Monday, March 3, 2014

Fantastic Lunch in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Last week, my wife and I were able to spend the day alone enjoying southern Ontario as we'd done while dating and in the early days of our marriage. I've already explained the reasons for my affinity with the area and look forward to every opportunity to get there. While we were there with the kids not that long ago, we were able to get away, just the two of us, for some much needed alone time.

The main purpose of the trip was to visit some wineries we'd not experienced before so that I could bring you some wines worthy of a cross border shopping trip. Luckily, I found a few great wines that I'll be sharing with you in the coming days. While enjoying Konzelmann Estate Winery, we had a discussion with the gentleman pouring our wine as to where to eat. We often tend to hit the same places to eat when we're in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He suggested that we try a spot we'd seen before by not tried - Stone Road Grille.

Stone Road Grille is on Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. As their website states, they're "located under the sign that says 'Rest'". They make all of their breads in house, and use artisinal cheese and fresh, local fruits and produce whenever possible. They have a very expansive wine list featuring a plethora of great wines from the Niagara region. The interior has a sleek, funky vibe that's fun and welcoming. 

We arrived right around noon for lunch and were seated immediately without the need for reservations. The menu changes frequently and we found plenty that sounded great on their 2014 Winter Lunch Menu. It took a bit of time because so much sounded good and I had to take time to appreciate the depth of the wine list.

Ultimately, my wife chose the House Made Ribeye Burger with a side of frites ($15) and I went with the House Smoked Pastrami with a side of frites ($14). I also went with one of the February Liquid Lunch Features which was $2 off a glass of the 2010 Exclamation Series Cabernet Franc (originally $11) from a winery that I'd been to before right down the road - Pilliteri Estates Winery. 

After we placed our order, we enjoyed some house made sourdough while we waited:

The bread was incredibly well made. It served warm with room temperature butter (what a great touch). It had a great crunchy crust and a toothsome texture that was wonderful. It was a flavorful way to start our meal.

After a relatively short wait, our food began to arrive. This was my wife's Ribeye burger:

The burger was prepared with caramelized onions, creamed horseradish, shredded Iceberg lettuce and house smoked bacon served atop a toasted kaiser bun. The burger was delicious and the horseradish was a natural pairing for the rich beef. The bacon was well-made, smoky and delicious. 

The frites we both enjoyed were hand cut and cooked spot on. They were flavorful, crispy and I had to force myself from finishing them all. They were served with house made ketchup and aioli. The ketchup was good and had a deep, smoky tomato flavor with what was most likely roasted red pepper. While it was very good, it paled in comparison to the amazing aioli, a scratch made garlic spiked mayonnaise of sorts. It was garlicky, thick and delicious. Nothing could have gone better with those perfect fries than that.

Here's a look at my sandwich:

The house smoked pastrami was served with cabbage slaw, Niagara Gold cheese and pommery mustard aioli. The sandwich was served on a sourdough pullman loaf. Here's a closer look:

The pastrami was nice and hot and had great depth of flavor. It was salty (but not excessively so), showed a lot of flavor from the pickling spices used and was properly smoked. The slaw and aioli cut through the richness of the meat and cheese. This sandwich was a winner!

The cabernet franc went very well with the smoky, rich meat. The tannins cut right through the richness and the deep, dark red fruit and cassis went well with the sandwich. A great pairing.

The lunch was a wonderful experience. We'll be back in the next few months when we return to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Next time, I'd love to try dinner at the Stone Road Grille. Next time you're in Niagara-on-the-Lake, give the Stone Road Grille a shot. Don't be scared off when you see that it's in a small strip plaza, adjacent to a Subway restaurant. The interior is fun and funky and the food is well worth the trip.


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