T-Th 6 PM - 9 PM; F-Sa 5 PM - 10 PM; Su 5 PM - 9 PM. Lunch Sa-Su only: 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
(609) 397-4343 Website Google Maps
Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
Jim Hamilton, a Broadway set designer turned restaurateur, started Hamilton’s Grill (“HG”) more than 25 years ago at a time when Lambertville was a transitional, industrial town surviving on the left-overs of New Hope, directly across the river. Now, of course, Lambertville stands on its own as one of the most charming towns in central NJ, with a vibrant restaurant scene. HG has been one of my favorite, up-scale restaurants for many years.
As you’d expect from a set designer, place and settings are impeccable. The restaurant is tucked away on a quiet, dead-end alley. During the warmer months, there’s a substantial outdoor dining area on the courtyard nestled among mature hardwood trees. Inside seating sprawls through several historic, now inter-connected row houses, providing very different ambiance depending on the room, but each providing elegance and intimacy.
We were introduced to the restaurant nearly a decade ago, for a friend’s birthday party. We particularly love the garden. In colder weather we like to dine in the front room with its picture windows overlooking the courtyard, or the grill room with its view of the cooking.
HG’s menu has been farm to table long before that term entered popular consciousness. The menu changes seasonally, and there are always a few specials. The food is simple, but exceptionally high quality and perfectly presented, featuring grilled seafood and meats. Vegetarians can get a meal, even a good one, but it’s not a vegetarian friendly menu: you’ll need to pick out an appetizer or two, a salad, and several side dishes to assemble a meal (there often is no vegetarian entree on the menu).
But if you enjoy grilled fish or meat, HG is a fabulous place. The header image shows a flat-iron steak, one of the cheaper entrees on September 2015’s Fall Menu at $28. The steak was wonderfully aged and quite tender for a cut of steak that’s not renowned for its tenderness: intensely flavorful, beautifully plated on top of blue-cheese, red-bliss, smashed potatoes, and perfectly aldente asparagus. The topping was a post modern take on onion rings: crisp fried scallions. Oniony and satisfying without nearly as much fat or the yucky breading. Other entrees were priced up to about $40.
Unlike most restaurants of this quality, Hamilton’s Grill is BYOB. We always bring an exceptional bottle of wine (the food deserves it), which means we enjoy a superb meal and dining experience for a check that’s usually well under $50/head. I’ve read service complaints online, but in the dozen or more times we’ve gone over the years, we’ve always had good to outstanding service.
It’s worth joining Hamilton Grill’s mailing list. There is usually a series of prix fixe dinners offered at good prices on a mid-week night through the dog-days of winter. Only folks on the mailing list learn about them.
Word to the wise: you’ll probably need to park at a meter (which require feeding until 9 PM). Bring lots of quarters.
On weekends during the warmer months, HG serves lunch. It’s a completely different menu at much lower prices than dinner. I’ve never sampled it. Almost certainly worth going, if only for the location.