I had wanted to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a quiet weekend getaway, without knowing that all reasonable accommodations were fully booked. Tobermory was another choice, but they too were full. So what do I do? Look in our Where to Eat in Canada book for some inspiration, hoping that we might be able to find a place that would at least have some good food!
Enter Port Stanley: an hour and a half drive from Waterloo. Half an hour from London, and on the north side of Lake Erie. A town with only one traffic light, and a lift bridge (that didn’t lift when we were there). Calm, serene, and peaceful. And, it offers two sand beaches: Little Beach (one more suitable for quiet lounging) and the Main Beach – long stretch of beach, big waves, and lifeguards on duty. Plus, everything is within walking distance.
We started the weekend with cool weather, on the tourist train, much like the St. Jacob’s train, but with open windows. Unfortunately, the engine broke down halfway through our trip and we ended up being stranded for awhile – until they could bring another engine to push the train. We ended the night with a play Wrong for Each Other at the local festival theatre, and it was especially comical, because we actually do “fight” like that sometimes.
On the first day, we visited the two restaurants that were mentioned in Where to Eat in Canada: M.E. and Suzie’s for a late lunch and Windjammer Inn for dinner before the show. We quickly found out that Lake Erie Yellow Perch is the local specialty – fresh tasting too: light and not fishy. We loved the way Windjammer made the perch (served with seasonal veggies) and their flourless dark chocolate cake was amazing: warm and not too sweet or rich! M.E. and Suzie’s own brew seemed good, and their ale and white cheddar soup was certainly unique (and not too salty surprisingly). Both places had hot bread: crispy on the outside, moist and soft on the inside. One even had lime or lemon zest in/taste to it.
It wasn’t only at the restaurants where we enjoyed good food. We had stumbled upon a great bed and breakfast: the Telegraph House. Of the many places we tried to inquire about room availability, this one was the only one that had an opening at a fair price. So, due to limited choices, we took the last room that was available, not certain if we ended up with an okay place.
What we got was more than expected – loose leaf tea available for guests, a room that was spacious, had great lighting, and enough privacy and freedom that I felt like we were at an inn instead of a B&B. The bed looked soft; you could put you palm on it and it would sink, but when I slept on it, it felt firm enough. I hadn’t slept on a feather bed before, but if that’s what it feels like, it was comfortable. The only down side for this room is that the bathroom is down the hall (knew before booking) and fireplace wasn’t on yet, despite the chilly first night. One bonus is that if your own private washroom was occupied, the other person could use the public one without it being too far away.
I was already drawn to this B&B when I saw their breakfast menu online and the variety of choices. I guess one might expect good food from Jon and Vicci (the hosts), considering they owned a restaurant in London once upon a time and that the public dining room (at the time of operation) at the B&B is the third top-rated place in Port Stanley on Restaurantica.com – after M.E & Suzie’s, Winjammer Inn, and then Mackie’s. When even locals recommend it, including the server at Windjammer Inn, you know that you are at the right spot. As one who takes every opportunity to sleep-in, I wasn’t about to sleep-in and miss this breakfast!
Oh, and let’s not forget about the lemon meringue pie! Earlier in the day, a local from St. Thomas had raved about their deep-dish rhubarb pie, so she was surprised to find out that they closed the dining room to the public. Vicci didn’t have rhubarb (not in season is my guess), but she let us try the lemon meringue instead. What a pleasant surprise: a light, not-to-sweet summery pie and the meringue itself wasn’t stiff at all – you could almost see the lemon zest in the setting sun!