So the awesome foursome EMC² were at it again, this time at Hartsyard, Newtown!
I had been really excited to try this place since trying their delicious banana sundae on a late night dessert run and seeing everyone around me order super delicious looking savoury dishes, namely po boys and poutine! But I'll get to that later!
When I walked into Hartsyard, my first impressions were mixed. It was too crammed for my liking but at the same time there was a very comfortable and relaxed vibe that you might just want to sit and kick up your heels and zone out. But there was no zoning out for me that night, we were on a mission, to eat everything on the menu, and more. Haha we did still chill out all night long though, all the way til our last chilly dish ;)
I was actually one of the latest to arrive, but it didn't take me long to scour the menu and know what I wanted. Luckily we all had similar dishes in mind which was awesome, except maybe the duck pate that the others wanted to order. Eehh I really dislike pate, any form of pate, even if it is duck. And I love duck. I have had people try to convince me to eat pate in the past and "grow to like it because it gets better the more you try" and lemme just say, nope. Never have never will haha. In saying that however, it turned out that Hartsyard's duck pate was a different story...but more of that later.
EBHO: Best dish
So first came our entrees, starting with these beautiful morsels, the Oyster Po’ Boys and the only boys I was excited about :P They were toasty English muffins stuffed with battered oysters, coleslaw and Old Bay mayo (not sure what mayo that is but my guess is that it is more creamy than usual probably originating from the States- but that's just me!). And you know what, not only did these Po' Boys live up to my expectations, they went above and beyond! I had not imagined the buns to be so light, fluffy yet crispy! The softness of the buns made all the elements of the dish fuse together like a hand in glove :)
Up next, was the duck pate. It was called Duck, Duck, Duck. Honestly, I don't really know how to describe this dish, as previously mentioned, I don't know much about pate, but here goes! Hahaha
So there were two big crispy balls filled with rillette (pate), which to my utter surprise, was delicious. The pate was subtle (at least I thought so) and had a hint of berry in it! The pate was all shredded and soft and went nicely with the crispy outer layer. The rilettes were surrounded by a garden of leaves, crispy almond flakes chilling out on a bed of mulberry sauce! I am looking at the picture now and it looks like there was some purple powdery stuff on top, I have no idea what that was but I imagine it to be mulberry powder! Haha. Anyway, this was probably the first time I actually enjoyed pate, so Hartsyard, you have earned my respect!
Then came one of the star dishes of the night, the Raw Mushroom and Artichoke Salad. I had heard about this dish but I must say I was skeptical. I just couldn't imagine how great a mushroom salad could be! But I have decided that this dish was for me. Why? Because the mushrooms were soft, smooth, mixed with artichokes and tossed in a beautiful creamy sauce which somehow worked really well together. We were trying to figure out what the sauce was...mm I thought it tasted a bit like Caesar salad sauce..but not quite that either...maybe a little sweeter? OH! I almost forgot to mention, there were shards of cheese snaps slotted into the salad, kind of like little dividing walls! We loved those cheesy snaps and found that they were a great way to break up the creamy sauce! Speaking of dividing, I must hand Crystal an award for best service provided! She divided all the dishes up for us with such grace and detail! She's such a sweetie :)
Mm these were the Crispy Pig Tails and I thought that they were quite a disappointment. The fried balls were stuffed with pig tails which was all mushy and tasted so bland. I didn't like it. There were also pickles on the side which I thought were a strange addition to the dish, mm maybe for aesthetics? The buttermilk dressing was nice but still didn't make up for the rest of the dish.
While patiently waiting for our mains, kinda haha I noticed that the music being played in the restaurant was an interesting mix of classical, rock and uhh slow hip hop? Think killing me softly! I quite liked the music :)
The first main that came out, was the Ricotta Gnudi (like a pasta dumplings). It was a mix of prawns, onion, tomato and fennel sitting aside a pond of crab brisque. I must say when I saw it on the menu I thought it looked awesome. And to be fair, the seperate elements of the dish were good, like the prawns were bouncy, ricotta gnudi pillowy and the crab bisque yummy but they just didn't mesh that well together! Oh yeah and see that beautiful purple flower? It had my name all over it until SOMEONE took it. Yes I am looking at you crispy! Hahaha
AHA! Then came the much anticipated Fried Chicken! Crispy and I were actually talking on Sunday at the Bloggers Xmas Picnic 2014 about how great these chicken pieces were and why. We decided it was because the chicken skin was a thick kind of crispy batter, not like the crispy chicken you find from Chinese restaurants, but a thick batter that was oober crispy but did not just shatter into a million bits when once bitten. Mm confusing but yeah I thought their chicken was right on the mark- but that's just me! With the sausage gravy though, I wasn't impressed. Apart from providing some textural variety to the dish, that was pretty much it...it was like a salty creamy mush drenching a biscuit (kind of like a scone). I didn't like that biscuit either. It was dry and crumbly...and even the gravy couldn't mask that!
Ah, the Pulled Pork. Now this I liked. You see, I have a thing for most things, pig :) And this was pig to the tee. A massive block of juicy shreddy pork topped with maple bacon. In case you are curious as to what maple bacon is, as am I, it tasted like bacon that has been smothered in maple syrup, fried with crispy caramelised edges. Well that is what I think anyway :P
Portioning this dish took calculations, permutations and problem solving. Finally, we figured it out and Crystal did the honours in handing out our portions. Now I did the honours in eating my portion of maple bacon, yoghurt, crackling and apple. I chose to eat everything together and I thought it worked wonderfully as strange as it may sound. Crispy, sweet, mushy, salty, creamy- it was all there in my mouth :P
The Poutine was our final savoury dish of the evening. It was a metal bowl filled to the brim with super thick cut fries, braished beef shin and beer and cheese sauce. Gosh this was good but really rich and salty! Actually I reckon it would have been better if it was served to us earlier on in the night so we could pick at it throughout our meal!
I remember everyone saying they were super stuffed at this point, but never too stuffed for desserts! :) We ordered the all and powerful...
Almond Dacquoise soft serve.
x 3 of course :P
I had been hearing Crystal and Crispy talk about this a few days prior to this dinner. I heard it was a soft serve version of Black Star Pastry's famous watermelon cake and I was quite interested to see what it was about!
And what can I say? Looks wise, it was a work of art. Taste wise, it was just like Black Star Pastry's cake, with crushed pistachios, macerated strawberries and watermelon and rose granita. It was so light and refreshing, and I especially liked the granita!
There was a bit of a debate going on at the table as to the creaminess of the ice cream. I thought it was more icy than your usual soft serve (I am thinking Maccas though). Personally I like creamy more, but I think some of the others liked this version! Now truth be told the dessert I truly wanted that night was their special pie of the night! However, they told us that they only serve their very special pies from Friday- Sunday. Devastating I know, buuutt now I am even wiser ;)
Overall, I had loads of fun at Hartsyard with team EMC²!! The service was also very good, the waitresses were attentive and helpful, especially with giving us plenty water! Everyone who knows me well knows my thing with water haha. The foods were mostly awesome and came out surprisingly fast despite the restaurant being packed! Will definitely be going back some time for some pie and maybe another dose of those sexy po boys ;)
Notes: EBHO (Ellies Belly's Humble Opinion)