We know that when you wake up feeling, um, a bit foggy, the last thing you wanna do is drag yourself to your car and drive 10-15 minutes for that much-needed sustenance. But with the quality of ingredients, fresh flavors, and impossibly nice service, you'd be doing yourself an injustice if you didn't head north to Hamilton's Clementine for their take on brunch.
We rolled in just before noon to a half-full, sunny dining room and were instantly greeted by the host and another server—a level of friendliness that would continue throughout the meal. After taking our seats, we ordered a grapefruit mimosa ($6.50) and a Stormy Morning ($8.50)—gin, violet liquor, and Prosecco—to help take the edge off. Upon hearing they were out of grapefruit juice, we decided on a normal mimosa, and nursed both beverages as we perused the menu.
The menu is made up of breakfast items as simple as an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with cheese grits ($7) to complexities such as a pan-seared duck hash with a fig-habanero sauce ($13) and a Korean hot pot with two fried eggs, sticky rice, pork belly, kimchee, and Korean hot barbecue sauce ($11). Lunch items are made up of a list of sandwiches such as a Mexican cheesesteak with poblano peppers and lime crema ($12) and a Cuban sandwich with porchetta and house-made pickles ($13).
As always with brunch, decisions are tough. The obvious conundrum of breakfast or lunch is always at hand, but with such unique menus popping up around town, it's become even more of a challenge. We ultimately went with a starter of mac and cheese ($6), the paprika catfish and grits ($14), and Clementine's take on the cold-cut sandwich ($12).
The mac and cheese was spot-on flavor-wise, with a variety of cheeses adding to the layers of creamy saltiness, but it didn't come without the minor gripe of the macaroni being overcooked. This was quickly forgotten when our server informed us they had gone for a grapefruit-juice run and offered us our original mimosa order on the house. We couldn't help but wonder, "Is all of Hamilton this nice?"
The catfish was delivered to us dusted in a layer of rust-orange paprika with a handful of bright red chow chow relish and a pool of well-cooked cheese grits. The presentation was so nice that it left us feeling a bit bummed that the fish was underseasoned and the grits lacked any noticeable cheese flavor. That being said, the catfish was cooked perfectly, and that pickled chow chow was so good we had visions of adding it to a bloody mary for dessert.
The main reason we went for the cold cut was because of Clementine's reputation for charcuterie, and with house-made Lebanon bologna in the equation, we couldn't pass it up. It didn't disappoint. The sandwich was served in massive halves (we took the second half home for dinner), with two slices of fresh ciabatta bread hugging a hearty layering of pepperoni, turkey, muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato, and the aforementioned Lebanon bologna. Oh sweet Clementine bologna, you really know how to put a sandwich over the edge, and we'll certainly be back for more. The side of purple cabbage and carrot coleslaw combined with a light dose of mayo acted as a fresh counterpoint to the dense meat torpedo.
Always ones to check out our neighbors' plates due to our persistent fear of missing out, we lamented the fact that we didn't opt for the duck hash or biscuits and gravy, both of which looked like they would have resulted in a blissed-out food coma—the perfect result for a chilly Saturday afternoon.