486 James Street North
In her opinion:
I was surprised by some of the bad reviews for this Hamilton diner, especially considering the fact of how packed this place was. They even had to turn people away...Harbour Diner obviously can't be that bad.
I first heard about his restaurant through Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here". It was featured on one of their shows. I had filed it away in the back of my mind. This past weekend when we were in Hamilton, I decided to give it a try.
It definitely is not a fine dining establishment and in fact most folks would call it a dive or hole in the wall. Mismatched tables and chair make up this small restaurant but we weren't here for the interior design. In fact, we have been to absolutely gorgeous restaurants with awful food! We were here for the food!
Our attentive server came to take our drink orders right away. Luckily for me they served Coke products. So after ordering my usual Diet Coke, I studied the menu carefully. I knew what I wanted for my main course even without looking at the menu. Remember, I had watched "You Gotta Eat Here"!
We decided to start with an order of escargot. It is described on the menu as escargot "simmered in garlic butter and served with portabellini mushrooms and 3 garlic crustini".
This was absolutely delicious. I really enjoy escargot and these little beauties were so so good. The sauce was excellent. I loved that it was served with the mushrooms. I could have one of these every night! It really was that good.
For my main, I ordered the "Habour Diner Meatloaf". It was served with "mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions and peppercorn gravy."
This dish was featured on "You Gotta Eat Here". I watched it again after our meal at Harbour Diner. This is any regular meatloaf. I have to honestly say that this was the best meatloaf that I have had in my entire life. If you watch the episode...you will see why. For a truly simple dish...the flavours were complex. The whole thing was amazing. So so good.
I, of course didn't finish my main so that I could have room for dessert. Where we were sitting, I could see a selection of pies and I knew that we needed to try some. So we opted to share a slice of the "Banana Cream Pie". I asked if it was made in house and I was told that it was actually from the Village Bakery in Dundas.
The pie was delicious. Thick banana custard with whipped cream and banana chips...really really good. Not the best piece of banana cream pie I have ever had but a very descent piece of pie.
Overall, I really enjoyed my late lunch at Habour Diner. It is a little kitschy but truly amazing. In the words of Mr. Catucci..."You Gotta Eat Here"...no really, you seriously need to eat here...really amazing!
In his opinion:
Featured on Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here", this little gem named Harbour Diner serves a lot of people and it's consistently full; however, it's nowhere near the harbour! Let's take a back step and try to analyze this information. Is it popular because it was featured on the show? Or was it featured on the show because it is popular? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It is all irrelevant because it is all about the taste of the pudding or of the pie in this case!
Located in what some would call a "shady area of Hamilton", this diner is small, full of character and with servers that match its vibrant personality. As you walk in you will literally have a welcoming feel and the tables are pretty close to each other so the warm feeling will continue.
After browsing the menu for a few minutes, I was instantly drawn to one of the dishes. As the thought of tasting such delicacy creeped deeper into my mind, I had to order it as soon as possible to avoid any delay.
The dish was "Lobster and Crab Macaroni". Yes...you read right! Huge pieces of crab and lobster tossed in a creamy cheese sauce on a huge bed of macaroni. Calling it delectable or yummy doesn't begin to give it its proper recognition. The portion is huge, the seafood is plentiful and the cheese keeps it all together so well, making you wish the dish never finished, and it almost doesn't... It is served with 2 pieces of garlic bread, this is what I think they meant when they describe this place as "Home Cooking at its Finest".
For dessert, which I had no idea I actually had room for, the Banana Cream Pie was the choice. The crust holds a perfectly executed pie, topped with banana slices. It was surely a great end to the meal.
The Good: Nice cozy atmosphere, friendly service and food made as if it was their own family being served it will surely continue to attract customers to this place.
The Bad: The tables in front of the door suffer with cold every time the door opens with new customers and it opens a lot.
The Verdict: A definite winner in my books, serving great "Home Style" food with care and love. The staff is also great and add to the colour and charm of the place. A must visit when in Hamilton.
I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5 Olives as rating