4.25 Stars – Overall Experience
4.00 Stars – Price
3.75 Stars – Service
4.50 Stars – Food
4.00 Stars – Atmosphere
Whole Roasted Carrot Ginataan
French Toast Bread Pudding
Contemporary and modern in design, the space offers floor to ceiling windows bringing a sense of openness to an otherwise tight space. Using a combination of bar seating, high tables and low, Hawthorne Food & Drink manages to pack quite a few patrons in comfortably without being cramped. Great for a date night, dinner with friends or colleagues or even with the family.
A Friday night during Winterlicious can be a challenge for many restaurants as it often means an increase in hungry diners. The service was a little slow, but since the appetizers came out in good time, we weren’t left starving. I was also served a main I did not order, but it was very quickly rectified. Servers were friendly and not over bearing. Overall decent service.
Winterlicious menus typically offer you 3 choices for each course and I usually end up having to simply order the one vegetarian option. First up for myself was a Sunchoke Trio that offered the sunchoke in 3 different ways (baked, as a chip and as a puree). Having never had a sunchoke before I was excited to give it a go and after eating this incredible dish I can honestly say that sunchokes will have to start making a regular appearance in my own kitchen. The plate was beautifully done (clearly presentation to them is just as important as taste) and the flavour and texture combination was sublime. VERY much enjoyed! My only critisism of the dish was that I wish there was more of it. I had to hold back from literally licking the plate clean.
My husband had the Daily Croquette Poutine, which offered a fun play on a traditional Canadian dish and he said he enjoyed it thoroughly.
Next up was Whole Roasted Carrot Ginataan served with red quinoa and a coconut-ginger veloute. As I am not the biggest fan of carrots I was a bit skeptical of the dish, but Hawthorne proved my dislike of carrots wrong and I ended up trying to eat every last grain on the plate. The quinoa had an incredible flavour to it (I want to say lemongrass might have been used) and again the combination of texture and flavour was perfectly balanced and fresh. I would order this again if they had it available on their regular menu.
My husband had the Jerk Pork which consisted of pressed pork belly served on a rice and edamame cake with a candied yam puree. Again presentation was top notch (a beautiful sugar decoration laid on top) and my husband’s only criticism was it was a little tough to cut through, but he still very much enjoyed the dish.
The final dish of the night from our Winterlicious menu was a French Toast Bread Pudding and Portugese Egg Tart. The Bread Pudding was fluffy and not soggy at all and the anglaise that it was served with was a Chinese smoked tea, which added a very interesting flavour profile. I found the smoke was a bit overpowering but the sprinkled on brown sugar helped cut through it. Portuguese Egg Tart (what my husband ordered) was good, but nothing overly unique as far as flavour is concerned. A well done tart.
Although many restaurants choose to offer a vegetarian option for Winterlicious or Summerlicious menus, not all of them put that much effort into it (a garden salad with pasta and tomato sauce and a scoop of ice cream as my option is not effort!). Hawthorne Food & Drink clearly put a lot of time and thought into developing their vegetarian selection and I truly appreciated it. Everything was flavourful, unique and ultimately delicious. I hope that in their everyday menu they take the same approach.
Considering the complex profiles of the dish, unique offerings and 3 courses that were served, the $28/pp price was more than worth it!
Time of Dinner: 6:30pm
Date: Fri Feb 3rd, 2017
For more information, please check out their website at hawthorneto.ca