Restaurant: Harold’s Bistro & Bar
Cuisine: Pub Food/American/Burgers/Sandwiches
Last visited: April 27, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 7551 Westminster Hwy
Price Range: $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Quirky restaurant
- Look for Harold
- Pub food
- Very spacious
- Family friendly
- Good for the game
- Plasma-screen TV
- Sunday Brunch
**Recommendations: Look for Harold.
So I don’t get it. What’s so special about Harold’s Bistro & Bar? Oh wait! What’s that on the right? Look! In the picture on the red wall! Or more like who’s in that picture on the red wall? Let’s get a bit closer!
“Who put the bomp in the bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp?
Who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?
Who put the bop in the bop sh-bop sh-bop?
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip?
Who was that man? I’d like to shake his hand,
He made my baby fall in love with me.”
Lyrics from “Who Put the Bomp” by Barry Mann
Except in this case nobody fell in love with me, but everyone fell in love with him! Including me! And you would too! No. That isn’t Barry Mann in the photo (for those who don’t know who Barry Mann is), but the man in that photo is a copy and pasted Harold! Huh? Who’s Harold? I know, I know, but let me explain. There’s a story explaining all of this randomness.
Everyone meet Harold! Yes THE Harold! Wait… so who’s Harold? The owner? Nope! You think it would be too huh? But you’re wrong. Harold is actually their best customer. He’s 35 and he’s been coming for years! Oops! No, sorry! What I meant to say is that for 35 years Harold has been coming everyday to this restaurant. I don’t know if that’s more astonishing, or the fact that’s he’s 90 years old! Either way, this place is dedicated to celebrating their biggest fan.
“Darling there will never be another, ’cause I love you so… Oh! [Harold everyone] is so in love with you!” – Neil Sedaka
“I will follow him… follow him wherever he may go…” – Little Peggy March
“Yeah you got that something, I think you’ll understand, when I say that something [everyone] wants to hold your hand” – Beatles
Okay, I’ll stop singing the classic oldies… you’re lucky this doesn’t have audio. Anyways I figured my quirkiness suited this post quite well. This place sure is quirky! And doesn’t he totally suit the name Harold too? I love it!
I would have never discovered it on my own. To be honest, it was never on my radar even though I was aware of its existence. Luckily, it was one of the stops on the hotel dine around tour hosted by Tourism Richmond, or I would have missed out on meeting Harold, their irresistibly charming in house celebrity.
So was Harold’s suit for a special occasion? Nope! He dresses up in a suit and tie everyday! Actually that’s kind of how it all started. Sadly, his wife is no longer with us, but 35 years ago they decided that they would get dressed up and go on dates, and this restaurant (not called Harold’s before) was always their spot. Until this day, Harold continues their tradition, and meets, eats and greets all the diners on a daily basis. You can always find him at lunch time and occasionally at dinner too. It really is a sweet story and you can’t help but to smile just looking at him.
The restaurant isn’t only named after him, but a selection of menu items are as well. The wall decor are all copy and pasted photos of Harold and famous celebrities during his time. Of course Harold also has his own table, and since I got to eat beside him he also told me that any guest he invites for lunch also eats for free. I was flattered and thought I was the only one that got the special invite, but then I overheard him inviting all the other ladies too. It was so cute! Harold sure knows how to work it!
Now before anyone that loves this place kills me, a 2.5/6 is not bad. My 2.5/6 just means I thought the food was okay. I only tried a few of their basic appetizers, so I can’t speak for the rest of the menu. However based on what I tried, it was pretty much standard pub food. Basically it’s not the food that would get me through the door again, it’s Harold.
On the table:
- Vodka, clamato juice, all the trimmings $7
- It’s a good solid spicy Caesar and what sets it apart is that it comes with a mini meal of all the Caesar garnishes.
- There’s your peperoni stick, green bean, asparagus, lime and celery!
- Basket of hand cut fries & sweet yam fries, roasted shallot mayo $7
- These were crispy, well fried, nicely seasoned with salt and good, but nothing particularly special. I like the mixed combination although I could go all yam fries.
- It’s served with ketchup and a roasted shallot mayo that was thick, chunky and garlicky.
- Mini pulled pork, mini chicken & mini beef burger $12
- It was nice to have the variety of mini burgers and if you have a relatively normal appetite, it’s sufficient enough as a meal for one.
- I appreciate the platter for the variety more so than the actual burgers, which I found all quite standard.
- It was a pretty ordinary burger with a home made charred beef patty, caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce, real Canadian cheddar cheese, mustard and ketchup on a crusty kaiser bun.
- Again it was quite standard. A char grilled chicken breast with a tomato relish, lettuce, and sweet whole grain honey mustard.
- Pulled pork is one of my favuorites, so naturally I took a liking to this one.
- It was quite basic, without the cole slaw, but it was a decent amount of moist, soft and sweet pulled pork.
- It’s saucy, but not wet and there was a slight kick, but it’s not spicy.
- The Charles Bar also does Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches which are quite enjoyable – see here.
- Boneless pork ribs, spicy plum sauce $10
- This reminded my of extra crispy KFC. They were the really traditional pub style dry ribs that are heavily battered and deep fried and the meat was quite dry.
- They were very crunchy and I thought it was popcorn chicken at first.
- It was served with a sweet Thai chili and plum sauce mix.
- For a different style of “popcorn chicken” I’d recommend the Fried Chicken Nuggets at Pearl Castle, which are extra crispy and excellent!
- Lobster, shrimp, mango relish $10
- There wasn’t much lobster going on, and it was mostly veggies and some shrimp. At $10 you’re not getting much lobster anyways so I would have preferred either all shrimp or shrimp and pork.
- They were crispy and the shrimp was shrimp paste with minimal lobster pureed into it, so it reminded me of those Chinese shrimp meatballs.
- The filling was green onions, carrots, Shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and some other veggies, but it was a bit mushy and I could taste a good amount of ginger without it being spicy.
- It was served with a sweet mango puree dipping sauce which didn’t carry enough of a tang or real mango flavour. I doubt it was 100% fresh mango though.
- On the other hand the mango relish, which was like mango salsa, was great and I like that! That was made with fresh ingredients and had a sweet and tangy balance and it brought bright summery tropical flavors to the shrimp spring rolls.
The Lobster & Shrimp Rolls is one of Harold’s favourite appetizers and for lunch he likes the Chicken & Brie Sandwich which fills him up for the day. For dinner his go to is the Fraser Chicken, so I guess I have to go back to try his favourites, especially if he’s been eating them everyday for so many years! (Albeit the Fraser Chicken is the only old classic on the menu and his other favourites are newer.)