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First Impressions: The Hintonburg Public House

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The latter half of 2011 brought with it changes to the Hintonburg neighbourhood that have been nothing short of amazing. Many new businesses opened their doors from Isobel’s Cupcakes & Cookies (a cupcakery) to Back Lane Café, 10Fourteen Tapas Bar, Red Sea Cafe (a home-style Ethiopian restaurant), and Burnt Butter.

We haven’t been able to drop by all the new places yet, but we did get in a couple of visits to the newly opened The Hintonburg Public House (HPH).

Owner Summer Baird, formerly co-owner of the Urban Pear (151 Second Avenue) in the Glebe, put together a beautiful restaurant. HPH is charmingly rustic. An open concept with large windows at its front, sunlight pours into the restaurant during the day, filling it with light.

Inside HPH

Inside HPH

Note the mismatched tables and chairs

Note the mismatched tables and chairs

The furnishings, wall accents, and long bar all have a countrified theme.

Table setting

Table setting

Even the dishware and flatware reflect the HPH’s country retro-chic.

The HPH bills itself as serving “an exciting rendition of traditional pub fare and comfort food all made in house from scratch using local ingredients.”

First Visit – Early December 2011
Don and I first dropped in for a late Sunday brunch. I chose the crispy cod and fries with English curry mayo ($14).

Crispy cod with fries

Crispy cod with fries

The fries were beautifully crisp, but a tad over-seasoned. The cod was freshly fried, crunchy on the outside, and moist on the inside. The coating reminded us of tempura batter. The curry mayo was an interesting change from typical tartar sauce.

Don chose the pulled duck hash with a poached egg, green onions, and plum chutney ($14).

Pull duck hash with poached egg

Pull duck hash with poached egg

A perfect poached egg

A perfect poached egg

Don and I really enjoyed this dish. I stole a few bites when he wasn’t looking. Savoury and earthy duck confit, sweet chutney, crunchy griddled potato, and fatty egg yolk made perfect bites.

Although the food was quite good, we were somewhat surprised by the serving sizes. Finding our dishes portioned smaller than expected, a typical person would likely need to order another side to satisfy a healthy appetite. We also found the service friendly, but uneven. It was tough to catch the servers’ attention, especially when we needed our water glasses re-filled. Still, it was a good first visit and we decided to return to try something from the lunch/dinner menu.

Second Visit – Christmas 2011
A few days after Boxing Day, a longtime friend, who was home for the holidays, came to visit us. Amazed at the changes to Hintonburg since he left Ottawa, he was eager to try the food at HPH. So, we visited for a late lunch.

One of the things I really like about HPH are its hours. Depending on the day of the week, the restaurant opens at 11am or 11:30am and closes at 2am daily. Its late hours are sure to be a hit in the neighbourhood as there are no other eateries open so late.

Since our first visit, there were changes made to the entrance, installing an alcove, blocking out the cold weather, and adding some hooks for coats.

Newly constructed doorway

Newly constructed doorway

For drinks, our friend opted to try his first Kichesippi beer ($6.50) while Don had his usual cranberry juice.

Kichesippi 1855

Kichesippi 1855

Feeling famished, I ordered a bar snack of spiced chicken livers, apple and soffritto ($6) and the beef shoulder steak with fries, HPH Sauce and aioli ($19).

Spiced Chicken Livers, Apple & Soffritto

Spiced Chicken Livers, Apple & Soffritto

Beef Shoulder Steak & Fries

Beef Shoulder Steak & Fries

The spiced chicken liver was a good snack, although it could have used some more crisps as I found the pâté rather strong tasting. Seeing three people sharing the dish, our server returned with a generous helping of crisps. Meanwhile, I found my steak very disappointing. The price was rather steep considering the plate consisted of five small slices of meat that were tough to chew, over-seared, and tasted overwhelmingly of red wine. The fries, beautifully crisp on the outside and gently seasoned, were the highlight of my plate. If our friend had not joined us for lunch, I would have sent this dish back.

Don chose the beef burger with cheddar and fries ($14).

Beef Burger

Beef Burger

Inside of the burger

Inside of the burger

He found it to be a rather decent cheese burger. The beef patty was flavourful, well-seared, and well seasoned. The bun was fresh and toasted, something too many eateries forget. He also quite liked the pickalili cauliflower and cucumber he found on his patty.

Service-wise, it was still uneven, “standoffish” as another friend would later aptly describe it. However, as a newly opened restaurant (months new), uneven service is to be expected and should work itself out.

Despite these inconsistencies, HPH shows a lot of promise. The staff, both front and back of house, are new. The menu is still in flux.

At the HPH’s kitchen’s helm is a Chef we recognize from his days at the Whalesbone Oyster House, Kris Kshonze (Chef Charlotte Langley’s former sous). He has made us many a wonderful plate.

Don and I will definitely be back for another visit.

Particulars:
The Hintonburg Public House
1020 Wellington Street West
(613) 421-5087
Walk-in only, reservations only for groups of 10 or more
Children’s menu available

The Hintonburg Public House on Urbanspoon

Teacher by day and blogger by night, I have always been passionate about food. I grew up watching my mother cook and bake as I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework. In the summers, I happily played in the backyard garden, picking strawberries as my parents tended their crops. A city girl with a love for the outdoors, my goal is to capture the ever-changing Ottawa food scene. When I’m not running, you can find me shopping for ingredients or in the kitchen cooking for my family and friends. Whether you’ve been cooking for a long time or are learning to cook for the first time, I hope you will find something delicious here to inspire you.

Comments

Tiny Tuesday: How to Make Up For Not Being Able To Participate in A Taste for Life | foodiePrints

[...] and I haven’t eaten at the rustic chic public house since its chef Kris Kshonze (formerly of the Whalesbone Oyster House) left and former Mariposa Farm [...]

Psychgrad

I'm behind -- I haven't even heard of this restaurant. Thank you for sharing the balanced view. The high prices are concerning, particularly if the taste and portions are not at par. But, I'd like to try it out.

Hintonburg sure is a hot place for new restaurants. Kind of jealous. At what point is it oversaturation of the neighbourhood?

Hilary

Thanks for the post, Don and Jen! I've been wondering what people think of HPH and this is certainly a good indication of things. I'll be going over to try it out sometime soon. The pictures are beautiful and it has been FAR too long since I've had a pint of Kichesippi.

Twitter
Twitter

@offhandremarks (Jan 14, 07:06 PM)
So many staff here at @theHPH. Yet no one has asked me if I want a drink

@justinvl (Jan 14, 07:17 PM) @offhandremarks @thehph I think @foodiePrints mentioned that in their post

@withthesuper8 (Jan 14, 08:00 PM)
@justinvl @offhandremarks @foodiePrints I've found their staff is attractive, but less than attentive.

jenn

Nat,

I agree with what you're saying. The serving size does not match the price and service is definitely dicey.

However, I do think there's a lot of potential, but I'm going to wait a while before I go again. I'm interested to see if changes will be made.

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Twitter

@FacesofWayne (Jan 13, 01:06 PM)
Beer selection is great. I agree regarding the steak RT @foodiePrints First Impressions: The Hintonburg Public House http://t.co/Q4cVV7G4

Twitter
Twitter

@foodiePrints (Jan 13, 11:49 AM)
First Impressions: The Hintonburg Public House http://t.co/Ia6oUnRB

Nat

Well to break up the love in. We will not be back, until the restaurant decides what it really wants to be. For three of us the bill came to $133 (incl. 2 beers) for three people.
Not sure how that happened.
We can get better pub fare elsewhere for a lot less. (Fries were good but $133 is a lot of money for fries.)

I thought the burger was passable. Hintonburger has set the bar very high, but thought I've done better burgers on the grill at home. Heck, the Works does a better burger even. The fish and chips... well, they were fish and chips. Curried mayo was ok, but you know.. meh.

The desserts were ok. Nothing to blow my mind. (And at $8 each I expect spectacular.)

My biggest issue was with serving size. The wings were ok. I'm not sure what planet a sharing size is six wings. Endangered chickens? (And what they've done to make them, oh so bland even with the sparse blue cheese) and at $14...

I don't mind paying good money for food. But for that kind of money, we could have done much better for our dollar.

And yeah, it's "ironic" service I guess. Very hipster. Very cold. Tip reflected that.

All in all, I'm telling folks to give them a pass.

lynne (the twisted chef)

I've been to HPH a few times and loved the brunch - I opted for the pancakes ... it was delicious. I also went opening night and sampled an assortment of mains and sides - the flat bread was really lovely, so were the brussel sprouts ... and i really enjoyed the burger when I went for my third visit ... and the soup. the soup was delicious and perfectly hearty! I agree that HPH is going to come into its own!

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