After we got back from the wine tour, we were a bit tipsy and really hungry since we didn’t eat much at all (which could be a reason why we were even more tipsy from the wine!). We ventured out into town in search of food and whatever else we might stumble upon. For a Tuesday in the middle of September, Niagara-on-the-Lake was bustling with activity! It was mostly retired folk, but also many tourists that came for the wine and town small atmosphere. Niagara-on-the-Lake’s main downtown strip was pretty cute and quaint, lined with shops and restaurants. There was a clock tower in the middle of town, which fit in with the classic small town charm.
We didn’t want to eat anything too heavy as we would be going out for dinner within a couple of hours, but we were pretty starving. Right on the main street, we found a place called Taste the Healthier Option (sounds right up our alley, doesn’t it?!), which was a soup and sandwich shop. We both were able to customize our sandwiches to make them vegan with loads of veggies. At first, we were sitting outside for the fresh air and people-watching, but it got a little bit chilly so we moved indoors. The sandwiches were perfect as a quick bite, and I was also able to enjoy a coffee to wake me up a little, too!
We explored the rest of the downtown area, and there were mostly just cheesy souvenir shops with the typical Canadian-themed tacky t-shirts and little bottles of maple syrup. We wandered into a Christmas store (I think they must have one in every town now since we keep coming across them!) where we found two Christmas ornaments with our names on them….already side by side! How cute! We didn’t end up buying any, but I thought this was pretty funny! Some of the stores that were fairly unique that we enjoyed – The Silver Screen, a shop that sold DVDs and memorabilia for older movies; Victoria Teas and Coffees, where you’ll find so many different beverage varieties, loose leaf teas and whole bean coffees; and Bee Modern Fabrics and Yarn, where we found lots of craft supplies as well as some beautiful hand crafted gifts.
When we got back to the hotel, we got changed for dinner by getting a little bit dressed up for the occasion. We went to Zee’s Grill, which happened to be attached to our hotel. I chose this restaurant because there were three vegan entrees on the menu, which was quite rare for Niagara-on-the-Lake where I couldn’t really find many other vegan options in the whole town! Therefore, we ended up staying at the Shaw Club Hotel because it was attached to this particular restaurant. The restaurant had a wonderful ambiance and we were seated in an enclosed, heated patio. We both ordered drinks to start – Justin got a beer and I got a peach cocktail.
Our waiter was super courteous, attentive and polite! We placed our entree orders, not necessarily telling him that we were both following a vegan diet, but we did order two of the vegan entrees. The chef sent a complimentary amuse-bouche to each of the tables, which happened to be some sort of small salmon dish. When our primary waiter discovered this, he quickly came over to our table and asked us, “Are you both vegetarian?” and apologized profusely for another waiter who brought the salmon to our table. We were both totally fine and just explained that we weren’t going to eat it, and it was all good! But, he went above and beyond by going to the chef and having him prepare a vegan amuse-bouche for us! He brought out two small chilled tomato soups with basil oil that were delicious! That was such a nice gesture and really nice of our waiter to go to all of the trouble.
For our appetizer, we ordered these little fried potato cakes that came with a sweet potato sauce, topped with a salad that included some pickled veggies. The potatoes were delicious little bites and all of the other ingredients complimented them perfectly!
For my main course, I ordered the Soba Noodle and Miso Pasta, which included garlic, bok choy, cauliflower, mushrooms and pickled ginger, house made miso and sweet chili sauce, cashews, cucumber, cilantro and daikon salad. Justin ordered the Japanese Bento Dinner, which included sushi rice, edamame beans, green onion, bok choy, garlic, carrot, ginger and marinated mushrooms, cucumber and daikon slaw, and wasabi mayo. My goodness. Both of these dishes were amazing. They were rich with an explosion of flavors, and the portions were huge! Justin said it was one of his favorite meals in a restaurant, ever. We will definitely be back if we find ourselves in the area.
Now, I’ll tell you a bit about the hotel! The Shaw Club was an upscale hotel located in the center of charming Niagara-on-the-Lake. In fact, it was directly across the road from the Shaw Theater where people can catch a play or other theatrical performance. The main foyer of the hotel is bright and majestic, and there are many free amenities for the guests. For instance, there was complimentary coffee all day and night, there were board games and DVDs that guests could borrow (DVD players in the rooms), and you could even borrow a pet during your stay. Yes, the hotel had small bowls of Beta fish that you could have in your room during your stay, and you could even purchase the fish and bring him home with you.
Our room was in a separate building just behind the main building. I had read reviews complaining about this building, but fear not! Unless you have a mobility issue, we found absolutely no difficulties with staying here. I would highly recommend staying in the annexed building! Let’s see…we had a fabulous newly renovated room with a whirlpool tub for about half of the price of a regular room! The only hitch was one flight of stairs we had to walk up to get to our room. So, if you’re willing to walk up a flight of stairs to get to your room, you could save a bundle by staying here like we did. Now, you might be wondering why Justin is lying on the ground in the above picture. Our receptionist who took us to our room explained that all of the room numbers are written on the door to the room, as well as the floor. She joked that this was for the people who had to crawl back to their room after drinking too much wine! So, we took this funny photo of Justin “passed out” in front of our room.
Our room was amazing! We could really tell that thought was put into the planning and decoration of the rooms. There was even a rubber ducky by the whirlpool tub. The shower in the bathroom was huge. There was even a little book in the room where we could write about our stay, and read what others had to say.
So, we did have one slight problem with the room, and I don’t think it is the fault of the hotel at all…but just a strange incident! This was the first time this has certainly ever happened to me. And thankfully it didn’t happen in the middle of the night! I was sitting on my side of the bed after dinner around 9:30pm when we heard a creaking sound…and, the bed broke! I got up to look underneath and it appeared that a metal piece under the bed had snapped and broke off. We went downstairs to the front desk where the girl apologized profusely and came upstairs with us to investigate. We had all never seen anything like it, especially since those rooms were newly renovated! Thankfully, the room next door was unoccupied, so we were able to move over there. She even gave us both rooms to use if we wanted to, but we really didn’t see the point in using the first one any longer. It was a bit of an inconvenience, but one of those freak accidents that likely couldn’t have been prevented. We did kind of like our first room better (bigger shower!) but otherwise, the rooms were identical. When we checked out of the hotel the next day, they actually gave me a $45 credit back for the inconvenience, which was a really nice gesture considering we didn’t even ask for any sort of refund! I would highly recommend staying at the Shaw Club – the rooms were really nice and comfortable, and the staff was highly attentive and friendly.