This Cabbagetown pub has been one of our favourites for a long time, but I feel like I need to vent about it a little.
The quality of many of their signature dishes has gone downhill. For example, the steak-and-mushroom pie has long been a favourite with many people I know, but in the last year or so something crucial has changed: the crust is no longer the sublime explosion of savoury pastry it was, and is now dull and chewy. They also seem to be drizzling truffle oil over it, for no reason I can see. The meat-and-mushroom filling of the pie is just as lovely, but the pedestrian crust doesn't show it to advantage at all.
The Wednesday night "Kobe" (can you really get a burger made from Kobe beef for $14.95?) burger special was another recent disappointment. The burger, a separate creature from the regular-menu version (also a good value) used to change up every Wednesday with topping variations like Brie/mushroom or pancetta/cambozola, but the last few times we've been in it's been the same - cheddar, bacon, chipotle aioli. Why chipotle?
We ordered our burgers medium rare: when they arrived eventually they were definitely medium, although to be fair they were still very juicy. No pinkness visible at all, though. The aioli that accompanied them had clearly been sitting around in the kitchen for a while and arrived in little paper cuplets, with the sauce slightly hardened and cracking around the edge. The buns were stale, too.
Most disappointing are the fries! In the past, the HoP's fries have been consistently excellent: thin, crisp but tender inside, perfectly-done. They've changed to a more standard size now, though, and are always overdone.
The outside patio has changed from a relaxing, laid-back space with picnic-bench seats to a cramped area with too many small tables, and tiny uncomfortable stools to sit on.
We've been going to the HoP for about six years now and have recommended it to countless people, so maybe we're a little bit to blame for its increased popularity and long wait times for tables. The place seems to want to change from a true pub-style joint with surprisingly good food to yet another bistro with adequate but uninspired fare. I wish they'd reconsider, and bring back the awesome quality and atmosphere that drew so many of us there in the first place.