Jump to content
cajcaj

The Hamilton, Metro Center - A Massive Concert Venue from the Clyde's Group

Recommended Posts

Hanger steak poutine? That has potential to be the most awesome thing in the world, or complete crap. I worry about a restaurant trying to be so many different things. But the hanger steak poutine is good enough to bring in for at least one visit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I walk by this place every single day as my office is in the building. Periodically I get myself excited as I see how the place looks/read about the menu and plans. Then I remember it's owned by Clydes, and remind myself that the food will almost certainly be terrible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's great that they are booking local acts. For me, this will go into the same category as the Birchmere: a music hall where you can get an occasionally acceptable sandwich.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It frosts me that GAR generally gets a pass in this community, while Clyde's is vilified. I will choose Clyde's over GAR any day of the week, because Clyde's doesn't have the same tired GAR menu where every restaurant has to throw sun-dried cranberries into every salad, or where the ubiquitous "short smoked salmon" is on every menu, or where the sandwich menu doesn't have anything worth ordering.

What you're guaranteed to get from Clyde's is spare-no-expense decor, the best raw bar deal in town at happy hour, a kitchen with talent to prepare almost anything off the menu if the ingredients are in house, and a different menu at each restaurant.

The food at both chains suffer from time to time because of size, crowds and volume. But at Clyde's, I just get the feeling that they're trying harder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It frosts me that GAR generally gets a pass in this community, while Clyde's is vilified. I will choose Clyde's over GAR any day of the week, because Clyde's doesn't have the same tired GAR menu where every restaurant has to throw sun-dried cranberries into every salad, or where the ubiquitous "short smoked salmon" is on every menu, or where the sandwich menu doesn't have anything worth ordering.

What you're guaranteed to get from Clyde's is spare-no-expense decor, the best raw bar deal in town at happy hour, a kitchen with talent to prepare almost anything off the menu if the ingredients are in house, and a different menu at each restaurant.

The food at both chains suffer from time to time because of size, crowds and volume. But at Clyde's, I just get the feeling that they're trying harder.

I'd say Old Ebbitt's raw bar, and by extension, Old Ebbitt itself, has gotten about as much of a free pass as anything in town. I'm not saying the raw bar isn't good, but the restaurant itself is just plain awful, and I've also had less-than wonderful oysters from them in the past.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm excited about it - I don't have high expectations for the food but they always make a good burger and it'll be a four star restaurant at 4am, at least compared to The Diner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It frosts me that GAR generally gets a pass in this community, while Clyde's is vilified. I will choose Clyde's over GAR any day of the week, because Clyde's doesn't have the same tired GAR menu where every restaurant has to throw sun-dried cranberries into every salad, or where the ubiquitous "short smoked salmon" is on every menu, or where the sandwich menu doesn't have anything worth ordering.

What you're guaranteed to get from Clyde's is spare-no-expense decor, the best raw bar deal in town at happy hour, a kitchen with talent to prepare almost anything off the menu if the ingredients are in house, and a different menu at each restaurant.

The food at both chains suffer from time to time because of size, crowds and volume. But at Clyde's, I just get the feeling that they're trying harder.

The Clydes outposts vary so wildly in terms of quality and consistency its hard to treat them as one. I can't say that I've ever had a really good meal at the Clydes in Gallery Place. The Clydes in Chevy Chase, where I'm almost certain I was the most frequent customer at the bar for several years, has truly awful food. But the food at Tower Oaks consistently ranks for me as well above average, with a menu that is, at times, inventive. I hope Hamilton follows the Tower Oaks model, but the original idea for Hamilton was to have a place nearby to funnel the Ebbitt overflow.

The sad part about the Ebbitt is that the chefs really can cook, and can cook well. I've seen and tasted a few off menu items the chefs prepare for themselves and other staff members. Unfortunately at a restaurant of this volume, Clydes has chosen to go with those dishes that sell best to the masses rather than relying on their talent to prove their menu with quality. Mike at the Oyster Bar is a pretty fantastic bar tender though...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those interested, apparently the restaurant will be doing a trial run for invited guests this Saturday, December 17, and opening for real on Sunday, December 18.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been to The Hamilton a few times since opening... Largely the usually Clydes formula with a few deviations - 24 hrs, live music, and most happily, a more extensive beer list plus the sushi counter. The bar at the 14th st entrance is about what you'd expect- massive but comfortable place to grab a libation. The bar in the middle of the restaurant was a bit less inviting, felt like a train station.

Overall the food... Underwhelming. A chicken banh mi tasted off, as if their pate didn't work well with the sandwich. Cheeseburger sliders were good, but those are pretty standard. A fall gnocchi was good but had too heavy a hand. It's also a half step up in price from other Clydes places, including the Ebbitt. Want fries with that sandwich? 5$. For a side of fries with a burger.

Going to drink? Ask the hostess for directions to The Loft - a quiet little bar tucked upstairs- in my opinion, the best part about this recent expansion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been in the Hamilton a few times since it has opened, but only at the bar, and only for drinks. Genericeric is right, the beer list is much, much better than at Old Ebbitt, although the place has essentially the same feel. The whiskey selection is also superior, and has some unique offerings. They've made a priority of stocking less-common American liquor options, including a number of smaller production gins, whiskeys, vodkas, etc, which is a nice touch. Finding a bartender who actually knows how to make a drink that doesn't just involve pouring liquid into a glass is definitely a challenge, as it is at Old Ebbitt. I agree that the Loft looks like the best place in the establishment to grab a drink. Unfortunately when we tried to settle in there the heater was operating so successfully that we couldn't give it a fair shot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately when we tried to settle in there the heater was operating so successfully that we couldn't give it a fair shot.

All of the heat must be going upstairs - when I was there for lunch on Monday at the main bar downstairs I was surprised I couldn't see my breath it was so cold.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

posted this on Tom's chat this morning

we went to a performance there last week-beautiful space, btw. They offered a limited menu-we sampled the thin crust pizza and sushi which we liked. Nothing you haven't tasted before but well prepared. Good beer wine and wine list with lots of servers. They plan to be open 24/7-not sure how that will work.

The pizza was a spicy pepperoni and it was spicy. I didn't taste the sushi but my spouse liked it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am generally not a fan of behemoth restaurants/venues, they always try to be too many things to too many people, but The Hamilton seems to be bucking the trend at this point.

Walking in was kind of overwhelming. Do we go downstairs, stay on the main level or go upstairs? Even though it was a Saturday night, the newness kept the crowds away, so we had a chance to spend some time on each level. My initial thoughts of the music venue downstairs is that it is simply awesome. No band was playing, so I will reserve full judgment until I see it in action, but the space is truly impressive. The main level is what you expect from a Clyde's group restaurant, several rooms and several bars, dark wood, old school decor. The top level, which will likely often be used for private events, would be a good place to get away on a very busy day. Since tonight was empty, this space was empty as well and had no specific vibe or feel to it.

Our service was outstanding, especially for being such a new restaurant. I asked A LOT about the restaurant and our waitress answered every single question. Is that impressive? To some it may not be, but there is a lot of information to know about, so I was happy to see that she did her homework.

I don't drink beer, but the list was labeled "better than most" by my dining companion. The wine list was laid out in an interesting way (this is what you drink with pastas, this is what you drink with burgers, etc.), but was a bit lacking in my opinion. They had the variety, the pricing was fine, but it lacked creative pairings. The drink list, however, was inspiring, whoever put this together really took it on as a pet project. As was said above, they need good bartenders to put these interesting spirits to good use, but they have a strong base to build from.

The food, of which we didn't have much, was solid, but not spectacular. Is it better than what I have had recently from Old Ebbitt Grill and Clyde's (Verizon Center)? Definitely. Was it better than the dinner I had at Fiola recently? Definitely not. I will say, however, that they are at least trying, and trying hard. I am not sure what it going to come of the plethora of menus that they have (breakfast, lunch, dinner, sushi, downstairs, late night), some may not be there when I go back again, but they read well and make your mouth water. Will they be able to execute the prosciutto and egg sandwich at breakfast, then the duck carbonara at lunch, then the porchetta sandwich at lunch, then the niman ranch pork chop at dinner, then the ramen at 2:00 AM, all the time while serving the fire dragon roll off the sushi menu and the hot chocolate ice cream sandwich off the dessert menu? Beats the hell out of me, but I am willing to give them the shot until they prove me wrong.

Overall, one visit really is only one visit. The business man side of me took over - how much did this place cost, how do they organize the staff, what did this project plan look like - and very well may on subsequent visits. After that, the proof is in the pudding (they serve butterscotch and vanilla pudding for dessert), so execution will be key. But, for now, color me impressed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Will they be able to execute the prosciutto and egg sandwich at breakfast, then the duck carbonara at lunch, then the porchetta sandwich at lunch, then the niman ranch pork chop at dinner, then the ramen at 2:00 AM

Based on my last experience there I can confirm that they won't be able to execute a decent bowl of ramen at 2:00 AM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd say Old Ebbitt's raw bar, and by extension, Old Ebbitt itself, has gotten about as much of a free pass as anything in town. I'm not saying the raw bar isn't good, but the restaurant itself is just plain awful, and I've also had less-than wonderful oysters from them in the past.

I have yet to find any place that exceeds Old Ebbitt's and Clyde's raw bar, and believe me, I keep an open mind on this. I will always order raw oysters whereever I go, if they are on the menu. Clyde's/Old Ebbit's always has an impressive selection of raw oysters, properly shucked, served properly, on crushed ice, with mignonette sauce if you want it (which we do) and as many slices of lemon as you desire.

Examples of major flaws at allegedly good restaurants -- served on a platter that does not have crushed ice, egregious bits of shell in the oyster, not properly loosening the oyster from the shell, no mignonette sauce, serving with a dinner fork or a salad fork rather than the little fork used for raw oysters, and even, God help me, serving the oyster on the top shell rather than the bottom.

If the oysters are no good you can send them back. But nothing can make up for being served an oyster on the top shell. If you try to loosen an oyster on the top shell, all you do is scramble it into bits. Serving a mangled oyster on the top shell full of broken shell with a dinner fork on a naked platter and only cocktail sauce is a clear sign of total incompetence in the kitchen. I shall name no names.

If you are not a raw oyster maven, then your mileage will obviously differ.

For example, last night we had a couple dozen mostly excellent oysters at Old Ebbit's to start, then DH had a smoked salmon sandwich, which he loved, and I had "jambalaya", which was a seafood soup served over rice. Wrong! Anybody else would have called it bouillabaisse, and treating it as bouillabaisse, it was OK, not awful. The Starr Hill Double Platinum IPA on draft was good. We would never go there except for the oysters.

(I say mostly excellent because six were American raised Ostrea edulis, a European variety which we find inferior to the American East Coast Crassostrea virginica. They were healthy and fresh but we just did not like them.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone know if the whole dinner menu is served in the music venue?

no, a smaller menu. As the hostess described it: "food you don't need a knife and fork to eat".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Went last night at the request of a friend. I figured it was better than dealing with Restaurant Week crowds. It exceeded my expectations. The menu kind of wanders all over the place, but that makes it a good place for diners with varied tastes and appetites. There aren't too many places where a group of friends can get a sushi and duck carbonara. My carbonara was rich without being overwhelming and had more duck than I expected. The butternut squash kind of got lost in the mix and it was a tad salty. But, it was a satisfying snowy evening dinner. My friend raved about her fire dragon roll. She thought it had a great blend of salty, sweet, and tangy but could have used a bit of something crunchy to add textural complexity. Fabulous food? No. But a notch above what I've had at Old Ebbitt's or Clyde's and I would definitely go back. The multiple large bar areas would make for good group happy hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't speak for the main dishes, but I had a great evening at the center bar (I think it's called the Oak Room?), and I look forward to going back. The Hamilton Mule (vodka, lime, ginger, sugar rim, soda) is lovely--the fresh ginger gives it a really nice kick. A whisky sour comes with fresh sour mix, and apparently a gratis cheese selection and a charcuterie board featuring "surryano" ham (serrano ham made in Surry, Virginia) , because our bartender wanted to make sure my group tried some of the bar food, which he helps source. (So of course we ended up ordering more cheese and more charcuterie.) The little details like the housemade pickled vegetables and mustard on the charcuterie boards and the tangy marinated leeks that accompany the rmushroom arancini make it easy to enjoy the bar, and easy to look forward to trying their main dishes. The staff seem to be really proud of the place, excited about the food and the atmosphere, and I'm looking forward to a proper dinner and perhaps some live music.

Ask for Soup at the center bar...he's quick, fun, and knowledgable. They really seem to have a great team behind the bar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

posted this on Tom's chat this morning

we went to a performance there last week-beautiful space, btw. They offered a limited menu-we sampled the thin crust pizza and sushi which we liked. Nothing you haven't tasted before but well prepared. Good beer wine and wine list with lots of servers. They plan to be open 24/7-not sure how that will work.

The pizza was a spicy pepperoni and it was spicy. I didn't taste the sushi but my spouse liked it.

My first visit to The Hamilton was last night, also for a performance. It is a fantastic music space, in my opinion, a beautiful space, as mr food noted, with great sight lines, lots of seating, and two bars. I LOVE the fact that the ticket price you see on the website is the ticket price; no fees, add-ons, etc. $20 is $20. They have a simple check-in system, with no printed tickets, just different colored wrist bands for seated/standing room tickets.

The menu offers a more limited selection (salads, pizzas, sandwiches, sushi, cheese, charcuterie) than what you find upstairs, but I was perfectly happy with what I tried. We ordered the spicy tuna roll (6 pieces, $6) and a tiger fur roll (8 pieces, $12). Both were fresh and appropriately sized for the price. I also tried a slice of my friend's margherita pizza - it was good as well, with fresh mozz and basil, and a crispy crust. At $13 for about a 12" pizza, it was a reasonable value. Another friend enjoyed his pulled pork sandwich, which was huge.

The drinks menu has a decent selection of beers and wines, also at prices in line with expectations. The service was very good, as the wait staff work as a team and you can order from any of them. Food and drinks came out quickly and checks were processed tableside, so no long wait to pay after the show. My only disappointment was there wasn't a bigger crowd to get down with Big Sam's Funky Nation, 'cause he puts on a hell of a show!

I will be back and hope they continue to get some great acts in there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband and I have been to The Hamilton music venue twice in the past two weeks and I agree that it is a beautiful venue with excellent seating and sight lines. As stated by others, the menu is not the same as the restaurant menu, mostly sandwiches and finger food. So far, the pizzas seem to be the best of the lot and are quite good. All in all, a very enjoyable experience if you are into the music scene and don't expect too much in the way of food. We plan to return for as many concerts as possible!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We saw Michael Burks last night at the Hamilton (an amazing show), and were happy with the service, the food, and the wine/drinks options. All the positive comments above apply, so they are keeping up a solid performance. The feel is like an upscale Birchmere with a better view of the stage from all the tables, and free water. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...