After the famed waterfalls, the place that visitors to Niagara Falls, Ont. are most likely to visit is Lundy's Lane.
The high-rollers might not stray far from the casino and water-view hotel towers, but middle-class families gravitate towards the lane for mid-range hotels, shopping and eating. Lundy Lane's restaurants include a proliferation of national and international outlets, like IHOP, Red Lobster, and Don Cherry's Sports Grill, plus a scattering of outstanding home-grown joints.
One of those is The Syndicate, 6863 Lundy's Lane (289-477-1022), where diners can find farm-to-table cuisine and house-brewed beer at prices comparable to the chain places. Opened in 2010, it's the first of a three-store group with outlets in St. Catharine's and Grimsby.
The Syndicate pours at least five beers brewed in the back of the restaurant.
Here's a flight featuring, left to right, its crisp, dry Logger Lager; Mild Ale, a low-alcohol beer (3.5 percent) that sips like iced barley coffee; Blonde Ale, a light, summery quaff, and Sinister Sam's IPA, its most popular brew, a hoppy Northwest Pacific style brew with lots of caramel malt that clocks in at 6.7 percent alcohol.
The lunch menu ranges from $6 for soup and toasted baguette to $16 for a lobster BLT.
A Bruschetta Steak Salad ($14) features Ontario grass-fed steak, chewier than lowest-common-denominator beef, but offering more flavor, too. It was serves with an apple and cheery tomato salsa, over greens, with a grainy dijon vinaigrette.
There's also a sandwich I wish I could have cozied up to in the subzero chill of February: the Overloaded Bacon Sandwich ($12).
A couple mighty slabs of pork belly, braised and seared, are topped with crispy bacon, naturally. Then there's sweet shallot jam, sauteed spinach, red pepper, havarti cheese, and scallion aioli.
To make matters even more carbolicious, it's served with excellent house-cut fries. If you finish this sandwich yourself, there's a good chance you will be drowsily looking for a cave, in which to hibernate until spring.
Three-course prix fixe dinners are $22 to $28, featuring more premium Canadian ingredients like pickerel and lamb shank. If Niagara Falls, Ont. beckons this summer, pause in the glare of the neon signs, and remember choices like The Syndicate are there too.
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