Eating is one of my favorite things to do. I like food from all nationalities and enjoy trying new places and venturing out of the immediate area quite often.
Above is a nice photo of Redstone Winery. As I mentioned before, many of the wineries have great restaurants too. One of our favorite areas to visit for food, wine and general scenery is the Bench. This is the area of the Niagara Escarpment that is beyond St Catharines, taking in Jordan, Beamsville, Vineland, and Grimsby.
Back around Thanksgiving, we went for a scenic drive out that way, visiting Balls Falls Conservation Area. This is a great place to walk and see the falls, visit the little pioneer village and the Visitor Centre there.
Anyway, after that, we met with some friends and had booked Thanksgiving lunch at Redstone Winery in Beamsville. This winery is owned by the same people as Tawse winery just up the road. Redstone is a fantastic, contemporary building made of glass, stone, steel and wood – very open concept with soaring high ceilings and, most importantly, great food and wine!
Looking down the menu, it was tough to decide but after careful consideration and several orders of warm, fresh baked bread, I went for the Celeriac soup with smoked pear, rosemary and black pepper. To follow, the Beef short-rib on a bed of spätzle with onion, kale and goat’s cheese was a natural choice.
A side order of charred zucchini with preserved lemon, ricotta and mint completed my main course, washed down with a smooth 2012 Pinot Noir. The dessert selection was no easier but after a filling meal, a lighter Crème Brulee with fresh fruit compote was the perfect finish. A fresh cappuccino and it was all over.
A little further along the road is a great place called Memphis Barbecue Company. This retro 1950’s style diner does fantastic milk shakes. Everything here is big so go hungry!
If you love smoked meat, beef brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken or smoked rack of ribs, this is THE place. They also do fantastic buttermilk fried chicken, great burgers, hot dogs and the most amazing poutine. Loads of other options including a 1lb burger – yes, one pound! They have a license too so you can get a beer. This place was featured on TV a couple of years ago and they just keep getting better.
Driving back towards home, you will pass through the village of Jordan. Actually, you have to deviate very slightly off the main road but it is well worth it. Here, in the heart of the quaint little village is a café with an eclectic interior and a great outdoor seating area for the summer months.
Formerly the Zooma Zooma Café, it changed owners and names and is now Unwined Bean & Bistro. This great little place offers great Tapas. Items like Baked Brie with cranberry salsa or fresh baked flatbreads with assorted toppings, spicy roasted chicken with banana peppers, cheddar and spicy aioli are just a few of the items. My wife loves their strawberry and spinach salad goats cheese and almonds.
Whether you want a nice glass of wine, a cold beer, a refreshing iced tea or a great coffee, there is something here to please everyone.
When it comes to dining in and around NOTL, there is an overwhelming choice. So much choice, I am sure I would have to write a dozen pages and still not cover all the options!
My wife and I (and many of our local friends) love food so we try to have a nice meal out at least once a week. Not always expensive places. In fact, we would run out of spare cash pretty fast if we only went to the fancy places so we tend to mix it up a bit. For example, a new pizza place opened a few months ago – Pieza Pizzeria.
This little place has a few tables and does mainly pizza but not your usual pizza with mass produced ingredients. These are hand-made, artisanal pizzas Napoletana (Naples style) with high quality meats, produced by a well-known local purveyor of sausage, prosciutto, hams, etc.
High quality mozzarella and tomato sauce or white pizza options are available and these thin crusted crisp pizzas are baked in an authentic pizza oven. They do take-out but also have a liquor license so if you want a Peroni or a nice Chanti, no problem! Located just off Queen Street, it is nice and central.
My wife and I are originally from the UK so occasionally, we like to go to the pub and have some traditional pub food and beer. Of course, us Brits are known for liking meat pies and warm beer in dark old pubs.
In many ways, the Olde Angel Inn on Regent Street near the centre of town fulfills all the requirements. It is a real pub, originally built in 1789 (it has been re-built several times but was spared from being burned down during the war of 1812 – it seems the Americans liked the beer! There it is in the photo below.
The dark interior with big old wood beams and stone fireplace all add to the charm and the line-up of ales such as Hobgoblin, London Pride, Tennants and Speckled Hen along with many good domestic beers all helps to add to the atmosphere. The beer is still a bit too cold for me but you can’t have everything!
The menu, amongst many things, offers traditional fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, fish pie, steak & kidney pie and many other options. Live music several nights a week completes the scene and this place can get very busy!
If you want to splash out on some fine dining, there are many options. One of my clients was so grateful to me for helping them find their dream home after a year of searching, they offered to treat us to a meal at Peller Estates. This is one of the grander wineries on the edge of town. The impressive building has a wonderful, luxurious dining room where the service is impeccable.
Having run my eye down the menu, I decided to go for the Icewine Duck Foie Gras served with caramelized apple, icewine grapes and honey pollen brioche. There was a Muse Bouche to follow before the main course of Cabernet Duck Breast served with chestnut gnocchi, poached duck egg and honeynut squash.
A nice bottle of Shiraz accompanied our meal then to follow, for dessert, I opted for the Pistachio Mousseline with Cranberry Curd, Pistachio Crunch and Cranberry Pistachio Tuile. Finishing off with a double espresso and a glass of Grand Marnier, I felt the evening could not have ended any better.
Another wonderful experience that is popular with locals and tourists alike is the Afternoon Tea at the famous Prince of Wales Hotel. The hotel fist opened in 1864 and has always been popular but the Afternoon Tea is something special.
There is the fine tea served in quality china, of course, then there is a selection of gourmet hand-made sandwiches prepared on fresh bread, a selection of fine pastries, hand crafted by the pastry chef, then home baked scones with strawberry jam, Devonshire cream and butter. Do not come here if you are on a diet! All in all, a fantastic afternoon experience and one I would highly recommend.
There are a few other great places in this little village, but more of that in another article! Now, it is time for some exercise to burn off some calories…
If you want to know more about the Niagara-on-the-Lake area or about real estate in NOTL, don’t hesitate to contact me.