No, we’re not miners. We’re just waiting to be seated at our table for dinner.
The small town of Eganville, located in Ontario’s Highlands, is the home of the Bonnechere Caves. Known for its rich geological finds, the Bonnechere Caves are famous for something new – cave dining. Since its inception 3 years ago, word has spread swiftly, making it a must-do activity and one of the hottest tickets in the Ottawa Valley. Those of us fortunate enough to have scored a golden ticket were chomping at the bit to see what all the hype is about.
The Bonnecheve Caves has some seriously cool geological history and some pretty amazing fossils. The layers of limestone that make up the cave are between 400 and 500 million years old – from a time well before dinosaurs ever roamed this Earth! Once the bottom of a tropical sea, the cave was home to all sorts of aquatic creatures such as coral, molluscs and long squid-like animals.
Cave Dining – The Experience
One by one, we were led into the mouth of the cave; but rather than bats, the sounds of elegant music welcomed us from its interior. As we made it past the entrance, the narrow corridors and yawning rooms of the cave were aglow from rows of tea lights and tall standing candelabras. Hues of soft orange and yellow candlelight gently bounced and danced along the smooth curved walls of the cave. This, combined with the close comforting embrace of the cave walls around the dining tables, made for an exceptionally intimate and unique experience.
Catered by Frisco’s Grill, the meal began with a bottle of wine and a shared appetizer plate. Dinner was a choice of beef or chicken cooked in a delicious creamy mushroom sauce with a side of vegetables and potatoes. Over the course of the evening we were treated to live music by local talent who serenaded us with an acoustic guitar and a piano.
Not Just a Cave
This experience is more than just the novelty of dining in a cave. The staff makes a considerable effort and truly cares about the visitor experience.
This was especially evident with owner/operator Chris Hinsperger. He first began working at the caves when he was 12 years old, then returned again later in life to take over the business. His passion and pride for his staff, the Bonnechere Caves and the local area shines through and it’s clear he genuinely wants each visitor to have the best experience possible. You can expect the warmest welcome – he personally takes the time to meet and chat with every diner, something I have yet to experience elsewhere. In the words of Chris himself, you may be in the middle of nowhere, but you really are somewhere.
Dining at the Bonnechere Caves takes place twice a season and can be a tricky seat to get. Tickets go on sale after the Victoria Day long weekend and reservations are only made by phone if you are able to get through to a live person. The caves are also available to tour from May to October.
Special thanks to the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization for hosting us.