By Mike Lowe
The Grill on King restaurant, opened in December 2008, is the latest in a string of businesses to occupy the location on King Street that was home to MJ Greene Livery Stable back in the day when the horse and buggy was the main mode of transportation. This latest transformation affords clientele the opportunity to relax in comfortable, casual surroundings while dining on well prepared dishes of plentiful proportions.
The restaurant is decorated in warm earth tones of brown and green with matching, natural slate accents while wall-to-wall wood wine racks recall the days when the space was occupied by a wine store. Lively jazz music sets the mood for our lunchtime visit, one that earns the restaurant my second 4 star rating of 2011.
Both the lunch and diner menus are balanced with a good mix of dishes including burgers, sandwiches, fish, meat, poultry and pasta dishes suitable for most tastes. Lunch prices range from $5 for the lowest priced app to $18 for the top lunch entrée. Dinner entrées start at $15 and top out at $35 for rack of lamb. The wine list is made up of approximately 70% imported and 30% domestic offerings at respectable prices.
The calamari ($12) is a great way to kick things off. Two whole squid tubes are sliced part way through and grilled to perfection. The calamari is so tender that finishing the cuts into bite-sized pieces is easily manageable with a bread knife. A nice touch is the thick, smooth and savoury curried mayonnaise served alongside for dipping. Half a lemon is supplied if you prefer the simple, fresh, traditional approach to the dish.
Our other appetizer, the classic Greek spanakopita ($10), is also a delight. Five triangles of flaky phyllo pastry come packed with spinach, fresh herbs (including dill) and just the right amount of salty feta cheese.
Next, we dive in to a classic Reuben sandwich and a grilled vegetable pita. Both rectangular white plates are presented with a salad of fresh greens dressed with tangy raspberry vinaigrette. A pile of golden-brown and crispy house-cut fries lie on the opposite side of the plate just screaming for a drizzle of malt vinegar and a sprinkle of salt- delicious!
The Reuben is one of the best I’ve had in the region. Paper thin, shaved corned beef is layered on lightly toasted light rye bread resulting in a favorable 2:1 meat to bread ratio. The mandatory sauerkraut and Gruyere cheese are clearly present and the sandwich is dressed with smear of zesty Catalina dressing. This less creamy, but more colorful substitute to Russian or Thousand Island dressing, does nothing to detract from the overall enjoyment.
Service during our stay was top-notch with every detail taken care of by our gracious server, Razeen (Raz for short). Dishes were served within a reasonable time frame (at all tables) and garnered comments of approval from most customers within earshot. The other server on duty was quick to show us photographs of the original livery stable that occupied the space many decades ago.
Our experience at Grill on King proves that you can still find good food and great service even in the dead of winter in the most notoriously touristy locations in Niagara. Our meal of two apps, two mains, one beer and soft drink totals $63 (plus tip). Grill on King opens for service at 11:30am Wednesday- Sunday and closes at 9pm (10pm on Friday and Saturday). The restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday during winter months.
RATING (out of 5): 4 stars
Grill on King
233 King St.,
905 468 7222
Mike’s Wine Pick of the Week:
Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (VQA- Niagara Peninsula)
$13.95 (750ml) $24.95 (1500ml)
Fresh aromas of citrus, melon and varietal grassy notes. Lots of fleshy, ripe fruit on the palate, crisp acidity and medium length. Great with grilled seafood and light dishes.
Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate
2145 Regional Road 55,
Niagara On The Lake, ON