In any case, Hammersmith's occupies the space formally inhabited by a $4-dollar all-day breakfast place that hadn't been renovated, or indeed, repaired or even painted (or possibly cleaned) since about 1950. We were hopeful about two things: that there would be a respectable brunch spot within walking distance of our house, and that the addition of a nice business would "elevate" he neighborhood a little, perhaps encouraging other nice businesses to locate themselves here.
The new space is quite nice. It's very clean, white, with a tile counter, pine tables and a tiny open kitchen. It seems to seat about 20-24 people.
I understand from the Toronto Life article about them that they are known for their scones. One afternoon next week, I'll pop in and have scones and tea and try them out.
The food was at once pretty good (more about that below) and rather disappointing. The problem with it was that I had no particular interest in eating what I ended up eating. Jeff, too. It was Sunday breakfast/brunch. Jeff and I both would have been happy with either of the following menu items. In fact, we were counting on them.
- 2 eggs any style, with choice of bacon, sausage or peameal, coffee, juice, toast and home fries.
- Eggs benedict
I consider this a problem and so did every other patron in the restaurant. As I looked around, and frankly, eavesdropped, I heard every single table ask for bacon and eggs. Every table, like us, was told that the kitchen was set up in such a way that they could only do what was on the menu. I get that for a new restaurant, it might be hard to offer stuff off the menu. What I don't get is why the menu doesn't reflect what people actually want to eat for breakfast on a weekend morning. Arugula salad with a cheese I've never heard of doesn't cut it. Their was a smoked salmon thing with pickled beets etc that looked pretty good, actually - but I don't want it for breakfast.
We ended up ordering one steak and eggs, and one bacon omelette.
The omelette came with a side salad of baby greens in a light vinaigrette and two tiny pieces of toast (cross section of a baguette). Jeff pronounced the omelette fine, but he thought it was very meager on the promised bacon, and too plain; that it needed something else in it to take it to a more appropriate "next level". How about onion or garlic? Tomato?
The steak and eggs was a little uneven, but I would say over all it was quite good. The steak was superb. About an inch thick, and juicy and tender. A real steak - not one of those chopped steak numbers you usually get with steak and eggs. The eggs themselves were sunny side up and I didn't have any options about how they were prepared. I would have asked for over easy because I don't like the raw egg slime on the yolks of sunny side up eggs. Also, like Jeff, I received only two meager slices of baguette which were woefully inadequate for mopping up my yolks.
Although the steak was very good, the best part was the fried tomatoes and home fries. The home fries have quite a lot of bacon in them - and it tasted like a hand-smoked bacon rather than schneiders. They were also incredibly greasy. When I was eating them, I was thinking "I shouldn't be eating all this grease". But I didn't stop, because it was really, really, yummy. There was also quite a lot of caramelized onion in the home fries, which I also really liked. Great home fries.
The service was quite good as well. I thought our breakfast took a little longer than it needed to, given when we ordered at one-minute after opening, there was no-one else in the place. On the other hand, the kitchen is open and I watched the cook make it - so it's not like he was sitting out back having a smoke. It may have seemed long because I was hungry. Also, I didn't like being told no Bacon and Eggs. Still the servers were polite and quick, and were on the spot with coffee refills even once the place filled up.
So overall, Hammersmith's seems like a pretty good restaurant. It definitely has potential as an attractant for other respectable businesses in the area. I don't think they've figured out the what they should be serving on their menu for breakfast, but hopefully as every diner asks for bacon and eggs, they'll make some adjustments.
For now, I think our next breakfast out will be a short drive to Sammy's, or down on Queen East.