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Niagara And Surrounding Area

The Niagara Blog:     Executive Chef Raymond Taylor's Fine Cuisine at the Fallsview Casino Resort

View of Falls from 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan
View of Falls from 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan

Executive Chef, Raymond Taylor, photo by Mike Keenan Energetic Executive Chef, Raymond Taylor, happily walks us through his robust kitchens and not one but two prized Four Diamond restaurants under his care at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, noting the stylish Chef's Tables sequestered inside each kitchen which can command $200-$500 per plate from myriad high rollers and top notch entertainers who often drop by around 9 pm.

He introduces us to Chadi Khairallah, Chef de Cuisine at 21 Club and Claudio Marchese, Chef de Cuisine at Ponte Vecchio , his affable Four Diamond colleagues, and we are encouraged to sample appetizers first in 21 Club then our main course in Ponte Vecchio, the best of both Chefs Table, Ponte Vecchio, photo by Mike Keenan worlds.

Taylor has led the culinary team here for 6 years. With cheerful demeanor, he explains that he started as a dishwasher at age 11 in Scarborough, England , employed at a small inn, and that he helped the chef in his spare time. Gradually, he increased both kitchen time and talent, and a sparkling 25-year career has carried him around the world from England's renowned five-star Savoy Hotel and May Fair Hotel to London's iconic five-star Claridge's and the award-winning Mirabelle Restaurant , then on to Victoria's Fairmont Empress and later, the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. He worked at The Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, Orilla's Casino Rama , the luxury resort One & Only Ocean Club in Nassau, Bahamas and back north again as Executive Chef at Caesars Windsor, before laying down roots in Niagara. In his fast-paced environment, Chef Taylor may be responsible for directing up to 10,000 meals a day. Nonetheless, he looks quite fit, and explains that he works out two hours each day!

21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan   Chefs Chadi Khairallah & Raymond Taylor, photo by Mike Keenan   Pontye Vecchio photo by Mike Keenan   Chefs Raymond Taylor & Claudio Marchese, photo by Mike Keenan

In 21 Club, we enjoy a tremendous view of the falls through large glass windows. In the distance we see the huge Niagara Falls Ferris Wheel and the looming Skylon Tower beside us. From the attractive outdoor patio, which draws camera aficionados, we observe an orderly herb garden below as well as a spurting fountain that entertains some children.

Crab cake with Remoulade sauce, arugula, photo by Mike Keenan   Scallops with crushed avocado and sweet peas, photo by Mike Keenan   Tomato salad with buffalo milk mozzarella, photo by Mike Keenan

The bulky (and heavy) menus are magically lit up with LEDs when opened. The floor embodies an appropriate Niagara wave-like effect, and the room is nicely hushed for intimate dining. Our appetizers are delectable. We share crab cake with Remoulade sauce, arugula; scallops with crushed avocado and sweet peas; and tomato salad with buffalo milk mozzarella and aged balsamic, organic olive oil. We sip New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, 2011. It's a wonderful start.

Mario Prudente, Director of both restaurants, accompanies us downstairs for the main course. He gives us a brief tour of the specialty areas - the Noodle Bar and the Sushi and Oyster Bar that flourish in the early hours from 1-5 am. He purchases the wine, and his collection is truly impressive - 700 labels and 7,000 bottles from the best vineyards around the world.

Ponte Vecchio brings back happy travel memories for my spouse; it's a famous bridge that spans the Arno River in Florence, Italy, lined by high end shops such as jewelry stores, exclusive retail and art dealers.

Located off of the gaming floor by the Salon Privé, Ponte Vecchio features fine Italian dining, surrounded by an old world atmosphere painted in rich reds. I'm tempted to order the highly-regarded Piedmontese rib steak, dry aged 30 days but at 18oz., I opt instead for the Canadian prime New York striploin at 10oz. with seasonal vegetables, roasted fingerling potatoes and cabernet sauce. Cooked perfectly, it is magnificent, and the sauce is splendid. My spouse enjoys the chicken breast parmesan with mozzarella di Bufala and tomato basil sauce and spaghetti al Pomodoro. We merrily toast our meal with fine Pinot Grigio, 2011, Santa Margherita from Valdadige, Italy. The service is impeccable with water refills and constant attention.

Fountain below 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan   Herb Garden, photo by Mike Keenan   View from 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan   View from 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan   View of Canadian Falls from 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan

Although quite full, when in Rome...we finish with hand-crafted Italian gelato & sorbetti. Amazing! All of our dishes are wonderfully conceived, lovingly prepared, and skillfully presented as befits a mere 2.6 percent of the 29,000 restaurants approved by AAA/CAA to make the prestigious Four Diamond list. When in Niagara Falls , it's no gamble when you treat yourself to these Four Diamond gems!

Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls, Canada

DJI Phantom - Niagara Falls

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