I'm interested in the non-winery restaurants in/near town. Stratford (thanks perhaps to great chefs' school) sports many excellent eateries. Inn on the Twenty aside does anyone have reliable favorites in the home of the Shaw?
"12" in Port Dalhousie, St.Catharines a 10 min drive from NOTL is pretty good, by the same owners as "on the twenty". This restaurant is on the water, nice simple clean decor, and the prices are cheaper but the food is equally as good! I would avoid any of the restaurants on the Queen street strip. They are tourist traps to say the least. The oban inn just a few streets from the main street has a great menu as well, have been there many times with never a dissapointment. I have found the lunch menu to be of better value then the dinner, with more then ample and delicious proportions.
re: blonde girl wonder
Zest in Fonthill is also excellent...relatively new and slightly off the beaten "wine route" path but well worth the drive. The open kitchen concept is fun to watch, great service and excellent food.
Wellington Court in St. Catharines is also good and has a loyal local following for lunch and dinner. The mother (owner)/son (chef) team always deliver a quality meal and a strong list of Niagara wines.
If you want to stay closer to Niagara-on-the-Lake, check out Vineyard Cafe at Hillebrand Winery -- always excellent food. The chef offers a "taste Niagara" plate (something along those lines) which features three small mains all sourced from suppliers within a few kilometers of the restaurant.
For good pub grub, check out the Angel Inn located in downtown Niagara on the Lake...they usually have their own label beer on tap as well as other local/regional breweries.
I would second the recommendation for Zest. I've posted below a link to a detailed review that I did awhile ago, but I can say that I have been back several times since then, and I continue to be blown away. We had a private party there for my son's baptism a couple of weeks ago, and the meal and service were superb.
I enjoyed Twelve, which was mentioned by someone else, and I would also recommend Stone Road Grill on Hwy. 55 if Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is a current favourite of locals, and not well-known to tourists.