This evening we were celebrating the season with Chaîne Des Rotisseurs, the gourmand group I am a part of. This was our annual Christmas celebration and this year the locale would be Hart House in Burnaby. A heritage property that was dressed cozy, like a family’s well loved home, for the holidays. There were giant wreaths and a tall tree that just scraped the ceiling.
Guests arrived bundled up and were greeted with the traditional of sparking reception for the organization’s cellars. Tonight it was the effervescent and dry Blue Mountain Brut from Okanagan Valley, BC.
As we put away our coats, found our seats, and began to mingle small bites were brought around the tight space. A collection of small canapés from Executive Chef Raúl Copete Vazquez and his team. A dedicated staff who have been working since 9am the same day for our meal to come.
My favourite of the three canapés was the Grilled Octopus on a Fondant Potato. This one round ate like a full meal with firm chewy tentacle over a softened baked potato puck.
The Romesco Sauce Braised Lamb was tender shredded meat on a crunchy Focaccia toast point. The Mint Yogurt dressing that topped it was really the highlight here, brightening up the morsel.
I also enjoyed the flakey crust of the Caramelized Onion & Brie Tart and the sharp and familiar flavour of melted cheese over it. This was well balanced out by the sweetness from the sautéed onions.
When time, guests were invited to take their assigned seats and opening welcome messages were given by our Vancouver Chapter’s Bailli. The after our “Viva La Chaine” cheers, it was time to dine.
Our first course was a Sablefish Crudo with Pickled Fresno Peppers, Shaved Kohlrabi, Compressed Apples, Lacto-Fermented Apple Juice, and Lemon Zest. For many at our table this was a new way to enjoy this butterier fish, I myself included. The flaky fish melted offering the perfect vehicle for the sweet vinaigrette and spicy pepper. Although the latter did take away from the natural creaminess of the stablefish by overwhelming it.
This was paired with the 2021 Hubert Brochard Sancerre. A savoury white with herbaceous and piney notes, rounded out by a citrusy finish. It’s more depth contrasted the lightness of the sablefish.
My favourite course was the Seared Duck Breast & Foie Gras with BC Chanterelles, Chanterelle Crema, and Pedro Ximenez Sauce. Although the guests were split. I liked how thick and roasted the duck breast ate. It was a little on the dry side, but excusable given the generous amounts of sauces and the fact that we had foie gras two ways with it. The others didn’t like the texture of the foie, stating both the whipped smooth smear and the slightly firmer paste that was shaped into a dome were too similar. And instead would have liked something more firm to slice into and better suit the duck. The only thing I was missing was a crostini, a nice crunchy base to use with what remained of all the spreads and sauces on the plate.
The wine pairing was the 2020 Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, BC. A fuller bodied wine with cherry notes, which is generally complimentary to duck. The juicy red also added a berry acidly to help cut into the fattiness of the dish.
The Short Rib was good, but paled in comparison to the duck. Braised Beef Short Rib with Confit Leek, Cauliflower Gratin, Truffle Pomme Purée, and Braising Jus. I did appreciate the luxury of the fully shaved sheets of truffle that sat atop of the crumbly gratin. They offered an umami layer to the salted cheese. The beef itself was tender and moist, I just found it one tonal, and accompanying bites from the variety of sides, necessary to lift it up.
The wine pairing too had a umami essence to it, a flavour I described as being soy sauce-like. Although I would later discover the 2012 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve
Paris Brest was past its prime. It was still drinkable, but not its best with plenty of sediment at the bottom, due to the age. In fact a whole table of guests turned the rest of their glasses away, where fellow member Sylvia and I acquired much more.
For dessert we had a Chocolate Praline Ganache with Candied Hazelnuts and Chantilly. It looked like a cream filled bagel on the plate. Fairly dense and creamy for my tastes, but lots of fudgey chocolate filling for those with a sweet-tooth. I did finish the lovely hazelnut ice cream, along with the butter coated crispy crumb as a textural topping.
This was paired with an equally sweet dessert wine in a golden hue. The 2018 Château La Rame AOC Sainte Croix-du-Mont that was candy sweet with apple and honey. This too was not for me.
In short, this was a lovely meal in a one of a kind space. Truly a treat for Christmas.
Hart House Restaurant
6664 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby, BC V5E 4H3