432 Aberdeen Avenue
Ah, Aberdeen Tavern. I remember when they first opened and I couldn’t get reservations for a table for 2 on a Wednesday evening having called several days in advance. Even now, with more upscale dining options available in Hamilton, you will still see a decent crowd there any night of the week. There is a reason for that since this place is AMAZING. I do not use all caps lightly (bold faced lie), this place deserves it.
I have been to Aberdeen Tavern many times. They have a weekend brunch, lunch and dinner menu. One of my favourite things is that they have a separate vegetarian menu. I have a ton of veg family members and friends and I like knowing they have more than one measly option to choose from. Also, the vegetarian menu is actually good. It is not just one token entree, they have clearly put a lot of thought and effort into it. This review is for dinner mainly because that is my preferred meal here. Their brunch and lunch menu is very good, but I have found the service, timing (more on this later) and drinks to be inconsistent at those times. They seem to be the best with regards to service, quality and timing on Fri-Sun evenings.
We started off the meal with the breads and dips appetizer. They grill the bread and drizzle it with olive oil. Who would have thought simple grilled bread could be so delicious? All of us carb lovers out there that’s who. I pity you low carbers out there. You are starving your brain, but also your body of so much amazingness! It’s served with a trio of dips including smoked hummus, olive tapenade and an herb ricotta. The olive tapenade was a favourite, but that could also be because there were three Punjabis at the table and we enjoy some flavour. The (oh so not Punjabi) husband liked the whipped ricotta the best. It was fine, but it didn’t hold a candle to the tapenade. Needless to say, the bread was demolished fairly quickly.
The husband got two cocktails; the Purple Rain and West End Spritz. They were…fine. We (as I was sneaking sips when he wasn’t looking) were pretty disappointed with the cocktails mainly because of the very high expectations we had from previous visits. This visit was on a Thursday night and they did not have a staffed bartender making cocktails. It was just our very sweet, very young and very inexperienced in cocktail making, server who was making the cocktails. Later on in the night we caught a glimpse of him fighting with the espresso machine. Bless his heart. It almost drove the husband to tears, he cannot stand to see espresso machines misused and abused. He did an OK job, but they just did not have the complex test profile you get from Aberdeen cocktails on a weekend dinner service.
After this, things got a bit messy timing wise. We were having a pretty good time talking and didn’t realize it initially, but eventually saw it had been about an hour since we ordered our mains. The manager came over to each table and apologized personally, which I very much appreciated. Apparently the kitchen had stopped receiving orders due to a technical glitch so they had not made anything for the last 45 minutes. That seems highly unusual to me, but I haven’t worked at a restaurant and will refrain from making a judgement. I do think though, that they should have done something to make up for the fact that it was such a significant wait. Previously when I had been to Aberdeen for brunch, the exact same situation happened where our meals did not arrive for about 1.5 hours. That time they sent out some free scones, pastries and coffee. This time, nothing. By the time the food came, I was starving- my pre dinner snack and the appetizer were a distant memory.
As I am a shortsighted fool, I ate a snack right before we went to Aberdeen Tavern. This turned out to be a great thing though at the time the husband made all sorts of faces and comments about my inability to be hungry for 10 minutes. Since I wasn’t feeling too hungry when I ordered (how I would regret this later), I got the tuna tartare app as my main. The rest of the table got: the veal meatball marinara, braised beef and roasted chicken supreme. I had a taste (OK several tastes) from everyone’s mains and I think my favourite was the braised beef. It was unbelievably tender and melt-in-your-mouth perfect. The potato rosti it is served on is absolutely divine, crispy, but not overly greasy. My least favourite meal was my own. I usually love their tuna tartare, but this time I felt they were a bit skimpy on the tuna and my avocado was pretty bruised underneath it. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it was still delicious. I would have appreciated a bit more tuna though! Honestly though, it is possible it is always served with that much tuna, but I was just starving by the time they finally brought out our mains. They serve the tartare with these wonton chips which I love. They are a very unique and cool twist on the dish and really enhance the flavour and texture profile of the dish.
We were pretty full at this point, but could not resist the siren call of the dessert menu.
Overall, despite some timing mishaps, still a good dinner at Aberdeen Tavern. Also, I should note that I have been here for dinner many times and this is the first time I have ever had an issue. Even with the timing issue, the food was still phenomenal.
Overall rating: 4.5/5