Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Harbord Room

My boyfriend and I went to The Harbord Room back in early December of last year. I remember it was quite difficult to get a reservation; we couldn't go on the Saturday that we had originally planned even though we called more than 2 weeks in advance - the whole Saturday night was booked up. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since it was close to Christmas holidays.

I was no longer surprised as to why the The Harbord Room could be booked up weeks in advance once we arrived there; the restaurant is really small, but it was a very lovely place. It had dim lighting too making the whole place really cozy. The bar is on the right and rows of seats are to the left. It is dark at The Harbord Room so please don't mind the pictures (I do not like to use flash). Speaking of flash, I accidentally used it and noticed that the walls at The Harbord Room are actually pink! I wouldn't have noticed it otherwise.

Our table wasn't ready yet so we sat at the bar and waited a bit. Everybody at the bar were having their meals there. I sat beside the chalkboard.

My boyfriend ordered the Beau's Organic Lagered Ale.

And I ordered a Caesar. The Caesar itself was nothing special but I love all the garnishes.

We got a table diagonally across from the entrance. It was a really cold night so whenever people walked in and out there was a blast of cold air (that little heater didn't help much). When I sat down I noticed the chairs were really low making the table higher than I would like - I guess more suitable for taller people.

To my left is the bar, where we were at previously.

I like one page menus, nice and simple

The bread was a bit too hard for my taste. It was also cold.

Duck Confit & Turnip Perogies - House Bacon & Mustard Creme Fraiche - Perogies remind me of Shanghainese potstickers =) Anyway, you can really taste the duck in these perogies, which is great, and the bacon & mustard creme fraiche was really tasty. I could probably eat a dozen of these.

Naturally Raised Beef Burger - Sharp Cheddar, Carmelized Onions on Fred's Egg Bun with Fries & a Little Salad 

I've heard a lot of good things about the burger at The Harbord Room, as in, a lot of people say it is one of the best burgers in Toronto, which is really the main reason why I have always wanted to go to The Harbord Room . I don't know what it is, maybe my expectations were too high? But I found the burger to be nothing special at all. I mean, the meat was nice and tender, no complaints there, but the whole burger, with all the fixin's, tasted like a Big Mac to me. I'm not joking. Although my boyfriend didn't make the same comment as I did, he also said the burger was just average (he did not like the house ketchup either). A close friend of mine, Cindy, who is also a foodie, went to The Harbord Room two weeks before I did; she also had the burger and she made the same Big Mac comment too. I know I'm going to get criticized for my comment for sure, especially because so many people love this burger, but this is genuinely how I feel.

Steak Frites - 8oz Flat Iron, Ermite Blue & Roast Tomato Butter - I don't like this presentation of this at all, it looks really sloppy to me. I don't like how the steak is on top of the fries like that. Is it purposely placed like that so the fries can absorb the juices from the steak or something? I'm not sure but I would much rather have the fries separate. Although the fries tasted good, the ones beneath the steak was really soggy. As for the steak itself, it was not as soft and tender as I would like it; it was actually a bit chewy but it was still moist.  The ermite blue & roast tomato butter gave the steak and fries a lot of flavour.

Dessert menu

Carrot Cake with Poached Pears, Vanilla Ice Cream, Pistachio, Carrot & Cream Cheese Parfait - Loved everything about this. It was like a little warm carrot cake sandwich with decadent parfait filling in the middle. When I wanted something cold I went for the vanilla ice cream, and made sure I got a little of the pistachio crumbs at the same time. The poached pears were so freshing. 

I really liked the perogies and the carrot cake dessert but I felt that the mains really fell short of my expectations. In my opinion, I much prefer the burger I had at The Drake and as for the steak frites, the one at Sidecar was a lot better than this one.

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