Sunday, September 6, 2015

That 70's Vacation - Niagara-On-The-Lake

A lesser known "secret" destination near Niagara Falls is called Niagara-On-The-Lake (NOTL), a charming little town 30 minutes north of the Falls surrounded by vineyards.

Of course, with my father driving, getting anywhere can be quite an adventure.

Since we had a car, we decided to drive up to NOTL. It seemed simple enough - just drive north on Stanley Avenue until we reached Route 405 where we'd head towards the US bridge, then turn north along the river.

Well, we were fine on Stanley Avenue, but then as we approached Route 405, my father mis-read the GPS map and actually go ONTO the highway, instead of the small access road alongside it. Look closely as the map below.

As a result, we ended up on a one way (no exit) highway towards the Queenston Lewiston Bridge - the one BACK TO AMERICA. Normally, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but we left our passports at our hotel!

Even though we made a U-Turn before actually getting onto the bridge (staying on Canadian soil), we still had to go back through Canadian Immigration.

Apologizing profusely, my father explained to the Immigration officer that we had gotten onto the 405 on our way to NOTL. "Didn't you see the signs?" he asked my pathetic father.

"No, I was just following our GPS."

After rolling his eyes, he took our driver's licenses and punched a few things into his computer. It must have checked out as we were permitted back into Canada.

Eventually, we found the small access road and then made it to NOTL with just 20 minutes before our 12:30PM lunch reservation at Treadwell Farm to Table Restaurant. As we drove along the main road entering the downtown area, we noticed how colorfully decorated the street was with beautiful floral arrangements.

As we struggled to find street parking, my father told my mother and me to head to the restaurant as he would continue to search for parking. My mother was given the street address (114 Queen Street), and we separated from my father. Normally, this divide and conquer plan wouldn't have been an issue, except that we were without our cell phone data plans to access the internet or our GPS maps.

My father eventually found parking down by the Lake. He then walked back past the NOTL park, towards Queen Street where all the shops and cafes were located. He hustled past tourists and eventually found a sign for Treadwell.

Fortunately, he arrived in time to keep our lunch reservation. Unfortunately, he had beaten my mother and me there. We were nowhere to be found! While my father took his seat, he started to worry if my mother would find the restaurant without the help of her iPhone data plan.

Of course, my mother and I eventually showed up, and were able to enjoy the best meal we had on our trip and definitely the best service we've possibly ever had.

The brunch menu was so amazing. For an appetizer, my parents and I enjoyed a charcuterie plate with local cured meats, fresh greens and crispy pork skins.

My parents ordered me the Smoked Bacon Pancake, which my mother agreed was one of the most delicious things we've ever had.

My father had an East Coast Lobster “Club” on Duck Fat Fried Bread.

My mother enjoyed her Crispy Skin North Atlantic Mackerel Filet with Fingerling Potato Salad.

But the best part (for me anyway), was our amazing server who was so professionally trained. First, she brought me some crayons and coloring books as she took our opening drink order. A nice touch, but nothing out of the ordinary in my limited experience. But after our entrees were cleared, she then offered me a trip to the kitchen where I could meet the dessert chefs and receive a complimentary scoop of sorbet! I told my father to tip her very well.

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