Cider/Beer/SpiritsFoodTop Stories

Sunny patio, cold cider and hot tapas at Ironwood Cider House in Niagara

By Michael Lowe

Seeing patios filled with folks enjoying the warm weather is long overdue. This time, we visit Ironwood Cider House in their sparkling new venue and enjoy some great drinks and food.

Ironwood’s new space is bright, modern and welcoming (photo below). The black and white backdrop is a canvas for the vibrant, colourful artwork which is also emblazoned on the cider cans.

Niagara food

My reason for visiting Ironwood was, in part, an eagerness to sample the food of local restaurant, The District Tapas + Bar. Don’t let that photo of the empty patio above fool you. Within a half-hour it was filled with patrons sipping cool drinks and enjoying the sunshine.

I start with one of the cider flights (photo above) on offer at a cost of $15 for four samples. There are a couple of set flights, or you can have a curated flight. Mine was the “Modern” flight consisting of a lime-infused cider called Ciderita, the original classic dry cider, a lightly hopped cider, and a yuzu citrus cider called Yuja. All the ciders were crisp and refreshing, each with a unique flavour profile.

Our first lunch dish is a mini paella (photo above). Priced at $16, there is plenty to serve two as an appetizer. Plump shrimp and meaty chorizo top the saffron rice which features mushrooms, spinach, and fried capers. Everything about the dish screams brilliant flavour and balance. Saltiness of the capers is in check, enhancing the rest of the ingredients.

For lighter fare, you can’t beat the pickled grape salad ($18). Peppery watercress is the base, balanced with shaved red onion, sweet/tart pickled grapes, Manchego cheese, creamy toasted pine nuts and fresh red chili. The combination (photo above) is tossed with a dressing made from the Ciderita cider. My only wish is that there were a couple more grapes on the plate.

The Caprese grilled cheese ($18) is a playful spin on the beloved grilled sandwich (photo above). It uses soft, creamy bocconcini cheese, arugula, roasted tomato aioli, and pine nuts on a wonderful sourdough bread. It’s a satisfying, substantial meal when paired with the sweet potato fries.

Speaking of satisfying and substantial, there’s a tasty macaroni and cheese with chorizo sausage ($18) that fits the bill. The dish (photo above) uses a Cajun cheese sauce for depth of flavour along with chorizo, sweet roasted tomatoes and goat cheese crumble that adds some zest for balance. I opted for a pint of the aforementioned hopped cider, called Lakeshore ($8), to pair with the dish which created a nice contrast to the richness of the cheesy goodness.

Everything we tasted was a very good first impression of the food from The District. Likewise, every cider we tasted was well-crafted and enticing on the palate. If you are looking for a patio to visit this summer, you can’t go wrong with a stop at Ironwood where great food and drink awaits.

Ironwood Cider House
1425 Lakeshore Road,
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON