With lots of pre-opening hype, I had been prepared to have unfulfilled my heightened expectations when I tried Treadwell for the first time on Saturday night. Instead, Mrs. G. and I were treated to a marvellous meal that went off without a hitch, presented by polished and confident staff who made it difficult to imagine that the restaurant had been open just 10 days.
After the disappointing demise of Twelve in Port Dalhousie (St. Catharines), it was great to hear that Stephen Treadwell (former Chef de Cuisine at Auberge du Pommier in Toronto, and Executive Chef at Queen's Landing in NOTL) and his son James (one of Canada's youngest sommeliers) were planning to take over the beautiful space. Port Dalhousie has always been a difficult place for higher-end restaurants, as the area has a reputation as attracting a younger "get-drunk-get-lucky" crowd. The Treadwell space is truly lovely, with windows all along the dining room giving views of the old Welland Canal and spillway from Martindale Pond. Hopefully, superb recent additions to Port Dalhousie such as Olson Foods and Treadwell will complement existing stalwarts like Marie's to help steer more hungry people to this beautiful lakeside locale.
Treadwell's concept is relatively simple: Fresh food, locally sourced, prepared with care. However basic that may sound, the execution is brilliant. We are blessed to have many superb farmers and producers in Niagara, and it is wonderful to see a menu that includes a list of them, and preparations that are intensely focussed on their products. The menu will change bi-weekly, and is available on their website (link below). Dinner is a three-course prix fixe menu($48), that provides both variety and interest. Particular highlights included the Pressed Duck Confit and Parsley Terrine With Ice Wine Preserve Rhubarb and Toasted Sour Dough (with the additional $8 foie gras supplement: What the heck!), and the Local Organic Golden and Chioggia Beets, Tossed in Saffron with Smoked Ricotta, Hazelnuts, Dill and Niagara Vinegar. Desserts and mains were also solid, as was the complimentary asparagus foam amuse. Finally, the wine list is an intelligent balance of Niagara's best alongside strong choices of old- and new-world selections from around the globe.
With all that water around, it is not surprising that Treadwell has made a big splash. I hope that the ripples are felt far and wide.