The Beverly: Homey but with a foodie twist
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.
The Ploughman’s Hash was loaded with fresh, local ingredients.
They have opened up the patio and tweaked their hours. Along with this comes an expanded menu, which leans more toward lunch.