Queen’s Eats: How to make the most of Kingston patio season

How to enjoy warm weather and good food while staying safe this fall

September isn’t too late to try out a local patio.

This summer, many of us have been unable to take full advantage of the long-awaited patio season. With only a few months left when it’s truly pleasant to be outside, I explored some safe and fun ways for Queen’s students to take advantage of patio season as we continue to adapt to the ‘new normal.’ 

I’ve put together a list of patios and patio alternatives to check out if you’re back in Kingston this September.

Waterfront: Juniper Café

The Juniper Café is one of my favourite spots near campus, with a cozy atmosphere and snacks to fuel you any time of day. Their menu consists mostly of sandwiches, soups, and baked goods, most of which use locally sourced ingredients. While it’s not a traditional patio, it has a spacious area to sit outside and enjoy a meal in the sun.

The restaurant’s new space is now exclusively outdoors with Muskoka chairs and a few tables set up to have a view of Lake Ontario. You can also take out your food and have a picnic on the grass by the lake just a few steps away.

I decided to make a trip to the Juniper Café with a friend. I ordered the Brie-L-T and he ordered the Wilton’s Cheddar & P&O Bacon Sandwich. The portions were generous and reasonably priced with a few combos for a soup and sandwich or take-out lunch box. 

The Brie-L-T puts a spin on a traditional BLT and is made even better by the freshly baked focaccia and garlic aioli. This sandwich is tangy and fresh but had a bit too many greens for my taste. However, paired with a fresh brewed mixed berry and mint iced tea, it made for a great lunch. Overall, the Juniper Café is a great spot to have a sustainably sourced meal or a quick coffee. 

Dine-In Patio: Dianne’s Fish Shack and Smokehouse

This restaurant is one of the few restaurants in Kingston that specializes in barbecue and seafood. It offers a diverse menu with options ranging from ceviche to a barbecue platter. 

My boyfriend and I decided to check out this patio to celebrate our belated one-year anniversary. I pored over the menu in advance and still had difficulty narrowing down what I wanted to try. 

We started out by sharing calamari, served with a chilli mayo and banana peppers which added a nice kick to the dish. As my main course, I had the pork and brisket tacos. The tacos were perfectly portioned and the toppings were delicious. The avocado cilantro lime salsa kept the tacos light and balanced out the barbecued meat well. 

My boyfriend ordered the lobster rolls which were served with fries. While the lobster roll was delicious, it was a heavy meal and not something we’d be likely to order again. 

Takeout & Picnic Package: Olivea

Olivea is one of Kingston’s Italian restaurants. Located right across from market square, it’s a short walk from the student district. While their dine-in and patio seating are now open, they also offer several takeout options like fresh pasta, frozen meals, and picnic packages. 

There are two variations of the picnic package. The first is a charcuterie picnic box which includes three courses: an antipasto board, a caprese salad, and two cannoli for dessert. The second picnic package features two sandwiches, a caesar salad, and two panna cottas. These packages are available for take-out only, so you’re free to enjoy them wherever you’d like, whether it’s at home or a few steps from the restaurant by the waterfront. 

If you’re not feeling the picnic package, you can pick one of your restaurant favourites to take home and make yourself. The restaurant’s prepared food section has everything from fresh pasta to some of their most beloved dishes, including chicken cacciatore or lasagna. You can heat up any of these dishes and have your own personalized patio experience from the comfort of your own home. 

Bring the Patio Home: BBQ

For anyone who wants to enjoy the sun from the comfort of their own backyard, there’s the at-home barbecue. It’s totally possible to step out of your culinary comfort zone at home and make a fresh summer meal that takes you back to lounging on a patio, enjoying summer drinks and good food. 

A few friends and I took on the challenge of barbecuing shrimp tacos paired with a tangy cilantro garlic slaw. We began by making the spice rub for the shrimp which consisted of chilli powder, cumin, and garlic powder. We then threw some Greek yoghurt, garlic, cilantro, and lemon juice in the blender to make the sauce for our slaw and tossed it with a traditional coleslaw mix. 

After a few minutes on the grill, the shrimp was tender and just a bit charred. The cooking process took almost less time than the preparation. This meal is also easily made on the stovetop and can be enjoyed from your porch, backyard, or kitchen table to create patio vibes anywhere you are.


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