290 John Street East
In her opinion:
Fabulicious is an opportunity to experience some of Niagara-on-the-Lakes fabulous restaurants for an amazing price. This year's Fabulicous event took place between March 1 to March 5, 2012 and included 15 of the areas best restaurants. When I saw that one of my perpetual favourites, Peller Estate Winery Restaurant was taking part in this event, I jumped at this opportunity to enjoy Chef Jason Parson's premier cuisine.
Peller Estate Winery Restaurant has been one of my favourites before I even considered myself a foodie. The setting is absolutely beautiful and the food is top notch. This year's Fabulicious Dinner menu was no exception. I smiled from ear to ear when I read what offerings Chef Parson had in store for us.
I started out with the "Peller Crab Cake with Horseradish Aioli, Choux Croute and Fried Capers".
This was absolutely delicious. The crab cake was moist and well seasoned. The addition of the horseradish aioli and fried capers were a nice accompaniment to the crab cake and balanced out the flavours perfectly. I loved this appetizer. I almost ordered a second. It was that good.
For my main I picked,"Cast Iron Seared Strip Loin Steak served with Fingerling Potatoes, Blue Cheese and Cider Glazed Rapini".
The steak was cooked to a perfect medium. The side dishes added the right amount of flavour to an ordinarily not great piece of meat. The potatoes and blue cheese combination were excellent. I really enjoyed the rapini as well and the cider glaze added the right amount of sweetness. Overall, a very good main.
To finish my perfect meal, I had the "Chocolate Dobos" described as a flourless chocolate cake with a chocolate praline mousse.
And what a way to finish a meal! So delicious. I have been obsessed with flourless chocolate since I had the "Julie Gateau" at La Plage in St. Barts. This Chocolate Dobos was pretty incredible in its own right. So moist and decadant. A perfect chocolate dessert.
To end our perfect dinner, the manager told us that Chef Parson was very busy but that he wanted us to know that we were welcome to come back into the kitchen and take some pictures and tour the heart of the restaurant. We did and Jason took the time to come and greet us personally. Such a great guy! Must be the Cambridge roots. As always, dinner at Peller Estates was out of this world and Fabulicious was a success for this blogger!
In his opinion:
Normally, you don't need to twist my arm too hard to get me to Niagara-on-the-Lake, let alone to Peller Estates Winery. All of our many visits to this winery, especially to its AAA 4 Diamond award restaurant have been consistently very good and I walked in with the same expectations.
Chef Jason Parsons runs this restaurant with amazingly high standards and brilliant results, but in an effortless way that never seems pretentious or stuffy. Mostly locally produced fresh ingredients are the normal theme of the menu here at Peller, and for Fabulicious it didn't veer away from that norm.
For our dinner, we had the fixed price menu but opted out of the $30/person wine pairing that was suggested. Instead, I went for the white wine sangria, their feature drink for the night/week. It was light, refreshing and very good.
Our lovely waitress Erica began by serving us bread 3 ways (sourdough, flax and cranberry oatmeal) along with butter topped with sea salt, a trend that seems to have grown in popularity everywhere we go nowadays.
For Appetizer: First they came rather quickly, as if I wasn't prepared for it or something. I started my meal with the "Pingue" Prosciutto Salad. This was served with 4 types of beets (white, red, purple and orange), several pieces of wrapped prosciutto nestled among some greens. The balance was perfect and it was absolutely delicious.
For Entrée: Duck Leg Confit, one of my favourite dishes in French cuisine. At first glance I was disappointed that the skin was not super crispy, which is the traditional way of serving it but my disappointment died out at first bite. The Duck Leg was perfectly cooked, done to perfection, moist and tender but without looking like it was falling off the bone. As a side, I was served a wonderful bean medley with bacon and an oven dried tomato cassoulet. The dried tomatoes were the perfect balance to the crunchy beans and did not dare to take a fork full of been without one of those tomatoes for flavour.
The dining room manager was extremely attentive and pleasant ensuring several times that everyone was happy and all was well. She was also kind enough to prompt Chef Jason to give us the kitchen tour (always a pleasure).
Chef Jason even popped out of his extremely busy kitchen to greet us, unexpectedly but always so attentive.
The Good:Food was very good showcasing the consistency that I have learned to expect and love from this restaurant and its chef. I observed staff accommodating picky clients with a certain sense of entitlement beside me, and it shows me that the service is still of superior caliber.
The Bad: I found the service slightly rushed, the whole meal experience felt short in time compared to many others we experienced.
The Verdict: I'm baffled by some of the bad reviews I have read of late. As this restaurant and Chef Parsons continue to collect awards, Zagat's highest rating of "Extraordinary" being their latest accolade, there are still people that highlight that their service/food is not what it was. This has not been my experience and I will surely report it if it ever does, which I doubt it.
Thank you Chef Parsons for a wonderful meal and to have acknowledged once more these humble food bloggers from your home town, Cambridge.