By Lori Bosworth
I try to take a day trip or weekend trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake once a year. Featuring gorgeous heritage homes on lush tree-lined streets, a main street showcasing summer’s most colourful flowers and a five-minute walk to Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of my favourite towns. Since the town is only 1 ½ to 2 hours from Toronto, you can drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake for lunch and shopping and be back in T.O. by evening.
I recently visited Niagara-on-the-Lake to see Me and My Girl at The Shaw Festival. The musical is one of the headliners at the annual festival in 2017. You can read my review of Me and My Girl. We decided to have lunch before the show, but the problem in Niagara-on-the-Lake is an abundance of choice. We settled on The Irish Harp Pub on King Street, just one block north of the town’s main street, Queen Street.
The pub is actually a reproduction of a genuine Irish pub. Determined to have a slice of home in Ontario, County-Derry-born owner Trevor Smyth shipped the entire pub and contents from Ireland in 2005. Today, the pub is known for its great selection of beer and whisky and home-style meals.
Although the pub was buzzing when we arrived shortly after 12:30 p.m., we were quickly seated at a table near the back and provided with menus to peruse.
The interior is very homey with an old fireplace in the centre of the room, oak floors and hanging lanterns. You can just imagine having a wee pint of Guinness with Mr. Shaw or Mr. Joyce here.
My dining partner ordered the Mandarin Chicken Salad and requested that the mandarin oranges be omitted due to a food allergy. Our very agreeable server happily offered to add cucumbers to the salad in place of oranges and also swapped the raspberry vinaigrette dressing for olive oil. I ordered the Gold Medal Chicken Curry, which came with a Caesar side salad.
My friend enjoyed her modified chicken salad, although she would have liked one or two more pieces of chicken in her salad. I, on the other hand, was served a huge portion of Chicken Curry with Jasmine rice and mango chutney. The chicken was tender and the curry sauce was creamy with just enough heat, but there was too much for me to finish. I ended up taking half of my meal back to our hotel in a doggie bag. My Caesar salad included fresh Romaine lettuce, croutons, a creamy dressing and slivered Parmesan. I’m giving my Caesar salad two thumbs up…it was delicious.
We both enjoyed our lunch at The Irish Harp Pub. Since Niagara on the Lake is home to the Shaw Festival, it seems only fitting to enjoy a home-cooked Irish meal in honour of the famous Irish playwright.