Having eaten at a few places on Harbord Street, I’ve walked by the Harbord Room many times without even knowing it was there as it’s located in an old house which lacks signage.
Upon entering the Harbord Room, I was surprised by how small the space was. It’s long and narrow, featuring a bar down one side of the room. They also have a nice patio in the back – perfect for the summer.
Given how small the restaurant is, I’d recommend making a reservation. During our Saturday evening dinner, we saw them turn around many attempted walk-ins.
Known for their great cocktails, we couldn’t leave without grabbing some drinks. I went with something on the fruitier side, the Sangria – pink wine, fresh strawberry & rhubarb juice, a splash of brandy & a medley of berries and kiwi ($14). Their sangria is pre-made in individual mason jars and is oh-so-delicious. One of the best sangria’s I’ve had… and I’ve had a lot of sangria!
Mike went for one of the specials, the S.O.A. aka the Summer of Anton ($14) consisting of a berry balsamic preserve, tequila, lime juice and ginger beer. A really delicious tart cocktail…get it while it’s still on the menu!
Harbord Room has a charcuterie board which we were tempted to order. But since we had just gone to Caplansky’s the night before, we decided to go with something a little lighter to start. We ended up ordering the Ontario Whitefish Ceviche – poblano relish, tomatillo, pickled watermelon, corn nuts & lime cream ($13).
The presentation of the dish just shouted summer with its colours of green, white, bright red and yellow. Sometimes ceviche can be a little one dimensional but the one at Harbord Room had many layers of flavours and creating a light and refreshing dish.
I already knew what I was going to order for my entree before even arriving: their Naturally Raised Beef Burger – sharp cheddar, caramelized onions on an egg bun with fries and a little salad ($16). For an extra $2, we added the house smoked maple and jack bacon.
Harbord Room’s burger was ranked first in Toronto Life’s list of best burgers, so I had high expectations. So, what’s the verdict? The juicy patty consisted of coarsely ground meat which was cooked to a medium rare. The combination of the delicious patty, cheddar, caramelized onions and bacon was perfection. The bun was also noteworthy as it held up well against the juicy patty. I can see why this burger was ranked #1.
The burger came with an arugula salad which was fresh and lightly dressed – a nice side to complement the burger. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the fries, which I would’ve preferred a little crispier.
Mike went with the Soft Shell Crab Po’Boy – red cabbage slaw, house pickles with tarragon & old bay mayo & chips ($17). Gotta take advantage of soft shell crab season! This came with two small po’boys (the menu also specifically indicates that there are no split orders or additional pieces).
The po’boys were tasty and the additional of the red cabbage slaw and pickles complemented the fried crab nicely. While it was a tasty sandwich, I wouldn’t say it was anything special. I actually found the chips more memorable. I just wish the order came with more of these addicting chips!
Since the portions of everything we ordered wasn’t too big, we still had a bit of room for dessert. While the Valrhona chocolate cake sounded tempting, I’m a sucker for doughnuts and decided on the Fresh Ricotta Doughnuts – espresso & caramel pot de crème, espresso tapioca & crumble meringue wafer ($9). While I couldn’t detect much ricotta flavour in the doughnuts, it made a huge difference in texture as they were a little denser and had a creamier texture. I think I prefer regular doughnuts… but Mike really enjoyed these.
I loved the second component of the dish though. The espresso & caramel pot de crème was delicious with the little crunchy bits of meringue. I thought it’d be too sweet for my liking but was pleasantly surprised.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience here. The burger was definitely the star of the meal so make sure you don’t leave the Harbord Room without trying it. And if you’re a fan of cocktails, they have fantastic bartenders here, so even if you’re not in the mood for food, drop by for a drink or two!
At a glance:
• You can’t come here without getting their burger
• Small space – reservations recommended
• Nice patio in the back
• Open late – they have a late night menu
• Dinner for 2 including drinks came to $95 before tips
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service:4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars