Did you know the original restaurant where the Buffalo wing was invented opened up in Hamilton recently? They’ve been here, in Jackson Square, for a couple of years! Originating from, of course, Buffalo, NY, the restaurant is proud of its history. Anchor Bar just renovated the dining area and plan to spruce up their roof-top patio for the summer months. The restaurant can be accessed at street level off King Street West across from the Art Gallery of Hamilton, or inside Jackson Square across from the LCBO. The interior is spacious with grey walls, flatscreens, and a pizza station in the middle. There’s a modern sports bar vibe in this family-friendly environment, perfect for a casual dinner watching your favourite sports teams duke it out.
The menu consists of your typical sports-bar fare: wings pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and burgers. I’d usually order a plate of pasta and call it a day but I felt like something interesting so I went for the Shrimp Po-Boy Hogie [$13]. My friend ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna Burger [$14.99] and we both shared a single of wings [$12.99].
The Po-Boy had plump, deep-fried shrimp, a bed of lightly seasoned slaw, topped with tomatoes on a soft hogie bun. The battered shrimp were able to hold their crisp for about 5 minutes, before they quickly soaked up the moisture from the slaw and raw veggies. The components of the sandwich were seasoned with a really light hand and it was missing excitement and flare. I later found out from reading the online menu that the shrimp were supposed to be tossed in Buffalo wing sauce. In the photo above, you can see that nothing was tossed in Buffalo sauce! No wonder they tasted naked. The slaw also could’ve used more lemon for a bigger punch.
The Seared Tuna Burger sat on a Fuji apple slaw and topped with wasabi mayo and sesame seeds. The tuna might be cooked just right for their customers but way overcooked for a snob like me. The wasabi mayo was weak but the apple slaw was a fun addition. Both of our meals came with thick-cut fries which I enjoyed more than I should have.
Finally, the wings. The thin and crispy skin crackled during every bite and the meat was cooked just right. The medium spice was perfect with a touch of sweetness. I also noticed they were way larger than the wings from chain restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings or Kelsey’s, these guys don’t mess around.
The wings were my favourite but the other dishes need work. Seating was comfortable and spacious with cozy lighting and rockin’ tunes. The staff were all gleeful, helpful, and patient – great service!
The food scene in Hamilton has been drawing a lot of attention and locals/foodies want to find creativity and excitement in the food they put into their mouths. Anchor Bar’s Italian comfort food is a tame and stable choice, if that’s what you’re looking for. But I’d rather spend my time chasing local and fascinating food around the city! The prices are steep for what they have to offer (taste-wise and presentation-wise). I could’ve gotten two medium bowls of pho for the price of that shrimp po-boy and the pho would have been more satisfying.
This was a discounted meal from Anchor Bar, opinions expressed are my own.