Restaurant: Hart House
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast
Last visited: November 16, 2010
Location: Burnaby, BC (Burnaby Central)
Address: 6664 Deer Lake Ave
Price Range: $30-50
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Executive Chef Kris Kabush
- Fine dining
- Seasonal menus
- Local ingredients/wines
- Wine bar
- Fit for wine enthusiasts
- Express lunch menu $19 (2 courses)
- Patio seating
- Banquet friendly
- Sunday brunch: 11am-2pm
- Lunch: Tues-Fri. 11:30am-2:30pm
- Dinner: Tues-Sun. 5:30pm
I have heard of weddings and private events being held at The Hart House Restaurant before, and I must say it is an incredible venue. It’s sophisticated, elegant and historic, yet intimate enough for romantic one on one dinners or larger events. Although it is located on a 13 acre estate, I would consider it a local and hidden gem since it’s not in the vicinity of downtown Vancouver or on the popular restaurant strips of Burnaby. The cozy home like atmosphere reminded me of Le Gavroche, Lupo Restaurant + Vinoteca, and Old Surrey Restaurant so it’s nice to see that there’s an option like this in Burnaby as well.
Considering it is somewhat of a historical landmark in Burnaby, I’m embarrassed to say it was my first time here. My visit to The Hart House Restaurant was part of my foodie tour on behalf of Tourism Burnaby and Vancouver Coast and Mountains BC. There is a variety of dining options in Burnaby and the previous night included hearty Italian at L’Artista Ristorante Italiano located in Burnaby’s Little Italy. There are a few other fine dining options in Burnaby, but the Hart House is a unique venue, so it does make for a memorable experience.
The Executive Chef Kris Kabush was originally the sous chef at Hart House Restaurant, but has taken on the role of Executive Chef for the last year. The Hart House offers a mixture of European cuisines and West Coast flavours with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. Unfortunately we were served dishes not available on the menu so I’m not sure how representable they were of a regular night. (My apologies, I get so disappointed when that happens, however the menu is seasonal so it does change frequently anyways.) From what I tried it was quite promising although safe, and I can only hope that this standard is carried through onto any regular day.
On the table:
- The bread was crusty, but not chewy with more of a dense crumb. More like standard bread than a baguette.
- It’s okay as a starter wine, but I much rather have it with food because it’s quite spicy. It definitely brought out the flavours of the peppery arugula in the salad.
- Mixed greens, red grapes, goat’s cheese, pumpkin seed praline and aged balsamic vinaigrette. (Around $12?)
- It was a nice and light Autumn salad with fresh and fruity flavours. Nice and clean presentation.
- I liked the base of bitter frisee and peppery arugula layered with juicy bursts of sweet grapes and crunchy crumbs of sweet and nutty pumpkin praline. The goat’s cheese added a little richness to bring it all together and the slight tang of aged balsamic and fruity olive oil was a classic addition.
- It tasted great, but it’s quite a basic salad with a safe combination of ingredients. If it wasn’t for the candied pumpkin praline it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary from a semi-casual fine dining restaurant.
- BC Qualicum Bay Scallops with wilted arugula and ratatouille (Around $16?)
- These were jumbo hand picked BC Qualicum Bay Scallops. They were extremely large and meaty and very well presented. The scallops were perfectly seared on both sides and seasoned with a great crust.
- Although the ratatouille was very flavourful, I actually enjoyed the scallops more on their own. The natural sweetness and flavour of the scallops didn’t really need to be enhanced with such a strong side, so something a bit more gentle would have been nice.
- The ratatouille was chef’s contemporary take which included capers, zucchini, eggplant, olives, tomato and red pepper. It was almost creamy and a combination of antipasto meets ratatouille. It’s a traditional French side and it played the role as a sauce in this case.
- It had nice Mediterranean flavours and was delicious, but again it was a bit overpowering with the scallops. I don’t think it really needed the salty capers and salty olives, but it was smart to have the arugula to tone it down.
- I love Gewürztraminer. I actually liked this as a starter wine and enjoyed it alone as well. It was a bit sweeter with a mild spice and was excellent with the scallops. It brought out the natural sweetness and it was great with the dessert as well.
- Nostrala Cheese & Fruit platter
- Nostrala is a cow’s cheese aged in the Kootenay region. It’s firm and almost chewy and salty, but definitely not salty to the degree of a Parmesan or anything.
- Served with lemon almond cornmeal biscotti $7
- I can’t say I’m a huge fan of creme brulee just because it’s so rich and a bit one dimensional in texture. However, this one was quite well done and available on their dessert menu.
- I liked the paper thin caramelized sugar crust, which was done perfectly. It was caramelized and not burnt.
- The vanilla bean seeds were at the very bottom on the edges of the ramekin. I actually think it’s intentional, but I don’t know why. I like to see vanilla bean seeds throughout my creme brulee, but I’ve seen it interpreted like this at Chambar as well. (If any pastry chefs can kindly educate me on this, I’d appreciate the comment below.)
- The custard was creamy, rich and thick, but thankfully not too sweet or it would be too much.
- I actually wouldn’t have guessed the biscotti was made with cornmeal because it wasn’t as crunchy as I was expect it to be. It was made well but I could have used more of a lemon flavour.
- It was traditional, but very good and well priced for what it was and for a restaurant of this style.