Q: "Good morning, Janice. We need your help once again. It will be our 25th wedding anniversary soon, and I am planning a surprise stay at a B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake. While we have stayed there many times and eaten in many different places, I am wondering if you have a "special" restaurant that you could recommend. Thank you in advance.
"And thank you for your advice to a recent writer who asked for your help in finding an upscale restaurant and telling him in no uncertain terms: no baseball caps! That is a pet peeve of mine too."
A: I hope I don't ruin the surprise here but I do have a favorite in NOTL, even though I am reluctant to tell you about it because maybe next time I won't be able to reserve a table.
But here goes anyway. The Stone Road Grille is not in the middle of town where most of the restaurants are -- a lot of which offer more glitz than glory, by the way. It is in a strip plaza at 238 Mary St., and was once patronized almost exclusively by locals.
Not true anymore, since the word has gotten out. Be sure to get a reservation, because a lot of theatergoers know it now.
Stone Road can be recognized from the street by a sign that says "Rest" -- weird, but still clever, because customers tend to remember it. (The story is that an employee never finished painting the sign when the place opened in 2003.)
At the risk of sounding like an overtrained server, "everything is good here." Sample from the current dinner menu: A "Quacky Tasting" that includes a (duck) confit leg, a breast and a fois gras croquette. Portions can be ordered in two sizes, another plus.
The wines come from the Niagara escarpment, as they should. This is, after all, a wine-growing area. They are excellent. Ask the server for advice.
Stone Road is also open for lunch, but we like the Epicurean, 84 Queen St., across from the old movie theater. It is busy with pretty, Provencal in decor.
Epicurean is a cafeteria, and the salads are delectable, but I always order the Quiche of the Day. Take the tray outside and eat under the trees.
Also for lunch, try the Olde Angel Inn, 224 Regent St., which you may already know about. Frankly, the food here can be described as "serviceable," but the place is so darn cute it gets me every time. Usually anytime anyone spells the word "old" with the final "e" I avoid it, but this pub reminds me of something out of Dickens. Beer on tap, live music in the evening.
Also for lunch and well worth it, though it is a drive: the Paris Crepes Bistro, 4613 Queen St. in Niagara Falls, Ont. The place is probably one of best in the city. (The casino joints are touristy and pretentious, but there is a good Japanese restaurant called Yukiguni, near the Rainbow Bridge, you also might want to keep in mind.)
At the Bistro: crepes, crepes, crepes as a main course or dessert; magnificent mussels, boeuf bourguignon, omelettes. So French you practically need a passport.
By the way, none of these restaurants are exactly cheap, but then -- 25 years is a long time.
Janice Okun, former food editor for The News, has been out and about in the restaurant scene for 40 years. Send your questions and comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.