If you're in the Falls and want a Niagara-on-the-lake caliber meal, this is the place to go.
I had a late dinner last night at AG Bistro in Niagara Falls. I've eaten here once before and last night when I met with a friend (who likes good food)at 9pm , it was the only place that came to mind.
Don't get put off by the decor- if a place ever needed restaurant makeover it's this one. It's decorated like a boudoir in a Vegas hotel on Valentine's day (or, maybe we could just say that the colour scheme is patriotic??). I don't know what they were thinking, but it certainly could be improved upon...
The wine list is a careful selection of Niagara wines (100% local). I'm no oenophile, so when it comes to Niagara wines, I really like having someone knowledgeable about the region to select and suggest what I should try. AG does this well. The wines by the glass go from 10-12 dollars. We had the Malivoire Guilty Man (or Men) Red by the glass, which I quite liked and would get again.
The food emphasizes the local- with each dish featuring a few key flavours. And hey, if you're going to eat local in Ontario, Niagara is one of the smart regions in which to do so!
Because it was late, we skipped appetizers, and we both ended up having the same meal. They served us a malpec oyster amuse bouche and then we had a Toasted Almond and Brie crusted Beef Tenderloin Wilted lemon garlic greens, herbed rosti Foie Gras Red Currant Jus. It was really lovely- the meat was deliciously tender and cooked perfectly as ordered. The flavours were bold, but not overwhelming and they complemented each other.
I recently ate at Earth Bistro, which has a somewhat similar menu, albeit slightly more adventurous in terms of meats, and found the food to be overwhelmingly bold in an almost unpleasant way and I didn't find that the flavours melded together.
I think both restaurants are aiming for a similar tone, but AG does so with much more success, imho.
Dessert was a modestly sized lemon tart with a goat cheese ice cream which added a nice touch at the end of the meal. I would have loved to try their cheese plate, but my friend doesn't like cheese and I don't like eating a cheese plate alone...
The service was really great too. I remember from my previous visit that they were understaffed, but since we were one of only 2 tables in the place last night, this wasn't an issue. Our server knew the food well and answered questions ably.
They had a venison that looked great too- a reason to go back. I'll wait awhile though- it's not cheap (by my standards): A meal with 2 glasses of wine, appetizer and dessert is easily $100 pp.
BTW, the chef was sous chef at both Hillebrand and Peller (his bio said for over 10 years) and has worked at some of the premiere lodges and inns in North America.
In a sea of chain restaurants, AG is a wonderful respite. I don't know if it's worth driving from NOTL to dine there, but if you're in the Falls, you certainly don't need to drive to NOTL to dine well.