Showing posts with label nicoise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nicoise. Show all posts

Hearts (Kimberly)

I haven’t ventured far from the Blue Mountain Village while visiting Collingwood, usually because no one wants to be a designated driver and the city’s taxi service isn’t plentiful. Yet, I know I’m doing myself a disservice and missing out on the true experience of the town – a laidback friendly vibe, reliance on fresh produce, and eclectic local flavours that aren’t trying to please a tourist palette. A place like Hearts, located away from the Village in Kimberly.

One look at their chalkboard menu and I knew fresh ingredients would grace our table that night. Things change so quickly that we’re asked to snap a picture of the board before making our way to the table. Do away with printed menus and save the trees!

A platter of freshly shucked oysters ($40 for 12) arrives with the typical vinegar-based garnishes, they’re a nice fresh bite against the other heavier starters we ordered.

Such as the chicken liver parfait ($22) that’s topped with a creamy congealed jelly for an extra shot of flavour. The smooth parfait is slightly sweet and when smeared onto the hot crusty bread creates a sweet and savoury concoction. There’s plenty of pickled zucchini included to cut through the parfait’s richness, but the dish could include more bread to help get through the generous portion.

Luckily, it seemed like everything we ordered included slices of the lovely toasted fresh bread. The steak tartare ($25) was a hefty mound of well-seasoned beef mixed with a savoury relish that had a slightly spicy finish. While I would have liked the beef a little less pulverized, the tartare had such lovely flavours, so much so that the large salty anchovy garnishes were unnecessary and detracted from the meat.

Forgive me while I swoon like a dreamy schoolgirl over the heirloom tomato ($24) salad. I hated raw tomatoes growing up, but after tasting a fresh Ontario heirloom tomato, I was hooked. At their prime they are vibrant and sweet in a cozy warming way. They’re especially delicious paired with a creamy burrata, at Hearts simply seasoned with olive oil and salt. If I still used a notebook, maybe I should draw images of heirlooms on the cover.

The tomato and burrata is a much better option than the salad niçoise ($27). While the niçoise’s dressing was tasty, the canned tuna covered everything casting a fishy tinge over the other ingredients. Personally, I would have like to have a bite of protein separate from the crispy sweet green beans, creamy and soft potatoes, and lovely soft-boiled egg. If someone likes all the flavours combine, they can mix it on their own.

Hearts’ shared plates menu sometimes makes it difficult to determine where the starters end and the mains begin, creating a continuous meal that Hearts orders in a nice procession. The moules and frites ($34) were plentiful, in terms of the mollusk and shallots, sitting in a light white wine broth that’s perfect for dipping bread into. A much better option than the sizzling crinkle cut fries, which are so nice and crispy that they’re best enjoyed solo.

Our server suggested trying the polenta gratin ($25), a thick cube of buttery soft polenta topped with tons of melted cheese and served with roasted bell peppers. It’s an interesting take on polenta that is best enjoyed shared with a lot of people as it’s a rich dish.

The BBQ sticky ribs ($44) were a hit at our table. Tender, sticky, and flavourful with a hint of smokiness, it pulled me in and made me want more and more. The accompanying coleslaw is so finely chopped that you can almost smear it onto the ribs, creating beautiful edible confetti, which has a hefty hit of horseradish – the bite a nice contrast against the sweet and savoury meat. If there was one dish that I wish I didn’t have to share, it’d be these ribs.

Visiting Hearts in the summer was a lovely experience, but I can imagine the heightened appeal after a day of skiing or being outdoors in the winter elements. Hearts’ cozy cabin atmosphere, warm staff, and hearty dishes would sooth any chill. Who needs hot chocolate when there’s sticky ribs.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Kimberly, Canada
 Address: 235334 Grey County Rd 13

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

CLOSED: John & Sons Oyster House (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1 Balmoral Avenue, Unit 7
Type of Meal: Dinner

John and Son's Oyster House has a comfortable environment. Open, airy and decorated with simple wooden decor there is plenty of light and suitable ambient noise to allow for louder conversation. Yet place settings are still polished with thick linen napkins and shiny cutlery. Plus, the lovely aroma of seafood cooking just adds to the experience.

Ordering off of their Summerlicious menu, I started with the crab cake. Thankfully, John and Son did not skimp on the dungeness crab. Tender and moist it easily flaked apart. I liked that the filling was not overly seasoned so the sweetness of the crab remained. Topped with a dollop of lemon aioli and placed on topped of some lightly dressed arugula this was a good starter.

My friends’ New England style chowders arrived piping hot, a pleasure when mass produced soup can sometimes become lukewarm when left in warming pots. They seemed pleased and enjoyed the fact it wasn’t too heavy despite being cream based.

The niçoise was beautifully presented with all the fresh and vibrant vegetables. Each element of the dish was thoughtfully prepared – the tuna evenly seared with a delicately salted crust, the asparagus retaining some crunch, the roasted tomato not too acidic and even the olives fantastic as not overly briny. But my favourite component was the soft boil egg that sat upon a bacon (?) aoili with crunched crunchy bacon bits on top; it left me wanting more.

Two good sized portions of wild haddock arrived in the fish and chips along with tons of fries and a side coleslaw. The fish was moist and flakey; although the batter a bit thick and oily for my taste. Unfortunately, the fries were soggy and reminded me of the Swiss Chalet delivery fries. They could have benefited from being fried twice. 

My friend's black angus flat iron steak was a respectable size but arrived undercooked (seemed rare when ordered medium rare). But, it looked juicy and succulent with a nice char to it. The fries were sadly the same soggy variety. 

In terms of the desserts most people preferred the frozen lemon mascarpone cheese cake. Creamy and fluffy with raspberries on top, it was a lighter dessert to end the meal.

I enjoyed the cinnamon sugar dusted doughnut. With a sweet maple butter glaze and crunchy chocolate nut bits it had varying elements of salty & sweet and soft & crunchy. The doughnut could have been fried a tad longer as the middle was a bit soft and doughy.

The brownie was moist and chocolaty but we found it lacked the oomph the other desserts had. 

Service was efficient with dishes coming out in quick succession. Overall, it wasn't bad but could have been improved with two minor suggestions:
  1.  Be more attentive with refilling water. Although each table was given a large bottle for self-refills, once that was empty it wasn’t automatically replaced.
  2. More of a personal pet peeve, but I prefer finished dishes to be left and collected when the entire table is done (or in larger tables as sections are done). This ensures that slower diners don’t feel rushed and those who are finished still retain cutlery to sneak tastes off of a friend’s plate.

Overall, my choices were delicious and it felt nice to eat fresh vegetables and seafood so that I wasn’t overly stuffed at the end. John and Son is a nice choice (for seafood) and appears to have a great closed in patio ideal for summer days.

Is Summerlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Summerlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Summerlicious - $35

Regular menu - $49 - crab cake ($15), nicoise ($25) and doughnut ($9)

Savings - $14 or 29%

* The crab cake is based on their downtown menu price.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!