Syndicate Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is a fantastic place for tourists who love good food, great drinks, and stories from local history. It combines the production of quality beer and spirits with the offering of upscale culinary fare from local sources, and to top it all off, the restaurant is themed as a secret speakeasy from a bygone age!
The era of alcohol prohibition in Ontario was not so long ago. From 1916 to 1927 it was the law of our land. No wine with dinner, no after work beers, no shots on your birthday. But we humans are innovative creatures and where there is a will there is way. Homebrewed moonshine and speakeasies (secret, privately owned establishments which served liquor to patrons illegally) flourished during this time. And while it was illegal to sell, possess, or consume alcohol, its production was still sanctioned in the province.
The United States suffered under alcohol prohibition during the 1920s as well, but its restrictions went even farther to bar the production of alcohol outright. Some enterprising persons saw an opportunity to sell Ontario-produced libations illegally in the United States, and illegal alcohol trafficking (known as “bootlegging”) was born. Given its proximity to the border, the City of Niagara Falls saw more than its share of bootlegging during this time. This storied history is celebrated at Syndicate Restaurant in Niagara Falls today.
The Syndicate Restaurant is located in an unassuming building on famous Lundy’s Lane. Step inside and you’ll be welcomed into a cozy retail outlet selling the beers and spirits they produce on site. Not sure where the dining room is? In classic speakeasy fashion, the restaurant is located behind a false wall. Perfect for keeping happy revelers inside and for keeping pesky liquor cops out! What appears to be a showcase of products and merchandise actually swings open to reveal an elegant dining room inside. Low lighting, plush chairs, and dark colours give a feel that is both comfortable and classy. A walk up a set of stairs leads to the upper dining room featuring a giant window through which the production area can be seen. Enjoy watching your gin being distilled or your beer being bottled before you try a sample or a tasting flight right at your table.
On its website, Syndicate Restaurant bills itself as, “serving you gourmet food without the gourmet prices.” In my experiences at Syndicate, I couldn’t agree more! In a tourist city that can, unfortunately, be known for gouging tourists with high prices for less than fantastic food, Syndicate Restaurant is doing exactly the opposite. The food is fantastic and the prices are fair. The chef is great about ensuring every ingredient is sourced locally whenever possible. In particular, the beef product that Syndicate Restaurant serves is hormone free and grass and grain fed, as well as dry-aged for a minimum of 14 days.
Looking for a chance to visit Syndicate Restaurant, tour its production facility, sample its products, and enjoy a sumptuous 3 course dinner? Bootleggers can deliver! Join our Speakeasy Craft Brewery Dinner Tour, exclusive to guests who are staying in Niagara Falls, for a professional beer or spirits tasting at 2 local microbreweries or distilleries prior to a tour of Syndicate Restaurant’s facility and a first rate meal. Call our guest services agents with any questions, or to book a tour, at 1-866-628-5428 today!
By: Michael Twyman, Sommelier and Wine Smart Guide for Niagara Vintage Wine Tours and Bootleggers.