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Welcome back Hamilton’s

December 2, 2009

After too long of an absence, Hamilton’s on Magnolia has reopened after some very refreshing changes. Experienced patrons will recall the kitchen being in your lap at any seat other than the bar area as well as the lack of group seating. Those days are gone with the recent renovations.

The exterior remains mostly unchanged from the front. The side and rear underwent changes, mostly in the form of windows, expansion and cleanup. The front does now include outdoor seating, making Hamilton’s one of the few, if not only place with true “sidewalk dining” in Auburn.

Inside, the bar area remained mostly unchanged which is a big plus in our eyes. Between the cozy and warm atmosphere to the large window view, Hamilton’s bar was a great place to dine, drink or both. Their wine list retained some hard to find selections and added a few more popular labels. They also now have draft beer and even feature some of the new-to-Auburn “high gravity” selections.

The dining and kitchen area underwent the most radical, and needed changes. The kitchen is still open, but is now along the back wall. With the move went the less savory smells Hamilton’s was sometimes known for leaving on its visitors. The restroom area has been updated and redone – another welcome change – moving it from the category of fraternity bar to upscale restaurant.

The dining area now features a section which can be arranged to accomodate a group of up to 12-14 comfortably, although you’ll still be alongside couples and groups of 4 in booths. All in all, the dining area maintained the cozy, small feel while adding the option to bring an after-work or small club size group in as well. The interior walls were dressed up with colorful paintings and the addition of the aforementioned windows.

Now for the real attraction: the food….

Thankfully, the menu remained virtually unchanged. The now famous friend green tomatoes remained as an appetizer and should be tried at least twice. The lunch menu is large enough to give everyone in your group something to ponder, but small enough to be manageable during the work day. Joe recommends the jalapeno barbeque chicken sandwich. This one has enough firepower to satisfy those who enjoy real spice, but isn’t so overpowering you’ll be stopping for Altoids and Tums on the way back to the office. It is also a nice twist using chicken instead of pork or beef.

Dinner still includes a pork tenderloin and two steaks, a filet and ribeye. There are seafood and poultry dishes as well including a tuna and salmon selection. Josephine and I each ordered a steak – she opted for the filet, and I chose the ribeye. Neither of us had a beef with the way our steaks were prepared or tasted. The vegetables however, left something to be desired. I don’t want to overstate this because you may not face the same dilemma on your visit. Put simply, our mashed potatoes did not taste fresh and the asparagus was overcooked. Dessert was a bit of a letdown too, but we chalked it up to being week-one of the opening.

Most of you who have dined in Auburn have noticed service is the weakest link and most common complaint. Hamilton’s was, and thankfully still is, the exception. Our waitress had a passing knowledge of the bar menu, but stumbled when asked to recommend a wine (that’s okay, it was just a test anyway). She redeemed herself on the food, demonstrating knowledge of the preparation and taste of every dish we asked about. She proved attentive but not stalker-like during the meal.

One last note is the website – which unfortunately follows a trend in the area of being overly simplistic and missing the opportunity to draw in patrons who will otherwise go to Montgomery or Columbus when searching for something other than franchise dining.

To sum it up, Joe highly recommends Hamilton’s and Josephine gives it a nod too (though not as emphatic).

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