Friday, 24 July 2009

Not Just For Honeymooners After All...

Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to stay at one of the hotels overlooking the falls in Niagara Falls Canada. I can remember staring up at their tall glass facades, aged about four, and thinking how wonderful it would be to sleep overlooking the falls. My parents told me they were only for people on honeymoon – and I can understand why – as a young couple with a small child, they were hardly a frugal accommodation choice.

Of course, as I got older, I realised people other than honeymooners stayed at those hotels, but they stayed firmly out of my reach for the early years of my marriage. Thankfully times have changed, so when the opportunity to visit Niagara again arose recently, I decided it was time to fulfil my long held dream of staying overlooking this wonder of the world, I chose the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel on Fallsview Road for our adventure. Having seen the hotel for themselves as well, my husband and son had absolutely no hesitation in encouraging me to go ahead with this plan.

Travelling as a family of three – especially when one of us is aged sixteen - can have its challenges. Although most hotel rooms in North America have two double beds, one room does not really afford any of us the privacy we need. However many hotel suites only have one king sized bed so this is no good either. On many occasions my husband and I have had a suite and our son has had an ordinary double room. This has been fine for us, but has not pleased our son very much at all! This is where the Sheraton Fallsview is wonderful. They have family suites, overlooking both the Canadian and American falls, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living area. It was perfect. This also meant we could take advantage of a special service offered by the Sheraton – in room candlelit dining overlooking the falls.

Okay, I know this feature is probably designed mainly for those honeymooners my Dad told me about all those years ago, but dining by candlelight as a family is really nice too. It makes you slow down a bit, and really talk about things – and with a view like we had, there was no shortage of conversation topics on offer. I was a bit concerned though, as room service is normally either spectacularly good or spectacularly awful. I’ve had wonderful room service meals, but I’ve also had cold food that was not really very good at all. I need not have worried.

The Sheraton offers a really good choice of food and wines – several starters, a number of main courses and four desserts. They also have a good wine list with a selection of wines and champagnes at all price points. We had a long day driving all the way from Boston, and felt the need for a little celebration, so we ordered some Canadian champagne (which is of course actually sparkling wine as champagne can only come from Champagne in France). We also decided to work our way through the menu – all in the name of research of course!

Just a few minutes before our meal arrived, a member of staff prepared a table for us in front of our floor to ceiling windows in the living area. A linen tablecloth and napkins were laid on the table, along with heavy silver cutlery and crystal wine glasses. A candle was lit just in time for the food to arrive, all covered with heatproof domes to keep everything hot (or cold as the case might be).

I had a bruschetta starter. Fresh chopped tomato and onion was served alongside garlic rubbed French bread. It was delicious. My husband had a shrimp cocktail – four giant shrimp were served over lettuce with a spicy sauce. Our son had a Caesar salad and pronounced it the best he had ever tasted. He can definitely speak with authority on that score, as Caesar salad is one of his favourites.

For main course our son had pork ribs served in a maple based barbeque sauce, along with French fries and a side dish of both golden and regular beets. Being sixteen, he is not a fan of beets, but in my opinion they were delicious! He did pronounce the rest of his meal wonderful. It must have been – I got in trouble for trying to sneak a taste of some of the sauce on his ribs and normally he is very good at sharing! My husband and I both had a seafood pasta dish in a light Alfredo sauce. The seafood was fresh and plentiful – lots of scallops, shrimps, clams and mussels. The fresh pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauce was scrumptious. We drank a Jackson Trigg Sauvignon Blanc with our main course; it was the perfect compliment to the fish and pasta.

We were almost too full for dessert - but not quite!. Our son had a chocolate gateau that was light and delicious (he was very generous with tastes of it). My husband and I had a New York Cheesecake served with a blueberry coulis. It was beautifully made, delicious and light, as cheesecake should be. All the desserts were served with big fat strawberries dipped in both milk and white chocolate. They looked and tasted beautiful.

Of course, the food was complimented by the incredible view. This was an experience we won’t soon forget, and although it was far from a frugal option, it was extremely good value for money. Portions were generous and the food was beautifully prepared and presented. We enjoyed it so much that we are planning a repeat of the experience when we stay at the Sheraton again next week on our way back to New York City. The best part was that just as we finished our meals and sat drinking the last of the “champagne”, the sky was filled with fireworks over the falls. It was perfect end to an outstanding meal.

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