The Purple Heather Gastro Pub

One of the latest fads in food these days seems to be the emergence of more and more gastro pubs, so naturally, when I heard that Burlington was getting one, I started counting down the days. A gastro pub is basically a mixture between a bar and a restaurant – so you’ll see bar food on the menu, but it’s usually kicked up a notch and made fancier. For example, you might have a burger and fries, but the burger has brie and foie gras on it, or something to that effect.

The Purple Heather opened a while back at the corner of Walkers and Dundas and is on the ground floor of a large building beside a lighting store. The ceilings are super high, and it looks like an upscale pub. There is a large bar and plenty of cozy tables and booths surrounded by televisions.

We have actually visited on a number of occasions, and I even coordinated with the staff to throw Jersey a surprise birthday party a couple months ago. The staff members we have dealt with have all been amazing. They have been extremely knowledgeable about the menu, what beers go well with what types of food, and just all around friendly people. In fact, when we came in after we were engaged, our favourite server gave us champagne to celebrate because she was so excited for us. Again, I cannot stress how important it is to have good customer service because it makes such a difference in whether or not people will want to continually come back.

Just a disclaimer before we get to the food: these are pictures are from a few visits; I did not eat all of these in one sitting....though I could probably try (and fail miserably, but be really happy trying).

For those of us who like to try a few different things at once, there is a Tapas, Charcuterie and Cheese platter where you can choose 1, 2 or 3 items. Obviously it’s me, so we chose three: beef wrapped asparagus, seared tuna and pate. Of those items, I think the beef wrapped asparagus is the only item still on the tapas menu, with other things substituting the pate and seared tuna. I will say that the seared tuna was by far, my favourite thing from the platter. The tuna was fresh and the crust was salty, crunchy and delicious. The pate was creamy, fatty and rich – just as a good pate should be. Finally, the beef wrapped asparagus was a little disappointing. Aesthetically, it was lovely to look at, but the taste was bland and it was cold. The beef was tender though, but again, there was lack of flavour.
Thai Tuna Lettuce Rolls was a do-it-yourself appetizer with fresh cubes of marinated raw tuna, boston bib lettuce, mango coleslaw and a wasabi/salt sprinkle. It was served with a side of hot sauce and Thai sweet chilli sauce for dipping. Oh my goodness, this was delicious. It was recommended to us by our server for the evening, and it was a fresh and yummy appetizer on a hot summer day. The fish was incredibly fresh, and all the flavours combined to make a taste explosion with every bite. I highly recommend this dish as a starter if you are a fresh fish fan (woohoo, alliteration for the win!).
I’m not generally a cheese fan (I know it’s hard to tell because all of my posts have cheese everywhere, but I swear, it’s not usually something I gravitate towards) but I love brie. What can I say? It’s the princess in me. So the Baked Brie with roasted garlic, chutney and bread is a must have when we come. The two large heads of roasted garlic + a tower of crispy crustini + a whole wheel of brie = heaven. The chutney added a sweetness that cut the creaminess of the cheese, and the whole garlic was a great touch.
One of my favourite things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit in salads. Watermelon is one of my all-time favourite fruits, so the Watermelon and Beet Salad with beets, watermelon, tomatoes and goat cheese sounded delicious. The salad is really light and refreshing, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction, so it doesn’t overpower the taste of the ingredients. The crumbled goat cheese added a sharp creaminess that worked really well with the watermelon.
Moving on to mains, a popular dish they offer is the Beef Bourguignon Pie – an impressive looking pastry shell stuffed with braised tenderloin, bacon, mushrooms and whole pearl onions in a red wine demi. A side of vegetables accompanies it for a very filling meal. Though pretty, and overflowing with meat and vegetables, I found the pie to be lacklustre in flavour. The red wine didn’t shine through, and there were a lot of pearl onions, so I got tired of those really quickly. The beef was tender and cooked well, but again, the flavour was missing. I’m not sure I would get it again.
Jersey’s always wanted to try haggis, so he was pretty excited to find it on the menu, even though it’s not done in the traditional sense. Heather Haggis is duck, lamb, bison and oats (none of the scary stuff in normal haggis) with potatoes, turnips and vegetables. It actually reminded me of meatloaf when I tried it. It was good for a meatloaf, but I’m not sure if I’d say that was distinctly haggis-y.
Chicken Prosciutto and Asiago Melt is a focaccia sandwich with salsa and mayonnaise. The chicken is grilled and marinated so that it is still juicy, and the prosciutto and asiago add a salty depth to the whole package. For an extra amount of money you can upgrade your side to the Duck poutine (duck confit, cheese and duck jus) – and I highly recommend you doing so if you like duck. The poutine is phenomenal and there is a good portion of cheese and duck with every bite.
Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favourite comfort foods, but the Heather’s version includes braised lamb and bison – taking this comfort food up about a thousand notches. The meat isn’t ground as I would have expected it to be, but had more of a pulled pork texture. The pie looks small and unassuming, but I could only eat half of it when I ordered it.
One of the items that I wish they would bring back is the Fish Pie – kind of like a shepherd’s pie but with seafood. In the portion we received there was plenty of seafood with large shrimps and mussels. It was creamy and reminded me of seafood chowder mixed with shepherd’s pie. Hey Purple Heather! If you’re reading this, please bring back the Fish Pie! Thanks and love you lots, xoxo – Neurotic Nibbler
On Wednesdays, they have a special where you can get a schooner of domestic and a pound of wings for $14.95. Do you know how big a schooner of beer is? I didn’t. For those of you like me who don’t know, it’s 32 ounces. Thirty. Two. It’s basically a bucket. On a summer day, it’s a pretty welcome bucket, let me tell you. Paired with a pound of crispy fried wings – I like them to be tossed in the hot sauce and then coated in the dry Cajun spice, personally. Yum. Perfect after work treat.
For desserts, one of the most popular (and most amazing) offerings is the Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding topped with the house-made toffee sauce. Warm, gooey, sweet and full of carbs, it’s a treat that needs to be shared. You won’t want to, but you should. Trust me. Your thighs will thank you.
Or another delicious option is the Phyllo-Wrapped Cheesecake with the fresh cream and summer berries. I am drooling as I’m thinking about this because it was...ridiculous. If you’ve never had cheesecake wrapped in phyllo pastry, then you haven’t lived. I thought I knew cheesecake, but this....this, was beyond amazing. Creamy, smooth, flaky, buttery – I could use more adjectives, but you get the point. Just try it.
Finally, what’s a good pub without some good libations, right? I tend to like sweet white wines, so we discovered Strewn – Riesling and generally get it by the bottle when we’re out with friends. For only $30, it’s a cheaper option and it’s light and summery. I won’t mention how much of the bottle I can drink at a time, because I’m a lightweight, but let’s just say that it is yummy and it goes down much too easily.
So is a gastro pub that different? I’d say so. It’s casual enough that you can go for drinks and chill out with friends in your flip flops and beach clothes, or it’s nice enough to take someone on a date – it all depends on what you want to make of it. The food has high and low points, but for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve tried. The service has been wonderful and we have had a good time with every visit. It’s definitely a comfortable atmosphere and somewhere you can consider the local pub. If you come and I’m there, say hi – I’ll probably be the one with the mountain of food in front of her!

Purple Heather Gastro Pub on Urbanspoon
The Purple Heather
3600 Dundas St. W., Burlington


I’m adventurous when it comes to eating, and I am the kind of person that likes to go to a restaurant not only for delicious food, but for the experience. I like to try new things, especially if it’s something that I can’t make at home myself.

I heard about Sokratis offering what they call a “Cyprus Traditional Meze” which is a set meal of many different items so you get to taste a little bit of everything. At $21.99 per person (minimum of 2 people must order at a time) and 16 different items, I took Jersey to see what this was all about. We should have been warned when the menu itself says, “a warning though must be attached to this culinary experience – the quantity and variety of dishes is immense, a true assault on your taste buds.” Instead of being intimidated, I took it as a challenge and decided that my taste buds needed assaulting.

Sokratis is in the West end of Burlington, in the heart of Aldershot. Over the years I have known it to be a Greek restaurant, a breakfast place, and now, back to a Greek restaurant again. There is a large patio outside and plenty of parking around the building. Walking in, there are murals on the walls and a cozy atmosphere with lots of seating. 

Since we ordered the Meze, there wasn’t really a need to look through the menu considering we were about to eat the world. However, the menu was extensive and when I come back, there are definitely items there that I want to try (mmm, moussaka). It was also this outing that I learned Jersey had never tried the flaming cheese before, so we ordered it in addition to our meals just so he could experience pyrotechnic dairy.

Saganaki Opa! ($9.99) is a triangle of keflotyri cheese that comes out on a small frying pan (apparently saganaki is Greek for “little frying pan”) that is held by the server.  The cheese is flambĂ©ed at the table and the flame is doused with lemon. The cheese itself tastes a bit like hardened feta, very mild and a little salty. Being in the hot frying pan, the outer layer is crispy and the warm inside is softy and goeey. It’s a fun dish when you’re out with people to yell OPA! when the cheese is lit on fire. 
The food for the Meze came out quickly (I’ll number them so you can appreciate how much food there is), and at first, we thought we had this one in the bag – small ramekins of (1) fresh Tzatziki – creamy, cool and garlic-y, (2) Hummus – smooth and full of garlic with a drizzle of olive oil on top (3) Eggplant Dip – by far my favourite dip, with big chunks of mashed eggplant, tomato and onion and (4) Beet Salad – sweet and tart slices of beets with oil and vinegar, were served with a plate of (5) crispy, warm Pita bread. The dips came at the same time as the (6) Cyprus Village Salad, which was a fresh Greek salad without the lettuce and lots of cheese. Served extra cold and crisp, this was a delicious start to the meal.
This was followed closely by (7) Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions and (8) Homemade Dolmades – stuffed leaves filled with ground beef and pork, and rice in a lemon-cream sauce. I don’t normally like stuffed leaves because I find the leaves extremely tough and the filling bland, but these were delicious. The leaves melted in my mouth, and the stuffing was perfectly seasoned with plenty of meat.
Next up was the (9) Halloumi – two very generous V’s of grilled Cypriot cheese served with fresh tomato slices. Think of it as a salty mozzarella, with a soft texture. It was delicious, but at this point, I was beginning to wish that we didn’t order the Saganaki Opa because I was getting a little cheesed-out.
(10) Grilled Eggplant in tomato sauce with feta cheese on top reminded me of eggplant parmesan, but the sauce was a little bland for my liking. The eggplant itself – I love eggplant – was grilled perfectly and didn’t have the chewy outer layer that sometimes comes with over-grilling.
(11) Smoked Sausage was a few slices of delicious grilled sausage that had the perfect amount of moisture in them. I hate when sausages are over-cooked because they get dry and lose all flavour.
Now, at this point, I will be honest and say that both of us were full. Normal people would have stopped at this stage because there was no need to keep eating. However, with the meal, our server came out and said, “Hope you’re ready, because here comes the big stuff!” I’m pretty sure we both looked at her like she was nuts ... big stuff? We had no idea what we were in for.

She came back with a huge platter that held the rest of the food from our meal: (12) Pork Souvlaki – perfectly seasoned, moist cubes of pork, (13) Grilled Chicken Breast – one for each of us that was grilled well, but I found it to be lacking in flavour, (14) a mountain of sliced Gyro meat that was probably my favourite I’ve ever had because it was so tender and well seasoned, (15) Roasted Potatoes that were almost the size of my fist (though with how full I was it felt like they were basketballs, and finally (16) fluffy Rice to add to the assault.  Though delicious and we tried valiantly to try everything, we barely made a dent in half of the platter before waving our white flags in surrender. 
As we sat and digested this insanely yummy but could-feed-a-small-country feast, our server came back and said that the chef wanted to treat us to a Cyprus treat that he just made – a delicious citrus-y cake topped with coconut. Well, no one needs to twist my arm to eat cake, so although I was pretty sure I was going to explode, somehow the whole piece of light, and not-overly-sweet cake (we shared one!) disappeared. The citrus was actually the perfect end to our meal because it was light and sweet and helped with the digestion. Or so I tried to tell myself. Either way, it was delicious.
If you like Greek food, and are looking for something a little different, try the Meze. You can’t beat the value for how much awesome food you get, and it’s a fun experience to share with friends. Next time, I probably won’t take warnings as personal challenges, although it was fun to try!

Sokratis on Urbanspoon
437 Plains Rd. E., Burlington