Pepperwood Bistro

I’ve always been a fan of brunch because I like the idea of having breakfast food later in the day or having non-breakfast food first thing in the morning. I blame the rebellious side of me – the same side that will have dessert before dinner or cupcakes for breakfast.

So when the boyfriend and I decided to go for brunch with our good friend LJ, I was anticipating some gastronomic confusion to occur. Perhaps I would forego breakfast and dive directly into lunch foods, or maybe even skip it all and eat ice cream. The possibilities were endless, and my stomach was rumbling the whole ride over.

Pepperwood has been open for as long as I can remember. Facing the lake, it has a lovely patio in the summer that is always packed full every time I pass by. The decor inside is a mixture between old French Quarter New Orleans charm and a warm, quaint bistro. Eclectic art hang on the walls, framed by curtains haphazardly tied to simulate the look of windows. There are booths at the back corner with colourful throw pillows along the bench that add vibrant pops of colour. There is live music on weekends, and near the end of our meal there was a live jazz piano player near the front of the restaurant. The tables are dark wood and covered with white paper tablecloths (I’m seriously going to have to start buying stock in paper tablecloth companies. This is getting ridiculous.) with a stamp of the Pepperwood logo on each sheet.

What better way to celebrate the early afternoon hours of a Sunday than with glasses of wine? Wine by the glass is served in either five or eight ounces and ranged from $6 to $13 per glass. We each went with a variation of white and I was told the house white was particularly delicious. As for the menu, we tried asking what the Daily Catch and the Daily Features were but were told that neither were available because the chef hadn’t decided what they were yet. Confused? We were.

I had heard that the fries here were to die for, and managed to convince my eating companions to share in a start of Pepperwood Poutine ($9.95). The house fries are thin cut shoe string fries that are fried to a golden, crispy brown and sprinkled with a healthy dose of salt. Topped with dark ale gravy, cheese curds, shredded braised short ribs and chopped scallions, this dish is one of the best poutines I have had the pleasure of trying. The braised short ribs were tender and melted in your mouth. Coupled with the dark ale gravy, we all agreed the fries were actually on the salty side and I would recommend you ask that the fries be unsalted if you order this dish. The cheese was minimal, but what was on the dish was adequately melted to coat a few fries at a time. 

The half pizza and salad ($12.95) came with your choice of any of Pepperwood’s fresh pizzas and either a Caesar or a Bistro greens salad. The Caesar salad was nothing special and tasted like any other Caesar. The boyfriend chose the Brew House pizza: pepperoni, smoked bacon, roasted peppers and charred onions as his half, and was disappointed. Though the thick cut pepperoni was delicious, it was overshadowed by disappointing pizza dough that was cooked to a hard crisp and covered in a forgettable tomato sauce. He made the comment that he could have made a frozen pizza and had the same results rather than spending twice as much on half a pizza here.
My choice for the day was the Prime Rib Dip ($12.95) which came with a healthy portion of fries and a dill pickle. Caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and carved prime rib are piled onto a French baguette and served with a cup of au jus that tasted faintly of the gravy from the poutine we started with. The bread was fresh and crisp on one side and unfortunately soggy on the bottom. The caramelized onion was done beautifully and its sweetness complimented the sweetness of the cheese and saltiness of the meat perfectly. The prime rib itself was pretty average in my opinion. There was a fair amount on the bread, but the taste did not stand out as anything special. 

The best entree at the table was definitely the Crispy Salmon Salad ($18.95) which had a large (maybe five ounces) filet of salmon fried until the skin and outer edges were crispy but still stayed light and flaky on the inside. The mixed bitter greens were topped with sweet vinaigrette with fresh blackberries and chunks of feta. It was a delicious combination of texture and flavours, and made a great light choice.

A staple on the Burlington lakeshore for as many years as I can remember, Pepperwood serves okay food for okay-to-high prices. The service did not stand out as being either good or bad, but then again, neither did the food. Overall, Pepperwood Bistro is a pretty average restaurant, but it has a great patio in the summer if you want to be downtown.

Pepperwood Bistro on Restaurantica
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Pepperwood Bistro
1455 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington


Anonymous said...
November 29, 2010 at 11:21 PM

You're a great reviewer...I won't be going to pepperwood.

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