Hamilton’s at First & Main

by Sarah on February 19, 2012 · 5 comments

Part two of the blog series entitled “Wining & Dining Mama Smart”* brings us to the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, at a lovely little spot called Hamilton’s.

*Part three will come to you on [What (Mama Smart) Ate] Wedensday. :)As I said last night at dinner, I’m not sure how I made it the previous seven years of living in Charlottesville without ever making it to this “come as you are” restaurant, with a mouth-wateringly creative menu featuring the names of a plethora of local farms and food producers. [I ammended this statement quickly with the realization that for those seven years I was either a poor college student, or a poor unemployed teacher.]Not that Hamilton’s is unreasonably priced. It’s not. It’s actually an incredible deal for the quality of food you are served. And, I mean, you expect to pay a little more for the type of restaurant that serves you free bread (and butter that was squirted out of a pastry tube), right?After an amount of waffling* usually reserved for a much lesser establishment, famous for its yellow blocked letters, I decided that I should, in fact order the “vegetarian soup of the day.”

*I ordered it. Then I canceled the order. And then once I saw Mama Smart’s bowl, ordered it again.The subtly spiced tomato-based broth contained giant chunks of artichoke hearts, along with greens and chickpeas, all topped with clearly housemade croutons and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. I detected hints of garlic, paprika, and perhaps cayenne pepper, as there was just the slightest hint of lingering heat.I couldn’t go the whole evening without at least one special request. [This is me, after all.] I spotted Napa cabbage kim chi on the menu as part of a Korean sparerib appetizer, and I had to have a sample. [Delicious.]For the main course, Mama Smart did as her daughter would (normally, pre-vegan/vegetarian/”vegan with benefits” or whatever she is) do and ordered the special: pork chops on ancho chili spoonbread and asparagus.I don’t know much about how it tasted. But there wasn’t anything left at the end of the meal, so I think it was pretty darn good. :)After he accidentally (or perhaps fortuitously) ordered the very last in-house bottle Prince Michel 2007 Cabernet Franc* [if you look closely, you can even see the legs on that wine^]…

*Yes, we kept on ‘wining’ into the evening.

^It’s got legs. And it knows how to use them.…Mr. Mason Jar settled on the Polyface Farms (of Food Inc. fame) chicken breast, on sage dumplings* and sauteed kale with applewood smoked bacon lardons. I’m told it was succulently moist with a crisply finished skin.

*Note to self: make sage dumplings with sauteed kale. And bacon?And yes, I have saved the best for last. When our waiter asked if anyone at the table would be interested in the vegetarian for the evening, my eyes perked up…and I think I almost raised my hand. I was interested…VERY interested. Especially after he described it:

“Wilted spinach salad with slow roasted tomatoes and red onion; curried French green lentils; mixed greens with golden beets and candied walnuts, sweet potato and goat cheese ‘tart’; and a crispy farro cake made with cooked farro and tofu”My reaction? “I get all of that?”The egg was a bonus.*

*And yes, I ate it. In fact, I ate it and then did a little dance and sang about how I ate. It was a lovely song…something like “I ate an egg! I ate an egg! Doo doo doo doo…” I must say, being the “vegan with benefits”/vegetarian/ maybe-maybe not lactose-intolerant/”meat-lover who doesn’t eat meat right now” girl that I am, it was nice to be in an upscale restaurant where the vegetarian option wasn’t an afterthought (nor was it covered in cheese). I kind of want to go back every week just to see what innovations they make on the “vegetarian blue-plate special.”

Which, yes, is served on a blue plate.*

*And no. I didn’t notice this until my plate was empty.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Waffle House is a lesser establishment?! *gasp*

Everything you guys had looks incredible. Please tell me you tried the sweet potato and goat cheese tart. That sounds life-changing.


Katie @ Raisins&Apples February 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I’m all for eating what you want to eat when you feel like it! and then changing your mind an hour or a week later. labels are silly.


Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count February 20, 2012 at 7:38 am

Your blue plate special looks delicious, Sarah! Sounds like a fun evening!


Tt in nyc February 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm

You dined with mom AND mr mason jar???! Wooahhh! Thats a big deal! Im so excited for you, and think this is further evidence that everything happens for a reason….( obviously your subconcious knew you had to move to meet mr mason jar). The lovely non pasta non portabello uncheesariffic veg meal is just the dairy free frosting on the vegan cupcake! :)


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