It had been several years since, my husband, John and I had visited Niagara Falls, New York. While it is impossible to improve on the falls they are spectacular we were really impressed with the Seneca Niagara Casino. A winning addition to Niagara Falls. The accommodations are great, the spa is spa-ctacular, but gaming is not the only winning activity. We ate at the Koi, Western Door Steakhouse and La Cascata creating a winning dining trifecta. The winners were the Chang Mai Lettuce Wraps for an appetizer, Seafood Cioppino as a main course, and decadent Peanut Butter Snickers Pie for dessert.
From the hotel it is only a short walk to Niagara Falls State Park, America’s oldest state park. No visit to Niagara Falls is complete without a ride on the Maid of the Mist. Upon returning from the Maid of the Mist we almost missed the spectacular 40-minute presentation “Legends of Adventure” in The Niagara Adventure Theater, covering the history and legends of the falls with incredibly realistic photography of people going over the falls. Each day we visited a different area of Niagara County: Lewiston, Old Fort Niagara, and the Lady of Fatima Shrine. And, each evening we returned to relax with an excellent meal at the resort.
I favor Asian cuisine and fell in love with their Koi Restaurant where they had recently introduced a noodle bar but my favorite thing on the menu was the Chang Mai Lettuce Wrap. It makes a wonderful appetizer or healthy light meal.
Chang Mai Lettuce Wrap
3 oz chicken breast, minced
1 oz tricolor bell peppers, medium diced
1 oz white onion, medium diced
1 oz Hoisin sauce
2 oz oyster sauce
2 oz dark Soy sauce
a pinch sugar
Â½ head iceberg lettuce, halved
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
A few bean sprouts and thinly sliced carrots for garnish Sambal oelek and hoisin sauce make great dipping sauces.
Stir fry the chicken at medium temperature, set aside. In the same wok/pan sautÃ© the peppers and onions for 2 -3 minutes until half cooked. Add oyster sauce, sugar and soy sauce in the pan with the vegetables. Mix well, remove from heat. To serve: 1 sheet of iceberg lettuce topped with minced chicken, diced vegetables, bean sprouts, carrots and a touch of sambal oelek. Wrap the stuffed lettuce and it’s ready to enjoy.
Another evening we dined at the La Cascata Italian restaurant. The menu
has a unique concept with all the soups one price, the same one-price concept continues with the appetizers, salatizers (salads served with a half portion appetizer), pasta bowls, signature dishes, and desserts. The Seafood Cioppino with fresh veggies, basil pesto and fresh mozzarella cheese served with grilled flatbread was John’s favorite.
20 littleneck clams,
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced shallots
6 blanched fingerling potatoes, halved
4 blanched carrots, sliced
4 blanched celery stalks, sliced
5 blanched asparagus spears cut in half
1 cup white wine
1 cup tomato saffron broth
2 tablespoons butter
4 leaves, basil, chiffanade
salt to taste, pepper to taste, oil, enough to coat pan
Add oil to sautÃ© pan. When the pan is hot add the seafood, salt and pepper. SautÃ© for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and shallots, sautÃ© for another minute. Then deglaze the pan with the chardonnay and saffron tomato broth and bring to a simmer. When broth reaches a simmer add the celery, carrots, potatoes, and asparagus. Cover. When the clams are open and the other seafood is cooked, add the butter and basil and cook until butter is melted into the broth. Serve in a bowl with the vegetables in the middle. Arranging the seafood around the vegetables. Then pour the broth over the seafood and vegetables. Best served immediately.
No meal is complete without dessert and one of the best places for desserts is The Western Door Steak House, one of the few restaurants in Western New York to win the Four Diamond Award. Our dinner was a winning combination that started with Chilled Seafood Deluxe with an amazing array of lobster tails, shrimp, oysters, clams and Alaskan king crab with cocktail sauce & shallot mignonette. All seafood is flown in fresh daily. Luckily we ordered a small because their meals include the highest quality steaks, and something we hadn’t seen on a menu for a couple of decades: iceberg lettuce wedge updated with marinated red onion and blue cheese dressing. But the winner in our estimation was the dessert:
Snickers Peanut Butter Pie.
2 oz butter
Â½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1 Â¼ cup peanut butter
Beat butter, sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Add egg and flour. Mix well. Roll out crust, put in pie pan, bake at 275F for 10 minutes. Cool.
Peanut Butter Filling
1 pound butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add peanut butter and vanilla, mix well.
10 ounces dark chocolate
5 oz heavy cream
Simmer heavy cream in a pot. Take off heat and add chopped chocolate. Stir constantly until smooth. If chocolate is not completely melted put back on stove on low heat stirring constantly. Add peanut butter filling layer to the cool crust. Lastly spread the ganache in a thin layer over top of pie. Let cool until ganache hardens, slice and enjoy.
Trifecta dining is a winning combination at the Seneca Niagara Casino and the dining is destined to get even better if that is possible. They have partnered with Niagara County Community College to create the Niagara Culinary Institute in downtown Niagara Falls. For more information check senecaniagaracasino.com and niagara-usa.com.