Peller was long recommend to us and so Cheri and I finally made it here on a sunny Sunday afternoon on our anniversary day. An enjoyable part of our experience was the drive through the Niagara Escarpment countryside.
The winery is a bit hidden off the main road, however the dominating main entrance is had hard to miss. Once inside, we were welcomed by a living room hall set with a fireplace and a grand piano to to the side. The hostesses greeted us and navigated us away from the tasting room, to the restaurant near the back.
The restaurant is entered by an arched stone passage, leading to the sunlit dining room. The soothing hues of warm-brown and muted pink worked beautifully with the golden details.
We took our time choosing with which menu to go with. Both brunch and lunch menus were available - chef options and a la carte.
We had to honor the Jason Parsons' work for both menus, and the suggested wine options. The brunch menu was pretty set in its options, while the lunch one we went with surprise courses. While making our choice, we enjoyed an array of interesting breads with butter.
Next, we were surprised by a chefs compliment - a fried pork wonton with ginger mustard, a refreshingly spicy start.
Our wines made their way. The 2012 Muskat had a slight rose, peach-pear nose, it was light in body and after taste. The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was citrusy, slightly smoky with tones of bitter fruit, but overall well balanced. These glasses made us appreciate having wine as a side of any meal - so easy going, it's hard not to feel fresh.
These wines were great matches for our dishes. The Tuna Tartare came with an interesting spicy, zest sauce. It had diced pickles, and was topped with sprouts. Most importantly, it came with a side of a warm brioche, which had layers of eggy sweetness.
The other, surprise, dish was a Trout on a few crackers with light creme fraiche. Underneath was a type of a salad, including celery, beets, radicchio, etc. It had a very unique sauce I couldn't get myself to enjoy - slightly spicy, transparently, with a light farm odour.
We lingered and enjoyed the atmosphere. The music was light and jazzy, the tables were still bathing in sunshine.
The champagne style, Cuvée was next - a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay mix. A portion of wine was removed in the process and replaced with a late harvest Vidal giving the drink a unique sweet touch. Refreshing, bubbly, sweetness followed by sour, it was an intriguing wine overall. Our other wine was a 2012 reserve Riesling - hint of mineral, dryness, and light aftertaste, made this wine very friendly for any food match. The matches chosen were a Scallop Benedict and Butternut Squash soup. The seafood bennie came on a crumbly, buttery bread, topped with peameal bacon, and frothy, hollandaise sauce. Garnished by fresh bean sprouts and, of course, a tender piece of scallop. This dish was so well put together, that Cheri (the seafood adversary) was able to enjoy it.
The butternut squash soup, with hints of ginger and caramelized onion, was assembled in from of us. And island of garnishes in the middle of a bowl, were soon swimming in the creamy butternut squash soup - art came together in front of us.
Next was a surprising, simple, palate cleanser. Shaved ice, topped with a syrupy dashes of Ice Wine Cuvée with spice vanilla reduction.
The heavier red wines made their way to us. The 2011 Meritage was one of them - complex and full bodied, it was great. Our dishes were Strip Loin and Rib Eye steak. The strip loin (a type of fillet minion) was impressive - juicy and tender. It had a caramelized crust, while all the juices inside were beautifully preserved - cooked medium-rare. It came with a side of peppers and zucchini on quinoa. A great dish. I found the rib eye steak a weak competitor, as the meat was much more stiff and dry. The side of chickpea, lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, sprouts, etc only enhanced my lack of enthusiasm. I was sure glad Cheri didn't mind it.
We took nice breaks between each course as the new wine matches arrived to set our palates and we enjoyed each other's company.
So, it was time for dessert. For the surprise dish, I asked to get their cheese board. Our sweet waitress agreed and presented us with a board of Québecois cheeses, picked by the chef. They included: smoked Gouda with a side of sweet Dijon, blue cheese with fresh sun-dried tomatoes, and a dry Hercules with a side of pistachios. This is definitely my favorite kind of dessert, paired with a Late Harvest Vidal 2012 - sweet yet with a strong structure and body to live up to those cheeses. This was also the match for out the second dish - an Apple Cranberry Crumble - with the smell of cinnamon, and the smoothness of custard - we quite enjoyed it.
Cheri and I got so en-wrapped in this experience - the shining ambiance, warm colors and serene view - we ended up having a 3hr a-la-French lunch. It was a pleasure trip for all our senses - worth every minute!