If you’ve been in a relationship for many years, your version of romance may have slowly shifted from surprise hotel stays and rose bouquets to your partner remembering your favourite brand of oat milk at the grocery store.
At least, that’s the case for my relationship. After nine years of happy coupledom, our romance is more along the lines of takeout-and-HBO than jetting off to Paris. Our routine, though lovely, was in need of a jolt of old school romance – full of the kind of wonderment and delight usually reserved for Hollywood rom-coms.
We didn’t have to look too far for the perfect escape: Niagara. Just a short, enjoyable road trip from Toronto, the region has it all, from gourmet dining to over 50 vineyards made for strolling hand-in-hand. And nothing says classic romance quite like a candlelit, multi-course dinner. We had the makings of a perfect date.
In Niagara, there is no shortage of options for tasty and intimate dining experiences, from the splashy, award-winning and inventive dishes at Restaurant Pearl Morissette to the charming, elevated Canadian fare at Inn on the Twenty. For our Saturday night out, we drive along vineyard roads in the dusky early evening to our destination: Vineland Estates Winery.
Located in the heart of the famed Niagara Benchlands, about a 40-minute drive from the Falls, Vineland Estates houses one of the first winery restaurants in the area, located inside a renovated 1845 farmhouse. The executive chef at Vineland Estates Winery – The Restaurant, George Ward, is a Niagara native who innately understands the beauty of local ingredients and translates them into dishes that feel familiar yet fresh.
We start with the beef tartare and lobster tail, an indulgent dish that proves that sometimes more is more, and the savoury, complex house-cured duck pastrami. The mains – melt-in-your mouth lingcod accompanied by celeriac puree and sweet heirloom beets as well as a vegetable-packed, blue-cheese spiked fettuccine – are both excellent. For dessert, we split a chocolate pear tart made with chai-infused shortread, trading bites back and forth. All the while, we sip on a reserve Cabernet Franc that’s bursting with jammy strawberry flavours.
The restaurant gets the vibe just right: a tea candle on each table, subtle music that allows for rich conversation and even a crackling fire at the head of the dining room. We feel so far away from our day-to-day concerns and routines. We vow to come back in the summer, when we can enjoy a long evening on the patio.
After the night my partner and I had, there’s no doubt: Niagara knows how to do romance. Whether you’re in the early days of the honeymoon phase or looking to reignite a spark, a dinner in Niagara – with all its tantalizing bites and smooth sips – is the perfect evening.
Your relationship will thank you.
For one-of-a-kind experiences, try the Igloo-like 10below Icewine Lounge built with more than 13,000 kilos of ice, where you’ll sip on luscious Icewine. Or take to the skies with a helicopter ride to capture the view of the mystical sight of an icy Falls.
Your romantic Niagara is here to be discovered.