The brilliant team behind Dishcrawl Hamilton are at it again. Introducing Pop Up Hamilton – “transforming spaces, one spectacular celebration at a time.” The concept is to take over a space that is not associated with fine dining, create a temporary restaurant for the night, and then, POOF! We’re out of there! It’s time to boldly dine where no one has dined before.
My accomplice for the inaugural Pop Up event was Grant Winestock of The Baltimore House. We grabbed a table with video blogger Nicole from Steel and the City, who was there to document the night as well. Similar to Dishcrawl, you take a seat anywhere and join in with your fellow diners.
I was excited to learn that Nellie James Gourmet would be preparing our meal, having been introduced their culinary creativity during the Dundas edition of Dishcrawl. To compliment their delicious four-course meal, wines from Palatine Hills Estate Winery from Niagara on the Lake were carefully selected for each course.
It was quite the adventure making our way down to the surprise location that was revealed a couple of days before the event. A warehouse down by the Waterfront was transformed into our restaurant. It’s a huge space that was lit with spotlights. The trolley cars that are used to take people on tours around the Waterfront were a nice touch as they were lined up at the sides of our dining area. Shout out to the Hamilton Port Authority for giving Pop Up the green light to use the space.
It was such a cool vibe; Grant and I remarked that it felt like a movie set. Sure enough, we learned that the space has been used for movie shoots, including the film Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe.
The tables were filled with cutlery and wine glasses – this was serious dining business! Our table tried to be super classy, deciding which fork would be used for which course, and which wine glass we should be using. As the wine kept coming, let’s just say our dining etiquette went out the window.
Our first course was a soup (Japanese eggplant purée, to be exact) with a Truffle Toast. This was followed by a salad, but this is Nellie James, so not just any salad, of course. The greens were topped with pears, walnuts, Benedictine blue cheese, and warm cider dressing.
In between courses, I chatted with organizer Dave Hanley and he gave me a peek of the behind-the-scenes food prep. Chef Ken LeFebour and the staff did an amazing job at preparing the food, using the space as a makeshift kitchen. They worked so hard to get everything ready for us.
For the main course, Nellie James served up a substantial dish – dark ale, white bean cassoulet with confit of duck and elk sausage, topped with roasted onion and thyme pistou. I really wasn’t expecting for the courses to be so involved (but it’s Nellie James – I should have known!) and was so impressed with what they were able to serve us. Nellie James are a catering company, after all, but I don’t know if they have ever done anything quite like a Pop Up.
As always, I was excited for dessert, which was a dark chocolate, pink peppercorn tart with star anise pomegranate syrup. It was super sweet and rich; we were definitely full by the end. This last course was paired with one of Palantine Hills’s sweet dessert wines.
What an adventure! I love the concept of transforming and reappropriating a space in this way. It’s neat to bring a new energy to a space and then disappear without a trace (well, I’m sure there was quite a bit of cleanup!). I can’t wait to see where else Pop Up Hamilton will take us, in a city that has so many potential Pop Up locations. Lead the way, Pop Up, and I will faithfully follow!
Check out Steel and the City’s video blog about the night.
Note: I received a media pass to attend Pop Up Hamilton, but all thoughts about the night are my own.