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Rousseau House Ancaster - recent visit anyone? Other high-end Hamilton area?

Looking to take my MIL somewhere good for her Bday on Sunday. Both my hubby and I are pretty serious foodies and the in-laws are reasonably adventurous. We'd like to go somewhere in the Hamilton/Burlington/Oakville area with a nice atmosphere and excellent food. Not a fan of the traditional steak house-type repertoire nor Italian.

Will not consider the following b/c either we were underwhelmed or have eaten there too recently:
Room 41
1010 Bistro
Wild Orchid
Bistro Parisien

Anyone tried Rousseau and liked it recently? I want to know it's worth it to spend $35 per entree. Any other recs? I looked at the menu for Blacktree in Oakville - but it seemed overly trendy and over-priced. Anyone tried Incognito in Hamilton? http://www.goldbook.ca/goldbook/hamil...
Any good Portuguese besides Wild Orchid?

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  1. I'm a regular at Rousseau House and like it quite a bit. I would say that the entrees do represent good value (priced between $25 and $41). The entrees may not be as adventurous as they used to be but the preparation is well executed and the portions are just right. But there are other options: the tapas menu is fun to try and share (my usual choice) and there is a Sunday brunch menu that looks quite interesting (although I haven't tried it). The service is knowledgeable and friendly and the atmosphere is quite nice. Check out the menus below.


    I wouldn't write off Blacktree: the chef is very talented and this may be the best restaurant in the Hamilton-Burlington area at the present moment (it's in Burlington not Oakville). He changes the menu every month and never fails to amaze. It may be a bit on the pricey side but you get what you pay for. The only problem is that the restaurant is only open Tues. to Sat.


    I've tried Incognito and while it was OK I don't know that I would go out of my way to go there for a special occasion. I've tried chef Judith Birchall's cooking at other venues over the years (most recently at Il Fiasco's on Locke St.) but it has never really impressed me. I'm not sure if they are open on Sundays.

    Based on the above choices, I would say Rousseau House is your best bet for your Sunday outing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Redshifted

      Has Stoneboats in Bronte Harbour reopened and, if so, how is the food? I've had some great meals there over the years (both patio grub and formal). We were going to stop there last summer and were shocked to find them apparently trying to prevent the building from falling down.

      1. re: embee

        Here's what I found online: http://www.haltonsearch.com/hr/ob/sto...
        Anyone know if they rebuilt from the fire?

      2. re: Redshifted

        I tried Incognito the other day and must say I was quite impressed. It is a funky atmosphere with surprisingly good food. It is not over priced nor overly stuffy. The owners are pleasant and had time to talk because they weren't overly busy,(not sure why). I tried their $30, three course prix fixe menu and was amazed. Most prix fixe menus for that price are all about soup or salad, an entree, usually a cheap one and a dessert they bought from a supplier. Not here however. You get a real appetizer that they serve regularly, entree choices including rack of lamb and tenderloin, (that's what we had) and then a choice of desserts that are made in house. Very good value for money. I would highly recommend this as a way of trying several items without breaking the bank. (3 courses for 2 and a bottle of wine for under $100) The service was very relaxed, with a little fun thrown in for good measure...no pretension. It was definitely a nice way to spend an evening, with an atmosphere nothing like Il Fiasco. Very warm and inviting and the owners seem to genuinely appreciate your business.

        1. re: hamilton4ever

          Went to Icognito on the w/e. The atmosphere is lovely, the service good (although there were 5 of us and 2 of us had to wait about 5 min for our mains after the other 3 had got theirs - a bit of a gaffe, I think). I thought the arugula salad was excellent. The "tuna sashimi martini" was a real disappointment - tuna so-so (small) on a big glob of flavourless mayo (ick) for $14??! My main was the mahi mahi special which was excellent. The side of rice and veggies was good too although too much garlic shoved into the florets of my brocolli. Desert was the flourless choco cake which was v. good. All in all, a good resto for Hamilton - want to go one more time before I pass final judgement as there were a couple things (the oversight on bringing the entrees & the icky , expensive app) that I wasn't too thrilled about. Will try the prix-fixe next time - we didn't get offered the prix fixe menu this time - is it available every night?

      3. Thanks a tonne Redshifted - I think we'll try out Rousseau House and I'll post a follow-up if we do. A friend is supposed to go to Blacktree for dinner later this week - I'll encourage a review from her as well.

        1. http://www.bistroparisien.com/

          That's a new French restaurant which opened on James South.. that stretch is developing nicely and this chef from Australia has some interesting food.. you should give it a try to see if he's any good although my friend has told me his coq au vin & the rabbit is great.

          3 Replies
          1. re: yellowjello

            As I said in my first post, I've been there recently & wanted to try someplace different. It's also pretty noisy and I would like a bit more ambiance for this dinner. It's decent, not great. They really, really need to improve their desserts. There sides are quite good, the mains OK - I found my meat a little overdone both times. I wrote a review a couple months back if you use the search function.

            1. re: jcanncuk

              oops.. sorry jcanncuk I forgot you mentioned it already. Good luck on finding a great restaurant! What about Brownies? Have you given them a try?

              1. re: yellowjello

                On the surface, Brownies seems to have a lot going for it: they apparently have a loyal following, the friendly owner likes to talk about food and wine, I enjoyed the cooking of one of the chefs at Caddies and Abstracts, and the prices are very reasonable. Yet, I've been consistently underwhelmed. Maybe there is too much emphasis on price points and not creativity because I've often been left with the feelings: "is that all there is?" and "I could have made this myself". And the service has been positively scatterbrained at times.
                So, with apologies to supporters of Brownies, I must admit that I just don't get it.

          2. I agree with Redshifted about considering Blacktree in Burlington. We were introduced to it by friends a couple of months ago and I was in knots beforehand because I looked at the menu online and it's not really my kind of thing...I'm not a huge fan of over manipulated foods/food descriptions ("carrot froth", "smoked mango foam" and the like) but the food was suPERB and the service was excellent.

            1 Reply
            1. re: WineWidow

              I'm sold, I'll try it soon. Made a res for Rousseau for Sunday as Blacktree is closed Sun and I'm not sure it would be up the MIL's alley....

            2. Isn't the chef at bistro parisien the same one from compton & greenland at the RGB?

              1 Reply
              1. re: schnauzer

                I believe so. I must admit I was taken aback when an ex-server from RGB didn't ask how the food was at bistro parisien but, rather pointedly, how I was after eating there. A word to the wise, I suppose ...

              2. How about Pardon My French on Main and Gage? Small (24 seats), intimate, great food and prices, very friendly service. Had my Easter dinner there Sunday. Duck confit, Cassoulet, Lamb shanks, Pate du foie du canard.. all made in house. Don't reserve for tomorro though Daryl Hannah is filming a movie scene there and they are closed.

                9 Replies
                1. re: charizard

                  It seems to be gaining popularity. Here are some earlier discussions about Pardon My French.



                  1. re: Redshifted

                    Charizard - thanks for posting this. I keep driving by and wondering about this place. I will try it out. For any of you Hamiltonians who haven't gone to Roti Hut for take-out yet, go. God, it's good!!

                    1. re: jcanncuk

                      Thank you for backing me on this one! Try to go early in the week when she has the duck roti in stock (I think she gets her orders in on Tuesdays)...her phulorie and doubles are excellent too!

                      King and Connaught - yeah it's not a nice area of town and yeah the takeout doesn't look like much...but man it's good!

                      Pardon my French is a great place in a weird location as well...decent French Cuisine with a beautiful view of Gage Park (and it's within walking distance of my home!)

                      1. re: jcanncuk

                        I am looking for a great Sunday brunch with real hollandaise on eggs benny. Any suggestions?

                        1. re: charizard

                          I would try "Seven Windows", a new resto recently opened on Aberdeen near Dundurn. My DH was there for lunch last week and really enjoyed it. When I drove by on the w/e they have a sign up advertising Sun brunch. Another bet would be "Amuse Bouche" newly moved from Aberdeen to Locke St - they have Sun brunch as well although I haven't seen the menu........

                          1. re: jcanncuk

                            Seconded for 7 windows. good service, yummy food, high end (for the hammer at least). Right at aberdeen and dundurn.

                            The wine list needs some work though.

                            1. re: jcanncuk

                              thanks for posting info about Seven Windows, would like to try it, can you provide some menu items and relative cost?

                              1. re: married2foodie

                                Seven Windows has a small, seasonally-influenced daily food card, and a regular menu. We had a very well executed seafood with saffron broth linguine (perfectly seared scallops, a chunk of lobster, tiger shrimp), (about $30), and pan-seared lake pickerel with seasonal greens and potato dauphinois (about $34) as mains. Lovely dessert menu: frozen blood orange Grand Marnier soufflé, and lemon curd tart with berry reduction. Not over-manipulated, simple, and satisfying. Total price for two with wine about $140.

                                1. re: married2foodie

                                  Starters range from $8 (soup of the day - for example a cold yogurt soup with croutons, raisins, turmeric or a hot soup of chicken consomee with vegetables and an oxtail ravioli) to $15 for the excellent duck spring rolls with orange, olives, and capers. Other appetizers are a Boston lettuce salad with apples and a lime chive creme fraiche dressing, a ceasar salad, escargots de bourgogne.

                                  The mains start at $22 for the corn fed chicken with caramelized apples, double smoked bacon, and calvados brandy sauce up to $38. Other mains include a vegetarian gnocchi ($24), NY striploin, beef tenderloin in puff pastry, rack of lamb, peppercorn steak, and a seafood of the day. On occasion there is game (bison with a truffled port sauce, for example) Ask for the prices of any of the specials - there was once a seafood risotto with a lobster tail, shrimp, and scallops that clocked in at $46!

                                  Desserts are $10 and there is usually creme brulee, a chocolate mousse or chocolate terrine, ice cream. Not to be missed, however, is the pavlova with fresh fruit or the frozen orange souffle.