Harry’s Social Kitchen

Harry’s Social Kitchen is a restaurant at Yonge & St. Clair that is in the former location of Fionn McCool’s. I was walking in this area a couple of weeks ago to meet a friend for dinner and I noticed that Fionn McCool’s was no longer there. I was severly disappointed as Fionn McCool’s was my location of choice (if I had to make that choice) for St. Patrick’s Day – Happy St. Patrick’s Day by the way! Last weekend, my parents came down to take me, GC and two of my three sisters (they love us equally, only three of us live in Toronto) for lunch and my mom choose Harry’s Social Kitchen.

From the outside, this place looks like nothing special. It has garage-door style patio window frontage and the exterior is painted a muted charcoal grey. Don’t let this exterior fool you – rather, see it as sleek, modern and hip which the restaurant is. I wasn’t prepared for how fancy this place was. GC and I showed up late (this seems to be a trend when we go places together but not when we go separately) and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt which I would have rather not. This is the type of place where they take your coat and hang it up elsewhere before you sit down so needless to say I felt under dressed. The fanciest part about me was the fact that I had make up on. If this place had been busy, and full of it’s typical crowd, I would have felt out of place. But Saturday at 12:30, it was oddly empty.

Now this is a bit of a special post because it will feature the meals of 6 people, which I have never done. My entire family freely and willingly participated and took pictures of their meals. If when they read this, they would like to comment with descriptions and thoughts of their meals, that would be appreciated but I won’t force anyone to do so. I have briefly summarized the comments that occured around the lunch table.

My sister Theresa and my Dad both had appetizers, which I failed to take pictures of. Theresa had the Caesar salad with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. She gave me a flake and it was authentic Parmesan cheese. It was salty, with a little nutty flavour from being perfectly aged. The downside to the salad – it was overdressed. And unfortunately, you can’t really order your dressing on the side with a Caesar salad. Dad ordered the Soup of the Day which was roasted red pepper. The soup was this beautiful burnt orange colour and was speckled with a blend of different spices and seasonings. It was the right consistency – thick and almost smooth, leaving you with a texture so you know it has been freshly puréed.

1. For my lunch I had the Grilled Apple Brie Quesadilla.

Charred green apple, triple cream brie, willow grove hill bacon, maple mustard drizzle, and bourbon tomato chipotle jam.

This was amazing. The apple had been cooked long enough that it was soft but not the consistency of baby food. The brie had melted so it was stringy but not scalding your mouth. The bacon was crispy without being burnt. The maple mustard drizzle – let’s talk about this. I haven’t seen anything like this and after eating this dish I want to go the St. Lawrence market and go to the mustard store. I typically do not like mustard. I only like it on hot dogs and in my Mom’s macaroni and cheese (as an ingredient not some sort of bastardizing topping like ketchup). But this drizzle. The sweetness of the maple syrup was cut by the tangy, zing of the mustard and just created this unique flavour the complimented the sweetness of the apple and even the undertones of the cheese. And the burbon tomato chipotle jam. I like this trend that is emerging of jams in place of salsas and chutneys – they are overdone, often watery and from a jar. If you have a jam instead you know it is fresh, custom and is going to be something you can’t get off the shelf at a store. I want to make my own version of this jam and eat it with tortilla chips.

2. GC ordered the Hemingway Chicken.

Natural chicken breast, agave lime marinade, roasted tomato chipotle jam, romaine leaf & buffalo mozzarella.

I think he was sold at the buffalo mozzarella. And that bun looked unreal – like it just came out of the oven.

3. Theresa and Dad ordered the Woodland Mushroom Tortellini.

Tri-coloured cheese tortellini, basil pesto cream sauce, fresh mushrooms, roasted red peppers & parmesan regianno.

Creamy, woody, salty and cheesy. And a huge portion which Theresa was able to take about half home for dinner. When they wrapped it up for her the included a fork and a napkin in the bag. A nice, logical touch.

4. Mom had Harry’s Soft Tacos.

Two soft corn tacos with southwest spiced angus ground sirloin, shredded nappa cabbage, chipotle aioli, cilantro salsa fresco & manchego cheese.

The cheese was creamy and salty. The beef was perfectly seasoned and had the right amount of heat. We all thought fries were a bit of a weird side with tacos but my mom is never going to turn down fries. I think instead maybe you should get three tacos without fries but obviously the fries are a more inexpensive way for the restaurant to give you a complete meal.

5. Liz had the Parsnip Soup.

Roasted parsnip, organic chicken broth, spring leeks, willow grove hill bacon, roasted garlic cream & gruyère garnish.

Root vegetables are truly underutilized in most people’s cooking and this soup illustrates how delicious they are. It was creamy, but thick with the right amount of salt from the cheese and bacon. The bacon bits were soft and flowed with the texture of the soup. The garlic flavour but was subtle enough to ward off vampires. Delicious. Another dish I would like to recreate at home.

Dessert. Typically as a family, when we go out for lunch and/or dinner we do not order dessert for a number of reasons: allergies, we are too full or the quality is not up to the standards that we could make at home. But anytime a restaurant has crème brûlée you know it is going to be quality desserts.

1. Theresa and I both ordered the Crème Brûlée.

A satisfying crack led you to the silky, custard center. The drizzle on the side was a strawberry, vanilla cream which was sweet and was clearly made from real strawberries. I had two complaints and I don’t know if these were shared by Theresa: 1. All my vanilla beans fell to the bottom (can’t really be helped) so I didn’t get that real, rich vanilla flavour until the bottom of my pot and 2. My custard wasn’t the same consistency all the way down. I think it could have stayed in the oven for a minute longer.

2. Mom and GC had the Apple Crumble with Old Cheddar Cheese.

GC’s only complaint was the cheese – he didn’t want it to be melted.

3. Dad had the Chocolate Lava Cake.

Chocolate. That’s all you need to know.

Overall, we were all very happy with this place. An upscale, adult atmosphere paired with an eclectic mixture of food that is all custom made, on-site. The menu features unique offerings that are not too unique to the point that you will not want to try them or that there isn’t something for everyone on the menu. I would recommend this place for a date night, a girls night, or really, any kind of night. I want to go back.

crème brûlée