An opportunity to discover the culinary scene in Niagara Parks? This is an event that we could not turn it down and have pushed all aside for this merry day hosted by Niagara Parks. Niagara Parks stretches over 56 kilometers and is named Ontario’s largest outdoor adventure museum. What a treat!
When was the last time that you visited Niagara, and how did you explore the space? My first thought of Niagara is, the Falls, the Falls of course! When I was younger, we didn’t live too far from the Falls and it was a prime destination for my family and I – I have many photos in front of the falls, from the year of 1996 starting off as frightened faces and over years, the fear of looking through the metal gates and over the edge untensioned, and I soon resumed to my confident Spice Girl posing self. But my knowledge of the space only ends at the Falls. Fast forward to Spring 2013, I very excitedly made my visit after a race in Milton, I practically cartwheeled over to the rails to snap a selfie smiling ear to ear, reviewed my picture, I then came to a dimming halt. I was at a loss of what to do in this beautiful area, I was thinking long and hard of what makes this area a must-visit. I then ended the night with iHop for dinner. But no more gloomy stories now, because with my very recent visit on the Culinary Crawl through Niagara Parks with FEAST ON, I know the world of what to eat, do and more in Niagara. Look ahead!
I’ve joined blogging forces with Sincerely KN to present to you our experiences through captures and details, as we have both fondly nibbled and sipped side by side throughout the Culinary Crawl across Niagara Parks. Visit Karen’s blog for her food discoveries, event coverage and travel experiences, you can also find her on Instagram for those captures.
Niagara Parks plays a tremendous role in Canada’s historical moments, said our tour host Ryan Moran, as he shared many stories throughout our exploration over the past centuries throughout the day. It was in 1885 when Niagara Parks Commission became a self-funded agency of the Government of Ontario. Ever since, they have been committed to preserving the history of the Niagara River Corridor and have done a fine job at that – we were witnesses to its natural features, culture and flavours.
Our day begins as we were picked up from Fairmount Royal York hotel in Toronto on the Niagara Airbus (with a space of 20) and welcomed with a booklet filled with anticipated tastes that await our arrival.
Follow along as we sprawl across Niagara Parkway, diving into teams of expertly trained chefs and service teams. Dishes are promised to be locally sourced ingredients and prepared with international inspiration.
We made stops at all five of the restaurants along the Niagara Parkway experiencing the menu item with recommended wine pairings. We were both absolutely thrilled to have an opportunity to visit these new sites, know the story behind the Park’s movement of locally sourced food and find out what they are all about!
Here are the five restaurants we got a chance to visit:
• Queenston Heights Restaurant, headed by Chef Bill Greenan
• Whirlpool Restaurant, headed by Chef Tim Vandelaar
• Legends on the Niagara Restaurant, headed by Chef Chris Brown
• Queen Victoria Place Restaurant, headed by Chef Sidney Krick
• Elements on the Falls, headed by Chef Elbert Weirsema
We will also be making a special stop at the Whirlpool Aero Car to take in a truly immersed view of the Niagara River. Now, here were are ready to start the tour – all aboard the Niagara Wine Bus!
*Disclaimer: this post is going to be quite lengthy, but full of delicious looking pictures! I’d tell you to close your eyes and imagine you were here with us, but then you wouldn’t be able to read…*
Stop #1: Queenston Heights Restaurant
First stop on Niagara Park’s culinary crawl is at Queenston Heights Restaurant. After three hours on the bus, we were ready to feast! As Alice prances up towards the restaurants, here we met Ryan and Chris from Niagara Parks, our tour guides for the day, who took us around Niagara Parks.
They started us off with a glass of red, as we took in the views from the restaurant. The executive chef at Queenston Heights Restaurant, Bill Greenan, prepared braised Ontario short ribs with sundried tomato and arugula risotto for us to enjoy. Little did we know, this would be our favourite dish. The short ribs were so tender, and the risotto was deliciously creamy. Cheers to the start of a delicious culinary crawl!
Stop #2: Whirlpool Restaurant
We next ventured across Niagara Park’s “cute” golf course and landed at the Whirlpool Restaurant. Here, we were able to set up shop for a little while with a great view out to the golf course. We got to enjoy this asparagus and forest mushroom soup with quinoa salad and micro greens by Chef Tim Vandelaar. As a rather healthy alternative, we weren’t quite used to all these green! What wasn’t on the menu we were provided was this cracker. It may look like a normal cracker; however, it was a cracker made completely of cheese. This was by far the best part! This soup was pairs with a glass of Pinot Grigio – you can never have too many liquids!
Stop #3: Whirlpool Aero Car Adventure
This was an exciting break between the indulgent discoveries of the day:
the Whirlpool Aero Car!
Available to board throughout Spring, Summer and Fall, the Whirlpool Aero Car was an incredible view to take in. There’s a surrounding rail to take in all sides of the view, and an inner rail for the scaredy cats who can’t do heights. We soar 3,500 feet across the Canadian side of the Niagara River enjoying an all-panoramic view of the waters of the river splashing beneath us along with the gorge scenery surrounding.
The Whirlpool Aero Car celebrates it’s 100 year anniversary this year; soaring above the waters was the ideal way for us to truly take in the beautiful stretches of the Niagara River.
Stop #4: Legends on the Niagara Restaurant
For our third restaurant stop of the day, and the most anticipated, we continued our guided tour to take a scenic route to the next stop. We admired the Floral Showhouse as well as learnt about the Battle of Chippawa on our way to Legends on the Niagara Restaurant.
Ahead of the tour, we were both thrilled to see an Asian flavour on the menu, and with an envious chuckle of the name of the Chef, this restaurant was what we were most eager to try. Chef Chris Brown presented a Grilled Pork Tenderloin on Spicy Pad Thai Noodles. The wine paired with our spiced pad Thai was a Creekside Syrah which cut the flavours well.
Stop #5: Queen Victoria Place Restaurant
It was at this point in time where we ran away from the group and towards the Falls. Being complete tourists, we quickly snapped a couple selfies and took photos only to be told that we would have a better view later on. PSH, we weren’t taking our chances.
The rest of the crew didn’t wait up for us and quickly went to sit down at Queens Victoria Place Restaurant for the next course prepared by Chef Sidney Krick, which sounded absolutely divine. Northern rainbow trout with a spinach and sweet potato strudel and shoal lake wild rice – what does that even mean? I didn’t really know what to expect until we were presented with the dish. It was basically steamed trout in a puff pastry with greens. Although our description does not sound as fancy as theirs, it was SO good. Hands down our second favourite dish of the culinary crawl. Although paired with a glass of chardonnay, all eyes were on the food. The warm strudel wrapping the pieces of trout were quick to be gone. I wish we were allowed to have seconds!
Stop #6: Elements on the Falls Restaurant
The final restaurant stop of our press trip, and we were all the more excited. With each restaurant to follow, we drew nearer to the falls. And boy, the finale was all that – the views of the falls from the window seating was incredible and immersive to watch, we spent a lot of our time admiring the view and capturing the moment. And of course, with the final stop, the final bites had to be the most invigorating ones!
This dish presented at Elements of the Falls is the Timbale of Spaghetti Squash and Bean Pulses with Zucchini Flower by Chef Elbert Weirsema. It was a dish of beauty and art, truly presenting fresh ingredients for all that FeastON is known for, we were each prolonging the first cut and bite into this.
The perfect view and cheer of the Chateau Des Charmes Gamay Noir by the splashing falls, the space was romantic and set for a special occasion – we are both sure to have our next date here.
To end off our sweet, sweet culinary crawl with Niagara Parks, we were presented with a white chocolate ball. We instantly pulled out our phones because we knew it would be sooo Snapchat worthy. I have personally only seen these types of desserts on Instagram and was thrilled that I’d have a chance to try this out.
After pouring for basically the longest 5 seconds of my life, I was presented with this.
How AMAZING does this look?! Raspberry and peach sorbet on a pear sponge cake with cherry scented hot chocolate sauce will make your knees weak. Although it was quite messy to eat, we all devoured it – some not as graceful as others… *ahem.
Either way, this dessert was definitely such a sweet ending to this culinary crawl!
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Thanks for following along to the very end of our day!
We truly had our #FeastontheParkway, capturing wonderful sights and creating beautiful memories, we’re so glad to have taken this opportunity. Each of the five restaurants that we have discovered throughout this day showed its passion of its flavours and locally-sourced ingredients, while all representing the fond suitability of the matching VQA Ontario wine.
You know what’s amazing? Throughout all seasons, Niagara Parks makes the optimal location to visit and explore with various activities through walking and cycling trails (Niagara Glen, Queenston Heights Park and Dufferin Islands), to their very exotic Butterfly Conservatory, a gorgeous Floral Clock (what?!), as well as many floral gardens to sniff and admire (Botanical Gardens, Floral Showhouse and Oakes Garden Theatre).
Find out what’s going on along the days you make your visit, here.
*This was a complimentary trip provided by Niagara Parks Commission. However, please note that all opinions made are our own.*