Just like every other typical day in Niagara, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was at a comfortable 24-26 degrees. Whip out your shades because it’s time for a road-trip!
Being a passenger is such a joy. While dad was concentrating hard on the road and the erratic GPS system, I was happily lapping up all the picturesque views on the way, occasionally snapping my camera of course. I just adore the colonial looking houses and their neatly manicured lawns, don’t you?It’s such a pleasure to see the horizon for once and look at the azure sky without having any buildings in the way- feels a lot like being in a snowglobe!
Niagara- On- the-Lake is a historic district built according to a grid-pattern featuring structures mainly built according to British architectural tradition. This place used to be a prominent and prosperous town, and still looks a lot like one, thanks to restoration works in the 1950s. Lots of brightly colored flowers like the one taken above line the streets.
The first of the many yellow schoolbuses that I spotted! Doesn’t it remind you of the Magic Schoolbus?
Before arriving, I did some research on Niagara and found a couple of restaurants that served food using ingredients sourced locally. One of them was in the Prince of Wales Hotel and upon further enquiry, we realized that this hotel is a revered institution in Niagara-On-the-Lake. We dined inside Churchill Lounge, which proudly promised on its menu that all the ingredients were sourced for locally.
Ice wine, a local specialty in Niagara. It’s really really sweet, a lot like grape juice concentrate (okay maybe it’s a little less sweet than that) just with a lot more complex flavours! More about this great wine in another post!
Fish and Chips- Baffin Island Turbot with fresh yukon chips and homemade tartar sauce ($16)
” Is Baffin Island near here?”
” Hmm… not really, but it’s part of Canada. The fish is really fresh though, they just caught it and sent it over.”
Mum loved every bit of her fish and chips, from the well battered fish that went ‘crunch’ on every bite to the crispy yukon chips that exhibited a fluffy interior that was so darn fragrant. Yes I helped myself to her mains so I can describe it pretty well. And surprise surprise, the whole thing’s not oily at all- helps with the whole ploy of trying to convince each other that this is a healthier choice relative to the usual fish and chips in sg.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup+ Yukon Chips are matchmade in heaven, seriously. Bet the duck in the Heinz commercial would have loved to be dipping one of our yukon chips into his ketchup!
Lobster Poutine- Pomme Frits, Cheese Curds and Bearnaise Sauce ($18)
Our waiter warned dad that the dish was pretty rich because of the Bearnaise Sauce, which he claimed to be a lot like Hollandaise sauce.
” It’s pretty darn rich sir but really really good. I love it, it’s my favourite dish here.”
And that was enough to convince my dad. It’s a good thing we were mentally prepared of what was to come because it was really very very rich! Bottom layer starts with fries doused in lots of mozeralla cheese, topped off with some jus which tasted like onion soup to me, another layer of fries and this time Bearnaise sauce with chunks of Lobster inside. Did I mention that the lobster was caught just a few miles away? Very rich but the not so big portion made everything easier to stomach. Dad prefered mum’s yukon chips though because most of his got soggy due to the jus and the cheese.
Almond Crusted Chickpea and Coriander Pita- Iceberg, Sweet Bell Peppers, Bermuda Onion, Cucumber & Carrot with a Mango Jalapeno Mayo
My dish may look super healthy ( and it is) but it does not compromise on flavour at all. Everything’s fresh, really fresh. You can feel it in raw veggies when they are fresh- they are crisper, juicier and tastier. I was busy munching away, feeling like a contented greedy rabbit that had been deprived from fresh veggies for ages ( which is not that far from the truth really besides the bit about being a rabbit 0.0). The almond crusted chickpeas seemed a lot to me like deep-fried hummus, as odd as it sounds. Dipping it in the tangy mayo further accentuated the flavour of the whole assemble. My mains came with a lot of salad leaves, a mixture of wild rocket and others that I can’t identitfy coated with a thin layer of olive oil. The parents being heavily in need of something to appease the guilty conscience of eating so unhealthily happily took generous helpings of my salad commenting that the leaves were very very fresh and even the wild rocket did not have the bitter aftertaste that is encountered so often.
” Of course it’s fresh, the vegetables are all from local farms in Niagara. ” our waiter said as he refilled our glasses of ice water.
I love it when I know where my food comes from, it makes the eating experience a whole lot more intersting no?
For dessert we were courteously ushered to plump cushioned sofas. The waiter felt it would be more comfortable there instead of sitting at the table.
Almond Rhubarb Baklava served with Poppy seed Ice cream
Everything about this dessert was so good. The Baklava had my all time favourite ground almonds mixed with the tiniest pieces of rhubard all stuffed in layers of phyllo pastry. The whole thing’s really sweet but the flakiness of the pastry that was served piping hot made it light and very addictive. Paired with the cold poppy seed ice cream which is really no different from regular creamy vanilla ice cream, it was phenomenal. I wished I had more space for desserts because everything sounded so novel and good on the dessert menu. We later learned from dad’s friend that this place is great for a teatime dessert snack- no surprises here!
The whole decor of the place is so english that even the toilets had sinks and toilet bowls with intricately painted flowers such as this. I wanted to take a photo of the toilet bowl but decided against it since it was rather disconcerting to do so -.-
I rarely find meals that are good consistently for every course. From the mains to the desserts, everything was professionally executed and the range of ingredients was just mindblowing. It suddenly dawned on me how lucky Canada was to be blessed with good soil and waters that bred so many different types of seafood.
Service here also deserves extra mention for being so friendly and unpretentious. The waiter took time off to come and chat with us about icewines in the area, and related how one of the brands actually started a competition in his school etc. Maybe it’s just me but people here seem much friendlier as compared to people just across the border.
Niagara-On-the-Lake is also a surprisingly great place to shop. We had fun browsing though clothes on sale trying to find a good bargain, buying interesting homemade jams like raspberry rhubarb and looking at other people eat and munch away at the many alfresco eateries around. This is such a charming town and should certainly not to be missed when you are in Niagara!