Dishcrawl Hamilton was a wonderful addition to the city in 2013. My only regret – that I didn’t catch on even sooner! I embarked on five Dishcrawls last year, including this last ‘Crawl of the year, which took us to the Mountain, specifically Concession Street.
The night was made extra adventurous by the snow. We bundled up for the trek between each restaurant. Fortunately, though, all of the spots along Concession were pretty close together. It was actually really nice exploring the Mountain as the snow fell down around us.
We all met at our first stop – Papa Leo’s (638 Concession Street). I have really wanted to get back to Papa Leo’s; I loved it from my first visit. With so many places I want to get to, it’s difficult for this tourist to double back! Leo has been a great supporter of I Heart Hamilton and even remembered exactly when I first discovered his restaurant back in February of 2012. But, believe me, I have been thinking about his signature breakfast dish “Papa’s Eggs” since that first visit! I knew he would cook up something great for Dishcrawl.
On Papa Leo’s menu – apple bacon pancake with fried quail egg, mango and red pepper salad finished with chorizo, crab and shrimp cake with aioli. Leo introduced the food, telling us that all of the ingredients that can be locally sourced are, which is important, and of course great for the community. Everything was delicious – we were off to a fantastic start.
Stop #2 was Ole Gourmet (642 Concession Street); however, their space is too small to fit this many people, so we ventured across the street to St. Stephen On The Mount to use their space. We all grabbed seats at big round tables which forced us to mingle even more with our fellow Dishcrawlers. I was joined by Grant Winestock of The Baltimore House and we sat down with bloggers Lindsay and Heather of Hamilton Small Fries.
My first introduction to Ole Gourmet was at their Locke Street location during Battledish (another fantastic event run by Dishcrawl). They also have a restaurant in Stoney Creek and a brand new location on Ottawa Street. With Mexican food as great as this, I’m glad different areas of the city have an Ole to call their own.
We were treated to two tasty tacos, with our choice of dipping sauce on the side. Dessert came early at this stop with an added treat – a churro with our choice of dipping (chocolate or icing sugar).
Our third stop was another place I had been to before, but I was very pleased to return. A Hamilton staple – the Lebanese restaurant La Luna (650 Concession Street). Before entering, we were greeted by a familiar friend to Dishcrawl. One way to melt the snow – a little fire! Professional fire-breather Murray (I don’t know who a non-professional fire-breather would be, but you get my drift – he’s the real deal) awaited us outside.
La Luna’s chef greeted us and we learned more about the restaurant. At the time of the restaurant’s opening in the ’70s, there weren’t any middle Eastern food spots in Hamilton. Now, La Luna has multiple locations, including La Luna Express. Just look at that colourful plate – we sampled falafel, chicken, hummos, fattoush salad, and rice. It was fantastic!
There was a hip playlist that served as the soundtrack to our meal, and as the chef confidently boasted about La Luna’s cuisine being #1, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” came over the speakers. He went over the history of La Luna, from its humble beginnings to where they are today. It was the most impassioned speech I’ve ever heard from a local restauranteur. The music swelled to its climax as he reached the end, and I can’t tell you how hilariously perfect it was.
Our last stop of the evening was brand new coffee bar E23 (590 Concession Street), which was the best place to warm up. Jason of local favourite Red Hill Coffee Trade is behind the newest coffee joint in Hamilton. It was great to see Jason and congratulate him on the opening. The space is cool and modern, and a welcomed addition to the Concession BIA.
We enjoyed some espresso, chocolate, and a festive biscotti from Hotti Biscotti. It was just the right way to end our filling night of food.
As we enjoyed our treats, folk duo Ash & Bloom performed live for us. I had been wanting to meet Matt and James after discovering them over Twitter. They’re the nicest guys and I look forward to catching a show of theirs this year. I even left with a copy of their EP.
Check out Dishcrawl Hamilton’s blog post and photos about the night and look out for another Dishcrawl up on the Mountain this year. Many more exciting food events to come in 2014!
Note: I received a media pass to attend Dishcrawl, but all thoughts about the night are my own.