When you look at a menu and see items like "stilton, chèvre, and brandied apple pâté" and "wild boar, pheasant, and Cognac Scotch eggs,” it's easy to assume you’ll be settling a hefty bill at the end of the night. But prepare to have that quick guesswork dashed when you visit House on Parliament. Tucked away on Parliament Street, just south of Carlton Street, this lovely little pub-restaurant lets you enjoy fancy dining without the fancy price tag.
A small but lovely patio out front grants you the option to treat yourself to a meal in the fresh air — just be sure to come a little early if you want to ensure you get a spot out there. My friend and I were too excited to get to our dinner to wait for the patio, so we headed into the restaurant to snag a table. And even though it was a warm summer day, we weren't disappointed at all by that decision. There's plenty of seating room indoors. Cushioned benches and nice tables make for comfortable and easy dining. And the simple London-inspired décor creates a fun and relaxed vibe. As with many smaller restaurants downtown, they make the most of the space available — so if you find yourself on the long benches, you may be seated closer to others than you're used to. The place can also get a touch on the loud side. But there are also several stand-alone tables if you're hoping for a quieter, more romantic evening. We were seated at the back, right by the kitchen, but we never felt overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of a restaurant's goings-on. The restaurant offers a cozy and relaxed vibe from stem to stern.
Carnivores can rejoice because this place has everything from a grilled 10 ounce AAA NY striploin ($21), to a barbecue pulled pork sandwich ($13). And of course, typical pub staples like burgers and chicken wings are available. But the menu also branches out, offering surprising options like Thai spring rolls, samosas, and tourtière. House on Parliament has created a brilliant mixture of several diverse cuisines the world has to offer. I was in the mood for something light and absolutely loved my spinach salad ($6.50 or $9). It's conveniently offered in two sizes, so it's easy to snag the exact amount of food you're craving. The warm goat cheese and sweet caramelized pear that topped it made it a delicious change from the many other restaurant salads I've tried. You can also add chicken if you're in need of a little something extra.
Even though there are plenty of meaty dishes, vegetarians can also rejoice here. My friend who has been to House on Parliament a couple of times keeps coming back for the baked brie and veggie panini ($12). She orders it every time and can't get enough! There are also daily specials prepared, so you’ll always have new and exciting options to consider. And don't forget about brunch, which is available on weekends from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
And of course, it bears mentioning that it isn't just the food that stands out here. The wide assortment of wines and beers offered also makes House on Parliament a great place to check out. We each tried a glass of the Chenin Blanc, Franschhoek, “La Cotte Mill”, South Africa 2012 ($8.50) and were extremely impressed. On tap, they offer several beers I'm used to seeing, such as Guinness, Stella Artois, and Mill St. Organic Lager — but then they also have a good deal of other beers I had never heard of and would be eager to try out on my next visit. There seemed to be a nice mixture of brands from all around Canada along with international offerings from Germany, England, and Scotland. They even have a "rotating real ale" option, so there's always something new to try. The servers are quite knowledgeable about their fare and could easily help you pick out the right beverage to pair with your meal.
After a trip to House on Parliament, I can see why people keep coming back. Was I concerned the prices of such fancy sounding dishes would bankrupt me? Yes. Did they? Not in the least. Was I worried they might not have any lighter options in such a London pub–type atmosphere? Yes. Did they? I'm happy to report they have many light and delicious-looking options to choose from. House on Parliament's relaxed vibe and wide variety of choices make it a great option when you're looking for a nice but affordable dinner out.