Located in Deer Lake Park, Hart House was constructed in a “Tudor Revival” style way back around 1906 with the surrounding gardens developed the following decade. It wasn’t until 1998 that it was converted into the restaurant that it is today. As such, dining at Hart House is quite different than having breakfast at Chez Cora or Red Wagon, and that is precisely the point. It’s a touch of vintage class in the middle of an urban park next to a beautiful city lake.
Brunch is served only on Sundays, between 11am and 2pm.
Bread Basket: Baguette and Croissant, Served with Strawberry Jam and Butter
Our breakfast began with the complimentary bread basket. Instead of simple rolls, Hart House provided us with baguette and very flaky croissants. Not breathtaking, but perfectly satisfying.
Eggs Benny – Shrimp, Poached Eggs, Saffron Hollandaise, Fingerling Potatoes ($15)
A breakfast staple, the eggs benny is served here with shrimp. It is also available with your choice of bacon or smoke salmon. The eggs were cooked well, but there wasn’t enough egg white, nor was there really enough hollandaise. The dish was simply elegant, but I’ve had better.
Knuckle Sandwich – Nova Scotia Lobster, Hand Peeled Shrimp, Shaved Apple, Brioche Bun ($18)
I opted for mixed greens as the side, but the knuckle sandwich can also be served with fries. I found that there was too much bun here and the lobster to shrimp ratio clearly leaned toward the latter. The sandwich was just okay.
Caramelized Lemon Tart – Whipped Mascarpone, Blackberry Gel, Italian Meringue ($7)
I have a soft spot for lemon tarts and this little treat hit the spot. The meringue was delicate and the lemon was just sour enough. No complaints here.
Including coffee and loose leaf Earl Grey tea, the total bill came to $60 after taxes and gratuity. This is hardly an inexpensive brunch, but you also have to realize that the Hart House is hardly your regular breakfast joint either. When compared with a hotel dining room or a Sunday brunch at another fine dining establishment, that’s actually quite reasonable.
The “converted old house” charm of Hart House really adds a great deal to the overall ambiance, offering just a glimpse into a high society brunch from decades gone by. Service was exceptional, but the food was merely mediocre. I still recommend it, but this isn’t really a “go-to” brunch place for anyone.