Gosh, I haven't been back to Harrison Hot Springs in ages. This little resort has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind even though Viv and I have had many chances to visit. Why is that anyways? Not really sure because it ain't that far -only 1.5 hours from Vancouver. Furthermore, it's not really that difficult to get to - just drive East on Hwy 1 and take one exit. Well, I recently got invited by the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa to check out the place, as well as dining at The Copper Room. For a split second, I considered going it alone because Viv couldn't get away on a weekday. But the thought of snapping photos of my food by myself in a corner at a romantic destination just didn't sit well. Hence, I invited Miss Y to tag along. Don't worry, this was wife-approved...
We were put up on the 6th floor in the West Tower facing the lake. Naturally, the view was fantastic and it was relaxing to sit out on the balcony. The rooms were nicely appointed with modern decor complete with wireless internet (that worked quite well), flat screen TV, coffee maker and the aforementioned balcony. Adorned with slate tiles, the washroom was in good shape and appeared upscale. There was only a standup shower, but with all the pools downstairs, a bathtub was not necessary. I found the beds to be medium-firm and quite comfortable. I was able to get a good nights sleep (the blackout curtains didn't hurt either). Shortly after we arrived, we were treated to a cheese, cracker and fruit plate with wine. The cheese was supplied by The Farm House Natural Cheeses.
However, the main draw at the resort are the private pools, all 5 of them. They are all hot-spring-fed mineral pools – each at a different temperature. The outdoor lap pool is kept at 28C (83F), which is great for a dip to cool off from the warmer pools. Of which, the outdoor adult pool (not pictured) maintains a temperature of 37C (98F). This is a great place to relax without any kiddies frolicking around. Now, if you do have children, the outdoor family pool is the largest of them all (at 4000 sq ft) with the same temperature as the lap pool. Inside, there is a pool that has temperatures ranging from 32 – 35C (90 – 95F). Adjacent, there is a indoor hot pool that ranges from a toasty 38 – 40C (100 – 104F). I can honestly say my aches and pains never felt so good after multiple dips into the various pools.
After our visit to the pools, Miss Y and I were ready for dinner. We headed over to the Copper Room where we were greeted to a dining room that was a throwback to yesteryear. With tables surrounding a dance floor, we were entertained by the Jones Boys that had played there for many years. Now as for the food, we were allowed to order whatever we wanted. In fact, our server dared us to order everything. Hey, I had Miss Y with me, not Mijune! So we settled on 4 appies, 4 entrees and 2 desserts. LOL...
We began with the a nicely plated Bison Carpaccio with horseradish aioli, Parmesan and truffle oil. The meat was really good and melted-in-our-mouths. We felt that there was probably too much aioli, but that didn't make or break the dish. Next up was something we don't see much on many menus anymore being the Vichyssoise which is a cold potato and leek soup. Frankly, I've only had this dish only 3 times ever, hence, I am no expert. However, basing it on whether we liked it independently of other versions, we thought it was pretty good. It was well-chilled and was fairly light with only the slightest of potato texture. It wasn't too creamy while the flavours were very mild.
Moving onto our next 2 appies, we had the Goat Cheese and Herb Ratatouille and Fresh Scallops & Pancetta. Interestingly, we thought the ratatouille was more like antipasto atop goat cheese. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if we didn't like it. In fact, the ratatouille itself had a nice texture which was not firm while not mushy. Flavourwise, it was sweet and a bit tart. We felt there was probably too much goat cheese in relation to the ratatouille. Our favourite appie was the scallops as they looked appetizing exhibiting a nice sear. The scallops were barely cooked being buttery and sweet (with natural flavour). The crispy and salty pancetta was a touch overwhelming, but did not make or break the dish. The mild and creamy white wine and leek sauce was quite nice as it brought some moisture to the dish.
Onto the mains, we tried the Fresh Arctic Char Amandine first. Sadly, the fish was overdone where the meat was dry and stiff. Furthermore, there was a general lack of seasoning. Continuing on that theme, the accompanying rice was also dry and bland. On the other hand, the fresh veggies were vibrant and crisp. Thankfully, the Agnolotti stuffed with BC wild mushrooms, cream cheese and provolone was much better. Completing the dish was a cherry tomato compote and a drizzle of truffle oil. The pasta was thin, yet chewy and toothsome. We found the filling to be flavourful and pungent (in an Earthy way). The truffle oil only further amped the natural flavours. The tomato compote added the necessary acidity to the dish.
Now for the meat of the meal, literally and figuratively starting with the Bison Tenderloin with blueberry jus. As stated on the menu, it was simply grilled and served with roasted potates and fresh veggies. It was prepared a wonderful medium-rare (closer to rare, just how I like it). The meat was very moist and tender with just enough gaminess for flavour. There was a good char on the outside which added some richness while the savoury blueberry jus was mild enough to let the meat shine. Saving the best for last was our favourite dish - the Rack of Lamb which was crusted with Dijon and fresh herbs. This was accompanied by a polenta cake and fresh veggies while a rich demi-glace adorned the bottom of the plate. The lamb was beautifully cooked being moist and soft. The crispy impactful crust added texture and a sharp hint of Dijon.
For dessert, we only went for 2 as we were completely stuffed. First off, we had the Chocolate Pate Tower with fresh seasonal berries. This consisted of chocolate pate encased in white chocolate lattice. We found the chocolate pate to be smooth with a nice bitter finish while the white chocolate was pretty sweet. The tart raspberry coulis helped balance the flavours. Lastly, we tried the flaming Amaretto Creme Brule. The thin hard sugar topping was nicely caramelized while the creamy custard was smooth and only semi-sweet. We really got a big hit of amaretto with every bite. Well, I gotta say this meal was much better than I had anticipated. Sure, the food is pretty traditional, but 9 of the 10 dishes we had were executed quite well. Prices are on the higher side, but nothing much in Harrison can be considered cheap. Oh, and the live entertainment was pretty fun too.
*Note: This was an invited stay and dinner where all food was comped*
- Most of the proteins were done right
- Romantic in a traditional manner
- For those who don't like traditional