101 West Main Street . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 295-6649
Some say a visit to Hamiltons’ is like a time warp to a “New American” restaurant of the 1980s and 1990s – with its steady soundtrack of light jazz, brightly colored walls, and margaritas served in martini glasses. The menu includes standards like crabcakes and crème brûlée, and the signature blue plate special is even served on a blue, glossy plate.
But, it’s not just superficial similarities that Hamiltons’ shares with restaurants of the New American renaissance. It’s also the renewed sense of professionalism and attention to detail that the era brought. And so, the butter with your bread is always room temperature, as it should be. And, the warm bread, itself, is salty, yeasty, and perfect every time – the kind that seems to make you hungrier as it fills you up. Most importantly, the cooking is excellent. Owners Kate and Bill Hamilton know good food, and have always had a talented Chef de Cuisine, from Gail Hobbs-Page, to Jeanette Peabody, to Curtis Shaver, the former Duner’s sous chef who took over the kitchen in 2013 and was promptly named one of Charlottesville’s rising stars. Shaver has gently pushed the cuisine forward and has even added an occasional pop-up Sandwich Lab, where he and his kitchen scientists create inventive takeout sandwiches that always sell out in minutes.
What to Order
Frequent menu changes mean that not all of these recommendations will always be available. But, below is a list of our suggestions, the chef’s favorites, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a local chef or personality has named a Hamiltons’ dish as one of the best in town. Our corned beef hash pick is from the Sunday brunch menu, which is a particularly good time to enjoy Hamiltons’.
- Vegetarian Blue Plate Special
- Crispy Cornmeal Dusted Calamari Salad
- Carolina Shrimp Poached in Chardonnay and Lemon with Woodson’s Mill Creamy Grits
- Pan Roasted Jumbo Lump Crabcake
- Housemade Wagyu Corned Beef Hash
- Sandwich Lab Sandwiches
- Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
- Chopped Romaine and Radicchio Salad with Fried Oysters
- Housemade Pappardelle with Tomato Braised Lamb Ragu
- Grilled Double H Farm Pork Chop
- Arctic Char with Edamame Mash, sautéed Sharondale Farms Mushrooms, Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, and Charred Lemon Vinaigrette
Five Finds on Friday Picks
- Kale Salad with Crispy Fried Oysters — Ian Judd (The Ivy Inn)
- Double H Farm Pork Chop with Local Apple Cider Glaze and Delicata Squash — Kristen Suokko (Local Food Hub)
- Shrimp and Grits — Eric Nittolo (formerly, Threepenny Cafe); Ian Glomski (Vitae Spirits)
- Vegetarian Blue Plate Special — Mitchell Beerens (Lampo); Larry Sabato (UVa Center for Politics)
- Pastry Basket — Matt Boisvert (formerly, C&O)
- Sunday Brunch — Brooks Tanner (formerly, The Barbeque Exchange)