Lou Dawg’s Hamilton

Last week my significant other and I had the pleasure of trying out Hamilton’s newest addition to the Southern BBQ scene, Lou Dawg’s! Nestled away in Hess Village, Lou Dawg’s is a Southern BBQ and Blues restaurant that originated in Toronto and quickly became famous for their slow smoked BBQ, bourbon and blues. Now, branching out into Hamilton, owners Erika Puckering and Chef Jamie Ewing have taken on Hess Village and packed delicious, smoked and savoury flavours into their dishes.

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I’m in love with the décor inside this place. The weathered wood and brick accents paired with adorable bulb string lights and vintage rugs give Lou’s a perfectly southern country vibe. The location is warm and inviting and the smells from the kitchen will certainly get your mouth watering. FullSizeRender (33)

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We started our BBQ adventure with Lou Dawg’s signature Smoked Lemon Southern Tea. The key to this addictive and refreshing drink is the in house smoked lemons, but lets not forget the two shots of Jack Daniel’s honey whiskey! We couldn’t get over how delicious this drink was and kept reminding ourselves to come back when the patio is open to enjoy this bad boy in the sunshine. This will be a must have this summer!

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For our main BBQ dishes we ordered the 2 meats (beef brisket & pulled pork) and 2 sides (meaty BBQ beans & fries) option for $14.95 – value city! We also couldn’t pass on the Angry Loutine or the Jalapeño Cornbread Muffin since I’ve heard so many good things about it!

I’m going to start off with discussing this mountain of fried potato, meaty goodness because this was the best thing that entered my mouth that night. Yeah, yeah – [enter sexual innuendo here] Get your mind out of the gutter! Seriously though, this ain’t your typical loaded poutine, oh no, my friend. This right here will be the reason I return to Lou’s. The Angry Loutine is the Mighty Loutine (cheese curds and chicken gravy) topped with jalapeños, pulled pork, BBQ mayo and crispy onions. Lou’s poutine game is strong. Crispy, creamy, spicy and salty in one bite. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back this weekend to get this again. If you love a good poutine, you’ll seriously appreciate this. FYI – this was a SMALL.

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Everything together on the table provided to be quite the spread and was a tad intimidating at first! We questioned whether we would live to see another day after eating all this food and how long it would take to crawl to our cars after such an epic meal. Even a bread roll is included to soak up all the delicious house made sauce which is generously provided to you at the table.

So, accepting our fate, we dug in. I was pleasantly surprised at how tender and juicy the meat was, especially the brisket. Although I do believe the portion size was a bit on the small side,  it was a great cut of meat and was cooked perfectly. The pulled pork was outstanding on its own or stuffed in the bread roll. Squirt on some extra sauce and you’re in BBQ heaven. I’m normally not a huge fan of beans (texture-a-phobe) but I really enjoyed the meaty beans. The beans were cooked well and smothered in delicious sauce. They were also super tasty re-heated the next day.

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FullSizeRender (30)FullSizeRender (29)When I asked my foodie friends what they liked at Lou’s, the Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread was a hot topic. I was not let down in the least. It came out moist (important) and warm with awesomely crispy edges and definitely spicy, as expected. At the center of the corn muffin was a delicious chunk of cheddar cheese. I tried the cheese on its own and found it had a sweet flavour while not completely melted, which I thought was great. For an extra $2.95 I’d say the corn muffin is well worth the try.

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Overall I’d say Lou Dawg’s is a strong contender in Hamilton’s southern smoked BBQ scene. Their sauces and quality of meat are on point, they have a great list of signature cocktails and will be hosting a series of live music and community nights. I also really appreciated the friendly atmosphere and relaxed vibe at Lou’s. The staff are amazing and definitely take good care of you.

Not to mention they are open for Southern brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11-4PM with $5 Mimosas and Caesars! Brunch includes items like breakfast poutines, burritos and benny’s.

Combine great BBQ, live music and exceptional service and I think you’ve got yourself a good time! With their outdoor patio NOW OPEN, summer in Hamilton just got a little more exciting.
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Check out their Twitter: @LouDawgsHamOnt to stay updated on future events and menu updates.

If you’re wandering around Hess village in a haze, Lou’s won’t be hard to find with their kick ass BBQ sign out front.

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Lou Dawg’s is located at 116 George Street in Hamilton.

Amen to summer and BBQ/patio season!

-Rach

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Sarcoa Restaurant and Bar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Oh, and don’t forget the view of course!

Sarcoa Restaurant and Bar is located at 57 Discovery Drive in Hamilton, ON.

Happy eating!

-Rach

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