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Oct 15, 2007 06:56 AM

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Family Dining--NOT!

I was at a business conference in Niagara Falls this weekend and was able to bring the family. After a couple of days of buffet food I decided to skip the lunch on Sunday and take the gang into Niagara-on-the-Lake as we going through there anyway. The hotel buffet, while provided gratis by my employer, was inoffensive if bland, so why not a special treat to cap of the weekend on Dad, eh?

We decided to go to a restaurant friendly to kids that we had eaten at a couple of time before over the years, Estria. Oh, God, what a mistake.

I'm not sure what happened to the kitchen, but the food that came out had been put through a de-flavourizing machine. Soups from cans (lentil soup and veg soup are the same thing apparently, chicken from pouches, dry turkey...All we ordered were two clubs, and two chicken pitas; the 10 year old had the fries and the rest subed in soup for a $2.00 a piece extra charge. The wife had a glass of wine ($9.00 and small!) and the boys and I all had Shirley Temples which turned out to be near $4.00 a pop; who knew 7-UP, orange juice and grenadine could be so expensive--had Warren Buffer cornered the syrup market?

For all this dry toast and spongey pita eating the bill came out to $85.00...'Incroyable', as the French might say. So like a good Canadian I paid the bill, quitely fumed but only dropped half of the 15% I usually do (more if the food's great). The service was fine so the barb was aimed at the kitchen. And the place was full folks.

So those with families, look around a bit more if find yourself if this admittedly Twilight Zone tourist trap (cue spooky music here)...The place looks pretty but hides terrible secrets. If you have any alternatives in this locale I'd like to know about them. Diner beware.

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  1. We spent 4 beautiful days at Niagra-on-the-Lake and Estria was the only mistake we made. I agree with you, Kennzer, it was an expensive lesson. However, I did listen to a number of Hounds who recommended wonderful places, including Old Angel Inn and Zee's. We found a new Tony DeLuca bistro - the Old Winery - which offered fresh pizzas, delightful salads and boasted of a beautiful outdoor patio which is kid-friendly. I won't let one clinker meal stop me from returning!

    8 Replies
    1. re: North Oakland Gal

      Thanks, I'll keep these places in mind. Good to know. K

      1. re: North Oakland Gal

        Glad you enjoyed the Olde Angel Inn. I always recommend that place. It's on every trip Mrs. Sippi and I make.


        1. re: Davwud

          Like most tourist hot spots, the majority of restaurants in NOL exist to rip visitors off. The Angel Inn has a loyal(and local) customer base, and the food, while not overly exciting, is of reasonable quality and reasonably priced. Good range of beers. Always a safe bet. The Inn is also a period building and is attractive and atmospheric.

          1. re: Redscouser

            I have to respond to Redscouser's comment to stick up for the NOTL restaurants that offer excellent value for money in their categories. Sure there are tourist traps, but smart tourists can avoid those. As a Niagara boy, and depending on the occasion, I would be pleased to go to any of the following: The Epicurean, Stone Road Grille, The Little Red Rooster, The Charles Inn, Zee's, Restaurant Tony de Luca, and as Redscouser mentioned, The Angel Inn. Within the wider geographic bounds of NOTL, The Pie Plate, Niagara Culinary Institute, and Liv are also good bets.

            It's worth noting that until Kennzer's post, this local had never even heard of Estria.

            1. re: Gourmando

              We also had a nice meal at The Anchorage. I think they underwent new management a few years ago because they used to get terrible reviews online and of late, have been much better.


                1. re: Gourmando

                  Wish I had seen this thread 10 years ago. Have suffered though several sub-par meals on our annual visit to NOTL, but have to say that the Stone Road Grille in particular and the Angel Inn are making up for the lost years. Thanks for the other suggestions.

              1. re: Davwud

                Will make note of this. Thanks. K

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