The Hart House Restaurant is a heritage home transformed into a restaurant in Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. As part of a historical landmark in Burnaby, the Hart House has a lot of character – sophisticated and elegant. It also has a great view overlooking Deer Lake.
The thirteen-acre estate on which Hart House stands was first purchased by New Westminster businessman Frederick Hart in 1906. A leading architect of the day, Frank Macey, designed the Tudor Revival building. The property’s gardens were developed by the Montague Moore family, which purchased the estate in 1916. Ethel Moore soon became renowned for her spectacular iris gardens, and the estate was visited by flower lovers from across the country who came to purchase cut flowers and bulbs.
In 1950 the Moores sold the property to Standard Oil executive Ralph Baker, who instituted a program of modernization and improvement. The process of modernization was continued by the Charles Riley family after they purchased the estate in the mid-1950s.
The Corporation of the District of Burnaby purchased the property in 1979. For eight years it was occasionally used as a film set for productions starring personalities including Bette Davis and James Brolin. At the end of this time the District considered the prospect of opening a restaurant at the estate. Paul Smolen, Hart House’s current owner, was one of three original partners approached by the District. The partners recognized that the stately house and grounds presented a unique opportunity to create a premier culinary destination. They opened Hart House in 1988. In 2000 Paul Smolen bought out his partners and Carol Smolen came onboard. The combination of magnificent setting, outstanding cuisine, and warm, friendly service continues to enchant Hart House guests.
On a sunny day it would be quite charming. However on this foggy day, it looked rather eerie. Hart House remains as one of the popular choices for romantic dinners, Sunday brunch and a venue for special events such as weddings. The Hart House offers casual fine dining elegance featuring Pacific Northwest cuisine with fresh local ingredients, including herbs from their on-site herb garden. The Executive Chef Kris Kabush is young and good looking according to my friend who wants to meet him. Inside is quaint and has a lot of Victorian personality. Upon arriving there is a warm fireplace that greets you and the hostess takes your coat. You feel instantly welcomed. We are brought into the dining area by the windows. From our seat we can see that they also have a private room with a long table for larger parties.
Our waiter is a funny lad, although friendly seems to be either new or pretty rusty. When enticing us to the daily specials he whipped out his little booklet and read to us verbatim. I suppose this is just minor details but something you would rarely witness at a reputable establishment.
For appetizers we ordered the Trio on Daily Special. This included Chestnut Soup, Smoked Steelhead fish slices and also a Salmon Tartare.
Chestnut Soup: Served with chilled crab meat and had a few playful potate chip pieces for garnish. The soup itself is very warming and rich – something perfect for this cloudy day. If only the crab meat could’ve been warmed up slightly it would be have completed this soup. But this is only personal preference.
Smoked Steelhead: Fresh and flavourful. Drawing from natural seafood freshness.
Salmon Tartare: Generous portion that was served with two small pieces of toasted bruschetta. There was enough Salmon Tartare to spread over 5 or 6 pieces easily. It left me want more toast. The tartare had a powerful sesame oil smell / taste, the fish itself was fresh and had a lot of bite.
Entrees we ordered the Cioppino (daily special) and also the Mussels + Fries,:
Mussels and Fries reminded me of Happy Hour at Cardero’s – only beer was missing. Salt spring island mussels were fat and juicy and served in a broth of garlic confit, chorizo, leeks and white wine with a hint of cream. The broth was flavourful and had a bit of heat which was nice. We were glad we had some bread left overs to soak everything up.
The fries on the other hand were a bit of a letdown. The potatoes were overly deep fried and too hard to eat. It would have been nice to have lightly fried fries to allow you to dip it into and soak up the broth… because seriously that would’ve been one of the best parts!
Cioppino was generously served. The broth was light and had a hint of sea water. All the flavours depended on the freshness of the seafood – halibut, mussels, and baby squid. Fingerling potatoes and roma tomatoes were a great addition to add depth and to soak up the juices. The acidity allowed the soup to pop. The scallops were gigantic and cooked perfectly.
The food was fairly delicious and you can tell a lot of heart was put into preparation. Overall it was a fairly enjoyable night until our waiter came to take our food away. One thing we found strange again was that Mr. BL never asked us if we were done eating and took our dishes away leaving behind the fries. Shortly after a bus boy came and began clearing off the orphan fries but had stopped himself midway and asked if we were finished. Awkward as the situation may be we believed they needed a little more training. Our waiter returned and asked if we were interested in coffee or tea but did not entice us on some dessert. Most restaurants would think that desserts would be a definite upsell; however, minor details that were overlooked. Finally to add to the rustiness of our service, our waiter left us with the credit card machine and never returned to bid us goodbye or even to collect his tips… We waited and finally decided to take off and see ourselves out…
Would we return to Hart House? Perhaps after some fine tuning and improvements has been refined. Lastly I hear that Executive Chef Kris Kabush may have a panna cotta coming up soon…
Hart House Restaurant Burnaby
Tue 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Wed 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Thu 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Sat 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Sun 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
6664 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby, BC V5E 4H3