I went through some old threads on the Canada and Toronto boards and picked a few places I wanted to try. Naturally we didnt get to all the suggestions and likely looking places.
We had dinner at Carpaccio in Niagara Falls and a late lunch at Lakehouse in Vineland. Both were plenty good. Well above average in comfort zone, food, and service. If I were in the area, these would be on our regular list. Did not make it to Casa Mia, darn it. Did learn a valuable lesson. Do not eat chocolate tort with ice wine. It made for a three Mylanta evening!
We also got to Tony de Lucas at the Oban Inn and REST Stone Road Grill. These two places are clearly on different planets from others.
At Tony de Lucas you get sophisticated presentations of creative preparations. Carrot-Ginger Soup for example. We got there just after the end of lunch service; they were willing to accommodate us to some snack fare. The next day we got there just before noon, but were seated. The lunch menu is a tasting menu of small servings. Its a lot like ordering several appetizers in stead of an entrée. How about Kobe beef served on a sourdough bun (small) with some greens and potatoes. The desserts are even more creative and elegantly served.
At REST Stone Road Grill you have to bring your sense of whimsy. This joint would be an in place in NYC or San Francisco. Everything is off kilter. Like our table. It was a standard four-top, except that one corner was cut off and butted up against the bar. Made it a table for two. A trip to the rest room is well, a trip. One door has a large 2 on it and the other door has a large 3 on it. I sure wasnt going to ask. We chose a Smoked Quail Risotto served with roasted red onions and grilled trevise. This trevise stuff was piled in the middle of the serving. The server swore it wasnt julienned tree bark. Well, it worked. We passed on cod, clams, and chorizo and braised oxtail and foie gras ravioli and the like. This place is off, off Broadway experimental cuisine. It doesnt always work. My Apricot, Pecan and Brioche Bread Pudding didnt. The homemade vanilla rum ice cream served with it was fine. Ya gotta celebrate the experience. Oh, yeah, a dessert made with Local Wine Jello.
At different times and in different ways, both these places would be on my regular list if I were in the area.
But most of all, thanks to chowhounds who gave me some starting points for good eating. We didnt get to all the recommended places, but the ones we got to were the right ones and better than we would have ever found ourselves.