10/27/16 Update from the Bitches: This restaurant is now closed.
It was the Monday of MLK weekend and my girlfriend Jen and I were craving a lazy, comforting brunch to round off a great long weekend. So rarely do we get the treat of brunching on a weekday so we wanted to take advantage of it. We narrowed the locale down to the quaint West Village, an area that I find myself generally neglecting given my Alphabet City abode, and met at Extra Virgin, a neighborhood classic.
Unfortunately, we failed to recognize that some restaurants would not be serving brunch on this Monday and showed up at a closed down restaurant. Since adorable restaurants are a dime a dozen in the West Village, we weren’t discouraged and knew we would stumble upon another viable option within a two block radius.
This is how we ended up at Hamilton’s Soda Fountain & Luncheonette. As we turned the corner, Jen stopped dead in her tracks after realizing that a fabulous West Village restaurant, Tremont’s, had shuttered and flipped to Hamilton’s. We peered through the expansive windows to a clean, vintage diner complete with a full soda fountain, checkered tiles, and dapper waitstaff with paper hats. The space looked promising and there were plenty of tables so we decided to give it a shot.
One server was working the entire brunch shift, but luckily the eatery wasn’t too busy so she wasn’t entirely absent. We were given our pick of intimate round tables and started to survey the menu. I had one immediate hang up and it seems rather petty, but we were given extremely tiny water glasses. “What is this, a restaurant for ants?!” we joked. Wisecracks aside, we’re talking shot-sized water glasses, which was not conducive to brunching after one too many shots the night prior. I felt a little guilty asking for constant water refills from our harried waitress, but one larger vessel could have easily solved this problem.
Hamilton’s is an authentic, old-school diner and has a full soda fountain with offerings such as New York egg creams, fizzes, sundaes, and milkshakes. Maybe it was because I was so parched from the aforementioned paltry water glasses, but a milkshake was calling my name, and we unanimously decided to consume our drink calories with desserts rather than booze.
We both ordered the Black Cow milkshake per our server’s recommendation, containing root beer, ice cream, fizzy water, and milk. We had the choice of adding malt, which we opted out of. The milkshakes hit the spot and did not disappoint. The root beer was a refreshing touch and the carbonation kept the drink from becoming too rich. I easily made it down to the last drop before we even placed our entree orders.
The straightforward menu contains everything you’d expect from a classic diner without any twists or variations. We had our choice between basic egg dishes and omelettes, sandwiches, burgers, pancakes, and more, all at an extremely reasonable price point despite the coveted West Village address.
Jen leaned towards the lunch side of the menu and ordered the turkey club. She thought that the sandwich was tasty, but a bit on the dry side. It featured a generous helping of protein and accoutrements, and the crisp bread did not overpower the fillings. However, there wasn’t anything that made this stand out from other turkey clubs of the past.
I stuck with brunch fare and went with the BLT sandwich topped with a fried egg. Similarly to Jen, I found my sandwich rather dry and uninspired. I picked around the sandwich and basically just ate all of the bacon, leaving the remainder of my main course virtually untouched.
Since neither of our main courses came with a side, which is understandable given the cheap $7 price, we also split the side of mac and cheese. We enjoyed the crispy texture of the top crust and toasted bread crumbs, but thought that this typically decadent dish could be cheesier and more flavorful.
Hamilton’s is new to the restaurant scene and needs to work out a few kinks on the menu, but I did take it with a grain of salt that I was reviewing a diner. A West Village diner, but a diner nonetheless.
The Bitches say: C-. An adorable eatery in a fantastic West Village location, but the food was nothing special, especially compared to the award-winning restaurants in the neighborhood.
Hamilton’s Soda Fountain & Luncheonette
51 Bank St.
New York, NY
Hamilton’s Soda Fountain & Luncheonette is open on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 6 a.m.