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Restaurants in Niagara-on-the-Lake

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I'm looking for a fantastic restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake for an intimate girls-weekend before my wedding. Originally I had wanted to check out Pellar Estate or Hillebrand for one of their tasting menu dinner events but none are scheduled to happen that fit my schedule.

Anyone have any thoughts/feedback on where to have a great dinner? Price is not a concern. I'm looking for fantastic food. fantastic atmosphere.

I heard the restaurants at Pellar Estate and Hillebrand are great. Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I will be going in July.

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  1. I'll make my old standby recommendation for NOTL -- Stone Road Grille. Fantastic food (with a very local focus), great service, casual/cozy/funky atmosphere. And a great way to sample a bunch of different local wines. Don't let the exterior and location in a small plaza turn you off, it's one of the best restaurants in the area.

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

    8 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Second this recommendation. Excellent food, professional service, very accommodating. The best value in the area, in my experience, and I've never read a negative review of the place.

      http://www.stoneroadgrille.com/

      1. re: Full tummy

        I also enjoyed the Stone Road Grille - BUT I really don't think it has much atmosphere - reminds me more, in decor, of a 'Family restaurant'. So, IMO it falls short on 'atmosphere'.
        But about 20-30 mins west (along the lake) is Treadwell's Farm To Table Cuisine - well worth the detour for excellent food and definitely more atmosphere.

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

        Treadwell
        61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

        1. re: estufarian

          I 2nd Treadwell's. One of may standard faves in NOTL.

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          Treadwell
          61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

          1. re: estufarian

            Family restaurant? I can see that from the dull exterior, but not the interior... Perhaps my definition of family restaurant decor is altogether different than yours. When I think family restaurant, I think of something that looks like a Golden Griddle, and Stone Road Grille is definitely not that. I have eaten at Treadwell's, and while I thought the food was good, I have to say I found the overall experience at Stone Road Grille to be much more enjoyable. Where Treadwell's feels a little cold (despite its wonderful surround), Stone Road Grille feels more intimate. To me, Treadwell's is also a little off the beaten track...

            Anyway, for the OP, here's an interior picture of Stone Road Grille: (more can be found on the Internet)
            http://www.torontolife.com/features/b...

            And Treadwell has images on their website:

            http://www.treadwellcuisine.com/galle...

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

            Treadwell
            61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

          2. re: Full tummy

            I really wanted to like Stone Road Grille, especially with all the strong recommendations on this board. But I've gone twice now and I was let down both times. The first time I went, their braised short ribs were just really underwhelming and uninspired. A couple of my friends ordered their steak frites medium rare, which came well done and had to be sent back. They were kind enough to give us 2 desserts on the house, though.

            The second time I went, my Pulled Pork Risotto with Crispy Carrot Chips was far too salty, to the point that it was a chore to finish, and I'm not one that's sensitive to salt. The "crispy carrot chips" were quite soggy, so I wonder how long it was sitting there. My entree was the Charlie Baker fried chicken, which in contrast was totally bland.

            Finally, for dessert we ordered the selection of fruit sorbets. They advertised 6 flavours: blueberry, pear, concord grape, grapefruit, etc. Turns out they left out a couple of the flavours and instead gave us duplicates of the others instead. By the time we realized it, we'd eaten about half of it so we didn't bother saying anything.

            In contrast, I loved our lunch at Hillebrand, and though Treadwell didn't blow me away, I thought it was solid enough and would go back there before returning to REST.

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

            Treadwell
            61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

            1. re: Full tummy

              My wife, myself and our little 1 year old boy went to SRG yesterday afternoon to finally see in person what this place was all about.

              The atmosphere as TorontoJo posted was casual/cozy/funky, with the black and red décor, which we loved.

              To start we ordered a large Caesar salad to share and a side Asparagus soup for me. Upon receiving our salad we noticed that they sent out a side salad along with the soup, we didn’t say anything and figured that the server may have just misunderstood and assumed that each of us wanted our own side, no big deal. Salad was delicious, with garlic infused croutons and real crispy bacon, the soup was creamy, sweet with pieces of asparagus frites in it. My wife doesn’t like many creamy soups, but after tasting mine she was regretting not asking for a bowl herself.

              We asked our server for a glass of warm water so we could mix some of our son’s cereal and feed him before our mains came out, after waiting what seemed like 10mins, we just mixed his cereal with some of the cold water we had on our table, needless to say we never got the warm water we had asked for.

              Our mains finally came out – my wife had the Thai Chicken salad sandwich which she loved. It was HUGE and full of big pieces of chicken, mixed with sprouts and a peanut sauce. I had the Steak frites, which was cooked to perfection. The fries were also delicious, made from fresh cut potatoes.

              Now, here’s were this trip to SRG became memorable – When we first arrived I was a little apprehensive in taking our little guy with us, b/c I figured the restaurant would be full and this place probably wasn’t the best place to take him. We walked in and noticed only 3 tables (2 tables of 4 and a table of 2), so we said we’ll give it a shot seeing as how it wasn’t very busy. We were greeted by our server who asked if we had a reservation, which we didn’t, but looking around I don’t understand why he asked it wasn’t busy and the place was practically empty. He sat us down gave us some time to look over the menus and then came back to take our drink and meal orders. Shortly after the apps. arrived and asked how things were going a table of 8 walked - this is when our service went downhill. After feeding our 15month old (with cold) cereal, our meals were served to us from another waitress/runner. By now our son was getting a little “antsy” and we were trying to finish up as quickly as we could. We noticed our server was spending a lot more time with the table of 8 and another table of 4 (probably b/c they had reservations!?) which had ordered wine and is why I’m sure he was spending a lot more time with them (up sell, up sell, up sell!), but this doesn’t give him the right to totally ignore us…he never came over to ask how the food was or if we needed more drinks. After we finished our meals my wife took our son out to the car and I waited to pay the bill. After waiting 10-15min. our server finally came by and asked if I wanted the bill – to my surprise and sarcastic tone I told him that I was surprised that he even remembers we were there. I told him that we were disappointed in the service and it was the worst I have ever had. I’ve worked in the hospitality/restaurant in the past and this by far was TERRIBLE by any standards and nowhere near professional. I also mentioned to him that it was very unfortunate that a place like SRG gets great reviews about their food and such, that it had to be tainted by the terrible service he provided – he apologized and was beginning to use the age old excuse of “very busy and understaffed, etc…” This was totally not the case; it was really about focusing on the larger table(s) that were ordering the wine. I know this isn’t a forum to display my distaste on something other than the food (which was fabulous), but I feel it’s more of a “buyer beware” in this case. I’m sure I’ll go back, but next time I’ll be sure to make a reservation and order some wine!

              1. re: htownca

                Aww, I'm sorry to hear about your bad service experience. I've always found the service there to be excellent -- friendly, but professional and knowledgeable. On the other hand, I don't think they handle groups well, as a bunch of us once tried to go as a large group (10 or so) and they wanted to force us into a fixed menu, which we most definitely didn't want. We chose another restaurant as a result. That was unfortunate, but it's still a favourite of mine. I hope you have a better experience if you choose to go again.

                1. re: htownca

                  That's too bad. Hubby and I are not big wine drinkers, and we had excellent service during a busier time our last visit. The couple at a table adjacent to ours had their one year old along with them, and they were very welcomed by the staff. I suspect you had bad luck with a server who is either inexperienced or in need of a reminder that every customer deserves to be well-treated (which it seems you gave him). I hope your tip reflected your dissatisfaction... Do try again; you shouldn't have to order wine... And I suspect the reservations issue is really just a logistic thing... many people make reservations, so when anyone walks in, they want to check if they're already in the book... If they can get the service right, with food that great, it's a gem when it all comes together.

            2. Treadwell's definitely fits your requirements. Food is amazing and its intimate since its right along the water

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              Treadwell
              61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

              9 Replies
              1. re: dichotomy

                Thanks for all the feedback. But I was wondering if anyone's tried the bigger winery restaurants such as the one in Pellar Estate or Jackson Trigg or Hillebrand? Any thoughts?

                1. re: foodlandian

                  It's been over three years now, but I recall having a lovely meal at Hillebrand. But those are just vague impressions now. You can see my meal here:
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/s...

                  Don't hold your breath for those "detail comments"! They're on the menu somewhere... but the question is where...!

                  I had also a good lunch at Peller, but no photos to share. They're both really nice spaces from what I recall.

                  I liked my meal at both Treadwell and Stone Road Grille, but I like the atmosphere at Treadwell better. I should have photos from both.

                  ---
                  http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

                  1. re: foodlandian

                    Had lunch at Hillebrande a couple months ago. Their menu is a different now, but had the digby scallops which was really nice, as well as their pan seared whitefish. SO had the burger which was good but a bit difficult to eat. I really liked their fries. The dessert was some kind of candied pecan chocolate tart which was pretty decent for a lunch prix fixe. I also really enjoyed the bright sunny dining room.

                    1. re: foodlandian

                      I have had dinner (tasting menus) at both Hillebrand and Peller.. I think the food was slightly better at Peller (had one of the best dishes I have ever had there) BUT I liked the service at Hillebrand better.. I felt really rushed at Peller (I basically had to chug my wine pairings because the courses/wine was coming so fast). But both are really great in my experience.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        My first suggestion would have been both Peller and Hillebrand- they are fabulous...I love both of them. Too bad you can't do them this time. Although A la carte would be wonderful too.
                        But, I second Stone Road Grill- I've been hearing good things- but never been able to go- it has always been closed- we must have bad timing!

                        Other suggestions outside of NOTL but in the area would be Inn on the Twenty in Jordan or a restaurant called AG in Niagara Falls- we were really impressed with it- funky vibe in a boutique hotel, great local food, upscale presentation and service, and a great wine list/sommelier.

                        I went to Treadwells for a charity function- and was not impressed... the food was okay at best.

                        As long as you stay away from the main strip in NOTL you will be okay- it has really gone down hill in the past few years.....

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

                        Treadwell
                        61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                        Inn on the Twenty
                        3836 Main Street, Jordan, ON L0R 1S0, CA

                        1. re: shariberri

                          Also have been to Stone Road Grill and while it is a very different experience from Peller and Hillebrand (not a tasting menu, its more casual), the food is really fabulous. I will be going again this summer for sure.

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

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            I'd second Peller -- I had one of the best dinners I've ever had in Canada there. Sadly, though, it's not an option so let me suggest the Oban Inn -- I've been there twice and found the atmosphere to be great though both times were out of season and so it was quieter. I had one meal when Tony Deluca was cooking and one last year after he'd left and thought both were rather well done.

                            If atmosphere is important though then this is a very good choice.

                            1. re: tikiliberationfront

                              Peller is a definite choice to keep in mind - excellent service, exquisite food, wonderful dining room. Stone Road Grille is also a favourite - service is great, food is wonderful, the dining room is smaller, but funky decor. Never been to Oban Inn, but have heard wonderful things. Another suggestion would be Charles Inn - had the tasting menu there, including wine. The server we had was very knowledgeable about wine and how it accents the food, the dishes were excellent, the atmosphere was intimate. Mind you, the times I've eaten in NOTL, it's been "off-season."

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

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

                      2. re: foodlandian

                        Peller is very good, probably the best. Very high end, good food service and wine. I was there recently. Happy!
                        Inn on Twenty is another favourite of mine. I like the atmosphere and the town.
                        I also recommend Treadwell's though I do not love the decor. Food was good , but I only went once. Vineland etates is pretty, lovely view, but I can't recall the food.

                        -----
                        Treadwell
                        61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                    2. We are just back from 2 nights in Niagara on the Lake. We normally go to Pellers (one of my favourite experiences in the area) but we were staying in Jordan and didnt want to worry about drinking and driving the first evening so we chose On the Twenty. The service was fantastic, the food was very good but didnt wow us at all like we are always wowed at Peller. Pellers room and food exceed On the Twenty hands down.

                      Last night we went to Stone Road Grille. I must say the service and the food were terrific. Its more of a funky, casual atmoshere over the sometimes pretension of the vineyard restaurants. My husband had the duck and I had the roasted halibut. Both were delicious and loved the choice of wines in 3 or 5 ounces or 1/2 litres. Would definitely go back.

                      But for a combination of atmosphere, great food and service, I would go to Peller regardless of the tasting menu being available.

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

                      On the Twenty
                      3845 Main St, Lincoln, ON L0R, CA

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: breezey

                        I have found On the Twenty to be disappointing and over-priced. I had a magical experience there about 12 years ago, but it has never lived up to that again.

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                        On the Twenty
                        3845 Main St, Lincoln, ON L0R, CA