First Looks is a preview of newly opened and soon-to-open restaurants. These are not full reviews, but they should give you a little insight into what the restaurant is like.
It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to eat at The Hamilton Supperette & Lounge. Chef Michael Paske has been teasing me for months, almost a year, about the newly opened restaurant (literally, it opens today, August 23, 2019). Once he fed me a cookie at an event that blew my damn mind: the Everything Cookie, which doesn’t sound like it would work, but it works.
Located in The Shoppes at Northpark, The Hamilton is actually kind of hard to find. And since I want you to eat there, I’ll tell you the secret. It’s in the mall, but you can’t get to it from inside the mall. Approach from the north, where you’ll see Rococo’s, then head to the east side. Yes, there’s stuff back there. Look for the double doors with the “H” on them and proceed inside.
It’s a lovely, if dimly lit, little space. With a nice wraparound bar and a few different seating areas. Much as I love a wide-open dining room, The Hamilton is doing a great job with the space they have, giving diners options for boisterous dinner parties, intimate date nights, or a quiet drink at the bar.
The menu isn’t small, per se, but it’s focused. You’ll find a handful of appetizers, salads and soups, entrees, and some family-style sides, all with a focus on high-class comfort.
We tried the bison tartare ($16) because I love bison and tartare and I do what I want. Tartare is served raw, which means the meat has to be very carefully selected and cut for maximum flavor and tenderness. Mixed in with the meat is mustard caviar, made with mustard seeds, and on top you’ll find a layer of smoked egg yolk, almost like the filling of a deviled egg, covered in fried shallots.
Folks: This is good. Like, really good. I’m not ready to forswear all other tartares, but I am thinking about giving this one my class ring and asking it to go steady.
The winning salad was the one chosen by my girl Jess, the Chop Chop ($7) which makes great use of the standard salad mix of romaine, cucumber, tomato, and carrot, with a few spiced walnuts mixed in and a fresh coat of “goat cheese snow.” But, honestly, the deciding factor was the sherry-shallot vinaigrette, which was light and bubbly while still delivering that vinegar pop.
The Tomahawk Pork Chop ($24) is as visually striking as the taste is appealing. It’s a massive piece of pork loin, bone in, that has been smoked, cut, and seared to provide you an unrivaled pork experience. The charred crust is pure flavor and the smoked meat inside is comforting without going too far into smoky territory. The red onion marmalade on top isn’t quite as marmalady as I had hoped for, but the flavor was spot on. Cut off a juicy piece of loin, dip it in the accompanying whipped potato, and grab a couple of red onion slices. It’s a rollercoaster.
Owner Jimmy Mays told us not to sleep on the Succotash Chicken Stack ($21) and we didn’t even yawn at it. The Hamilton’s version of succotash includes corn, red bell peppers, and peas, while the chicken is cooked so it’s tender and juicy and comes layered with a buerre blanc sauce. It is, to me at least, a lovely example of taking a humble roast chicken dinner and elevating it to new heights without making it unapproachable.
I’ve heard from some folks who loved the mac and cheese ($8), and while I didn’t dislike it, I did hope for a bit more sharpness. As is, it’s cavatappi pasta covered in a mix of the house-made boursin and jack cheese, covered in fried shallots. It’s very creamy and very buttery, with expertly cooked pasta, but I just needed more bite. Your mileage may vary, though.
For dessert: Everything Cookies. Yes. They’re just as delicious as I remembered...maybe moreso. You’ll want to save room and get a glass of milk, while you’re at it.
One big issue for The Hamilton is, sadly, Hamilton. Because the musical is a phenomenon and because it just came through OKC, it’s very difficult to search for information about The Hamilton without just getting results about the show.
Also, it probably ruins my hopes for a musical about the journey of Mays and Paske to open this lovely little restaurant. I guess I’ll just have to take solace in fried quail with an orange gastrique, Okie catfish “scallops,” and a whole host of other delicious dishes.