A week ago I went with friends to a local restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario that serves hamburgers. When they first told me we would be going there, they exclaimed: “I love the name!” to which I responded… “It doesn’t seem that cool to me”. When I saw how it was spelled- no vowels after the “A” in ham, I understood why they though it was cool. I still didn’t really understand the hype over this place, though. I will admit I am a meat enthusiast and I thoroughly enjoy eating burgers, what carnivore doesn’t? But the way my friends were going on about it sparked something in me, and so I decided to research… naturally. When I searched the restaurant online, I found it is called “HAMBRGR – Burgers and Beer Hamilton” and noted that the ingredients used in their burgers are locally sourced, which I can appreciate. My interest was peaked and so we ventured out to Hamilton, although close by it is also far enough to feel like a summer day trip which is always fun.
Driving through downtown Hamilton is always a special treat, I love taking in the culture and people watching from a distance. As you enter into downtown you realize the juxtaposition between the large, ceremonial office buildings and the small, fragmentary people lacing the streets. From one corner to the next you are able to understand the happenings of the downtown lifestyle. We parked in a paid parking lot located just down the street from the restaurant and walked just a short while to the much anticipated space. First impression? I was surprised by how small the restaurant is. There are not many tables and they do not seat many people per table. There is a small patio located outside but we were there on an overcast day; the rain quietly holding back, ready to release her fury whenever she decided. I think that is normal, though, for a downtown restaurant. And when I got over the shock of the size, I realized it makes the place that much more quaint and intimate. We were quickly seated and a friendly server handed us menus and read us the specials. As I skimmed the menu I realized I was in heaven. Each burger was artfully crafted and meet the needs of any meat lover. And if your appetite does not fancy any of their creations, you are free to create your own. Game on.
One thing I did not fancy is that fries or salad were not served with the burger, instead you have to choose and pay for a side as a separate. Which of course, I did. I ordered the half & half fries: half regular, half sweet potato. My friend did as well, and I wish they had told us that the serving is big enough for us to share because a lot of it did go to waste. But, they were so yummy and satisfying I cannot complain. As an appetizer, we ordered the Homemade Jalapeño Poppers: fresh jalapeños, cream cheese & house chorizo stuffed, Nicklebrook beer battered, lime & cilantro fraiche… basically to die for. Seriously, if you go, order them. Let’s get down to business. The good stuff. The nitty gritty. The meat (no pun intended) of it all. I ordered the Magic Mushroom Burger: beer braised beef, cremini, oyster, shiitake mushroom, swiss cheese, lettuce, basil pesto, and aioli. Oh. My. Goodness. This burger melted in my mouth. Every bite was better than the last, flavours dancing and intertwining, satisfying every tastebud on my tongue. It was the perfect mixture of sweet and salty. I could not eat it fast enough but I also wanted to savour the moment and make it last. THIS was a burger. THIS is what I have been missing my whole life. From the first bite I understood… THIS is what the hype is about. THIS is why people are currently raving about “Hambrgr” in Hamilton. The burgers are to die for. They just are, can you trust me on that? If you have a chance or live in the area, go check it out – do yourself the favour!