OOTA – New Hamburg; Puddicombe House

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Y & I always take each other out for a surprise birthday dinner each year. He typically picks my birthday treat based off my “To-eat list“, since writing about my dining experience makes me happy. I usually pick his birthday dinner… based off my “To-eat list” too, ahaa! Every year after his birthday, I will start making a mental shortlist of plausible places for a pleasant birthday surprise. It is quite a painful process each year, to have to wait till Y’s birthday to show him the restaurant I have been “secretly saving up”. Two years ago it was King Crab Oyster Bar, and last year it was Marisol Restaurante. This year, I decided a few months ago that it has got to be Puddicombe House.

I first heard of Puddicombe House from my work buddy who lives in New Hamburg. PH is where she gets her hair done. The main floor of PH is a restaurant, second floor is a Bed & Breakfast, and the basement is a salon & spa. Everything good in one simple package.

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Executive chef, Lance Edwards (former executive chef at Charbries) is committed to sourcing local and has participated in Taste Local! Taste Fresh! for years.

WARNING – If you follow Chef Lance on twitter, he will – I repeat –  he will tempt you to visit PH with frequent updates of new seasonal creations like the recent “L&L burger with wild boar belly, edamame aioli, aged cheddar, pickled onions, hot peppers and peanut butter“. I want to try this!

First Impression:

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Spacious patio.

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The spa atmosphere translated to the tranquil dining room.

On the Table for Maple:

  1. House-made bread
  2. Pan Seared Scallops ($14)
  3. Achiote BBQ Chicken ($21)
  4. Apple Brine Pork Loin ($20)
  5. House-made Flourless Chocolate Cake (Complimentary)
  6. Baden Coffee

Chef Lance makes most items on the menu (except for the occasional gluten-free pasta).

Due to support of local farmers and growers, the menu is subject to change due to product availability.

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The house-made bread was served soft and toasty. One of my pet peeves is bread served at room-temperature. Hot bread makes me so happy and just sets a great tone for the meal. PH’s house-made raspberry butter was a sweet change and quite delightful. However, the butter was slightly hard and difficult to spread. Luckily, butter melted quickly on the toasty warm bread.

Service was very prompt, we never really had the table empty. PH’s restaurant manager, Nick, checked on us frequently to ensure that everything was going smooth.

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Organic Carrots and Mango Hot Sauce, Cucumber, Pickled Mustard Seed Noodles, House Cured Pancetta, Candied Sage

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Y managed one serving in a bite but I had to deconstruct it since it was a little big for me. He gloated that I was missing out on the integrated burst of different flavours. Sweet sage, salty pancetta, savory tender scallops, refreshing julienned cucumber soaked with slightly spicy mango sauce. I thought the mango sauce had a Vietnamese flair.  Since I do not enjoy bacon, Y gleefully “took one for the team” and enjoyed all the pancetta.

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A refreshing intermezzo of watermelon, blood orange and black peppercorns to cleanse the palate.

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Local Pork Loin, Baden Coffee and Bacon Jam, Fiesty Maple Roasted Sweet Potato

Achiote BBQ Chicken Supreme with Roasted Cauliflower Enchilada and Zucchini Slaw

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Pork can be an unforgiving protein even if just slightly overcooked. Chef Lance’s pork loin was beautifully charred and juicily tender. What made the pork stunning was the genius topping with a combination of bacon jam and Baden coffee. It reminded me of the familiar taste of pork floss, which is quite commonly used in Chinese cuisine. I loved it though I can’t stand bacon! It was a hefty portion of pork for me though, so I split half with Y. The side of roasted starchy vegetables with a sweet touch of maple syrup was a great compliment to the savory pork.

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This is a new dish just introduced the day before our meal, lucky us! The cheesy cauliflower enchiladas was so creamy and decadent, like mashed potatoes without the heaviness of potatoes but enhanced with additional punch of rich cheese. Though I gave Y half the pork, I demanded requested half of his enchiladas.

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I really enjoyed the little details on the presentation such as flower petal sprinkles and lavender stalks.

We also received a kind gesture from PH – birthday flourless chocolate cake, very much appreciated! Can’t describe how hard we laughed at the words.

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Had two cups of black coffee to compliment the anticipated sweet cake. Surprisingly, the flourless chocolate cake, though rich, was not too sweet. Someone stole my sweet tooth lately so I really appreciated this balanced dessert. The Baden coffee was a real surprise to both of us. It was absolutely delicious, free of typical acidity in most espresso if not properly brewed. To quote Y, it was the best representation of how he likes his coffee – dark but brightly rich and balanced. I guess Baden Coffee will be my next to-try!

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Sigh, now that I have set the expectations so high, where am I supposed to take Y next year!??!

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