served a soup to start a multicourse meal that is in our top 10 ever soups – and we always are souping. This was a caramelized carrot soup, with a silky texture and rich flavour from carrots that were cooked right down in a pressure cooker until all the natural sugars took over. It was topped off with an acidic herb oil that brought it all together. Again, seemingly light and vegetable forward, yet rich in French flavour.
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Smørrebrød: The Danish word for an open faced sandwich, traditionally served on dense rye and spread with butter. We serve ours on locally made @redspringbakery rye spread with dill cream cheese, BC smoked salmon, preserved lemon, capers, dill, and fennel pollen maldon sea salt. Enjoy it in your bathrobe the next time you dine at #thermëa
At the spa, Stuart always has a form of smørrebrød on the menu, which makes great use of the toasted sourdough from Red Spring Bakery. We’re also big fans of his mushroom confit dish, which comes with melted Trappist cheese and a balsamic reduction if you are feeling like something else to put on this mighty fine bread.
This summer, come mid-June, the new summer menu will be launched, which will include a classic roasted tomato smørrebrød. Stuart describes it as, “So simple, yet so amazing… we use a homemade garlic confit aioli that we top with local Greenland Garden organic tomatoes – which are just primo tomatoes, and it’s just perfect for the spa.”
Another new item Stuart is excited about is pan-seared locally raised rainbow trout, which comes on smashed baby potatoes that are tossed in a buttermilk herb dressing. Underneath it all is a verdant arugula vichyssoise [you can see this dish in the top left above].
Now before we let you leave to go take in all the excellence that is Thermëa and its Restö, we’ll share one pro tip: Bring two bathing suits. This way, when you go to eat in the Restö in your rob, you can change out of your wet bathing suit (because really, you can’t Thermea unless you hit the pools) and put a dry one under your robe (because no one should be subjected to eating in a wet bathing suit).
Thermea by Nordik Spa Nature is located at 775 Crescent Drive, and is open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.