Fabulicious Niagara-on-the-Lake

Ken and I have a couple of nicknames for each other.

Not names like “snookums” and “pookiewookiekissieface” or other nauseating cutesy things that some couples come up with. We’re actually a bit boring  – “Sweetie” works just fine for us.

However, when it comes to what we like in food, we have special nicknames for each other.

We are Foodie and the Beast.

In case this needs any clarification, I’m the foodie. He’s the beast. In the nicest way possible, of course.

I’ve mentioned before that our differences in food can be a challenge when we go out to eat. Ken is very particular about what he likes, and so am I – we’re just particular in two very different ways. He’s not into exotic ingredients, or as he explains it, “roasted aardvark with sautéed parsnips and a sprig of wheatgrass, drizzled with raspberry coulis”. Personally, I’ve never seen anything like that on a menu, but hey – if a chef can make that taste good, I’m willing to try it. Ken, however, would not.

So when I find menus that can please us both, I rejoice heartily.

Fabulicious helped us out with that last week.

Held twice a year in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fabulicious is a special week-long event occurring in November and February that many area restaurants participate in. During the event, you can indulge in special three course lunches for $25 or three-course dinners for $35. We usually get out to a restaurant once during Fabulicious, as my Beast can usually find one menu that he likes.

This time was different though.

First, we found several menus that would please both of us, so we had to narrow down our choices. Also, we decided to go for lunch instead of dinner. Going out for a three course lunch just seems a bit more luxurious, as it’s typically something you only do on a day off or special occasion. I will also admit here, going for lunch meant the light would be better for photos. Which is always a consideration when you have a blog, right?

But enough of my blabbing, let’s get to the food.

Our first lunch was at Trius.

What a pretty, pretty restaurant.

The atmosphere is elegant, yet relaxed. Plus they have the wine rack of my dreams.

Because we had studied the menu ahead of time, we knew exactly what we were going to have. I started with the Ontario Mushroom Collection, which was a selection of sautéed Ontario Mushrooms with fresh Ontario Burrata cheese, arugula and watercress tossed in maple balsamic. This was paired with their Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. Mushrooms + Burrata + Barrel Fermented Chard = Bliss.

Ken had the Hearts of Romaine Salad, which was cured prosciutto, du Puy lentils, and parmesan dressing with a parmesan tuile. Such a lovely presentation too.

For our mains, Ken had the Trius Fish and Chips, which was Lake Erie whitefish with a Trius Brut tempura, celeriac slaw and hand cut fries

And I had the Trius Surf and Turf. Look at this cute presentation.

A ribeye burger, topped with Canadian bacon, aged cheddar, and icewine onion jam. The “surf” was an Atlantic salmon and shrimp BLT. This came with hand cut truffle fries, and the suggested wine pairing was Trius Red.

A great match.

For dessert, Ken had the Triple Chocolate Tart

And I had the Upper Canada Cheese Plate

It was perfect for a leisurely Saturday lunch. I loved the twist on old favourites like fish and chips and burgers, and those truffle fries are something else too. Casual food taken to a new level, and presented so beautifully. I would expect nothing less from Trius. Our service was excellent too. It was a very busy day, and everyone from the people who greeted us to our server took very good care of us.

We enjoyed our lunch so much that we called and booked right away at Ravine Vineyard for the following day. I was lucky to get a reservation – all they had left was a table at 12 pm.

Lately, I’ve been thinking how simple foods done well can truly make eating a pleasure  – whether it’s at a restaurant, or your own home. Things like a beautifully made loaf of bread. A flavourful tomato sauce. A great burger. And now, I’m going to add something else here.

Butter.

Yes. Butter.

What does the Restaurant at Ravine do to its butter? It is the creamiest, most flavourful butter I think I’ve ever had. I wanted to lick the spoon after our bread was finished, as I didn’t want a single morsel to be wasted.

I restrained myself, however. Restaurant decorum and all that.

Oh, and Ravine’s bread….. But I’ve mentioned that already.

After we ordered, our server brought over my first wine pairing. I’ll just mention here that I loved the wine pairing option that was offered at Ravine. Two 3oz. pours to match your first and second courses, and then coffee to go with your dessert. I liked this, as I’m not a big dessert wine person, so preferred having the coffee.

For my first course, I was given Ravine’s Pinot Gris, which had a stunning vibrant colour.

It was perfect with my White Bean and Roasted Onion Soup

Ken had the Mushrooms on toast.

Followed by one of his most favourite foods, the Ravine Burger. Ken is a major burger lover, and is very particular about how he thinks burgers should be done. He said the burger at Ravine is definitely on the list of the Top Three Burgers he’s ever had. That’s high praise coming from my Beastie burger king.

My main course was the Ravine Reuben Sandwich, made with their own Cabernet smoked brisket. This was matched with their 2015 Cabernet Franc.

My wine buddies already know that I’m not a big Cabernet Franc fan. No, I guess I should rephrase that. I am not a fan of many Cab Francs that I’ve tried because they are too bitter for me. You know, the ones that make you think of green pepper? Not my thing.

But some Cab Francs are stunning. Smooth and rich, with not a trace of vegetal bitterness at all. Those are the Cabernet Francs I love.

Ravine’s is one of them.

And that Reuben sandwich was very good.

Our third course was the Warm Chocolate Brownie, and was the perfect finale. Just the right size too.

Our final Fabulicious lunch was planned for Tuesday, and it was a spot I had been wanting to get to ever since it opened – Niagara’s Finest Thai.

One of the things I’ve been missing since leaving Toronto was having a good Thai restaurant in my neighbourhood. Now my wishes have come true. And if any restaurant entrepreneurs are out there reading this, I’d love a good Indian restaurant in NOTL too, ‘kay? Just in case you need any ideas.

But I digress. let’s talk about our lunch.

My Mom joined Ken and I for this one, cause she’s a Thai fan too. They both started with Guay Tiew Gai, the rice noodle soup with chicken.

Look at the length of these perfect noodles.

I had Por Pia Sod, the fresh spring roll with tofu, carrot, bean sprouts, lettuce and Thai Coriander. Light and fresh and came with a Thai chili dipping sauce for a nice spicy zing.

One thing I will mention here is that each dish is made fresh when you order, so make sure you keep that in mind when you visit the restaurant. You will want to allow extra time so you can relax and enjoy your meal.

Cause it will be a good one.

Mom continued with Guay Tiew Kua Goong, which was Thai rice noodles stir fried with chicken, egg, tomato, shredded lettuce and bean sprouts.

Ken and I both had the Pad Kra Prao Neur – beef tenderloin strips, Thai chilis, garlic, long beans, and Thai basil with a crispy fried egg on top.

Both were delicious, and we’re ecstatic to have a local spot for Thai in Niagara-on-the-Lake now.

So, both Foodie and the Beast were happy with our Fabulicious adventures, and there were a few other menus we would have liked to try as well.

Luckily, we won’t have to wait for another year, cause the next Fabulicious should be happening in November.

Mark it in your calendar now.

We’re so fortunate to have lots of great restaurant options here in Niagara. Did you attend Fabulicious? What restaurants have you tried recently? I’m always looking for new recommendations.

Just keep in mind I have to run them by my Beast.