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Dining at Niagara’s Ravine Estate Winery — ever-changing menu keeps it fresh

By Michael Lowe

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery is, in every sense, an ever-changing and evolving entity. With a new chef at the restaurant’s helm and a recent change to the menu, it’s time to check in on what’s happening.

Niagara food

 My, how time flies. I had last dined at Ravine three years ago and since then not only do they have a new chef, Matt Payne, they also have a new winemaker, Lydia Tomek. They are also building a sprawling event space adjacent to the packing shed (photo above), which General Manager Martin Werner says is slated to open in October.

Niagara wine

This visit will be to sample the new mid-summer lunch menu. At Ravine the menus change not just with the seasons, but even as the garden’s bounty changes. At a glance the new menu features heirloom tomatoes, corn, zucchini, eggplant and other garden-fresh vegetables. But, first, there will be a few nice, plump oysters (photo above). They are served with a classic mignonette, some hot sauce and a wedge of lemon.

If there’s a charcuterie board you must try, it’s Ravine’s (photo above). The house-cured meats are made from high quality product, seasoned and cured in a state-of-the-art curing room adjacent to the barrel cellar. I particularly enjoyed the bresaola with its slight sweetness and cinnamon/clove spice notes. Crostini, made from house-baked baguette, are divine when topped with a generous smear of their silky smooth chicken liver parfait.

My next dish is a starter called “Land and Sea,” which features sea scallops and sweetbreads. It’s served with creamed corn and pickled jalapenos. The naturally sweet corn mirrors the sweetness of the caramelized scallops and the sweetbreads while the crispy, cornmeal crust on the sweetbreads contrasts the scallop’s soft texture. Pickled jalapenos add acidity and a touch of heat to balance the sweet components. A beautiful wine pairing here is the fresh, lively, fruit-forward Sand and Gravel Chardonnay.

 I am a fan of lamb and of pork belly. Therefore, me ordering the lamb BLT, might be a foregone conclusion (photo above). House-baked bread is stuffed with a generous helping of rich lamb belly with a nice ratio of lean meat, tasty fat and a bit of crisp skin. Heirloom tomatoes, butter lettuce and herb mayo provide freshness and balance to the hearty sandwich. It comes with a wholesome, earthy grain salad, which together with the delicate flavour of the lamb pairs very well with the 2017 Sand and Gravel Pinot Noir.

For dessert, I savour a moist buttermilk cake with strawberry cream and fresh berries (photo above). With a cup of the fantastic coffee served here, it’s a light, satisfying, seasonal end to a wonderful lunch. My server, Tara, who has been with Ravine for about eight years, adds a delightful, personable touch to the experience. It was a mid-week visit and the restaurant was very busy so reservations are recommended. Expect to spend about $50-60 per person for a three-course lunch — plus wines and gratuities. Another dining option is to enjoy pizza from the wood-fire oven on the patio from Thursday to Monday. What Ravine does best is offer local, farm-fresh, seasonal fare, along with some amazing wines and ciders, in a relaxed vineyard setting.

Ravine Estate Winery

1366 York Road,
St. Davids, ON