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Your perfect food day Toronto to Niagara

Hi,
My birthday is coming up and my husband and I have decided to take the day off from work and have a fun day of driving around (weather permitting!) and eating at places we haven't been. We live in Hamilton and would be prepared to go either from Hamilton to as far as Niagara and back, or from Hamilton to as far as Toronto and back, because obviously we'd want to do some visiting/shopping wherever we go.
Can anyone come up with a good "foodie" itinerary, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and maybe some afternoon goodies?
We're open to all cuisines and we aren't atmosphere snobs, so all suggestions are welcome.
Thanks in advance.

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  1. Okay I'll go first:

    Brunch at Studio Cafe in the Four Seasons, shop in Yorkville, dinner at either One or Pangaea.
    http://www.fourseasons.com/toronto/di...
    http://www.thehazeltonhotel.com/one_0...
    http://www.pangaearestaurant.com/pang...

    Breakfast at Zoulpy's, meander the St Lawrence Market for foodie gifts and a lunch of pork sandwich (bifana) from Churrasco, shop at The Eaton Centre, dinner at either Mengrai Thai or Weezie's.
    http://www.mengraithai.com/1.html
    http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2006...

    -----
    Weezie's
    354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

    Pangaea
    1221 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5R 3P5, CA

    One Restaurant
    116 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON M5R 1C2, CA

    Mengrai
    82 Ontario Street, Toronto, ON M5A 2V3, CA

    Zoulpy's Deli Restaurant - duplicate
    244 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: Googs

      Second option in particular is totally up our alley. Thanks so much. Will report back to CH on what we end up doing - b'day is end of month, so suggestions still welcome.

    2. Happy Birthday, foodiemommy! I'll give my best push for Niagara. It's a little tougher here, because a lot of the restaurants are closed at least 1-2 days a week, and often closed for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Your itinerary may change based on the day of the week that you visit.

      I would suggest that you head directly to Niagara-on-the-Lake. For breakfast, I'll suggest a few options:

      -For something upscale, the Charles Inn http://www.charlesinn.ca

      -For a delicious cafe, Willow Cakes & Pastries http://www.willowcakes.ca/index.html. This would also be a good bet in the afternoon.

      -For eggs, eggs, and more eggs in a quality family-style place, The Little Red Rooster at 271 Mary Street is great. Silks in Virgil (Hwy 55 at Creek Road) is also a good bet.

      Spend the rest of the morning enjoying the shops in NOTL. After 11, head to a couple of wineries (Lailey, Reif, Stratus, Niagara College Teaching Winery, and Coyotes Run are a few of my favourites). Don't miss deLuca's cheese shop on Hwy 55 near Stratus (bring a cooler to take home some great cheese and locally-cured meats).

      For lunch, stay in NOTL and try:

      -Stone Road Grille http://www.stoneroadgrille.com/index.... . A local favourite that has received wide acclaim, and with good reason. Go here if it is open.

      -The Epicurean http://www.epicurean.ca/ has a great salad, soup and sandwich counter at lunchtime.

      -Chef Tony deLuca opened the Old Winery Restaurant http://www.theoldwineryrestaurant.com/ earlier this year. They have wood oven pizzas, salads, and lighter fare at lunch in a beautiful, open-kitchen dining room.

      In the afternoon, if you are still in NOTL, have a pint at the Olde Angel Inn http://www.angel-inn.com/. It's a centuries-old, haunted tavern.

      As the afternoon comes to an end, drive down the Niagara Parkway toward Niagara Falls. Stop at the wineries along the way. If afternoon tea is your thing, I've heard good things recently about the Queenston Heights Restaurant, http://www.niagaraparks.com/dining/qu..., but I have not been there myself since the days that it was no more than a tourist trap. The view down the Niagara River is stunning.

      Drive along the Parkway to Niagara Falls, then head up Clifton Hill and work your way to Lundy's Lane. The Factory Outlet mall might be worth a stop. If you head west on Lundy's Lane it becomes Regional Road 20. About 15 minutes from the Falls, you'll hit the village of Fonthill, and Zest Restaurant http://www.zestfonthill.com/Index.html for dinner (closed Sunday and Monday). I live in Fonthill, so I've been there dozens of times, and I have to say I have never had a bad bite of anything there. I was at a dinner with clients in Toronto last week, and several of them had been to Zest and proclaimed it to be their favourite restaurant. These are people who eat out in T.O. all the time, too. It is simply a superb place, and certainly one of my favourite restaurants anywhere. I would suggest a reservation, and note that they will be closed the first week of January.

      To get back to The Hammer, stay on Hwy. 20, and either take it all the way to Mud Street (the Linc), or take Victoria Ave. (Hwy 24) up to the QEW about 8 kms west of Fonthill.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Gourmando

        This is great, I'm going to save it for the day I get a chance to do an NOTL tour. Thanks.

        -----
        Stone Road Grille
        238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

        The Epicurean
        84 Queen St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

        Charles Inn
        209 Queen, Niagara On the Lake, ON L0S1J0, CA

        Willow Cakes
        242 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

        Little Red Rooster
        271 Mary, Niagara On the Lake, ON L0S1J0, CA

        Silks
        Virgil, ON, Canada

        deLuca's Cheesemarket
        2017 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

        Old Winery
        2228 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara On the Lake, ON L0S1J0, CA

        Olde Angel Inn
        224 Regent St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

        Queenston Heights
        14184 Niagara River Pkwy, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

        Zest
        1469 Pelham St, Fonthill, ON L0S1E4, CA

        1. re: Gourmando

          Oh yes, I've heard of Zest but never been. Thanks for the rec.

          1. re: Gourmando

            @ Gourmando.... I live in Fonthill too!

            1. re: missmouse

              Aren't we lucky, missmouse! I had takeout venison osso bucco and risotto from Zest tonight. The lads even dressed it up with a little foie gras topper as a Christmas treat. I am so spoiled some days...

          2. If you're in Niagara, maybe hit up a winery or two that specializes in ice wines. Inniskillin does winery tours, the content of which is contingent on the season. Might be fun!
            http://www.inniskillin.com/en/winery/...

            NOTL might be okay at this time of year, but I find it to be a little kitschy and touristy. I prefer the Beamsville, Vineland, Jordan areas.

            And another vote for a bit of meandering around the St. Lawrence Market.

            Maybe also check out JS Bonbons or Soma for a little truffle and hot cocoa break!

            Have fun and happy bday!

            1. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433004 is an account of a romantic weekend i spent in niagara this summer

              if it's open (not sure if it's seasonal), i would highly recommend stopping at the Coach House Cafe at the Henry of Pelham winery. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/432993
              lovely lunch with yummy antipasto, etc.

              i would be remiss if i didn't mention dinner at On the Twenty http://www.chowhound.com/topics/432986

              happy exploring!

              1 Reply
              1. re: LemonLauren

                I'm pretty sure the Coach House Cafe is only open during the summer, but the Chef who oversees it, Erik Peacock, has a great restaurant in St. Catharines called Wellington Court.

                On the Twenty is also excellent.

              2. This is great! I think we are leaning towards going in the Niagara direction this time - husband likes to support the folks in Niagara, especially in the winter.
                Can't wait to try the Toronto food itinerary, too, though!
                Will report back end of the month.

                5 Replies
                1. re: foodiemommy

                  Although not has picturesque as NOTL, Port Dalhousie is worth a visit either on the way to or from NOTL - Treadwell's is great for lunch or dinner, http://www.treadwellcuisine.com/, and Anna Olson's place is great for a snack, dessert or take something to go http://www.olsonfoodsandbakery.com/.

                  1. re: mtj

                    I love Olson's, and I had a superb lunch at Treadwell earlier this week:

                    -Pingue 24-month prosciutto with shaved pear, parmagiano, lemon "confit" and arugula

                    -Cabernet Flour Gnocchi with fall mushrooms, truffle oil, Ermite bleu

                    -Crab "BLT" on brioche with Niagara Gold cheese and pancetta

                    -Hand-cut chips with rosemary sea salt

                    -A delightful melted cheese on baguette surprise from the kitchen

                    -Pecan bourbon butter tart with parsnip (!!) ice cream

                    Laughing Stock red and a Daniel Lenko late harvest helped to ease things down.

                    Simply a great meal.

                    1. re: Gourmando

                      Thanks Gourmando. That lunch sounds wonderful - tasty and creative. Recently I started a thread in which I was looking for opinions on Olson's. I went for the first time, and my review is on that thread.

                      1. re: foodiemommy

                        I saw your review about Olson's, foodiemommy, so that's why I steered you around Port Dalhousie this time ;-)

                        1. re: Gourmando

                          Very clever! We will go back to Olson's, too. I'll report back on the 29th.