There truly is no better place to view the Niagara Falls and surrounding area than the Watermark Restaurant in the Hilton Hotel. A trip to the Penthouse Level will transport you to an elegant, yet affordable oasis from the hustle and bustle below.
Born in Windsor, Head Chef, Tim O’Donnell went to school in Toronto and after graduating remained in the area working at different restaurants. During his apprenticeship, O’Donnell was privileged to learn valuable skills from the best. “I had a really great chef I worked with in Toronto named Arpad Magyar. He taught me how to treat your customers and the importance of throwing them a little something special to keep them coming back,” explains O’Donnell. “He also taught me how to work with and take care of your staff and how to keep your cooks happy. It’s not a reality show,” says O’Donnell.
Most importantly, Magyar taught O’Donnell how to be creative with food which O’Donnell finds to be one of the most gratifying aspects of his job. “I love the creative part and there is a lot of freedom to it,” says O’Donnell. “There is a lot of work, but it is one of those jobs where the time just flies by; you are not a clock watcher. “I love my job. My wife thinks maybe too much,” laughs O’Donnell.
In the 17 years that O’Donnell has worked at the restaurant he has seen many changes in food trends. “One big change is that it has gone from continental to farm-to-table over the years,” says O’Donnell. One thing that hasn’t changed much is his staff. “We have lots of staff that have been here between 10 and 17 years. I love being in charge of a large brigade,” says O’Donnell.
Along with great ambiance comes great food. At Watermark there are many crowd pleasing dishes to choose from. “It is comfort food at a higher level,” says Sarah Nemeth, Manager at Watermark.
“The menu has something that resonates with everyone,” says O’Donnell. “Our New York Strip is a huge portion of angus beef. The quality of the food is top shelf; nothing frozen or second grade.”
If comfort is what you are aiming for then try the tender Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes “People go gaga over it,” explains Nemeth. With other popular menu items such as seafood linguini, Watermark’s menu is just as colourful as the panoramic view.
Watermark Restaurant has a “customize your dining experience” style of menu. “The way the menu is structured, diners can select from three or five courses,” says Sarah Nemeth, Manager of Watermark. “We like people to plan their meal the way they would like it.”
“We change the menu a few times a year and it reflects what we can get locally sourced,” says O’Donnell, who enjoys cooking with fresh herbs, cracked black pepper, and Italian parsley. “The basic flavour builders like garlic must be in there. Especially the holy trinity of carrots, celery, and onion that are the basis for stocks,” says O’Donnell.
Charity and playfulness are always a priority at Watermark, “Chef has created different menu items for our yearly event, Dinner in the Dark,” says Nemeth. In this experience, participants must give their trust over to Chef O’Donnell and his staff. “We blindfold them and offer them a four course dinner with wine,” explains Nemeth. “They don’t get to know what the food is and they have to use their senses to guess,” says Nemeth.
“We get to serve food people wouldn’t normally order,” explains O’Donnell.
“It’s a great chance to be creative and have fun. This year instead of sorbet to clean the pallet we used fun dip,” says O’Donnell, who gives each guest a photograph of the dishes for them to take home.
The uniqueness of the evening leaves customers booking for the event one year in advance. “We have received great feedback about the experience,” says Nemeth.
Allow the restaurant to take away the worry of where to park with complimentary valet parking. In the evening, guests will also enjoy an intimate and up-close view of the fireworks over the falls. There is also a private dining room ideal for parties and elopements.
Located in the upper level of the restaurant is Myst Lounge, a full service bar specializing in martinis, appetizers, and desserts.
If atmosphere, appetizing food, and affordability is at the forefront of your night then Watermark is the place to be.