Archives: restaurant

bánh mì

I have an addiction.  I am addicted to Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches.

My favourite place for a classic bánh mì in Hamilton is from none other than Tung Hing bakery.

The bread is made in house and sometimes it’s so fresh that they won’t seal the clear cellophane sandwich bag so that the steam from the hot mini-baguette doesn’t make the sandwich soggy -mmm those days are my favourite!

I’m a fan of the $3.25 grilled chicken bánh mì made spicy with a sprinkling of fresh green chilies, cucumber, coriander, pickled daikon, carrots, and a special sauce.

The thing I like about this particular bakery is that A. it is attached to B&T Foods, which is my one stop shop for all my Asian necessities in grocery shopping and B. it has some of the most delicious pastries, savoury treats and steamed buns.

My mom loves it when I swing by for an afternoon tea after having picked up a whole box of puffed meat pastry, pâté chaud, and deep fried sesame balls with lotus paste filling.

I do somtimes venture out for a Vietnamese sandwich from Bánh Mì Excellence next to August 8 at the corner of James St. north and Wilson (shh -don’t tell the folks at Tung Hing) which is good too, but I always find myself coming back to Tung Hing proclaiming my love for more of their bánh mì.

*Tung Hing Café & Sweets, 103 Queen St. north (at Queen and York Blvd. next to B&T Foods), 905.527.8333

 

grandad’s donuts

When I moved to Hamilton a few years back, I started my first job in the city tucked into a north Hamilton neighbourhood in between John and James Streets north.   Contrary to what some people may think, Hamilton’s North End is a wonderful little pocket with a strong and proud community.  You can even see some North Enders sporting T-shirts that say “The North End.  Hamilton’s best kept secret.”

And it’s true!   The neighbourhoods have that characteristic lower city Hamilton charm.  They’ve got old Victorian homes that hug the bay and waterfront.  There’s easy access to some great hidden Hamilton treasures, like the Bayfront Trail, the outdoor ice-rink at Pier 4, Hutch’s Harbour Front, Hamilton Harbour Queen Boat Tour, The Harbour Diner and Grandad’s Donuts, a fine donut establishment I was fortunate enough to have stumbled across.

The particular Grandad’s I refer to is the one located on the corner of Burlington Street east and James Street north kitty corner from the Port Authority.  It is a true North Hamilton staple -just ask anyone who lives in the neighbourhood.  On any given day you’ll likely see a crew of construction workers lined up getting their early morning or late afternoon Grandad’s fix.  Or you might see the usual crowd of friendly north end regulars teasing and joking around with one another at the donut counter over their coffees and delicious donut treats.

Their donuts, unlike most donut chains these days, are made fresh daily from scratch right in the Grandad’s kitchen.  Specialty donuts like the Ghostbuster -think éclaire meets Boston cream, never cease to blow my mind.  With its light and slightly crisp donuty exterior and its soft and smooth melty-whipped fresh cream interior, dipped into a bath of chocolate goodness -it’s no wonder that I can never resist getting just one whenever I’m in the neighbourhood.

With its 70’s rusty orange decor, yellow booths, and a counter top you can cozy up to the with old-school bolted-to-the-ground stools, its retro familiarity reminds me of donut shops from when I was growing up as a kid.

Grandad’s even has those classic fountain juices; peach and lemonade that flow from an eternal waterfall of fruit juiciness within their glossy clear plastic viewing containers.

To be honest I have a soft spot for this place not just because their donuts are the best donuts in the city, but also because I’m somewhat sentimental for nostalgic places like this one, and these days I find places like this are becoming harder to come by. When you can sit at a counter, whether a stranger of not, order your coffee and chat with the people sitting next to you and the friendly staff, you know you’ve got something special.

Although I no longer work in the North End, I do on occasion feel the need to satisfy a craving for a Grandad’s donut and coffee.  I’ll find myself willing to make the trek by bike or on foot and without skipping a beat it’s like I never left the neighbourhood.

Grandad’s Donuts could very well be Hamilton’s best-kept secret.  Hamiltonians be proud of another original homegrown Hamilton donut fixture. If you have yet to check out this gem it is most certainly worth a trip to the North End.  Buy a dozen and grab a coffee.  You won’t regret it, and you will surely be greeted with a warm hello and welcome from staff and customers alike.

You find the extended and beautifully edited article here in the Hamilton Spectator!

* Grandad’s Donuts, 574 James Street north

bmore

Baltimore House opened its doors last week on King William!  It’s a great spot and charmingly decorated in all its gothic goodness.  I had about 30 minutes before work one morning to stop by and grab a coffee.  I got an americano and besides being amazing, it was rich, full-bodied, creamy, not too bitter, AND it kept me going for the rest of the morning.

I’d like to stop by again to check out their Victorian parlour (when it opens in the new year), where I’d like to spend a snowy afternoon reading and relaxing in a comfy and cozy chair.  Especially now that the course I’ve been working on is wrapped up and done I will finally have the time to enjoy a place like this.

I’ve heard great things about their sandwiches too, so I will definitely be back to do some more food drink sampling.

Bmore  I think you’re my Hamilton dream come true. Did I hear talk of film nights, and a theatrical production of the Importance of Being Ernest, or am I just making this up?  AND a regular night for album spotlights (open mic for vinyl every Tuesday)!  Amazing.

For more reading on Baltimore House check out the Spec’s feature article here.

*Baltimore House, 43 King William St., Hamilton, 289.396.4830

gorilla cheese

I experienced my first Gorilla Cheese grilled cheese the other day and it was delicious!

I heard that the Gorilla Cheese truck was going to be parked across the street from our house so I made extra sure that I would be coming home for lunch that day.  All morning long I was anticipating the cheesy tendrils of this treat, and fantasizing about the gooey melty cheesiness of a real good grilled cheese.

I didn’t think there would be much of a crowd ordering from the truck since our house is located in a weird in between corktown/downtown mixed commercial residential area.  Clearly I was out of touch with just how much daytime commercial population is in the neighbourhood because there was a good solid crowd of 15-20 people waiting for their grilled cheeses!

gorilla cheese, grilled cheese, food truck, hamilton ontario, gourmet, sandwich

Once we got to the truck there was some debate as to which sandwich to get. I hmm’d and haa’d about my selection and was stuck between the OG (Original Gorilla) -better than your momma’s grilled cheese, aged Canadian cheddar on white or multi or the Sarducci -mozzarella, red onion, fresh basil, tomato, balsamic glaze on multi. I eventually settled on the Sarducci for $7.50.

Gorilla Cheese, grilled cheese, food truck, Hamilton, Ontario, gourmet, sandwich

I have to admit that I thought $7.50 was a little steep for just a grilled cheese, however, I was not disappointed. First off the grilled cheese is not just any grilled cheese it’s a Gorilla Cheese and it is huge! I could’ve probably had a meal of just a 1/2 portion. The bread was delicious (crispy and buttery), plus you get a tasty pickle as a side. I swear carrying two grilled cheeses back to our house to eat from fresh off the truck it felt like I had 5 pounds of grilled cheese in my one hot little hungry hand. So in conclusion for $7.50 I don’t think you could have a tastier grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely a special treat that I would pick up again.

Way to go Hamilton for starting a food truck revolution! I missed the food truck rally back at the end of September, but have heard there’s a mini one coming up on Ottawa Street for 3 Fridays starting on December 9th 11:30am-2:30pm with Gorilla Cheese, Cupcake Diner, El Gastronomo, and Bonfire Catering.  My hope is to sample some wood fired pizzas from Bonfire Catering.

33 ain’t bad

For a really long time I had been wanting to go to South Sea Chinese restaurant on Ottawa St.  Usually I can’t make it past the South Sea signage without stopping to peer and sometimes even gawk through the front windows.  The restaurant is stuck in a majorly wicked time warp.  Chinese taverns like this really bring me back to Chinese restaurants from my youth (they have the Chinese zodiac paper placemats and everything!).  This particular restaurant has been around for 28 years and probably has not changed much since the day it first opened.

As a special treat for my 33rd birthday we decided to indulge in a nostalgic  culinary and atmospheric journey of  true Chinese Canadian cuisine as it would’ve been circa 1983.  If you want chicken balls, egg rolls, fried rice, honey garlic spareribs, and chow mein; just some good ol’ classic North American Chinese you can’t go wrong with South Sea.  Who knows how long restaurants of this era will stick around for?  I feel like they’re quickly becoming vintage relics of their own kind.  If you’re interested in learning more about the unique history of Chinese restaurants in small towns across Canada (there’s basically at least 1 Chinese restaurant in every town no matter how small!) then you should pick up Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada.  Author Lily Cho can give you the real historic low down.

 

What girl doesn’t love sparklers on their birthday!?  After South Sea Steve suggested we have a tea out back, and then he busted out the sparklers!  This was still during the lovely and unusually warm fall nights from about a week back, so it was just about the most perfect and beautiful way to end the celebrations of my 33rd birthday. Thanks Steve!

 

*South Sea Restaurant, 282 Ottawa St. north, Hamilton, 905.545.0352

paris

Oh, Paris… Paris, Ontario that is. A few weeks back Steve and I stopped by the small town of Paris, Ontario. The town is 160 years old and is at the cross section of two major southern Ontario rivers; the Grand River, and the Ninth River.

The Grand River, Paris, Ontario

Although Paris is beautiful, it is not, as one might think, named after la belle ville de Paris because of its notable elegance and beauty.  In fact, the town of Paris, Ontario actually bares no resemblance or connection to Paris, France whatsoever.  Its name actually came to be as a result of the large amounts of gypsum found in the area, which is used in the making of plaster of Paris.  It is also the location of where the first long distance telephone call was received by Alexander Graham Bell.

Oh, Paris you do not cease to amaze me!

Spring TIme in Paris, Ontario

Spring time in Paris as the sign connotes would be beautiful.  But I would chance a guess that fall in Paris, Ontario would be just as picturesque.  The river is lined with trees, and is banked with a row of old buildings that overlook the Grand.  I remember when I took the train in to visit Steve at his artist residency in Windsor going by Paris and thinking to myself that I definitely wanted to stop through this charming town.

If you do ever find your way to Paris, Ontario in fall, spring or summer, you can rent a canoe or kayak and do some river cruising, while enjoying the scenery.  There are also the rail trails that extend from Hamilton to Brantford and then Brantford to Paris.  I saw a lot of bikers on the Paris rail trail as we made our way out of town.

Grand Experience Canoe & Kayaking, Paris, Ontario, boat rentals, Grand River

One of the best parts of our trip to Paris were the treats!  I had a black cherry ice-cream from the ice-cream shop across from the Canadian Tire that had been retrofitted into a historic old building (why can’t more cities do this!).  We picked up some sweet and delicious treats form the Paris Bakery for the road.

The Paris Bakery, Paris, Ontario, baked goods, treats, Grand River

Then we went for a coffee at the Brown Dog Coffee and Frittery.

Brown Dog Coffee Shop & Frittery

Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Grand River, Paris, Ontario, deepfried cheese cake, deep fried banana split

Yes, yes you can! You can get apple fritters, cheese cake fritters, and a banana split fritter!

hand crank apple peeler, Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Paris, Ontario

Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Paris, Ontario, Waterdown, apple fritters

Fresh apple fritters!  What a fantastic fall treat.  Coincidentally the city of Waterdown as of September 23rd will be home to the 2nd 3rd Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery.  So this means that I’m just that much closer to having fresh apple fritters paired with super amazing coffee on a more regular basis.  Mmmmm.

*Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe & Frittery, 63 Grand River St., Paris, ON, 519.302.0722

*Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe & Frittery, 312 Dundas St., Waterdown, ON.

closing time

Harvest Burger has been a King Street Hamilton staple for as long as I can remember.  It’s been around for 32 years to be exact, long before I started frequenting it as a teenager. For a place that feels like it’s been in existence forever, it is hard to imagine that one day soon Harvest Burger will be closing its doors.  I paid my last visit recently, and spoke briefly with owner Ippokratis Fthenos, who expressed with sadness that through good times and bad times the time had come for him and his wife Georgia to retire and close up shop.

Harvest Burger, Hamilton, closing

Harvest Burger, Ippokratis Fthenos, closing, Hamilton

Harvest Burger, Hamilton, menu, burger, closing

When I asked Ippokratis if the King St. east Harvest Burger location would remain open, he pointed to the card propped up on the counter “In Loving Memory”, and said his brother owned the other Harvest Burger location and that sadly he had just passed away 2 weeks ago, so no it wasn’t staying open.  The only other Harvest Burger in Hamilton will also be closing.

Harvest Burger, closing, Hamilton

Harvest Burger, Hamilton, closing, flip-seat booths

Harvest Burger, patio, swivel chairs, Hamilton, closing

Harvest Burger, Hamilton, drive up, drive through, closing

September 3rd will be Harvest Burger’s last day open.  Soon to be replaced by an A&W.  Pay your respects, reminisce about bygone days, eat a burger and munch on some fries, it’s time for Harvest Burger farewells and goodbyes.

*194 King St. West, Hamilton, 905.525.3233

down by the bay

After a nice spring walk down by Bayfront Park we went to Hutch’s for their classic fish and chips.  It was my first time to Hutch’s, and although usually a typical summer attraction, it is open all year round.  Everyone must’ve been feeling spring in the air because there was a pretty good crowd ordering up burgers, Stoney Creek Dairy ice-cream, and plates of fish and chips.

Bayfront Park Hamilton

Bayfront Park Dundurn bridge

ice fishing Bayfront Park Hamilton

Hutch's menu

Hutch's fish and chips

 

*Hutch’s Harbour Front, 325 Bay St. North, Hamilton

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