Hot House Cafe sits at the corner of Church and Wellington/Front Streets in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. During the summer (well, let’s face it, whenever it’s above five degrees) the large outdoor patio is always bustling, and it’s the perfect spot to grab some libations and escape the crowds during Busker Fest and Woofstock.
The interior of the restaurant is large and rather nondescript; so much so that it feels like you’ve walked into any chain sit-down restaurant. Everything seems to be designed to be pleasant yet non-offensive. The menu is large (3 pages – be sure to flip to the back) and was clearly built with the ‘have something for everyone’ mantra.
My dining companion for the afternoon was Pauline Dong, and after perusing the menu, she declared that she could never turn down lobster, so she ordered the Lobster Tagliatelle ($13.50 for the lunch size). After my month of going vegetarian, I have been craving burgers like they’re going out of style, so I went for the Char-Grilled Hot House Burger ($11.95 with bacon/cheese or mushrooms/cheese–being a bit “Sally” I ordered the burger with bacon and mushrooms). We also decided to share the Louisiana Crabcakes appetizer ($10.95).
The service was fast, efficient and pleasant, and in no time our crab cakes arrived, along with my side salad (I had a choice of two types of salad or three types of potato–again, something to please everyone). The salad was large and fresh, if a tad on the boring side. The three crab cakes were appropriately sized, and fairly well seasoned. There was barely a hint of spice in the chili-lime aioli, but it provided an inoffensive counterpoint to the crab cakes, and helped cover the slight bit of dryness. Setting those few objections aside, the crab cakes were quite good, and certainly better than I had expected, and I very much enjoyed the side of crispy, airy shrimp crackers.
Our mains arrived, and the portions were certainly on the hefty side. In fact, I would estimate that the burger was easily twice the size of a McDonald’s hamburger. I requested for my burger to be medium rare. It was served more on the medium side, but it was still pleasantly juicy and had a nice beef-y flavour. The meat needed a bit of seasoning, and the texture was a tad mushy, but in all, it was rather enjoyable. In all, the food was safe and everything was pleasant, yet nothing really stood out (either positively or negatively).
Hot House would be the perfect location to bring a large group of office colleagues, or members of a large family. There will be something for everyone, no one will leave hungry, and the food is tasty.
Hot House Cafe
35 Church Street
Church Street & Wellington Street