Late lunch on a Monday can be a tall order. Some restaurants are closed and if you find one that’s open, you’re hoping that the kitchen crew hasn’t taken a break from the peak lunch service.
No worries about that at Burlington’s Rose Garden Family Restaurant.
A 2015 Spectator restaurant flashback stories.thespec.io/2015/08/14/flashback-restaurant-memories/ says there has been a restaurant on this site since the 1930s. That was a time when Plains Road (aka Hwy 2) was the main road to Toronto – at least until 1958 when the first span of the Skyway Bridge was completed and work was underway on the Hamilton section of Hwy 403. This area has seen much history.
A memorable restaurant on this site seems to have been The Rendezvous, and just before Rose Garden, it was Louie’s West Side Grill. Louie’s had been closed for three years before the space was resurrected as Rose Garden in 2010 – currently owned by chef John Choi who has extensive experience as a chef and for a period of time specialized in Japanese cuisine.
Choi works in his kitchen daily preparing “comfort food with love.” The decor is in keeping with a comfort food vibe. In place of modern chic, diners welcome the homey unpretentious space, settling in on chairs with an Art Deco design.
Though not quite a full house when we arrived, there were several large groups (that turned out to be birthday celebrations) as well as smaller clusters of diners. There was no sign of “family” – as in kiddies – but I’ve been assured that it’s family-friendly with a kids’ menu.
The menu is ambitious and includes an entire breakfast section, served almost all day – until 3 pm, with Early Bird specials from 8 am until 10 am In addition to egg and protein combos, one can order eggs benedict, French toast, pancakes, or omelettes.
The regular menu offers a wide range of starters including dumplings, wings, spring rolls and soup. There are several salads to which diners can add chicken, shrimp or salmon. Sandwiches range from a Reuben to corned beef, club, BLT, wraps and grilled cheese. More than one person mentioned that the turkey, cranberry, brie grilled cheese was popular.
At Rose Garden, hand-pressed burgers are made fresh every day with a wide range of options, and more than one vegetarian option. The list of comfort food entrées included meat loaf, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, schnitzel, lasagna and liver and onions – the latter three also being top hits with diners. The entrée section of the menu offers Choi’s Korean specialties such as Bibimbap.
Choosing what to eat was no easy feat. We started by sharing the Tangy Mango Salad which seemed like a good bet since mango season is just beginning. Fresh julienned mango was combined with strips of red bell peppers, onions and fresh herbs tossed with their “secret” vinaigrette dressing and roasted cashews. While perhaps not a comfort food it felt like a healthy start to the meal.
Some readers might agree that a Hot Turkey Sandwich is an ultimate comfort food. At Rose Garden, the turkey is roasted in-house and slices are arranged on white bread, smothered in flavorful gravy and served with fresh-cut fries. Our request for cranberry sauce was obliged and in hindsight, it would have been great to have a wee pitcher of extra gravy. This homey dish also comes with in-house roast beef.
The Homemade Meatloaf is described as “a hearty portion of our delicious meat loaf smothered in mushroom gravy.” It was most definitely a hearty portion – and delicious. It pushed all the “comfort buttons.” I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. This entree came with a decent vegetable beef soup, steamed veggies and mashed potato.
For dessert, we asked for one piece of the made-in-house Coconut Cream Pie and two forks. Our kind server split the slice and gave us each our own serving. Next time, I refuse to share this outstanding cream pie, elevated in taste, texture and appearance with toasted coconut.
I’d heard high praise for Rose Garden’s Bibimbap Hot Stone Bowl. I ordered that for takeout knowing full well that it wasn’t the optimal way to enjoy it. When made in-house, it is served very hot to the touch in a stone bowl, creating a crust on the rice. At home, I managed to replicate that a wee bit, topping the rice with delicious minced beef, a sunny egg and shredded carrots and daikon, zucchini, spinach and bean sprouts. Accompanying sauces were gochujang and teriyaki. No regrets about this dish.
Rose Garden is licensed, does takeout and delivery, and outdoor seating is picnic tables. They do not seem to be diligent users of social media, so listed hours of operation may be in conflict with correct hours listed here. Ideal to phone ahead to be sure. We enjoyed attentive and considerate service throughout our affordable meal. Rose Garden delivers all it promises as a welcoming family restaurant.
Rose Garden Family Restaurant
1124 Plains Rd. W., Burlington
Hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 8 pm
What I paid: Mango Salad $ 13.95; Hot Turkey Sandwich $ 12.95; Homemade Meatloaf $ 16.95; Bibimbap Hot Stone Bowl $ 17.95; Coconut Cream Pie $ 6.95
Wheelchair access: Yes