Review: Durand Coffee

Review: Durand Coffee

Durand Coffee
142 Charlton Avenue W
Wifi: Yes

Photo credit: Durand Coffee Google Images

I love coffee. Since the day I picked up my first cup as a bleary sleep deprived second year medical student, I knew it was meant to be. We have had a rocky past, like the month I spent on Ob/Gyn drinking 8 cups a day to stay awake for deliveries. I like to think things are more settled now with just one morning cup and the occasional midday latte (or two). Lucky for me, Hamilton’s coffee scene has exploded in the last few years and there have been so many new places to try.

I have been coffee shop hopping the last few months as I study for my Royal College exams. When are the exams you ask? Not until May, but that doesn’t mean we all haven’t been studying* since August. It simultaneously feels like an infinite amount of time but at the same time not nearly enough time. The only thing that makes it slightly more bearable is having a delicious caffeinated beverage and sitting in the sunshine with people whose lives have not been blighted by choosing a career in medicine.
*Studying = carting around a million textbooks and binders and staring at them bleakly for 10 minutes before opening Facebook. You will then browse Facebook for 45 minutes looking at all your high school friends who have real lives, houses and children instead of an MD and unspeakable amounts of debt.

A fellow prisoner…resident… mentioned she had been studying at Durand, so I thought I would give it a try. I am very particular about where I spend my study time, so the first time I went with my husband to scope the place out. I have been there twice again since, so I feel pretty set about my feelings on the place now.

Located on a mostly residential street, Durand Coffee is easy to miss. Looks are deceiving though because once you walk in, you are greeted by a large space with plenty of seating. The lighting is perfect and there is a good mix of customers. If you are studying, just be aware it is pretty busy and they get a good number of parents with young children coming in. Regardless of what time I have gone it has always been busy, but you can usually still snag a table or comfy chair in the back area.

On my first two visits, I tried their almond milk latte. The next time I tried the matcha tea latte also with almond milk. I appreciate it’s hard to work with almond milk. It’s watery and can be annoying to work with, but such are the options for the lactose intolerant. It can be hard to find a good almond milk latte, but these were great. Creamy and beautiful to look at. The matcha tea latte which is a new feature was a definite highlight.

As much as I would like to give Durand Coffee a wholehearted 5 stars, there is something that holds me back. Although the service was ‘fine’ all three times I went, I did find the staff (same people working each time) a bit stand offish and not particularly friendly. They seemed much warmer with regulars, but this could just be the particular staff I encountered on my visits.

Overall: 4/5

Drinks: 5/5

Service: 3/5

Review: The French: Sunday Brunch

The French
37 King William St, Hamilton
http://www.thefrench.ca

Takes Reservations: Yes
Parking: Street
As a big fan of Aberdeen Tavern, I was excited to hear about the new addition to their restaurant family. The French opened back in December and I finally got the chance to try it out last week. We headed over on a very chilly Sunday morning to have brunch.

Brunch is one of my favourite weekend (or weekday!) activities, but I was a bit apprehensive going in. Aberdeen Tavern has a killer dinner service with perfectly constructed dishes, but I have always found their brunch a bit disappointing. I know that opinion leaves me in the minority, but the service, coffee and food at brunch just can’t compete with their lunch and dinner service. All that said, I was unsure of how The French would compare.

Let’s start with the atmosphere because if you have not been there yet, this space is gorgeous. They have exposed stone walls including a separating wall for two dining areas. Although very striking, the stone walls are a bit of a liability in the winter. We were seated at the window right by the wall and the wall was very cold. Even the husband, who in his entire life has never felt cold, remarked it was chilly.

We started with lattes, regular milk for him and almond milk for me. They were both decent, not great. Next up was an Elderflower Kir which I absolutely loved, but I am a sucker for elderflower cocktails.

We ordered a fresh scone which we had intended to have with our lattes and then the Englishman and Croque Madame for our mains. Within less than 10 minutes of ordering we received our scone, both lattes, the cocktail and both meals all at the same time. On the one hand, timely service and hot food are great. On the other hand, the disappointing one, brunch is a leisurely meal and I felt rushed. We ended up only spending 35 minutes total from seating to exit which does not make for a relaxed Sunday brunch feel.

The timing of the food was unfortunate, but the food itself definitely made up for it. The Englishman included 2 eggs, sausage, bacon, crispy potatoes, braised beans, tomato and braised beans. Can we please talk about those crispy potatoes? I am still thinking about them. My husband ate his and then helped himself to some of mine. The bacon was the perfect level of crispy and this is from someone who does not like bacon (I know, I know). I loved my meal, but the star of the show was the Croque Madame. With ham and Handeck cheese, it was topped with a perfectly fried egg which met #yolkporngoals. I missed a picture of the scone in the flurry of plates arriving, but it was raspberry served with butter and preserves. Warm and fresh, it was a nice addition to the meal.

Overall, I thought it was a great meal. Service was friendly and attentive although timing from the kitchen was off and it ended up feeling rushed. That’s something that I think can easily be worked out with time. I will definitely be returning to try out their dinner menu!

Overall rating: 4/5

Service: 3.5/5

Ambience/Decor: 4/5 (only because of the cold)