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Our anniversary weekend in Niagara


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Our anniversary weekend in Niagara

arcticS | Aug 21, 2007 04:30 AM

I know, I’ve already seen a few posts regarding this past weekend in the Niagara wine region, but I couldn't resist discussing our experience.

My wife and I are by no means wine connoisseur’s. In fact, this was the first wine tasting tour we had ever experienced. After reading a few reviews here, as well as elsewhere on the net, I made an itinerary.

We left Toronto Friday night to stay at The Redwood Bed and Breakfast in Niagara falls. This was an exceptional establishment which I can’t say enough about. Our first experience staying at a B&B, and we weren’t disappointed in the least. The owners Joe and Carmella were very hospitable, and did a great job renovating their early 19th century property, while maintaining it’s original context. Along with Joe’s handy construction skills, he is an excellent chef. We had the opportunity of experiencing two breakfasts prepared by Joe, which we can easily say were both equally among the best breakfast’s we’ve had. Saturday morning, breakfast started promptly 8:30 am. French croissant with peach and blueberry jam was served while introductions between the other guests were made, followed by a fresh banana and strawberry smoothy and a fruit plate including cantaloupe and very sweet grapes. For the main course, Eggs Benedict covered in mozzarella cheese, accompanied by seasoned tomatoes, seasoned and baked homefries, Orange Juice and coffee. Sunday morning, we started with freshly baked raisin bread, pineapple and strawberry fruit plate, followed by a blueberry cup covered in yogurt. For the main course, shrimp omelette, baked zucchini and French toast sprinkled generously with icing sugar and fresh maple syrup. Both meals left us completely satisfied, as did every other aspect of our stay at the Redwood. Their location was on River Street in Niagara Falls, overlooking the Niagara Gorge. Approximately 20 minutes along the scenic Niagara Pkwy to Niagara-On-The-Lake and about 10 minutes to the Falls attractions.

Saturday after breakfast, we made our way to wine country to begin our tasting tour. Since this was our first wine tasting, we thought we’d stick to the larger vineyards, though in hind sight, we both wish we had visited smaller sized vineyards. We decided to visit Inniskillin, Peller Estates, Stratus and Jackson Triggs. Joe suggested we also visit Joseph’s Estate, and he gave us a coupon for free ice wine tasting. We enjoyed the tour and tasting at Inniskillin because they explained a lot of the basics to us, which aided us when tasting throughout the day. Since we had arrived at around 11 am, it wasn’t too crowded, so we were able to take our time while sampling. Peller Estates was a great experience mainly because the actual property was stunning and quite picturesque. The tour we decided to take focussed on their reds, and described the differences between their three main grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Again, quite an informative tour, at least for us amateurs.

Following Peller Estates, we decided to break for lunch at Epicurean, which I had read about on this site a number of times. We both had grilled foccacia’s. Grilled chicken with sun dried tomatoes and olive pesto in mine, and Portobello mushrooms, caramelized red onions and pesto in my wife’s. On the side, we had Mexican coleslaw. Overall, a tasty lunch, though, I’d have to say the portions were quite small, especially for the price. $7.95 for the foccacia, of which two would have just barely been filling for myself. The service, and the atmosphere was very nice, casual and comfortable. Overall, I would recommend it if you’re looking for a quick, tasty bite in a casual setting.

After lunch, we continued on to Jackson Triggs, which was the most pretentious winery we had been to, though the vineyard was beautiful, and we had a wine and cheese pairing which was a nice experience. Stratus was the only winery we hadn’t heard of prior to reading about it on this site. The property was small and simple, but sleek and trendy. We enjoyed their wine, but agree with a recent posting, that mentioned it was a little overpriced. Finally, Joseph’s Estate. The property was small and modest, but the staff was very courteous and helpful. We used the ice wine coupons, then tried maybe another 5 or 6 different wines, which were all pretty good. We weren’t charged anything for the tasting, and their wine prices were very reasonable.

Prior to leaving on our trip, I had made reservations at the almost fully booked, Stone Road Grill for 9 pm. The restaurant is situated in a small plaza, and appeared to be a fast food restaurant as their take out area was what was most visible from the parking lot. The signage read simply “REST To Go” or something similar, and had a glowing Pizza light in the window. When we entered the establishment, the décor was casual yet, trendy, inviting and very comfortable. Our table wasn’t ready yet, so we sat by the bar and perused the menu. Soon after being seated, our waiter brought us freshly baked sour dough and whipped butter. We decided on a bottle of 2005 Stratus Red. For a starter, we chose the Risotto with black summer truffle and parmesan cheese. For our main courses, my wife chose the Grilled Kobe Beef Flat Iron Steak Frites with Sauce Bearnaise and French Beans, and I opted for the Confit Duck Leg with Wyndym Weeds, Diablo jus and potato chips. For dessert, we selected the Cloudberry Crème Brulee with walnut drop cookies, and cappuccino with brown raw sugar. We were pleasantly surprised with every dish we were served. Each dish was exquisitely flavourful and perfectly prepared. The portions were appropriately sized, and the presentation was definitely eye pleasing. I would highly recommend the Stone Road Grille for anyone visiting the area looking for a delicious meal at a very reasonable price.

Stone Road Grille
238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

Eden Trattoria
1331 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6E1C2, CA

The Epicurean
84 Queen St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

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