Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Harvest Room

When I was younger, I would constantly look out the window of the car whenever it approached Downtown coming from the south side. There I would see Hotel MacDonald - back then, I thought of it as a beautiful castle and that I would want to take a visit there one day. Growing up, I still held my childhood feelings towards the hotel. I even wanted to have my 18th birthday debut celebration there but I knew it would be super expensive. However, on my 2 year anniversary with CJ, I finally got a chance to visit the place! We decided to have our anniversary lunch at The Harvest Room (, the restaurant inside the hotel overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley featuring lots of regional specialties. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

The interior.

The dining area itself isn't the largest, but it gave off a very warm and inviting atmosphere. The interior decor and overall design of the space was quite elegant yet modern. My two favourite parts of the dining area: the high ceiling with the timeless chandelier light fixtures, and the gorgeous view of the River Valley from the patio. 

The menu.

Since we were having lunch at a high end hotel, CJ and I knew that the price of the food here would be more expensive than what we're used to. I was glad when I saw that they offered an Express Lunch ($24), which they described as being "The 45 Minute Experience". For this lunch, you choose one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert from a select list of food items. I thought this deal would be great for the two of us! 

Our lunch.

Our meal arrived after a few minutes, but I was hoping that the presentation would be a bit more elevated than what we were given. We also informed our server that we were still waiting on our drinks, so we got those immediately after as well. 

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup.

The first part of our lunch was the appetizer, and CJ and I both chose the Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. This soup consists of local tomato, rough parsley, hemp seed oil, and focaccia crisp. For some reason, I had envisioned the soup to be a vibrant red colour rather than the light brownish colour I got (lol). The first couple spoonfuls of the soup were okay, but as I had more and more of it, I began to get an overwhelming garlicky taste. Furthermore, I found the texture and consistency of the soup to be a bit unpleasant. CJ didn't enjoy this soup a lot either. Sadly, this appetizer was definitely a miss for the both of us. 

Pesto Primavera.

Next up was my entree, the Pesto Primavera. I loved the vibrant colours in this dish, but it really looked more like an appetizer instead of an entree. This rotini pasta comes with zucchini, peppers, onions, and basil pesto. After having the soup which I felt was too oily, this pasta was much better. It didn't have a lot of wow factor to it, but I thought everything tasted fresh and flavourful. 

Prime Rib Panini.

Across from me, CJ was busy eating his Prime Rib Panini, the entree he chose. This comes with shaved slow roasted prime rib, tarragon aioli, wild mushrooms, gruyere, and peppercorn jus. CJ obviously loves his meat, so I wasn't surprised when he picked the entree containing prime rib. Unfortunately, he didn't like this one either! He told me that the panini was too dry, and that he wished there was more sauce to add extra flavour. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich.

After some time, we finally got our desserts! Dessert is my favourite part of the meal, so I was very excited to try the ones offered at The Harvest Room. There are only two desserts to choose from in the Express Lunch, so we naturally had to get each one! The first one was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich. The chocolate chip cookies are housemade and dipped in chocolate, with a peanut butter filling wedged in between. It was also topped with half a strawberry. When I was about to break into the cookies, I found that it was ridiculously hard and tough to eat! I'm pretty sure it had just come directly from the freezer. The chocolate chip cookie and peanut butter combo was a great idea, but this particular dessert was very disappointing. 

Sorbet Trio.

Last but not least, the second dessert option: Sorbet Trio! This dessert features mango, raspberry, and lime sorbet, a brandy snap basket, and fresh berries on the side. While this dessert was a lot easier to eat compared to the cookie sandwich, it was just okay in my opinion. The sorbet tasted like something I could have purchased at the grocery store. I think the best part of this dessert was the sauce underneath the basket - it had a bold flavour with just subtle hints of the alcohol, so it was certainly something unique and new for me!

View of the River Valley.

It took some time for our server to get the debit machine for us, so we had to wait a bit before we could finally step out onto the patio and admire the view. Good thing The Harvest Room had a Groupon at the time, so we were able to save some money. The view of the River Valley from Hotel MacDonald is absolutely breathtaking! We could see the University, the Muttart Conservatory, and some buildings even further south. Not to mention all the trees and different bridges that add another element of beauty to the scene. 

Taking a stroll around Hotel MacDonald.

I'm sad that our experience eating at The Harvest Room wasn't the best. The food itself wasn't memorable, and it wasn't really the best tasting food either. Service was a bit slow even though there were only a few diners. I appreciated that our server was super friendly - she even congratulated CJ and I for our anniversary! I'm so happy that I finally got to visit Hotel MacDonald, my castle from my childhood. Being inside such a beautiful building and being able to take a walk around the garden area was such an awesome experience. I'm looking forward to the next time CJ and I come here. Hopefully we will have a more positive dining experience!

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