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


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