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The Grantham House in St. Catharines making it work during a pandemic

By Michael Lowe

With even more COVID-19 restrictions driving the hospitality industry to despair, it’s becoming harder to enjoy a meal with anyone you want to at your favourite restaurant.

We’ve all had no choice but to adapt to the changes. My latest visit is to The Grantham House in St. Catharines to see how they are adapting.

For years, my visits to restaurants have included at least one other guest. The main reason was to order a wider range of dishes for my review. For the time being, I’ll go solo and pray that we can someday break bread with friends and family together at local restaurants. I dropped in for lunch last week and was pleasantly surprised with not only with the food, but with the upbeat attitude of owner Mark Wood.

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While sipping on a cold glass of Muskoka Brewery’s dry-hopped, refreshing India Session Ale (photo above), Mark Wood stops by to chat. When asked about the pandemic-driven restrictions he says, “The table spacing was not really a big adjustment for us. I really don’t like dining in spaces where tables are almost on top of each other anyway.” Wood has also recently expanded his business. In addition to his other restaurant, The Forty Publichouse in Grimsby, Wood acquired The Office Tap & Grill in downtown St. Catharines in September.

The Grantham House menu has a good selection of apps ($7-15) ranging from soup, to pretzels, to mussels. I start lunch with an appetizer of bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers (photo above). The plump, cheese-filled peppers wrapped with perfectly cooked bacon, which helps hold things together. They are a fantastic starter — spicy, cheesy, tasty, and satisfying.

 For lunch options there are a number of sandwich, wrap and burger selections ($13-18). I opted for the black and blue burger, which comes topped with blue cheese sauce, crumbled blue cheese and caramelized onions. There’s a nice crust on the burger from the spice blend and “blackening” on the grill while maintaining a medium to medium-well pale pink interior. The burger and toppings are tucked inside a lightly toasted brioche bun. Add a handful of hand-cut fries and it’s a meal that is hard to beat. Other menu options include pasta, chicken, salmon and steak dishes ($20-29) and salad offerings ($12-18). The menu also states that they are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions.

I arrived at the restaurant just after opening at noon and by 1 p.m. there were already about a dozen patrons enjoying lunch. After my lunch, chef manager James Cuttriss offered to show me the Grantham House banquet hall (photo above). They can accommodate up to 50 people in the room that has a billiard and ping-pong table and a golf simulator. Check out the restaurant’s Facebook page for news and specials like their Saturday tapas menu.

During my visit The Grantham House followed all the rules including recording my contact information. The service was prompt and cheerful and the food was of very good quality. I would gladly dine there again.

The Grantham House
14 Secord Drive,
St. Catharines, ON