Berry Hill Food Company has garnered rave reviews online and a loyal Facebook following. But would it serve up the promised fresh dining experience? We headed downtown to find out.
Berry Hill’s small dining area is cosy and includes a small open kitchen, manned by chef Sarah Groen, a native of Durham Region. Small, rectangular, and sporting two large, vintage windows facing King Street, the vibe is reminiscent of an upmarket neighbourhood café in Toronto – but without a drive down the DVP.
Part of Oshawa’s restaurant scene since 2013, the establishment is well known as a favourite stop for coffee, breakfast, and fresh lunches. But we were there to try out something new: Berry Hill’s dinner menu. During patio season (Berry Hill has a secret patio tucked out the back), diners can enjoy dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Groen has wisely kept the menu small, offering seven choices for small plates ranging in price from $9 for onion Tarte Tatin, to $16 for Beet Cured Gravlax, and seven mains ranging from $18 for a burger, to $30 for a flat iron steak served with roasted pepper, and asparagus, mash and cheddar popover. But we headed for the daily specials, and decided to try the shrimp kebabs, and a 14 oz steak, both for $28.
Our server was affable, polite, easily recited the specials, and was attentive without being annoying. Our dishes arrived within 30 minutes, and both proteins had been cooked perfectly: the steak was medium rare, and the shrimp were crunchy and flavourful without being rubbery.
The shrimp plate was bright, arranged with care, and nearly every inch of the white ceramic had been covered by food. The baked sweet potato had been lightly drizzled with sour cream and chives, steamed asparagus had been cooked slightly too long but still retained some crunch. The beautiful purple of the pickled cabbage slaw popped on the plate and provided a tart acidity to the mild shrimp and vegetables on the kebabs. The addition of the corn bread and half cob of fresh, boiled corn was ho hum, and struck us as having been placed on the plate as filler, rather than to augment the meal. However, for diners looking for value, $28 bought a huge amount of food.
The steak, on the other hand, was rich and hearty where the shrimp kebab was fresh. Smothered with onion and walnut reduction, was the meat was laid over a colourful dollop of sweet, creamy yam mash, with lightly sautéed fresh green beans and spinach tucked underneath.
Both plates were completely empty, save for the kebab skewers and a bit of sweet potato skin, when our server returned to clear the table. A good meal? You bet. Skip the drive to Toronto, and head to Berry Hill instead.
Total for two meals and one Bellini was $75, excluding tip.