Feast ON Culinary Crawl with Niagara Parks

The Feast ON the Parkway Culinary Crawl had Small Fry Heather joined by a special guest co-poster, Jessica from Hoppily Ever After.

The folks at Niagara Parks invited us on a Culinary Crawl to check out the five restaurants of the Niagara Parkway. We accepted with excitement – as Winston Churchill once apparently said about the Niagara Parkway, it’s the “prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world”.

Along the Parkway, there are gardens, golf courses, attractions like the Butterfly Conservatory and Journey Behind the Falls, and – you guessed it – restaurants. The area is steeped in history and Canadiana, and the restaurants took that theme and ran with it. There’s strong focus on local food in all five (three of which are certified “Feast ONrestaurants).hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 1 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

Our first stop (joined by a troupe of Ontario writers, including fellow Hamiltonians Chanry, from the Hungry Gnome, and Kristin, from I Heart Hamilton) was Queenston Heights Restaurant, a two story primarily event-location perched on a hill with an amazing view of the river, meticulously tended gardens stretching all the way around, and War of 1812 battle history (we won this one).

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The potato gnocchi carbonara (with double-smoked Ontario bacon, Hamilton cremini mushrooms, and baby arugula in pecorino romano cream) was to-die-for delicious. The gnocchi was filling without being heavy, the cheesy cream sauce was the stuff dreams are made of.hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 5 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThe Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir was the wine match, rich enough to match the cheese but light-bodied enough for the pasta. This was definitely our favourite dish of the night.

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Whirlpool Restaurant at the Whirlpool Golf Course was next. We’re no golfers, but apparently this is a more traditional course, designed by a world-renowned golf-course creator (according to our awesome tour guide, Ryan Moran).

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 6 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThe club house matched the simple, traditional feel, and they had a pretty little area set up for us.

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The soup and salad course at Whirlpool was a spicy butternut squash bisque and a spinach salad (with dried cranberries, toasted sunflower seeds, and mandarins topped with a sweet onion VQA riesling mandarin vinaigrette). It came with a “nosy goat” cheese crostini on the side, the perfect tangy offset for the sweetness of the fruit.

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The accompanying wine was Hernder Estate’s Riesling, bringing back the sweetness full circle.

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The third stop was to Legends on the Niagara, a large, newer, sweeping golf course with not one, but TWO 18-hole courses.

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Again, the club house matched the feel: big, sweeping, rustic wood and stone with a beautiful, giant back porch overlooking the green vistas.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 11 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThey served up braised beef short ribs wrapped in bacon, mixed Sledgers greens (a local farm), balsamic glaze, with a seared hot pepper on each tray. We were told it came from the chef’s garden. The meal was rich, the flavours complemented each other, and Peller Estates hearty Cab Franc was a perfect match.

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The second to last stop was Edgewaters at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant. Downtown Niagara Falls, it’s a second floor patio restaurant with a pub-like vibe and an amazing view of the Falls – right across the street. On this night, the Falls were lit up in rainbows. It’s a seasonal restaurant though, since it’s an open patio!

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Their offering was a pepper berry rubbed northern rainbow trout (another Canadian staple), curried seven grain salad with cilantro yogurt. We didn’t find the fish too strong in flavour, so the strong tastes of the curry and light yogurt matched it well. Malivoire’s Lady Bug Rose was a good complement for trout.

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The final stop was Elements on the Falls, even closer to the water than Edgewaters (and we didn’t think that was possible). It’s a closed-in restaurant, so it’s all-seasons, and it sits right on top of the top edge of Niagara Falls. Obviously, the view is phenomenal.

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First they served grilled muscovy duck on shoal lake wild rice (an authentically Canadian rice), pinge capicola crisp (salty and crispy, portioned out with each bite of the silky duck), covered with sweet cherry glaze. It was paired with an Inniskillin Niagara Series Pinot Noir, which matched the meal element for element. No pun intended.

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Finally, it was time for dessert, and Elements certainly doesn’t disappoint. Our dessert was a display of a poached Bartlett pear in Cab Franc, with Maple Mousse Cream in a chocolate cup, and honey tuile crisp. Gorgeous and delicious!

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Though you may not want to do every restaurant in one day, (like we did on this Culinary Crawl) we recommend checking out the Niagara Parkway on a day trip or weekend getaway. It’s right in our backyard, and you’ll find a lot of character in this place of natural wonders.

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Have you been to any of the Niagara Parks restaurants? Review them with us in the comments below!

Jessica Peter - Guest Writer

 

Guest co-poster: Jessica Peter is one half of Hoppily Ever After, a Hamilton-based craft beer blog. She’s a #HamOnt super-fan with a passion for local shows, local food & drink, trying to see the whole world, and writing kind-of-strange novels in her spare time.

 

 

RECAP: Milestones Red Hill Tasting Event, “Our Story”

Milestones Red Hill

787 Paramount Drive

Hamilton, ON

During the Summer, Hamilton Small Fries was invited to an exclusive menu tasting at Milestones in Stoney Creek. Along with other Hamilton food bloggers and media, we were showered with delicious sneak peeks of appetizers, starters, mains, dessert and wine pairings.

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Even though this was a Milestones event, we are still going to structure this review the same way we do any of our Hamilton restos!

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So first lets talk logo…

Logo

Their logo is chic, stylish and bold – just like their food and their decor. We dig it!

Food and reviews

Mango Chili Shrimp
with Asian slaw and mango dressing
Served with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – New Zealandhamilton small fries | Milestones Red Hill, Our Story Event | Hamilton, Ontario | Pic 7

This was definitely a dish we would both order again. The shrimp was crispy and coated in a mouth-watering mango dressing. Paired with the light salad, it’s a dish you won’t feel guilty about devouring.

Smoked Chicken Bucatini Carbonara
Double smoked bacon and sweet peas
Served with The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay, North Coast – California

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Bacon? Did someone say bacon? Well actually, this carbonara was topped with speck – a smoked, prosciutto-like bacon. The thicker pasta noodles were a nice change from the typical spaghetti noodle. It was creamy and filling and we will definitely be going back for more.

Ahi Tuna Tataki Salad

Arugula and mandarin orange salad
Served with Mark West Pinot Noir, California

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This was Lindsay’s favourite dish on the menu and Heather’s least favourite. Ha, do you think we’re different or what?

Heather is not a tuna fan, while Lindsay loves it so much she is close to starting a Facebook page dedicated to it. A little much? Not for this arugula and mandarin orange tuna masterpiece.

Tomato Sugo Halibut
Quinoa pilaf and smoked tomatoes
Served with Kim Crawford Pinot Gris, Marlborough – New Zealand

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Okay so this was Lindsay’s least favourite dish. There was just the right amount of spice but nothing much else. We thought it was the most bland of all the dishes with quinoa, halibut and chickpeas – though you could tell it was made with fresh, real ingredients…which we love!

Filet Mignon
Pesto cheddar potatoes, red wine jus
Served with The Dreaming Tree Crush, California

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Heather’s favourite! The pesto cheddar mashed potatoes were to-die-for. Heather has proclaimed she could eat them all day!

The steak was high quality and cooked to perfection with the red wine jus that accompanied it. We would have preferred a bit less spice on the steak, but we would order it again and again for the potatoes alone.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Pot Au Creme
Dark chocolate and chantilly
Served with coffee or tea

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Heather is not a PB&J fan, so Lindsay will cover this review. The creamy peanut butter and jelly dessert with dark chocolate was the perfect way to end this 6 course meal. It was a heavy dessert so probably not the best choice for after a big meal. Our advice: order something lighter and end the night with this sweet treat.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at Milestones is classy and upscale. It’s contemporary and unique design make it the perfect place for dates and work dinners.

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Brand

Hamilton Small Fries usually only reviews local Hamilton restaurants – you know, more of the mom and pop shops. We typically don’t review chain restaurants. But at the end of the day, this is still a Hamilton restaurant providing jobs to Hamiltonians with local owners. Their brand is clearly laid out – this is a place to ‘celebrate all of life’s milestones.’ Their guest-centric attitude and stylish decor make it a go-to for anniversaries, birthdays, dates and more!

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Social Media Campaign

Twitter – https://twitter.com/milestones5242

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Milestones-Bar-Grill/167197003299550?fref=ts

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We loved the work they were doing on twitter, and the fact that they were reaching out to the Hamilton blogging community. We noticed they seem to have petered out on the tweeting quite a bit. Our suggestions would be to boost that back up and claim the Facebook page! The folks of Hamilton want to hear what you’re up to!

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Side note: They also gifted us with these cute little presents when we left. How did they know we were tea lovers?! Thanks Milestones Red Hill!

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 Been to Milestones Red Hill? Review it with us!

Click to add a blog post for Milestones Grill & Bar on Zomato

Samuel Adams Social

Samuel Adams Social

March 23rd, 2015

Radius Restaurant

151 James St S, Hamilton, ON L8P 2A2

Hamilton Small Fries took a small break for a while – businesses were started, life changed and Lindsay started eating meat again. Needless to say, a lot has been going on.

But we are excited to get back into the swing of things and what better way to hit the pavement, than with a party!?

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Though we haven’t done a post on Radius yet – stay tuned! – we consider it to be a staple in the Hamilton restaurant scene. One we both frequent often, especially when trying to impress our guests! If you haven’t been to Radius since their new reno, you need to get there! 

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And it’s not just us! Others are taking notice of their foodie ingenuity and brand, including craft beer revolutionaries, Samuel Adams.

Last week, we were lucky to be invited to the Samuel Adams Social taking place at Radius restaurant. This is a part of their Restaurant Takeover Series which was developed to further strengthen the connection between chefs and customers in the food community.

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So clearly, we were all over it! You know how we feel about building strong communities and relationships with #HamOnt. And of course, we love the opportunity to catch up with our blogger friends like I Heart Hamilton’s Kristin!

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The Samuel Adams social was a night of mingling and eating. Our fav thing to do of course. The night’s dishes were mini fish & chips with house tartar (you know we love our fries!), pretzels and beer cheese, mozzarella sticks with Nona’s gravy (Heather’s most absolute fav), house kettle chips and Sam Adam’s all day onion dip and beer braised chicken flat bread with jalapeno, arugula, diced tomato, red onion and garlic yogurt. Was it delicious? Let’s just say we made sure we sat by the food the whole night.

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The star of the night though was Sam Adam’s Boston Lager – which they call their go to beer. This is the brew that started it all, and we can understand why they have been able to build their fan base with this Lager. It’s sweet and light and goes down easy. The perfect beer for enjoying a variety of different dishes.

Now we’re no beer afficionados, but it’s one we’ll definitely stock our fridge with.

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Visit Samuel Adams’ website here: https://www.samueladams.com/

Visit Radius Restaurant’s website here:  http://radius.ca/

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PHOTO CREDIT Jeffrey Chan. Courtesy of Samuel Adams.

Muskoka Brewery Tap To Table Event at The Ship

Muskoka Brewery’s Tap to Table Event

The Ship

Hamilton, Ontario 

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If you were to think about food and drink pairing, we’d bet your first thought isn’t craft beer. (It’s wine, isn’t it?). Beer ends up just a grab and go drink, but it can be so much more! And with craft beer exploding through the province, it’s the perfect time to start exploring.

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Recently we had the opportunity to attend Muskoka Brewery’s Tap-to-Table event at The Ship. Gary McMullan, the co-founder of the brewery started by telling his own story of how a pesky groundhog ended his dreams of a potential aircraft career, and how he instead ended up co-founding Muskoka Brewing in 1996.

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Gary became our tour guide for this “off the beaten path” experience through brews and food.

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First up was the Muskoka Brewery’s Summer Weiss, which was matched up with a similarly light Mini Grilled Perch Sandwich with Lemon Aioli. In making pairings of any sort, strength with strength is the key! The beer was that classic summer patio wheat beer. But you’ll never catch it with an orange slice. This is German-style, not American-style, so that means the undertones are more banana than citrus. The Perch Sandwich balanced fresh with fresh – but we would have preferred a more delicate bread to lighten up the dish.

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Muskoka Brewery is known for their IPAs – that would be India Pale Ale – so we got a little history lesson from Gary. The ‘India’ part comes from their ability to travel well to that country from the UK. . . though they were never specifically brewed for that purpose.

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Detour was the first of the IPAs in our roster, and it’s known as “sessionable”. Even Jessica, an avowed disliker of bitter IPAs, liked this one. Lower in bitterness than many, Gary described it as being made like a ‘hop tea’, which certainly appealed to us. Detour was matched with Corn Breaded Shrimp Pogos with Honey Hop Mustard. Think classic carnival fair with high end seafood. Delish. Where is this on the regular menu for The Ship!?

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Our third course featured Muskoka Cream Ale, a classic British style pale, which Jessica, for one, could drink all night. Less hop-focused, more malty, and what Gary described as “biscuity”, which is a particularly endearing (yet accurate) description. The food match was a Southern Picnic Beef Slider topped with Jalapenos and a spicy chipotle (?) sauce.  The burger was juicy, spicy and absolutely delicious, though we thought the spice was a bit too much for a match with the Muskoka Cream Ale. But hey, we aren’t the experts!

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And then we dove right back into the India Pale Ale. The fourth course featured Twice as Mad Tom IPA, higher in alcohol content and hoppiness than the rest. Spicy! It was paired with Ribs braised in its own Twice as Mad Tom BBQ sauce, which really brought the flavours together, even if we found the brew a bit too bitter for our liking. But as the slogan for this beer says… “Not for everyone.”. Heather, who is a huge meat and potatoes fan, absolutely loved this dish. The ribs and chips were cooked to perfection and had the perfect amount of sauce.

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The last of the bunch, though possibly the favourite at the table, was dessert! The Mad Tom IPA (less “mad” – i.e. hoppy and strong – than the last one), may sound like a strange dessert pairing, but it worked. Dessert was S’mores doused in a Mad Tom Chocolate Ganache. Jessica learned that perhaps she enjoys the hops…. when paired with chocolate. Yum yum!

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Have you tried any of Muskoka Brewery’s brews? Which one was your favourite?

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GJessica Peter - Guest Writeruest contributor: Jessica Peter is a graduate student, tea seller, and rabid #HamOnt fan. She has a passion for local shows, local food, and writing kind of strange novels in her spare time. Oh, and she’ll try any craft beer she can get her hands on.