We tried the entire new Southern BBQ menu at H2!
This post is an accumulation of two visits, to be able to taste and cover as much of H2’s new Southern BBQ menu as possible.
This blog will review our most recent dining experience; where myself, Joyce of @monkeyeatsworld, and Eileen of @misseileensoo met up for a nice girl’s night out, featuring cocktail hour on their patio. This was a warm and breezy Friday evening, overlooking the hotel’s pool and cabanas. In direct sound line of the live musician performing soulful remakes of classic songs. This definitely set the tone for a relaxing and causal time, much like what the restaurant is trying to focus on and provide for their patrons, in contrast to the dressier, finer dining experience of H tasting lounge.
I am optimistic for all that is to come from H2. We have seen so much growth and exciting things come out of H Tasting (their sister restaurant), also located in the Western Bayshore Hotel and convention centre. Like the big brother to H2, they have been getting much recognition for their upscale dining experience with carousel tea services, dining outdoors in domes, desserts set a fire, floral filled featured walls, and smokey cocktails. So, I was excited to get the inside scoop of what we can expect from H2, right from their newly minted general manager. Sadly, I am sworn to secrecy on this intel, but she did tickle my interest with the disclosure of some fun ideas she is working on for the near future, better utilizing the “backyard” space we would be enjoying on this visit. As she put it, it is finally time to focus their marketing and promotional efforts on H2, starting with this menu overhaul.
We made it just in time for happy hour so had to take advantage of their drink specials with $5 off cocktails. We all started off with the Passionfruit Margarita, a tart and tangy twist on this summer time classic. Jose Cuervo Especial Silver, Passionfruit Agave, Lime, and Jalapeño Salt.
Followed by the just as booze-forward Gin in the Garden. A floral bubbly sort of cocktail, to keep things refreshing. Prepared with Ampersand Gin, Lavender & Rose, Lime, Bitters, and Soda.
Worth mentioning is they also have a new Southern inspired cocktail listing, that would have matched our meal a lot more, but how could we have said no to the $8 cocktails above! Although if you did indulge in this new drink menu, you could enjoy a cocktail prepared with Peanut-infused Bulleit Bourbon, an apricot old fashion, and/or a spiked lemon and peach iced tea.
As for food, we had to indulge in the most luxe item on the menu: the Bone Board for 4, at $169. This is a whole bone-in slow smoked beef chuck plate, served with your choice of sauce and 4 sides. The chef himself brings the board out to your table, and carves it right then and there for your delectable enjoyment. The pageantry definitely adds value to its otherwise steep price tag.
There is plenty of food with these thick slabs of meat that glide off the bone. Sadly it was a touch on the dry side, but with enough sauce you can easily remedy and well flavour each rib. We had a double dose of the H2 O.G. BBQ to add a nice smokey and tangy saltiness.
For sides we went with the more heartier options, ones that would pair well with red meat like the crushed red-skinned mash and grilled summer squash. Both incredibly buttery, one offering a nice hearty morsel, the another accenting a freshness to each.
The coleslaw was a creamy and crunchy mix that was too helpful in injecting freshness and a crunchy texture to our feast.
The Mac and cheese was my favourite side. Chewy soften noodles coated in cheese, this was comfort in a warm skillet. Gruyère, smoked cheddar, and heavy cream. No complaints. And despite Joyce not being able to eat this one due to her dairy allergy, this was still the first dish we cleared.
You always have room for dessert so we tried their delectable Lemon Meringue Pie. This is my favourite type of pie, as my now deceased pastry chef grandfather use to prepare it for his grandchild. So believe me when I say that H2 has done this justice. Buttery crumbly crust, tart luscious lemon curd gel, and fluffy clouds of meringue torched golden table side. This one is a show stopper.
For something more playful that kids of all ages would enjoy, look to the s’more skillet. It is deconstructed s’mores served warm and gooey for a hands-on eating experience. Sort of like dessert nachos with graham crackers, chocolate sauce, chocolate chunks, and toasty marshmallow.
And as a kind gesture, seeing as one of our party members could not have dairy, H2 was generous enough to arrange for Joyce to have her own vegan sorbet dessert from off of H Tasting Lounge’s menu.
And thus ended our successful girls night out, H2 has come along way from a homey hotel restaurant to a destination for bbq comfort eats and fun desserts on the West End. The following are the additional dishes I tried on a previous visit, to be able to report on the entirety of their new menu for this blog.
I love a good share board, it is the easiest way to try a lot of what is on a menu, but in reasonable nibble portions. And with H2 having such a tantalizing menu it is hard not to want try it all; and with their Appetizer Shares Patter you can! It includes wings, zucchini sticks, popcorn shrimp, a pickle jar, yam & waffle fries. And I will be reviewing each below, as if ordered on its own.
The Chicken Wings were crispy fried with your choice of sauce. Although I would have opted for simply a saucy wing instead, considering how much of this is already fried; just to have a better variety from all of the other deep fried items below. We went with the Carolina sweet and spicy orange sauce to helped brighten up all the additional carbs breaded on these wings.
The Zucchini sticks were also breaded, but they ate much lighter with the firm vegetable under the starchy coat. Seasoned in their H2 spice, and served with their buttermilk dill ranch dip, that kept me going back for more and more.
We got more deep fry with the panko dredged, H2 spiced Popcorn Shrimp. It was made more fresh and classic with its side of spicy and tangy tomato-based cocktail sauce.
The crispy Yam fries with chipotle mayo dip are a familiar casual chain/bar sight. Chewy soft ribbons of yam, deep fried for a crispy coating.
Although how can yam fries compete with waffle fries? The ultimate fry with the fun to munch and crunch on criss cross weave pattern. I like it with the classic ketchup pairing.
And in anticipation of the feeling of heaviness from a platter of all the deep fry items on H2’s menu, they have included a pickle jar. It is exactly as it sounds, a jar of briny pickles to gnaw on.
Whenever I see Nashville hot chicken sandwich on any menu, I have to try it. It is essentially the spicy, saucy, and tangy pumped-up version of a chicken sandwich. This one included house made hot sauce, coleslaw, sweet pickles, and spicy mayo. I could have used more of the toppings to better balance out the thick breaded slab of chicken: more slaw and cream to overcome the dryness. Maybe even as a dip on the side to self manage the flavour, along with more pickles (more so out of my personal appreciation for pickles) .
Any burger or sandwich is served with a side of either waffle or yam fries, but seeing as we would have some on the appetizer board above, we substituted it for some more Zucchini sticks, once again battered in H2 spices with a side of buttermilk dill ranch for dipping.
And as with their appetizer share board, a great way to try a little bit of most of their bayshore smokehouse meats is through one of their combos, each with sides for every meat ordered. Get the Meat Sweats for Two or the The Meat Experience for Four. Three meats and three sides for the former and/or Four to four for the latter, both with pickled red onions and bread and buttered pickles, along with your sides and of sauces.
You can also go a la carte like we did with this 2 to 2 combo. Smoked brisket and half a rack of St. Louis ribs; partnered with grainy mustard as our dip and mashed potato and corn bread for sides.
The smoked brisket was tender and on the fattier side, as I prefer it. I enjoyed it with the contrast of the peppery mustard.
The ribs were a tad well done, but they still split from bone smooth and evenly. Here their tangy BBQ sauce was the star. I wish they gave you an option to try all the sauces and to dip and taste your way through them all, trying to find the perfect pairing.
The corn bread is baked in-house and spread over with their Bayshore honey butter, and sprinkled with some smoked salt. Nothing stand out about it, just a classic sweet and crumbly bite.
One of my unexpected favourites was the Cajun cream pasta. It was as tasty as it read, with a wide variety of ingredients. Each stood out on its own, but everything came together under and peppery cream sauce for a well balanced contrast. Chorizo sausage, rotisserie chicken, prawns, garlic herb, fresno peppers, cajun cream sauce, grana padano, charred kale, roasted tomato, and gemelli pasta. This was so thick and saucy, and the noodles so gooey and comforting. It reminded me of a jambalaya, but in pasta format. I enjoyed all the spice notes and how each spoonful pulled differently. I didn’t even mind the pool of oil that sat at the bottom.
We were also curious over their Milkshakes so ordered their Double chocolate caramel one with chocolate ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate, sprinkles, whipped cream, and chocolate spears. It comes with the milkshake cup it is shaken in, as a refill. This is a fun idea, but honestly nothing new or original. I would suggest saving the cost and calories and opting for either one of their specialty southern cocktails if you are feeling thirsty, or one of their flame torched desserts if you are craving something sweet.
In further conclusion, I am glad that they are doing something different to bring attention to H2, and building a separate profile from that of H Tasting is the way to go. Here’s to many more family friendly menu items and comfort snacks, for a more casual get together. Stay tuned for new and exciting things to come, like Sunday Dinners!?
H2 Kitchen + Bar
1601 Bayshore Dr., Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4