Sherman's Food Adventures: H2 Kitchen + Bar

H2 Kitchen + Bar

I have fond memories of the Westin Bayshore as it was "the" hotel back in the 70's.  It was originally The Bayshore Inn before Westin bought it in 1981.  Everyone knew about Trader Vic's, the Polynesian-themed restaurant located within.  Fast forward to the recent past and the present, Westin is now owned by Marriott and their current flagship restaurant, H2 Kitchen & Bar has gone through a few iterations.  They have been featuring a Southern-style menu for quite some time and also a Sunday Supper Series, which features a 3-course meal for $40.00.  I've been here on many occasions including their wonderful Mother's Day brunch.  But this time, I came back with the fam to try out their current Sunday Supper feature in addition to their Smokehouse favourites.

Before we got to the mains, we decided to start off with a few appies including the Baked Spinach Dip featuring a 4-cheese blend, pimento, pico de gallo and caramelized onion with corn tortillas.  This was pretty typical with a creamy mix of cheese and spinach with tomatoes and onion.  I felt that they was pretty flavourful and full of textures.  Although they were pretty generous with the melted cheese on the top, it was probably a bit too much as it made the dip heavier.  However, what do I know?  A lot of melted cheese and chips?  I'm sure many people would love that!

One of the best items we had was the Bison Tartare served atop smoked bone marrow topped with pickled mustard seed and aioli.  This was accompanied by house made waffle chips.   As for the tartare itself, it was buttery soft (despite being lean) and well-dressed.  The whole mix of ingredients was creamy and slightly tangy.  Combined with the fatty bone marrow, the little bite atop each chip was sinfully delicious and silky.  Loved the crispy chips as they were the perfect textural contrast for the tartare.  I only wished that the chips were slightly larger in size as I wanted more of the tartare on top of each piece!  Lastly, the whole thing was brought to the table underneath a glass cloche with an intoxicating amount of smoke.  Nice presentation and added even more smokiness to the tartare.

Our last starter was the Chicken & Corn Chowder, that was included in the Sunday Supper Series 3-course meal.  This was an enormous portion that ate much more like a chicken pot pie than a chowder, especially with the piece of puff pastry on top.  The viscosity was of the chowder was on point as it coated the spoon without being clumpy.  There was an abundance of natural chicken flavour in the thickened broth as well as being properly seasoned.  There was no absence of tender chicken and soft potatoes (that were still in one piece).

Onto the mains, the featured dish for the Sunday Supper Series was the Smoked Picanha with roasted carrots and broccolini, red skin mashed potatoes, burnt onion jus and chimichurri.  This was one big plate of food where the picanha was medium-rare and sliced thin.  As such, the meat ate fairly tender despite having an inherent chew.  Thick and silky, the onion jus was full of depth and intense smoky sweetness with a bite.  Those roasted veggies were perfect where they retained a fresh crunchiness.  The chimichurri was bright and garlicky, which lightened up the richness of the dish.

Just because he loves burgers, my son ordered the Whiskey BBQ Beef Burger with cheddar, bacon and all the produce on brioche.  This was a well-constructed burger where the Prairie Ranchers beef patty was thick and fairly moist while sporting a nice char outside.  The bacon was supremely crispy and the thick slice of melted cheddar coated the whole patty.  Naturally, the whiskey BBQ sauce took centre stage offering up a smoky sweet tang with the unmistakable bite of whiskey.  Good balance on that.   He subbed the waffle fries with yam fries, which were uniformly crispy served with a spicy chipotle mayo.

For Viv and I, we had to try their Date Night Meat Sweats that included 1/2 lb of CAB Smoked Brisket, 1/2 lb of Smoked Pulled Pork, half a rack of St. Louis Ribs, Cornbread, House Pickles, 2 Sides (Mac & Cheese, Ancho Creamed Corn) and choice of Sauce (OG H2 BBQ Sauce) for $68.00.  Considering the amount of food, we felt this was a very well-priced platter.  Moreover, the components were good too.  The brisket was fatty and buttery soft while the pulled pork was tender.  There was a balanced smokiness to the meats as well.  As for the ribs, they were large and meaty while tender enough.  I liked how the meat still had a chew and wasn't completely melting.  Yes, these were legit smoked ribs (not par-cooked and then BBQ'd).  Loved the BBQ sauce as it was tangy, smoky and sweet.  Oh that cornbread was fantastic as it was moist with a firm texture.  The spiced butter only helped elevate it.  For our sides, we chose the Mac & Cheese and it was excellent being cheesy and creamy with al dente noodles.  The Ancho Creamed Corn was also creamy with a bite.

The Sunday Supper Series also included Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert.  We enjoyed this as the cake itself was soft, fluffy and smoky.  It wasn't overly sweet, but the actual caramel sauce underneath was plenty sweet.  However, we liked how we could regulate how sweet we wanted it by either soaking it in the sauce or not.  It was topped with creamy vanilla ice cream and a crunchy brandy snap.  We also added another dessert in the Apple & Caramel Cheesecake.  This ate more like a crumble with a cheesecake crust.  In that respect, I really enjoyed it as the apples were sweet and tart while the cheesecake was classic New York-style being firm and rich.  Overall, the food was just as good as the previous visits we've had at H2.  The best part is their reasonable pricing given that they are a Downtown hotel restaurant.  You can really eat here and not break the bank.  Something that cannot be said about eating out these days.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Generally well-prepared eats
- Menu is focused
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:
- Maybe less choice for the people who don't like BBQ


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