Sherman's Food Adventures: Hidden Tasting Bar & Social Lounge

Hidden Tasting Bar & Social Lounge

You've probably heard me yammering away about hotel restaurants every now and then.  For full-service hotels, it is a standard and really a necessity since people need to eat, either in the restaurant or with room-service.  For me, I generally like to explore what is around, but there are some instances I eat at the hotel I'm staying at due to convenience.  On the flip side, while I'm in town, I tend to avoid hotel restaurants unless the Executive Chef is given freedom to be creative.  But a Groupon was able to convince me to give Hidden Tasting Bar & Social Lounge (in the Westin Grand) a go even though it hasn't been on my to-eat list.

We brought the whole family out including the grandparents.  This way, we could try more dishes!  For our appies, we had the Calamari which was crispy and well-seasoned (being spicy with a hint of dill).  The squid itself was a tad on the chewier side and the whole dish was fairly cold.  I thought the tzatziki was on point being garlicky, tangy and thick.  Our next dish was the Smoked Chicken and Pear Flatbread with caramelized onions, blue cheese, grana padano and frisee & tomato salad.  Due to the enormous amount of wet toppings, the middle of the flatbread was doughy and soft.  The flavour profile was on the sweeter side due to the onions, pear and balsamic reduction.  The chicken was probably the best part being moist and flavourful.

Moving onto the mains, I went for the Crab Tortellini with Seared Scallops.  This looked and ate more like an appetizer than an entree.  I thought the whole dish was a fail since the pasta was cold, hard and undercooked.  Inside, the crab was not fluffy either.  Despite being buttery and well-salted, the scallops were not seared properly.  I loved the herb soil, but the vanilla carrot puree was underseasoned.  On the flip side, my mom's Steak Frites was executed quite well.  The 7 oz sirloin was a beautiful medium-rare and tender.  Silky, rich and full of depth, the red wine jus complimented the seasoned steak and the crispy frites.

My dad went for the Confit Halibut with creamy mushroom veloute and chorizo hash.  Crispy with a nicely seared exterior, the halibut was moist and flaky on the inside.  It was also well-seasoned without being salty.  We found the veloute a bit too thick while the hash looked rather pale.  It did taste okay though.  Viv didn't end up receiving her Pan Seared Arctic Char until we were half-way through our meal because they had accidentally given it to another table.  We knew this because we overheard it, yet no one explained it to Viv (who was left waiting).  It was beautifully executed though with crispy well-seasoned skin and moist inside.  Underneath, the yam puree was smooth and undersalted while the mash potatoes were chunky.  Both had a hint of lemon.

For the kiddies, my son had the Mac n' Cheese with thick sliced homemade maple bacon and granny smith apple relish.  This was on point with al dente noodles enveloped in a creamy and cheesy sauce spiked with smoky bacon.  We tried it with the apple relish and it really worked with a crunchy sweetness.  The thick and lean bacon was a real treat on its own.  Looking like it could feed 2 people, my daughter didn't stand a chance against the Turkey Club with maple bacon, garlic aioli and Guinness cheddar.  A little dry, the shaved turkey breast was full-flavoured and spicy.  Along with the cheddar and crispy bacon, there was no absence of flavour going on.  For a seemingly standard dish, this club sandwich was very good.

For dessert, we ended up sharing 4 of them including the Chocolate Flan Cake featuring cream cheese and condensed milk flan dark chocolate cake, salted caramel sauce fresh berries.  Due to the rich ingredients, the flan ate as such.  Very sweet due to the caramel sauce, the moist and rich chocolate cake was further sweetened by the custard on top.  Also very chocolaty was the Double Chocolate Brownie with strawberry ice cream.  Dense, but just right, and moist, the brownie was purposefully sweet.  The side of strawberry ice cream was okay, but wished it was salted caramel as indicated on the menu.

My mom doesn't stray far from her favourites when it comes to dessert, so she wanted the New York Cheesecake with strawberry rhubarb compote.  This was fairly light and creamy for a baked cheesecake.  We could taste the cream cheese and the sugar content was just right.  The compote was balanced as well.  My daughter attacked the Saint Horone all by herself, but I was still able to try it.  I found the choux pastry to be dry while the custard was not too sweet.  As much as she ate it, we thought this was the weakest of the desserts.  Overall, we felt that Hidden represents the hotel restaurant quite well.  Okay eats, but nothing really memorable.  Interestingly, the service we received was really friendly, but hardly professional.  Plates weren't cleared when new dishes arrived and the lack of explanation of the messed up Arctic Char wasn't acceptable.

The Good:
- Okay pricing for a Downtown hotel restaurant
- Calm, quiet and comfortable space
- Serviceable

The Bad:
- A little rough around the edges, needs refinement
- Service was friendly, but for those who expect more, it wasn't professional   


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