A Niagara Restaurant Shines in a Blackened Barn
Plan a great escape to Jordan, Ontario where DesignAgency’s newest project illuminates the second floor of a gh3 designed building
Photography by John Cullen
The directions read like a treasure map. Drive past vineyards, an old chestnut tree and duck ponds until you see a minimalist black barn with a glowing second-storey window. This beacon marks the spot where Toronto’s DesignAgency, fresh from a Broadview Hotel redo, brought The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette winery to life.
The interior design team wanted the space to champion co-chefs Daniel Hadida and Eric Robertson’s delicate, French-inspired menu. (Think: roasted persimmon-glazed duck (pictured below) and house-made Cabernet Franc.) Local ingredients echo the surroundings, as does the gabled interior of the gh3 designed building.
“We kept the overall design subtle, focusing on such details as metal inlay in the concrete tabletops, which trace the paths of Niagara rivers,” the designers said, celebrating the landscape. Other custom work includes an installation of black string lights over a central harvest table, and a backlit display of regional photographs by Xavier Girard Lachaine. Otherwise, they remained sympathetic to the “purist vision” of the architecture.
The open kitchen gives chefs and diners clear sightlines of the action, and thus a touch of theatre. “We considered guests’ journey from the front door to the table,” DesignAgency explained. And so, when guests arrive at a discrete back door, they are led up a staircase to a comfy bar and lounge area with unsurpassed views of the surrounding fields. The main event – a rotating five-course dinner – is well worth the jaunt.
While you’re there…
Sleep DesignAgency might have a thing for Victorian luxe (we’re looking at you, Broadview Hotel). Thankfully, the Prince of Wales Hotel, the team’s fave spot to hit the hay when in the area, gushes 19th-century magic. Built in 1864, it has a mansard roof, Victorian furniture and a peacock-populated stained-glass wall, as well as excellent pub fare and spa treatments.
Shop Arrive well before your dinner reservation to explore Jordan Village, which offers gift shops, antiques and galleries on a bustling main street.
Drink Jordan House Tavern or “J House” is a favourite spot to unwind after a day of sightseeing, with tasty grub, local wines and craft beer on tap. Check their calendar for live music on the weekends.
Shop If you’re into sampling grub from food trucks, shopping wares from local artisans and listening to live music, the Handmade Market is your jam. Let’s talk about the butter tarts from 13th Street Bakery, Harvest Pillows’ organic buckwheat cushions that promise a just-like-in-the-country sleep and the fun, nerdy greeting cards by The Chemist Tree.
MAY 11 & 12, St. Catherines, ON
Drink When you crave Ontario in a bottle, try a swig in the Sipping Room at Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers. Its spirits celebrate fresh, raw ingredients – locally grown pears and rhubarb, as well as wormwood, an herb used in real absinthe, are all expertly turned into bitters on the spot. Ontario rye grain is a reason to order your whisky neat.