While shooting a
Home Tour” in St. Catharines
, ON, for HGTV.ca — from whence I
hail — I lucked into a household with a Chef. This Chef happens to
be Erik Peacock, of James’ Chatto-reviewed
restaurant, Wellington Court. Erik is also the Chef at the Coach
House
, a seasonal cafe at the Henry of Pelham Estate winery
(opens again in May).

After photographing Erik’s family home, which happens to be a
mid century marvel, we headed on over to the acclaimed resto,
located in a century home in downtown St. Catharines.

I have to admit: I am a city snob to the max. Whenever I am
faced with dining outside a big city — even in a culinary hot spot
like Niagara — I find myself asking the question, why should
anyone come out here?  After driving around pretty St.
Catharines, seeing Erik’s incredible home, buying heirloom
tomatoes, cheese, pickled green beans and a jar of artisanal jam
(ALWAYS sucks me in), my lunch at Wellington Court was the perfect
cap to the afternoon.

Here’s what makes this restaurant worth driving out to, or in
the least, a worthy stop on any visit to the Niagara region: It has
the feel of a genuine article. Wellington Court is a homecoming for
Erik, who grew up just a stone’s throw away, in St. Catharines. The
restaurant was started 25 years ago by his mother as a cafe, and
the house in which it is situated was his mother’s childhood home.
After a well-rounded chef-ey education full of travel and
scholastic accolades, Erik returned a seasoned Chef (sad pun, I
know) to give this family property a new lease on life. This was
some 17 years ago, when the region was just starting to enjoy
robust notoriety for its amazing agricultural offering.

In the ‘living/dining’ and bar area of the main floor, we had
an almost private lunch (as it was more like 3 p.m.) of the best
local, seasonal offering Erik’s well-established connections could
provide. The cuisine is naturally ingredients-based, with some
international influences. Oh, and dessert was a feast in
itself!

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