August 9, 2012

The Harbord Room

I've been hearing great things about The Harbord Room, a quaint little restaurant nestled in a Victorian house on Harbord Street. It actually took me awhile to locate the restaurant since I was looking on the wrong side of the street. The house is small, so seating is limited inside, but they do have a very lovely patio in the back. Reservation is also highly recommended.
It was a very hot day, so I started with a super refreshing sangria ($14), which was pre-made in an individual mason jar. The Harbord Room's version "starts with some pink wine, fresh strawberry and rhubarb juice, a splash of brandy and a medley of seasonal berries and kiwi - topped off with ginger ale". Hands down, this was the most delicious sangria that I've tasted all summer long! My only complaint is that I found it a tad pricey at $14. I could almost order another burger with that price tag.
We shared two dishes, the first being soft-shell crab po' boy ($17) with red cabbage slaw, house pickles with tarragon and old bay mayo. Each order includes two mini sandwiches, accompanied by spicy chips.
Here's a better look at the soft-shell crab sandwich itself. The crab was lightly battered and fried, and the cabbage slaw added a bright and acidic element to the sandwich. Despite the frying and the addition of mayo, the po' boy didn't feel very heavy at all.
There has been a lot of hype lately over the Harbord Room's burger, which was ranked 1st in Toronto Life's list of best burgers in Toronto. Before I get to the burger, let's talk about the side of salad and fries. I appreciated the smaller portion size of the sides because I hate wasting food and fries is usually the first thing I leave behind on my plate. Both the accompanying house-made ketchup and aioli were excellent. In addition to the fries, the lightly dressed greens were a nice, healthy addition.
And then there was the naturally raised beef burger ($16) with sharp cheddar, caramelized onions on an egg bun. We also opted to add bacon for an additional $2. My first impression was that this burger was exceptionally juicy. As I was cutting it up, the juice just ran down the knife (always a good sign). We thought that adding the bacon was a worthy splurge, as the slices were evenly fanned out and we got a good chunk of it with every bite. The bacon also provided a savoury contrast to the sweet caramelized onions. But above all, I was most in impressed with the incredible juiciness of the patty, and I loved the way that the soft egg bun soaked up all that beefy goodness! It was definitely a memorable burger that I'd want to have again.
And because the portions weren't too big (or because we're just pigs), we had room to order two desserts after devouring all the food! At the suggestion of our helpful waiter, we had fresh ricotta doughnuts ($9) which came with a side of espresso and caramel pot de crème, espresso tapioca, and topped with crumble meringue wafer. The texture of ricotta was unmistakable in the doughnut, which arrived so piping hot that I burned my tongue on my first bite. There was a hint of citrus flavour in the dough, which I personally wasn't a fan of. However, my favourite part was that delicious pot de crème! The caramel was luxciously rich and creamy, and the tapioca and crunchy meringue added a delightful textural contrast. I just wanted to bathe myself in all that creamy goodness!
Our waiter claimed that their baked to order Valrhona chocolate cake ($9) was just as good as their burger, so of course we had to try that too! Similar to a molten chocolate lava cake, this one featured a peanut butter center and was topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Rich, indulgent, and decadent, I thought it was worth every calorie! I just wished the portion was bigger! All in all, I absolutely loved the food at the Harbord Room- the burger was fantastic and the desserts were sensational! Note to self: must come back soon!
The Harbord Room on Urbanspoon

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