The stars aligned and I finally found an occasion (my birthday) to visit the infamous Aberdeen Tavern of Hamilton. They’ve been on my Places-to-Eat-in-Hamilton list since I started it a few years ago. It was also a last minute decision to even go out to celebrate because my plans for the evening fell through and my mom suggested we celebrate early. I scrambled to find some restaurants that were open past 9pm – thank you, Aberdeen Tavern, for having late nights.
The patio was packed and I was worried about getting a table inside. Fortunately, their dining room is bigger than their patio and we were seated very quickly.
Black and white tiles line the entry way and dark hardwood spread across the dining room. Deep grey walls, white ceiling, classic English leather banquettes, and wooden tables set the scene in the open space. A beautiful marble bar and 3 gorgeous chandeliers occupy the back area with a bank vault to the left. Yes, a massive steel vault door just casually propped open. Trophy antlers hang above the fireplace on the left wall with various portraits and paintings scattered throughout. The atmosphere was really comforting yet it had so much sophistication. All of the staff were welcoming and made sure we were looked after.
Looking over the menu, there were a lot of dishes that appealed to my tastes. We started with the chilled Sweet Pea Soup ($8) and Soup of the Day, which was French Onion ($8). The sweet pea was blended to a smooth consistency and topped with shaved cheese. Light and thin, the flavours were subtle and refreshing with a bright pop of green. The French onion came with pieces of toast, gooey cheese and tons of caramelized onions in the bowl. Rich, deep, and salty flavours penetrated my tastebuds, definitely delicious. After the bowls were taken away and a switch in utensils occurred, our entrees landed. Fancy shmancy service.
When my BBQ Roasted Pork Chop ($26) was placed in front of me, I was floored. Mostly because it was as big as my face and as thick as a heavy-duty cutting board. The portions of dirty rice, coleslaw, and hickory sticks were just as big! It was cooked bone-in and seasoned really well. It was moist and tender throughout. I applaud whoever can master pork chops, especially keeping it evenly cooked and juicy for this inch-thick piece of meat! Easily the best pork chop I’ve ever had in Hamilton. My dad commented about the rice being cooked with liver. Apparently, that’s what makes it ‘dirty’ and he was right. It gets its colour from liver and giblets, it also has a distinct texture and taste. The coleslaw and hickory sticks were also nice pairings and a change in texture.
My mom went with Crab Cakes ($14) but the Smoked Ling Cod ($28) was brought to the table. We were all confused when we didn’t see crab cakes. So I stealthy asked her in Cantonese if she wanted me to say something. My mom isn’t the type to send food back to the kitchen because she doesn’t want to see it go to waste. She said it was fine and ate it anyways. I’m glad she stuck with it because it definitely would have been a waste if it went back to the kitchen! The fish was cooked so nicely, it had a golden brown sear and flaked so beautifully. A bed of sweet pea risotto, sprinkled with bacon, artichokes, pickled onions, Parmesan, and aged balsamic accompanied the fillet. Mmmm, I couldn’t stop picking at the creamy risotto, I loved the bits of bacon and pickled onions that broke up the consistency.
Dad’s Arctic Char ($27) was presented on a bed of asparagus, roasted mushrooms, caramelized shallots and an artistically placed circle of tomato broth. The fillets were thinner than the Ling Cod but the texture of the meat was slightly more tender. The mixture of asparagus, mushrooms, and shallots were intensely overpowering. The tomato broth was a better pairing for the fish.
Out of all the dishes, I enjoyed the pork the best! My dad had to do clean-up duty because there was no way I was going to wolf down the whole chop. I really wanted to check out their desserts but I couldn’t get my stomach to stretch anymore. I’ll come back another time for dessert. Our server was attentive and made sure our dinner went smoothly. Basically, his timing was on point. From appetizers to getting our entrees, to clearing the table, and to the bill, there was minimal waiting time between everything! I just loved our entire dinner experience. It will forever be my go-to restaurant for any type of celebration.