Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Always the Cynic

I lead a cuisine-charmed life in NYC. I pride myself on dining at the best Thai restaurant in The City before it was in Zagat. I have eaten pizza at most of the top NYC pizzerias. I've had many sublime meals in New York City, costing anywhere from $6 (amazing dumplings at the Dumpling House, 118 Eldridge St) to $300 (dinner at Babbo), all over NYC. Spending the summer in the Hamilton/Ancaster area, I had braced myself for entering a culinary wasteland by bringing along all of my issues of Cooks Illustrated, figuring dining out would be fruitless and it would be frugal (and good for the ego) to prepare impressive meals in Betty's kitchen.

Now the confession: in the past five days, I've eaten not one, not two, not three, but four good meals out in the area.
1) La Spiga Pizzeria, where we enjoyed grilled vegetables and wood oven pizzas. (No, it's not NYC pizza, but it's tasty nonetheless, and they'll even make your pizza into a calzone for $1.50.)
2) La Luna (306 King St. W, Hamilton, 905-577-0233), where we lunched on Lebanese cuisine, including fattoush, hummus, baba ghanouj, kafta sandwiches, falafel, and shish tawook.
3) On our way home from a drive into western Ontario to visit relatives, we stopped at the Elm Hurst Inn. On Sunday nights, they have a prime rib buffet for $21.95 CDN per person. While we had initially intended on stopping for a "bite", we all managed to enjoy indulging in the buffet which featured seafood salad, shrimp cocktail, many cheeses, salad bar, pasta station, and several entrees, including prime rib. Service was friendly and cheerful.
4) B & T Restaurant (115 Park Street North, Hamilton, 905-528-6888), serves authentic Vietnamese food in a charmless environment. Ordering your food by completing a form ensures you get what you want, but "service" is nearly non-existant. Despite the formica tables and florescent lights, the food is delicious. Chicken with onions, green peppers and basil is freshly prepared with a nice amount of heat; shrimp rolls are mild, yet delicious, and the portions of pho are large and richly flavored.


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