NOTL: What's happening? Recommendations for summer 2013?
- Lgalen Jun 11, 2013 09:05 AM
We'll be there again this summer, and want to show our friends why we love this area so much! I was disappointed to learn that Tony DeLuca closed his Wine Country Bistro, which we loved. I've heard that he's now at Niagara College's restaurant. Anyone have recent experiences there? Does one taste Tony's inspiration/influence in the food of his students? Should we try BENCHMARK?
We'll be back to STONE RD. GRILLE, and will probably go to RAVINE for lunch, if the weather cooperates. We're splitting our time between our favorite B&B, and also White Oaks, where our Living Social voucher includes meal credits. Has anyone been there this year? I guess that LIV and PLAY are their restos but haven't heard much about either.
Is there any word on TREADWELL'S move to NOTL? I'm hoping we're not going to get caught between the closing in Dalhousie, and the opening in NOTL. If so, (or even if not) we'll be looking for great new places to try, or those we've missed. I've read the older posts and know that the restaurants at Peller, Hillebrand, Vineyard and Strewn get high marks, but seem quite pricey, compared with the great food we've had at other places in NOTL.
I'm hoping that some of the local Chow Hounds will help me out, as they have in the past! TIA!
When are you going to be in NOTL and for how long?
You can never go wrong with Stone Road Grille. New chef de cuisine, still going strong.
Treadwell's is supposed to open on Queen St. on June 28. I believe their last service in Port Dalhousie is June 16, though I'm not positive on this date.
If you go to Ravine (one of my fave spots in the area) and you're not in the mood for a bistro meal, sit at the hearth bar outside and get one of their excellent pizzas. They make the pizzas on the spot and bake them in the wood-fired oven right there. Pizza and wine or beer overlooking the vineyards is not a bad way to spend your lunch.
Garrison House is a great wine country gastropub with the best burger and fries in the area. In a small plaza on Niagara Stone Road, where Tony DeLuca's last restaurant was. Other menu items are very good, too. A great option for a more moderately priced meal in the area.
The Pie Plate is a perennial favourite of mine, for their kickass pies, but also for a nice, inexpensive bite for lunch (pizzas, salads, quiches, sandwiches, awesome meat pies). They also happen to be across the street from Silversmith Brewery, one of the two new craft breweries to open in the last year. The other is Oast House, just down Niagara Stone Road. Both are worth a visit. Good stuff.
If you're here on a Saturday morning, go to the small, but vibrant farmers market at the Village (the same plaza where Garrison House is) and get breakfast from The Yellow Pear, a new and seriously excellent food truck that uses almost exclusively produce and products from local farms and artisans.
If you're here on a Wednesday night, get dinner at the SupperMarket, also at the Village. A great line up of food trucks and local food vendors. El Gastro, The Yellow Pear, Tide and Vine, Manual Labour Coffee, Hometown Ice Cream, Avella's wood fired pizza, Ravine (they serve up their AWESOME ribs and beans), Garrison House (serving up their burger and fries), Shriner's Creek Popcorn, and many more. It's a huge draw for locals and one of the highlights of my week.
If you're here on the first Monday of the month, go to the Earth & Sky music market at Chateau des Charmes. Food and music in the vineyard.
If you're here on August 11, go the SummerMarket at Stratus. Food trucks, crafty artisans and live music. Fantastic event in a gorgeous setting.
Do NOT patronize any of the charming-looking, but overpriced and poor quality restaurants on the main drag in old town (except for Treadwell's, of course). In addition to being not very good, several of them are de-listing wines from wineries that support food trucks (seriously). Totally uncool.
The restaurants at Peller Estates and Trius are still good for a splurgy meal. I prefer Trius, personally.
Terroir La Cachette at Strewn is supposed to be good, but I haven't been yet.
There are some very cool dinners planned during the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration July 19 - 21, including a BBQ dinner at Trius and Victor Barry (from Splendido) at Hidden Bench in Beamsville:
I haven't been to Benchmark, though it's on my to do list. I've gotten mixed reviews.
For location purposes, Garrison House, the Saturday morning farmers market and the Wednesday evening suppermarket are in the plaza with the Shopper's Drug Mart directly across from Jackson Trigg's winery.
If you like bigger, richer red wines than you can usually find in Niagara, do visit Colaneri and Foreign Affair. Both are owned by Italian families and both make appassimento and ripasso style wines. And if you are planning on visiting Dillon's distillery, Foreign Affair is right at the Victoria Street exit at the QEW.
If you venture into the Beamsville Bench area, there is a new walking trail that connects 7 of the wineries on the Bench:
We went to NOTL over the recent long weekend and had a couple of amusing moments.
We went to La Chachette on Sunday evening at 8 (okay we were 15 minutes late). The place was empty except for a few people finishing up ... who all exited shortly after our arrival. 8 wait staff and us :) There was no rush but there was an awful lot of cleaning up around us. Keep in mind that this was a long weekend and Monday was a holiday so we didn't really expect the early exodus. It gave us a chance to examine the room which is nicely decorated btw.
The food was pretty good (some salads, some excellent thin crust pizzas, and some well composed mains. The by-the-glass selection of wine was small and was served in heavy glass wine glasses rather than crystal. This happens to be a pet peeve of mine. I just didn't expect this at a vineyard. We were seated inside since the bugs apparently come out once the sun goes down. The view is lost at that time also. I think I would choose this place for a lunch rather than for a late-ish dinner.
We went to Inn on the Twenty for lunch ON Sunday and I would probably not return there to eat. The menu looked reasonable but the execution was lacking. For instance, my fresh pasta with pea puree and ricotta bland (see more on this below). The burger was pretty good.
We went to Stone Road Grill on Saturday night around 9-ish. The staff were wonderful and friendly although I think, maybe due to the long weekend, there were a few stand-ins for the regular staff. I had water poured on me from one side and sparkling wine splashed on me from the other. There were two plates lost on the way to peoples tables. It was kind of funny actually.
The other diners were all over the place. Young and old, romantics and party girls, dressed up and casual, affluent and maybe a little less so. Not really like Toronto where most places sort of converge on a single demographic. I liked the lack of pretence.
Loved the food. The oysters (three different kinds) were great and they had Cuvee Catharine by the glass ... such a cheerful sparkling rose. The chilled sweet pea soup was so good it killed the Inn on the Twenty Pea Puree dish the next day. The short rib was tender and served with kimchi style veggies. Kimchi is the one thing my SO does not like for it's taste but she actually liked the "non-Korean" milder version of it here.
I would definitely go back to the Stone Road Grill. Nice vibe, friendly staff, good service, great food.
Now all I need is a second spot that can compete so I don't have to go two nights in a row.
Glad you enjoyed Stone Road Grille -- still on my local favourites list!
The other place you should hit up next time is Treadwell. They just made the move from Port Dalhousie and are now right on Queen St. (main street) in old town. I went for the first time last night and very much enjoyed my meal. I thought the breads were a bit weak, but everything else was very good. I'm looking forward to going back and trying more of the menu, which they said will change every few weeks as the local produce changes. A notch up on the price ladder from SRG -- on the same order as the restaurants at Trius and Peller Estates. *And* they're on Open Table for reservations (very rare here!).
The other place you could try for a more casual meal is Garrison House. Great gastropub.
Thanks for the review of Terroir la Cachette. Sounds like a good lunch option.
We have been to the Garrison House on 3 occasions. I ordered the burger and loved the first one. The second, this summer was much smaller, dryer and not much better than a burger you could get from any restaurant. So when we went back again I tried a third burger thinking the second had been an aberration. But it was the same as the second and not worth getting off the highway for. I hope they get back on track soon.
Oh, and a shout out to Dillon's Small Batch Distillers. If you are a fan of spirits, they are a must visit on your way in or out of NOTL. From NOTL, take QEW to Victoria St. exit and take the service road a couple of kms to Tufford Road.
If you're there the first weekend in July, Lailey is holding their annual barrel burning barbeque from 12-4 on Saturday, July 6th. $20 for sausages, salads and wines, of which $10 is donated to a local charity. Tickets must be purchased in advance from Lailey.
Last Monday of each month: Whimsy Market at Southbrook. Similar in structure to Earth and Sky -- food trucks and other vendors and live music in the vineyard at Southbrook.
And the Earth and Sky event at Chateau des Charmes on Canada Day will run from 12 - 8, so if you're in town for the long weekend, this would be a great stop on your way out of town.
Here's one I'm looking forward to: John Placko is doing a popup liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour on the evening of July 27 at Willow Cakes and Pastries. I have a weakness for liquid nitro ice cream and the fun things you can do with it ever since my first experience with it at Colborne Lane years ago.
The ice cream parlour opens after a couple of hands-on workshops earlier in the day, if anyone is interested. They are 2 hours each and are at 11am and 2pm.
As I've posted before, John's workshops are a lot of fun and you get to eat what you make (my favourite part!).
Also, Treadwell's is now officially open on Queen St. in old town. My perfect evening on the 27th would be an early dinner at Treadwell's and a walk to Willow for the ice cream parlour popup for dessert.
Thanks for all the recommendations! We'll be in NOTL from Monday, July 29 through Thursday, Aug. 1. We'll definitely try Treadwells and Garrison House, and probably Stone Road Grille.
I'm sad to miss the pop up ice cream demo at Willow. That sounds great!
I'm still waiting for a comment about Benchmark. Anyone been there this year?
Also, someone we trust recommended Inn on the Twenty, but I see a recent dissenting opinion on CH. Any other opinions?
Again, thanks to all!
If anyone is going to NOTL and surrounding areas who has a Visa Infinite card (which includes the TD Travel Visa, etc) then be sure to log in at the Visa Infinite site and check out their offers. A TON of wineries are featured on their with free tastings and other offers for Visa Infinite cardholders