More Casual Wine Country Lunches

One of my favourite treats has to be going out for lunch.

I’m a recent convert to the noon hour meal, actually. I used to be all about going out for dinner – but for many reasons, I think lunch is my favourite now.

First, because it seems more decadent. Taking a couple hours break in the middle of the day for some good food and wine seems quite luxurious. It usually seems more special or holiday-like too. After all, we don’t do long, leisurely lunches in the middle of a 9-5 work day, right? At least, I was never able to.

I also have two more personal reasons why I think lunch dates surpass dinner.

My friends and family already know that I’m not a night owl. I’ve been out at late night dinner parties that I’ve really looked forward to attending where I’m literally struggling to keep my eyes open. Though it sounds like I’m joking, this is incredibly frustrating for me. My body just seems to think “It’s bedtime, Jo!” as soon as the clock hits 10:15 – and if I don’t listen to it I’m one yawning, incoherent, sleepy mess.

Yes. Quite the party animal, I am.

At lunch, however, my energy is at its peak – and I’m ready to be your light, bright, sparkling mealtime companion.

Oh, and that other personal reason why I like lunch best? You haven’t guessed it?

Well, I write a blog. And at lunch the light is much better for pictures.

Of course.

Last summer, I wrote about some of my favourite places for lunch in Wine Country. It was a fun post to write, and you all seemed to like it too. The good thing is, those places are doing tasty lunches again this year, so the info is still relevant. But I’ve got a few more to share with you here, and the extra good news is that a couple of them even offer lunch year round.

That wine country life isn’t just for summer, my friends.

The first one we’ll talk about is The Good Earth

I’ve been to The Good Earth a few times this year – for their fabulous brunch, for a cooking class, and naturally, a couple of wine tastings. I promised myself I would return for lunch in the summer so I could sit outside and enjoy their peaceful grounds.

It’s such a charming spot for a lunch date.

Ken and I shared the Buttermilk Fried Calamari and Shrimp, which also came with a spiked chipotle aioli. I must say, this was some of the best calamari I’ve ever had, and it’s to be found right here in Niagara. Perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of coating – not too much, not too little. The chipotle aioli added a creamy dose of mild, smoky spice. Good Earth’s 2015 Unoaked Chardonnay was delicious to sip with it.

For the main course, Ken went with the MacDaddy burger – a beef burger with Niagara Gold Cheddar, special sauce, frites, and the Good Earth ketchup. Ken is quite the burger connoisseur, and he thought this was a very good burger indeed.

Which I can vouch for as well, because I stole a bite or two.

I chose something for my lunch that I normally wouldn’t order – the chilled Thai Noodle Salad. I’m not the biggest salad fan in general, and I’m not partial to cold noodles, especially. But we were there on a hot day – one of the few we’ve had this summer – and a chilled salad sounded like a good idea.

I was very happy with my choice. 

It came with vegetable threads, sticky chicken, coconut poached shrimp, and was topped with peanut and basil dust. The suggested pairing was with Good Earth’s Gewurztraminer, but I opted to have it with their beautiful 2015 Viognier.

I can never miss a chance at having the Viognier.

If this menu sounds tempting to you, I must mention here that it is only available until September 20th. Have no fear, though, the early Fall menu begins September 21st, and it sure sounds tasty too. Yes, The Good Earth is one of the places that offers lunch year round.

Lucky us.

The next lunch spot you must get to, is Bolete at Westcott.

I’ve talked about Westcott approximately a million times on this blog, so you all know I’m a fan. But when you blend their delicious wine and relaxing vibe with food created by Chef Andrew McLeod you have a BRILLIANT combination.

Get it????

I couldn’t resist that, sorry. Westcott’s incredible sparkling is called Brilliant.

Westcott has a fantastic outdoor space. This year, they installed their open air kitchen with a large covered tent alongside. It’s very comfortable, with lots of seating and shade. If you prefer to be in the sunshine, there are plenty of Muskoka chairs, tables and other seating, with a few outdoor games at hand. A great spot to spend your afternoon munching, sipping and swirling.

You may even get to see some activity in the vineyard too.

If not, there’s lots of activity to watch in the kitchen.

I’ll admit, Ken was a little concerned before we went. He loves burgers and casual food, especially when we’re out on the road for the day. He thought the offerings from Bolete might be a little too fancy for him.

You may remember, we are foodie and the beast. In case your memory needs refreshing, I’m the foodie.

I’ve been wanting to eat at Bolete for awhile, and my lovely beast was willing to be a bit adventurous, especially since we’d be at Westcott.

But guess what? Bolete at Westcott had a couple of options he was thrilled with – he had a tough time choosing between the steak frites and the Bolete burger.

I think you know what he picked.

The Bolete burger came topped with Brie, truffle aioli, caramelized onions and bacon. He loved it.

I had the Fire Roasted Salmon, which came with red onion, cucumber, and bread, with a spicy tomato broth. I washed it down with a glass of Westcott’s 2016 Estate Chardonnay.

You can head out to Bolete at Westcott Saturdays and Sundays, from 12-5 until Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (October 8th). After that, they switch over to their very popular Fireside Fridays, which are such fun. Take a look at the list of upcoming Fridays here.

And now, we’re off to Peninsula Ridge.

Last weekend, on a day that felt very much like fall, we lunched on the patio at Peninsula Ridge. Due to the chilly feel in the air, we were given a choice of eating inside or outside. When they offered cozy blankets to take away that chill, our choice was made.

Ken and I refuse to let summer go – and honestly, we haven’t had the greatest summer weather this year, have we? I was so spoiled by the hot, sunny, glorious beauty that was summer 2016.

Sorry, summer 2017, but in terms of weather, you’ve been kinda lousy.

But I digress.

With a cozy blanket around me, a glass of Chardonnay in my hand, and a charcuterie board on the way, I was content, whatever the weather.

The Peninsula Ridge Antipasto Platter for one was delicious, and beautifully presented. My particular favourites were the duck confit rillette, and the tender, delicate slices of Pingue prosciutto.

Always a favourite.

Ken had the Grilled Baby Romaine Caesar to start.

And then guess what he had. Mmm-hmm. No surprise there. I think Ken needs to write a post on the best burgers to be found in Niagara.

What do you think?

I swear you’ll find no better burger expert.

For my main course, I had the Chicken Chimichurri Sandwich, matched with their 2016 Shiraz.

And on that note, I have something very important to tell you….

The 2016 Shiraz and the 2016 Cabernet Merlot are very good. Run to Peninsula Ridge right now and buy lots of bottles for those upcoming frosty nights. You’ll want to run even faster when you hear the price for them.

$14.95

I kid you not.

Oh, the wines I’ve sampled so far from 2016 – even at this very young stage – make my heart sing.

But back to lunch.

Peninsula Ridge offers lunch year round, Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 till 2:30. They also do brunch on Sundays from 11:30 to 2:30.

And before we finish up, I must add 13th Street Winery to this list. They have lunch available still on Thursday through Saturday for September. I dedicated a whole post to my recent lunch there, and it is most definitely worth a visit.

Let me know if you visit any of these wine country lunch spots yourself – or if you have any special favourites that I should check out too.

Maybe we should start a lunch club!

Hey….I like that idea.

Let me know if you do too.