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Niagara And Surrounding Area

Queenston Heights Restaurant

The Niagara Blog:     Queenston's Charm and Niagara Parks' Executive Chef Bill Greenan

Easing along the Niagara River Parkway from Niagara on the Lake's flower-laden Old Town towards the quaint Executive Chef Bill Greenan, photo by Mike Keenan village of Queenston, one encounters mature oaks, maples and a few firs for variety along with several appealing fruit stands that offer succulent cherries and peaches. With the wide Niagara River featuring jet boats and a bike path on one side, myriad wineries and gorgeous homes on the other and Parkway grounds meticulously maintained by Niagara Parks' Commission staff, one relishes what Winston Churchill in 1944 described as "The Prettiest Sunday Drive in the World."

Appropriately, on a Sunday, I wind my way past the minute chapel at Line 1 (always frequented by camera-toting Asian tourists) and Laura Secord's famed homestead from where she bravely trekked 32 km to warn the British of an impending American attack. I pass the RiverBrink Art Museum (replete with works by Tom Thomson, Mary Cassatt and Cornelius Krieghoff), Queenston's tiny and ideal art gallery located on the very heights that invading American soldiers scaled during the War of 1812. Atop a steep hill and just before the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, with the imposing Brock's Monument towering close-by, like many, you can pack a picnic here or like me today, experience the award-winning Sunday Brunch at the Queenston Heights Restaurant where I join Niagara Parks Executive Chef Bill Greenan.

Bill mastered the classic French cuisine program at Niagara College, and he enjoyed teaching there at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute thereafter. Greenan got his start in the food business at the old Beacon Inn along the QEW, lives in St. Catharines, and is a supporter of local suppliers and Niagara's fresh produce; therefore, you notice a "farm to table" attitude in his summer patio menus (open May-September). Queenston Heights Restaurant also features an inclusive selection of tasty Niagara VQA wines.

This hot afternoon, we dine inside, buffeted by the AC, sitting in front of large windows providing a striking panoramic view of the Niagara River with a few sailboats underway and Lewiston's Artpark moored just to the south.

Bill likes to fuse his creative cooking style with an Asian flare and Latin influence. His résumé includes prestigious Niagara kitchens including the White Oaks Resort, Queen's Landing Inn, the Oban Inn, and the Niagara Falls Crowne Plaza Hotel. He organized and executed both Niagara Falls casino grand openings, and has served former Prime Ministers, John Turner and Paul Martin.

Flora outside restaurant, photo by Mike Keenan  Fountain outside restaurant, photo by Mike Keenan  Restaurant patio, photo by Mike Keenan  Restaurant view, photo by Mike Keenan  Tiny chapel at Line 1, photo by Mike Keenan

This impressive restaurant, quite rustic in nature, surrounded by spring blossoms and lush summer flower beds, is a favourite choice for special occasions, and I have attended more than one wedding reception here.

Today, we choose from a wide assortment of artisan breads, croissants and freshly baked goods, soup, vegetables, myriad salads (I prefer the seafood salad with cold poached shrimp and mussels.), roast beef with cabernet sauvignon jus, an omelet station, and many hot selections including eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce plus for carbohydrate aficionados, a delectable dessert buffet with assorted pastries, cakes, pie and squares, warm bread pudding and a seasonal fruit platter for the squeamish, all for $29.95 for adults, $25.95 for seniors, and $14.95 for children 12 years and under.

After brunch, at the nearby Queenston Heights Bandshell, there is a Sunday afternoon concert series from 2-4 p.m. Tourists and locals can enjoy big band, jazz and Dixie sounds gratis, but remember to bring a blanket or lawn chairs! (check the NPC website for a schedule: http://www.niagaraparks.com/events )

Also, if you are the hardy type, to wear off some lunchtime calories, you might sample the conveniently-located Queenston Heights loop of the Bruce Trail, Canada's longest footpath which begins right here at the stone cairn at the eastern end of the park. The path follows the edge of the escarpment through dense woods comprised up of cherry, maple, ash and oak trees, and offers ardent hikers 11 full kilometers of trails that take approximately 3.5 hours to complete. Having walked it earlier, I find the trail relatively easy and generally flat with only a few steep climbs and descents, but regrettably close at the beginning to highway traffic din.

The small village of Queenston delivers a complete package for tourists. Given its unique history, culture and cuisine, along with an opportunity to explore the Bruce Trail, Queenston is well worth a Niagara jaunt!

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