Our first night and dinner in Niagara-On-The-Lake and I would say that we were looking forward to it. It is usually my job to search out the restaurants in the area for our dinners, and this night was no different. I was searching and scrolling through the internet looking at menus and I had selected Tiara Restaurant at the Queen’s Landing Hotel in the downtown district. There was one overriding qualification that this restaurant had that all the others in town did not have and that was Foie gras and we were giddy as teenagers as we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. As we were walking into the hotel, I was watching as a small army of handlers were bringing in music amplifiers and other gear of that nature, and I thought to myself that, perhaps we were going to be lucky and enjoy some dancing after dinner. Was I surprised; we walked in and discovered that the restaurant was closed for a private party. The staff assured me that we were contacted and I assured them, that it was not so, and the Maitre’de came over to see if he could be of assistance. I had told him that we made the reservation solely on the desire for the Foie gras, and he told me that he would call their sister hotel and restaurant and get us an immediate reservation, offered their shuttle (which I declined) and said that he would guarantee that we would have Foie gras that evening.
The Prince of Wales is a very classy and stately hotel on the main street of downtown Niagara-On-The-Lake and had that Victorian grandeur that one thinks of, when one thinks of the British Empire. We found the parking lot behind the hotel and went in searching for the Escabeche Restaurant and it was the perfect setting for dinner, when I gave them my name, we were directed to perhaps one of the finest tables in an atrium setting overlooking the main street, the room was like a movie set of a restaurant. We had cocktails to settle down and to study the menu that we were handed by one of the most professional and gracious waitresses that we have encountered in years. She allayed our fears and as we related what had just recently occurred, she informed us that we would have Foie gras that evening, even if she had to drive over and pick up the orders herself. I must admit that both hotels were scoring points for great customer service. Even before we had ordered our dinners we were brought an Amuse Bouche of diver scallops on squash puree and we both relaxed and decided that the evening was going to be fine, just from that small opening course. We ordered our entrée choices and our wine for the evening, when our appetizers arrived; two perfectly prepared plates of seared Foie gras with micro greens and tart cherry preserve, needless to say, both hotels fulfilled their promises and we were happy. My Bride ordered Sea Bass and I ordered the Berkshire Pork Loin Chop and by the end of the meal, alas there was no room left for either of us, even to share an order of the Peaches and Cream Crème Brulee that was being featured.
When we looked at the wine carte for some Sauternes, there was none available, and after a quick discussion with the Sommelier we decided to try two different local Ice Wines from the area. As I look back this did make sense that they would not have Sauternes, as the Foie gras was not part of their menu. The two wines were both from the Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA of Ontario. The first wine was from Chateau des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling 2009 and not technically an Ice Wine, but it had the deep rich flavor that we were looking for. The other glass was a Southbrook Vidal Ice Wine 2006 and the Vidal grape is one of the main Ice Wine grapes for the area. This wine was more full bodied and we both agreed that it was the better of the two for our appetizer course. I really scored big points with the main bottle of wine, even though it was not the best wine for my Bride’s entrée, but when I told her what I was looking at, the decision was made. We had a bottle of Couly-Dutheil Chinon Clos de L’Echo 2004 from Touraine in the Loire Valley. The wine was enthusiastically endorsed by my Bride, because it is pure Cabernet Franc, and she just adores the tannic rich taste of this varietal. We had several discussions through the evening with the Sommelier and after dinner he gave me a tour of their cellar and it was very impressive, when I saw the depth of some of the wines that they carried. I was also impressed with the collection of empty bottles that lined some of the shelves and alcoves of some of the past wines that they had carried with quite an assortment of Domaine de la Romanee Conti wines showcased. As I said the cellar was impressive and they were dedicated to having some very fine wines. All in all, this was a wonderful evening, especially when it started off on a bad foot, and for the record, our appetizers were comped for our troubles.