The Bev­erly: Homey but with a foodie twist

RESTAU­RANT RE­VIEW

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - ALANA HUD­SON Alana Hud­son has cooked at Le Bernardin, Vong, and Avalon.

The warm in­tro­duc­tion on­line gives the im­pres­sion that The Bev­erly was con­ceived by a home baker who de­cided to take her pas­sions into the restau­rant world.

But walk­ing into the place, a dif­fer­ent pic­ture emerged: a homey yet trendy brunch and lunch spot on foodie-mecca Locke Street, run by a savvy restau­ra­teur (ac­tu­ally a whole team — it’s part of the bur­geon­ing Hamil­ton food em­pire run by Hon­est Foods Inc.).

A friend and I went for week­end brunch, ar­riv­ing early to avoid the lineup of cus­tomers. We were led al­most im­me­di­ately through the white-ceilinged din­ing room, where an or­ange bike (a slightly less so­phis­ti­cated ver­sion of a SoBi) was sus­pended on a brick wall. The op­po­site wall, painted a dark grey, was bro­ken up with mir­rors that cap­tured light from the mul­ti­win­dowed front fa­cade. The sleek floor was a shiny ver­sion of that grey.

We trod past wood-topped ta­bles with white, mid­cen­tury-style chairs tucked in. I no­ticed a tod­dler in a high chair hold­ing a pan­cake in both hands, eat­ing it like a large cookie. When you like some­thing enough, cut­lery is su­per­flu­ous, I sup­pose.

I love a bev­er­age buf­fet at brunch, and once we were seated, I saw that there were plenty of op­tions: red and white san­gria, and bub­bly (Belli­nis, mi­mosas) made with pros­ecco. Cock­tails, too: a mule and a margarita, along with an intriguing “Golden Glory” with heir­loom yel­low tomato juice and vodka — a sea­sonal take on the Bloody Mary. How­ever, on this day, I did not par­take. Why? Too early. For me, it’s cock­tails only af­ter 11.

I had a cap­puc­cino in­stead. It was lovely, topped with an ex­tra shake of cin­na­mon.

My com­pan­ion’s Ni­a­gara grape juice tasted fresh, he said, and nat­u­rally sweet. And while we chat­ted, I had to stop my­self from gulp­ing down my very pulpy, fresh­squeezed or­ange juice.

The food menu has a down­home feel with a touch of the South (Grandma Madge’s Grilled Tomato Sand­wich, Bev’s Break­fast), homey but with a foodie twist. The Bene­dict didn’t come with plain ba­con, it was chili-maple glazed. And on the pan­cakes: “twist of le­mon Saska­toon berry” syrup.

I opted for the All or Nothin’ Plough­man’s Hash, which was quite sub­stan­tial. Ar­riv­ing on an adorable pig shaped board, a sin­gle serv­ing two-han­dled skil­let was filled to the brim with earthy heir­loom pota­toes, cooked per­fectly, and herby chunks of sausage, topped with a fried egg and mi­cro­greens.

The egg was just runny enough to spread its rich­ness through­out the dish. I was skep­ti­cal when I saw Ritz crack­ers listed as an in­gre­di­ent but they worked nicely, adding but­tery crunch. I did find my­self wish­ing the hash was caramelized more on the bot­tom, but I ap­pre­ci­ated the qual­ity of the in­gre­di­ents and how well they worked to­gether.

My com­pan­ion’s Ba­nana Bread French Toast came with peanut but­ter whipped cream, can­died peanuts, ba­con bits and “boozy” maple syrup. Great for those with a sweet tooth, but not so sweet as to ex­clude the rest of us. The ba­nana bread had a nice crumb — not too dense or heavy. The peanut cream was a bit in­tense for me in sweet­ness and con­sis­tency, but I liked the sub­tle kick to the syrup.

The ser­vice was pretty smooth over­all but there were a few mo­ments early on, be­fore the host ar­rived, when I felt our server was spread a lit­tle thin.

We got a cou­ple of sides to try, as well. No brunch is com­plete with­out ba­con, and this was chili-maple glazed, as stated above. Sweet with a sub­tle heat, it was nice and thick and added a wel­come savoury el­e­ment to the French toast. The Charred Scal­lion and Ched­dar Bis­cuits soaked up the egg and went well with the hash. Crusty on the out­side and soft on the in­side, it was an ex­cel­lent, but­tery bis­cuit.

As we chat­ted and ate, alt-rock played sub­tly in the back­ground, not quite loud enough for me to rec­og­nize a tune. I tried my best to fin­ish more than half of the hash but even­tu­ally had to get it boxed up to go, so I could save room for dessert.

I got a cup of cof­fee in be­tween — a half French press. They use Phi­los­o­phy Cof­fee’s Rousseau blend, su­per smooth. As I sipped, we waited for our desserts.

The straw­ber­ries in the short­cake were in sea­son and per­fectly ripe. The sweet bis­cuit, sugar sprin­kled on top, was per­fect. But the le­mon streusel bar, still thaw­ing, was a bit hard to cut. Per­sis­tence paid off, how­ever. Its sour, fruity tang balanced the sweet­ness while the streusel added depth to the crust.

I went for brunch as I had heard many raves but, as men­tioned in The Spec­ta­tor re­cently, they have opened up the pa­tio and tweaked their hours. Along with this comes an ex­panded menu, which leans more to­ward lunch.

My com­pan­ion was rem­i­nisc­ing about his time in Bri­tish Columbia where restau­rants would vie to be the best at some brunch item in town. The Bev­erly would put up a good fight for best bis­cuit, in my books.

ALANA HUD­SON, SPE­CIAL TO THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

The Plough­man’s Hash was loaded with fresh, lo­cal in­gre­di­ents.

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

They have opened up the pa­tio and tweaked their hours. Along with this comes an ex­panded menu, which leans more to­ward lunch.

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

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