Back­house

For a hint oF napa val­ley in ni­a­gara

Toronto Life - - This City -

where: 242 Mary St., Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake driv­ing time From toronto: Two hours

There’s no short­age of charm­ing gin­ger­bread store­fronts in Ni­a­gara-on-theLake. But this restau­rant sits next to a Sub­way and a con­ve­nience store in a strip mall far re­moved from the town’s picturesque main street. It’s one of those un­promis­ing lo­ca­tions that only height­ens the feel­ing of a spe­cial dis­cov­ery. Chef Ryan Craw­ford—tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from an ap­pren­tice­ship at Michael Stadtlän­der’s iconic Ei­gensinn Farm and a spell at the French Laun­dry, Thomas Keller’s Napa Val­ley land­mark— prac­tises what he grandly calls “in­te­grated cool-cli­mate cuisine,” bor­row­ing a wine term to de­scribe how al­most every­thing he cooks hails from nearby, in­clud­ing from his own pro­duce farm less than a kilo­me­tre away. He cures his own bre­saola and brines his own breadand-but­ter pick­les. He dresses a salad of just-picked greens with barely-there ver­jus and lo­cally cold-pressed canola oil. The pork in a light ragoût for a bowl of hand-made riga­toni comes from Berk­shire pigs that roam freely on a neigh­bour­ing farm, din­ing on acorns and spent grains from the Oast House brew­ery. The din­ing room, filled with happy Shaw-go­ers, is spare and el­e­gant, with oak logs stacked by the en­try, a glassed-in wine cel­lar, and a view of an open kitchen where Craw­ford works a wood-fired brick oven and grill. I es­pe­cially rec­om­mend the burger, which is flash-charred, and stacked with crisped pancetta, a funky aïoli made with lo­cal black gar­lic, pick­les and melt­ing slices of mi­mo­lette. It’s so good you might be­lieve burg­ers are a lo­cal in­ven­tion, too. Cost: $99 per per­son for the 12-course chef’s tast­ing menu. Wine pair­ings from $89.

1. House-made speck, capi­collo, duck liver mousse, apri­cot com­pote, bread-and­but­ter pick­les, and wood-oven rye and whole wheat sour­dough breads

2. Chef Ryan Craw­ford

4. House-made riga­toni bolog­nese

3. Burger with black gar­lic aïoli, pancetta and mi­mo­lette cheese

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