Spontaneity is a wonderful thing.
A last minute decision to spend our summer night on a patio for dinner with my family turned out to be a wonderful experience. I haven’t made it down to Hamilton’s waterfront in a long time and was excited to try out a place my father suggested for dinner (his treat)! We wanted to enjoy the beautiful warm summer air, and could not have chosen a better place to do just that.
Sarcoa is located right on the waterfront with a beautifully designed patio and bar large enough to accommodate the many number of guests. The patio directly faces the water which offers the perfect backdrop for a sunset dinner.
We started off at the bar and had a few drinks before heading over to our table. When I sat down, I immediately felt like I was on vacation, the atmosphere outside pulls off a classy, relaxing, resort-like feel which instantly calms you (the alcohol probably helped too). The bar is long and spacious, the chairs are very comfortable and it provides a wonderful view of the water and passing boats. There were large umbrellas everywhere which I was happy to see, as it offered ample shade.
As we took our seats we were greeted by the chef who was also our waiter for the night – Ben. What a delight it was to share our evening with him. He knows the menu inside and out and his passion for great food is infectious.
When we got our starters I knew I would have a lot to write about. The smoked brisket poutine is definitely something you need to experience. Although, I would recommend sharing it with a partner – the brisket was perfectly tender and the juice that came from it created a light savoury gravy that you most certainly didn’t feel guilty eating. The fries were crispy and thick with just a touch of salt – not soggy or greasy. Another starter we tried was the arugula salad. The arugula was fresh, crisp, and topped with walnuts, feta, red onion and drizzled with a light dressing. The bitter and nutty flavours in the salad made for a delicious start to the meal. The caesar salad had a creamy but light dressing with large strips of smoked bacon. I believe the croutons were toasted sour-dough, but I could be mistaken. Regardless they were a nice compliment to the salad that had the perfect amount of lemon tart and bite from the parmesan cheese.
Our main dishes didn’t disappoint either. We were all equally pleased with the quality, quantity and level of freshness from our meals.
Chicken and waffles: I was especially looking forward to trying a bite of the chicken and waffles. It sounded amazing on the menu and when it arrived at our table, it looked even better. Although this dish is listed as an appetizer on the menu, the portion size could easily make it qualify as a main. The herb waffle was very interesting and played well with the white sausage gravy which was creamy yet not too heavy. It coated the chicken well and I was told there seemed to be hints of nutmeg in the dish.
Flank Steak: This dish was amazing – full of flavour. The bed of kimchi provided a nice, crisp and flavourful base for the steak to rest on. Although the kimchi sauce was a bit too spicy for the person who had it, the heat didn’t stay on the tongue for long. Again, the sauce was light and didn’t overwhelm the dish. The steak was tender, juicy and cooked to medium rare. The dish also came with mushrooms and a smoked pepper puree.
Roasted Chicken: I chose this dish after long contemplating the daily pasta. I was very pleased with my choice (although the pasta was just as delicious – more on that in a second). The chicken was cooked to perfection. The skinless breast was lightly browned to a satisfying crisp and was so juicy and tender. My favourite part about this dish was the gnocchi. In the beginning we couldn’t figure out how they managed to bring so much flavour to what can normally be a bland dish. The large cubes were hand made early that morning, cooked and seared in a pan briefly in butter which provided a nice smoky flavour. I also enjoyed that the chicken came with edamame as it added nice colour to the dish and a contrasting texture.
Daily Pasta: The pasta of the day came with chorizo, red onion, cherry tomatoes, spinach and a creamy white wine sauce topped with parmesan on a bed of Tagliatelle pasta. The reason I was so torn between this dish and the chicken was the chorizo. I love chorizo. I knew I would be able to sneak a couple bites of the pasta so decided I’d be safe to try the chicken. The pasta itself was cooked well, not too soft or undercooked. The sauce was full of flavours which balanced well with the thick chunks of chorizo. There was a healthy amount of spinach and tomatoes making this a very colourful and filling dish.
Bed of Greens with Pan Seared Arctic Char: For a lighter meal, if you’re full from your chicken and waffles appetizer, the salads are a great option. A wonderful feature on the menu allows you to add their grilled flank steak, berbere rubbed chicken, or pan seared arctic char to the salad. The greens came with a light tangy dressing, shaved carrots, pickled mushrooms and asparagus. The Arctic char was obviously fresh and flaky with a mild flavour (not too fishy) and minimal seasoning. A very refreshing summer option!
You’d think we were full by now (we were) and rolling around on the floor, but we couldn’t pass up a glance at the desert menu. Of course an innocent glance resulted in us all ordering desert. I had the cocoa nib crusted milk chocolate cheesecake that came with a home made pistachio ice cream. The cheesecake was out of this world. The coating was crunchy and chewy and the cheesecake was moist and rich. The ice cream was full of pistachio chunks which were so tasty. It also came with dark chocolate ganache, which was out of this world. It was so rich and went wonderfully with the chocolate cheesecake.
We also ordered the green tea creme brulee with caramel foam (yes, caramel foam) and banana ice cream. This desert is new to their menu and the flavour combinations are so creative and well thought out. I got a chance to try the caramel foam, but was too slow for the creme brulee. Not to worry, I hear it was delicious! The caramel foam was light and airy and had just enough caramel flavour to compliment the green tea brulee.
As Sarcoa states itself, this restaurant is a beautiful place with beautiful food. The atmosphere is inviting and trendy and the food matches this style with beautiful presentation and creative pairings. All dishes are made from scratch in house.
Oh, and don’t forget the view of course!
Sarcoa Restaurant and Bar is located at 57 Discovery Drive in Hamilton, ON.