Brux House 137 Locke Street South
By Ciara McCann
I like the finer things in life. That’s why I couldn’t be happier to live in Hamilton during a time when the food scene is really beginning to boom.
Last fall, when I heard a new restaurant serving craft beer was moving into the old Siam Dish on Locke Street South, I had a little extra pep in my step every time I walked by the renovated corner eatery and saw the words “Brux House” emblazoned in gold lettering with a powerful lion stenciled above it.
Kirkendall residents are already spoiled with restaurant gems on Locke Street South — Earth to Table Bread Bar, Chuck’s Burger Bar and The Courtyard, just to name a few. Brux House is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood, with a fresh European-inspired concept that draws in a mixed crowd of patrons. During my second visit on a chilly Thursday evening in mid-January, the place was packed. I noticed two older men in suits enjoying some drinks and dinner after a long day at the office; two girlfriends laughing over pints at the bar; and young couples like us enjoying a romantic date night.
The main level is stylized with dark hardwood, dim lighting and a strong focal point on the back wall — the signature “BRUX” light bulb backdrop. Hand-written blackboard menus display the daily beer and dinner selections, and give the restaurant a feeling of casual, but refined comfort. There is also an upstairs level with more seating, and a private dining room that can be reserved for parties.
I always appreciate a beer menu with plenty of options. There were a few new ones I wanted to try and so I ordered a beer flight — three beers of your choice in smaller glasses. When I asked our server for a beer I really liked the last time I came, she said it was no longer on the menu because the beer menu changes weekly. Some people might be disappointed, but I was impressed with how frequently they freshen up the menu, providing a new experience for diners and beer aficionados every time.
Our server also mentioned the entire staff was looking forward to an upcoming visit from a beer sommelier. The owners’ passion for craft beer is clearly something they want to instill in the servers, and that passion is contagious.
Since I’m a Guinness fan, I wanted to include a darker beer in my beer flight. The Kentucky Bastard is as dark as they come. This imperial stout from Nickel Brook is barrel aged in a bourbon barrel and the result is a smooth, rich, strong tasting beer that is high in alcohol (10 per cent alcohol per 5 oz, to be exact). The finish tasted like dark chocolate and maraschino cherries. Our server said it would taste amazing in a root beer float — a future dessert item on the menu perhaps?
To round out my beer flight, I also chose the Pilsner Urquell from Plensky Praxdroj and the Skinny Dipping Stout from Sawdust City Stout. My dining companion ordered the Heritage Dry Cider from West Avenue Cider, 456 Marzen Lager from Oktoberfest Lager, and the Skinny Dipping Stout. Similar to pairing wine with food, I was doing the same thing with my beers — mixing and matching how the flavours complimented each dish. My companion had a different style, patiently finishing each beer one at a time with the cider as his last — “a nice after-dinner drink,” as he put it. We also ordered a bottle of sparkling water to share.
To start, my companion had the Kale Salad that had a generous portion of kale, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese tossed with some tangy pomegranate vinaigrette. I tried the Warm Apple Salad from their Daily Features menu, which came with both fresh and roasted apples with cinnamon, assorted greens and a creamy mustard dressing. The cool sweetness of the fresh apples paired with the warm spiciness of the roasted apples was a nice contrast. A sprinkling of fried batter crumbs gave the salad a satisfying crunch.
I especially love how Brux House’s menu offers a nice balance of innovative gourmet dishes and recognizable comfort food. I continued to roll with the Daily Features Menu and ordered the Everspring Farm Duck Confit with orange marmalade, bread pudding and kale as my main. My partner ordered the Oktoberfest Sausage and Fries — two completely different menu items, but prepared with the same flair and attention to detail.
Because of a small mishap in the kitchen, the chef had to make our dishes again and the manager graciously offered to bring out another starter for us on the house. We decided on the Cheese Shop on Locke Selection to share. Before even receiving the cheese plate, I knew it was going to be delicious as I frequently buy creamy delicacies from the Cheese Shop. Fresh honeycomb, spiced apple compote and pecans complemented a trio of strong blue, sharp cheddar and a mild semi-soft cheese.
When our mains arrived, the duck was perfectly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. My partner’s sausage was juicy and loaded with sweet grilled onions and the fries were piping hot and flavourful. Comfortably full, we still had room to share dessert.
If you’re a fan of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, then you will love the Chocolate Mousse for dessert. Decadent chocolate mousse, coupled with orange ice cream, orange and vanilla syrup and a speculoos cookie (a thin ginger snap).
The final bill came to $115, excluding gratuity and the complimentary cheese plate — a good price for a fancy date night or special occasion.
It will be exciting to see how Brux House evolves. It’s clear the word is getting out with the non-stop flood of diners during our Thursday visit. I hope they maintain the hype and it becomes another restaurant staple in the neighbourhood.