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Niagara-on-the-Lake. 3 great dinners?

We'll be attending the Shaw Festival next month and would like recommendations for 3 great dinners. Like regional cuisine, fish, Italian or French. What are the best places for good drinks, food and wine with pleasant ambiance and good service?

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  1. My favourites:

    Charles Inn. An upscale Frenchish restaurant, but very elegant and with a fabulous duck entree (roasted duck breast on a bed of duck confit and vegetable hash with a butternut squash creme brulee - at least as of last Septermber). It's right on the main drag in downtown NOTL.

    Stone Road Grill. (Niagara Stone Road at Mary St.) Local cuisine, arguably the best food in NOTL. Not the most elegant restaurant, but still quite nice.

    Treadwell's in Port Dalhousie is quite good, although not up to the standards of the other two. I really liked the sommelier - very knowledgeable, and we had a nice discussion about some of the winemakers we both knew.

    1. Though not exactly in NOTL, but If you have a car, I would add Peller Estate and Hiilebrand to Ted's list as well!

      1. We visit NOTL on a fairly regular basis and it never ceases to amaze us how few great options there are for the types of meals you describe. The restaurant I can whole-heartedly recommend for having consistently delicious food and terrific service is Stone Road Grill. Consistency is important IMHO and unfortunately other options have been hit and miss for us.

        Southbrook Winery cares about their wine and food and once their pizza patio starts up, it's another wonderful option.

        1. Whatever you do stay away from the Shaw Cafe!!

          1. I will preface that this might sound strange however my SO and I have been frequenting NOTL for the past 10 years. We come by boat and stay at the yacht club at lease 3 times a year. My most favourite place to eat is the Angle Inn. It is old, haunted and pub food but great food for a relaxed dinner. My next recommendation is the Queen's Landing either Bar or dining room area. Again good food, good service and very enjoyable

            1 Reply
            1. re: juliewong

              Just back from NOTL. Last night ate at Tiara, the restaurant at Queen's Landing. Terrible service. Food - appetizers were okay, mains good but my beef was not hot enough (still warm so not worthy of sending back), the desserts were excellent but.....we arrived at 6:45 and it was over 30 mins before our pre-dinner drinks arrived. The guys left for a smoke so I had to give the orders (couldn't take chance of server having to come back). The mains didn't arrive until 8:35 ( I recorded the times as I wasn't sure if my dinner mates were being impatient). So almost 2 hours from arrival to eating main dish and the appetizers were delivered not much before the mains. Desserts ordered at 9 but they did arrive in good time. The server did apologize for the delays but no offer to make up for the delays.

              We did ask what caused the delay but server had no response. Considering the price and rating of the venue...I would not recommend it to friends.

            2. Definitely Peller Estates. We went a year ago in January and it was just perfect. Great food, top-notch but not stuffy service, and a lovely atmosphere. NB, if you're staying at one of the Vintage hotels (we were at Queen's Landing), they offer a complimentary shuttle bus service to most of the local wineries that have restos. Enjoy!

              5 Replies
                1. re: millygirl

                  @ millygirl. How is it? When did you eat there last?! Used to be very good and a favorite! Not just the food but the dining room as well. However, with so many chefs changing hand, too afraid to give it a try especially If making such a long trip from Richmond Hill! Rather prefer to sticking with the consistent ones like Peller, Hillebrand and Treadwell.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    ... used to really enjoy On the Twenty, but went as a small group (8) last summer and was VERY disappointed ... not bad food, just meh. The menu descriptions sounded awesome, but the flavour just wasn't there.

                    Would definitely pick Treadwell's, Stone Road Grill and Hillebrand (prefer their kitchen over Peller) ... and really like Ravine for lunch (now that About Thyme is gone), but haven't been for dinner.

                    1. re: CocoTO

                      I thought About Thyme had reopened at the beginning of June

                      1. re: bytepusher

                        yes, they announced their re-opening at the end of May ...

              1. I'll second (third?) the vote for Stone Road Grille. If you want the full "wine country dinner" thing, either Peller Estates or Hillebrand will give you that. I personally like the setting at Hillebrand better than Peller, but both are beautiful.

                Another good option is the restaurant at Ravine Vineyard. While the restaurant itself is quite casual and modern, the view is one of the prettiest in the area.

                1. Cannot recommend Stone Road Grille highly enough...we eat there every time we visit NotL and are never disappointed. We love Ravine as well, down in Saint Davids. I've heard good things about Peller but haven't tried it myself. Likewise La Cachette (at Strewn). For something simpler try the Olde Angel Inn (definitely a pub, but sometimes that's what you need after a full day of wine) or a wood-fired pizza at Southbrook (but that might be for lunch only).

                  Treadwell is a little west in Port Dalhousie, but it's a must-visit. If you find yourself even further west, in the Beamsville/Jordan/Vineland area, I'd absolutely recommend Vineland Estates. Good Earth was nice as well, especially for a casual lunch on the patio. I'm not sure whether About Thyme is still open or not...I'd heard they closed, but their website says they re-opened on April 20. We enjoyed our meal there a lot so hopefully it's still kicking. I was NOT impressed with On The Twenty (the duck? fantastic. the rest? not so much.) in Jordan, or Zooma Zooma cafe across the street (extremely slow service).

                  So if you don't mind a drive, I'd suggest Stone Road Grille, Treadwell and Vineland should be your three. If you want to stay close to NotL, then I'd say Stone Road Grille, Ravine and Peller.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ltdan

                    There is a definite trend here! We go once our twice a year and usually do one dinner at Stone Road Grille (always outstanding), one more casual dinner at the Angel Inn (good pub food, pints & live music) and one lunch at Ravine.

                  2. I'm going to generally agree with the other respondees but add a dimension. You mentioned 'food and wine' so I'll tip the scales based on wine. Treadwell's has by far the best wine selection at fair prices (for Canadian restaurants!). And the best sommelier. So use his skills - they have access to all (or most of) the small selections from all over the region.
                    Also, if a fine day, the patio is very enjoyable.

                    Of course, the winery restaurants only serve their own production.

                    Stone Road Grill would be on my list too - but I find their food more 'hearty' than sophisticated - and certainly service is on the friendly/casual side. Also a lesser wine list - ambiance is a challenge for me there though.

                    And be aware that most of the places require transportation - or a hefty cab fare - if you don't have a car I suggest you clarify to get more local places.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: estufarian

                      We'll have a car. We will not want any long or difficult rides however...we will be drinking some wine!

                    2. A quick follow-up to my post. We had our three dinners in NOTL and one was very good and two were outstanding. On our first night we at at Zee's Grill. It was getting close to show time, and Zee's was convenient. Our dinner was very good...competent service, a pleasant dining room and very good food. The two great dinners were at Stone Road Grille and Treadwell Farm to Table in St. Catharine. Stone Road is pretty much a local spot with great food and service. The atmosphere isn't anything much, and it's somewhat noisy, but the quality of the food more than make up for this. Treadwell's is another story...it's quiet, beautiful waterfront setting, tablecloths, nice glassware, etc. The service was also great at Treadwells...knowledgeable, friendly and Mr. Treadwell, Jr. is a terrific sommelier. The food is likewise impeccable...farm fresh, inventive, delicious...great! Both Stone Road and Treadwell are places that should not be missed.

                      We had excellent lunches at Hillebrand Winery (now called Trius at Hillebrand) and at the Old Angel Pub.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: josephnl

                        Nice, thanks for the report! I love Stone Road Grille, and Treadwell has been on my "to do" list for a long time. Time to get off my duff and eat there.

                        1. re: TorontoJo

                          Agreed with Jo. We love SRG, but have never made it to Treadwell because its a little out of the way for us and we always stay in the core of NOTL. We may have to make an exception some time. Thanks!


                        2. re: josephnl

                          Treadwells is one of my favourite in the area and I'm glad to see it's still great. It's been a year since I've been there. I haven't been to Stone Road Grille but I should try it next time when I'm in the area. Thanks for the report back!

                        3. Just returned from Shaw Festival and would concur with the recommendations of other Chophounders (thanks for the tips!).
                          Stone Road Grill. (Niagara Stone Road at Mary St.) was very good. We opted for the charcuterie appetizer and the smaller portions which were the perfect size. The food was excellent, and the wines interesting. The service was prompt, but well times. My only criticism is that it is a bit noisy and the decor was "busy".
                          Peller Estates was pretty close to perfect. We opted for the 4 courses with wine and all were excelellent. The Lobster Ravioli was a particular standout. We ate on the patio and, except for an uninvited mosquito, it was a lovely place to eat, overlooking the vinyard. Terrific food, excellent service.
                          We tripped over Willow Cakes and Pastries (on the corner of Mary and Niagara Stone Road, 2 doors down from Stone Road Grill.) AMAZING pasteries, cookies and croissants (especially the chocolate ones). I wish we could have sampled more items, but we took a number of things home with us. A really good breakfast!

                          1. One that hasn't been mentioned on this list is Terroir La Cachette. Located at Strewn Winery and serving French Provencal cuisine, it is another notable option in NOTL along with the others mentioned (SRG, Hillebrand, Treadwell's and Ravine).