In her opinion:
I've wanted to try the Ravine Vineyard Bistro for a while now and when Fabulicious 2013 came about...I thought what a perfect opportunity! After all, how could anyone pass up a fabulous 3-course meal for $35.
I asked our foodie friends if they wanted to come along and made a dinner reservation as quickly as possible. Our group of five were seated immediately when we entered the warm and welcoming restaurant.
After making our drink selections...I choose a glass of the Ravine Cabernet Franc. It was a good selection to go with my dinner picks.
For my first course, I picked the "Chicken Liver Parfait". It is described on the menu as being served with "shaved fennel and shallot salad and house toast".
To begin with, I was very impressed with the presentation on the plate. The use of the cork as a spreader holder was brilliant! This was so delicious. The chicken liver pate was smooth and silky. So flavourful. I rather enjoyed the shaved fennel and shallot salad. I thought it proved the right acidic contract to the richness of the pate. Very very good.
For my main, I picked the "Braised Beef Short Rib". It was accompanied with "pomme puree and roasted root vegetables".
Let me begin by saying...I do enjoy a well done short rib and this was a very well done short rib. The meat was fall off the bone and could have been cut with a spoon. That is what makes for a successful braise in my opinion. The sauce around the plate was wine based and delicious. I rather enjoyed the Brussels sprout and carrots that were roasted to perfection. The pomme puree was also impeccable. Smooth and full of flavour. Overall, an excellent main which was perfectly complimented by my glass of cab franc.
For dessert, I picked the "Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Tart". It was served with "espresso mousse and vanilla anglaise.
Overall, a fabulous dinner experience. I rather enjoyed it. I think I would like to return to Ravine during the summer or in the fall when the vines are green and full of fruit. It is a gorgeous setting for a wonderful meal.
In his opinion:
This French country type bistro is a true gem in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Located inside the Vineyard with the same name, it serves to showcase some of the products that the Vineyard itself had been known for and just never had a proper restaurant to showcase it in.
Its popularity has been on the rise for a while now and has quickly become a must go place in the heart of Niagara Wine Country. The name that it is making for itself comes courtesy of things like having fantastic views of the Niagara Peninsula, a country store with artisanal cheeses, deli and preserves, a farm to table ideology and an in premises wood burning hearth oven.
We were very welcomed at the door by one of the employees and promptly shown our seats in the lower deck, near the glass wall with breathtaking views of the vineyard. Even in the dead of winter, we can definitely see the charm and appeal of the restaurant's location. The server was extremely attentive and even recommended a place for the next morning's breakfast.
The Fabulicious fixed price menu was quite appealing (one of the reasons we picked it) and displayed a well thought of mix of dishes. I opted first for a glass of 2011 Redcoat, a Bordeaux style type blend that was faint on the aroma but packed a good punch in taste for a medium bodied red.
For my appetizer, I picked the "Lemon Dill Brined Smoked Scallop" with cauliflower puree and Ravine pork belly. What an amazing combination of flavours this ended up being. This top notch Ravine pork belly was excellently cured and cooked to perfection. The scallops were perfectly seared adding a great soft texture contrast to the pork belly's firm and delectable taste. I would have this dish any day of the week and highly recommend it to others.
For my entree, I opted for the "Oven Roasted Capon Breast" served with parmesan polenta and vegetable ratatouille. Again a winning dish in my books that combines textures, savory and sweet tastes and a palate jolt that leaves you wanting more. The polenta was pan fried I believe and is able to maintain the same taste but with a firm, crunchy exterior that just works. The vegetable ratatouille (didn't know there was any other) was also exquisite, hearty and soulful at its core.
For dessert, I went with the "Brown Butter Madeleines" with poached pears, and "Oast House Barn Raiser" and honey ice cream. This although well presented was the black sheep of the night and left me wanting something more. The poached pears were bland and so was the honey ice cream. The tasty madeleines (French butter cake/cookie) were the exception but unfortunately not enough to save this dessert.
The Good: Great local ingredients, friendly service and breathtaking views equal to a good experience.
The Bad: Dessert was below par and entertainment a bit loud for dinner service.
The Verdict: Overall, a great place to eat. The food shows the love for the local ingredients and you feel the true passion that goes into every dish. The casual/country feel of the main room in the front adds to the ambiance.
I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 Olives as rating