Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where NOT to Eat: The Hamilton

It all started over a bet about the Super Bowl.  I obviously bet on the Patriots.  Adam bet on the Giants.

Yes, I lost the bet.  It was a sad, sad day for New England.

The wager?  A bottle of whiskey.  Instead I paid up over whiskey drinks at Jack Rose one night.  But the entire time I was waiting for payback.

Enter St. Patrick's Day.  At Sign of the Whale.  And car bombs. 

The bet this time?  Who could drink one faster.

The wager?  Dinner.

I won (are we surprised)??

Dinner discussions began.  Adam told me to send him a list of places I wanted to try.  That he'd select one of the places I suggested but that I wouldn't find out which one until we arrived for dinner.

Yey for surprises!

I was secretly hoping that The Hamilton would be the one he picked since I've been dying to get in for dinner and write a review.  I had been to The Hamilton before, but it was just for late night drinks. 

Guess what?  Great minds think alike.

The Hamilton, located at 14th and F Street NW, was opened this past fall by the same restaurant gurus who own Clyde's.  And it is immediately apparent.  Both have similar decor.  Big plate glassed windows.  Dark wood paneling.  It pretty much oozes the D.C. vibe.

We arrived a bit early for our reservation and were finally shown to our seat after waiting about ten minutes.  The place was packed.  Our table was in one of the rooms that doubles as a dining room and a bar.  Oh, and did I mention that the place has over 850 seats...so yeah, it's ginormous.

I immediately noticed that it was loud.  Really, really loud.  Sure, it was Wednesday after work.  But when two people come in for a date, why would you seat them in such a loud room?  I was kind of annoyed.

Luckily, our server came over and took our drink order.  Adam got whiskey.  I got a martini.  Dirty, of course.  Both were good.  But can you really screw up either?  I also noticed that the drink menu features over 20 draft beers and over 20 wines by the glass.  This place has such a go big or go home style.

So, it's no surprise that The Hamilton's menu is huge.  Lots of American dishes.  Seafood.  Steak.  Burgers.  It even features an entire sushi menu. 

Now, while I'm all for choices, it was a bit much.  And definitely not a place I would want to eat sushi.  As I mentioned, the decor is very Washingtonian.  Mahogany trim, dark carpets, historic prints on the walls.  It reminds me of Old Ebbitt...would you want to eat sushi at Old Ebbitt?  Nope.  Me neither.

But the conversation was a-flowing so we took our time looking at the expansive menu.  I debated between the pan roasted salmon and the wild Alaskan halibut, finally deciding on the latter.  Adam went with the half roasted chicken.  And then we split the Brussels sprouts.  I looooovvvveee Brussels sprouts.

The food came out fast.  But I was immediately disappointed when I noticed that my fish was extremely overcooked.  And the Brussels sprouts were gray and slimy looking.
Wild Alaskan Halibut
Although the halibut itself was overcooked, the dish had nice flavors.  It was served with snap peas, Vidalia onions, and pea shoots in a tarragon butter sauce.  The sauce was kick ass and  made up for the dry fish. 

Half Roasted Chicken
Adam really liked his chicken.  It looks like it was cooked well--- all the way through but still juicy.

The Brussels sprouts though?  A big, fat, failure.
Brussels Sprouts. So sad looking.

We decided to skip dessert and each have another cocktail instead. 

While the conversation and company were great, I was so disappointed by the food.

So much potential. But a total let-down.

Would I go back? 

For drinks?  Absolutely.  The place is huge with so many different bars to choose from.  Hell, you could do a pub crawl just within The Hamilton. 

But would I go for dinner again?  Not. A. Chance.

After dinner we walked to Chinatown to meet up with some friends at Rosa Mexicano, drink tequila, and make bad decisions.  But, really, would you expect anything less? 


  1. I haven't ordered from the dinner menu but I ordered from the late night bar menu a few times and every time it was really good. I'm not sure if since I was a few drinks deep at the time anything would have tasted good, but I devoured chocolate chip bacon pancakes and a side of chili mac n cheese. Another time I had sushi and my spicy salmon roll was delicious. But I was sitting at the actual sushi bar so I could see how they were preparing things before I decided to order it.

  2. I concur with the prior anonymous post. I eat at Hamilton quite often after 12:00 am, and I've always been happy. I've had the sushi, burgers, and the breakfast dishes. While the service is a bit slow overnight, the food is better than anything else you can find at that time. In any event, who orders Brussels sprouts from Hamilton?

  3. I definitely appreciate your comments. I have friends who have ordered the bar food and loved it, too. I just wouldn't recommend ordering one of the more formal entree dishes (or the Brussels sprouts). I felt like they were over priced and not anything great.

    As for ordering the Brussels sprouts--- I pretty much order them whenever they are on any menu :)