17. The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette
The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette’s thoughtful and inventive tasting menus keep hoisting the bar higher for Niagara wine country dining. Daniel Hadida and Eric Robertson, Ontario-reared chefs with cutting-edge experience in Paris and rural Belgium, respectively, are in charge of the kitchen. The atmosphere is agrarian-meets-modern; the dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide IMAX-worthy views of the grounds. When you settle in, expect seasonal ingredients, often foraged and prepared with a very contemporary European sensibility. Think plump oysters lightly smoked over pine and dressed with fermented radish, or raw scallop with cantaloupe juice and sassafras, or char-grilled mustard greens with powdered seaweed and cured scallop roe, or roast carrots with cured ham and spruce. Every dish has a flavour note that is both unexpected—is that sunchoke purée in the apple tart?—and yet belongs so emphatically that you wonder why you haven’t had it before. Plates are always pretty but never precious. In short, this is masterful cooking. Service is excellent, carving the perfect line between country casual and fine-dining professionalism. Rather than simply peddling the estate’s own excellent wines, Sommelier Kristen Daigle oversees a list of global wineries that share Pearl Morissette’s approach: low-intervention, convention-bucking wines dominate. The price of admission is modest to a fault.
Photos: JOHN CULLEN, LORNE BRIDGMAN