Great meals for Stratford and Shaw Festival - guest blog by Richard Ouzounian
Toronto Star Travel Guy and Entertainment Report Richard Ouzounian has a guest blog appearance today....
Another season has begun at the Shaw and Stratford Festivals and while I’ve reported about the happenings onstage in the entertainment section, there’s also another critical component – at least as far as I’m concerned – and that’s food!
When you spend an entire week in Niagara-on-the-Lake or Stratford, you become increasingly aware of what’s new and good on the dining scene. Here’s some current updates. The Shaw Club Hotel is my residence of choice while at the Festival, not just because of it’s superb location and awesome 24/7 service, but because the very attractive dining spot, Zee’s Grill is attached. And it got even more attractive this year when Jason Dobbie took over the kitchen, stretching his wings after stints at the Wickaninnish Inn and the Hillebrand Estates Winery Restaurant. From the eggs benedict on aged cheddar at breakfast, through a meltingly good rib-eye burger (with killer fries) at lunch through a scrumptious spot prawn risotto at dinner, this is a place worth visiting, even if you’re not lucky enough to be staying at the hotel! (92 Picton St.; 905-468-5715; www.niagarasfinest.com/properties/zeesgrill. Oh, and don't forget the butternut squash soup.
There’s also a ton of pubs in NOTL, but this last visit, I paid several enjoyable visits to The Irish Harp. It’s bright and spacious and free of the claustrophobia many other similar places induce. I also really enjoyed the food: a NY strip steak covered with mushrooms they call “Gangs of New York”, or “O’Reilly’s Liver and Onions” which does justice to that much maligned dish. They also do a Haddock and Chips you’ll wind up scoffing down with delight. (245 King St.; 905-468-4443; www.theirishharppub.com).
At Stratford, some sad news first. Simple Fish and Chips, despite great press and buzz, closed its doors, leaving a sad gap on Downie Street. But let’s make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to another favourite. The York Street Kitchen has been delighting visitors to Stratford for 24 years with their overstuffed sandwiches and comfort food meals. (Their breakfast burrito has been my drug of choice for years.) Well, their lease came up and their landlord demanded a new figure that was astronomically higher. They had to relocate, which they did, and so they’re now “The York Street Kitchen on Erie”, still serving the same delicious grub as before. (24 Erie St.; 519-273-7041; www.yorkstreetkitchen.com) Let them know you still feel the love and jones their sandwiches.