Saturday, 6 April 2013


211 James St S, Hamilton
visited Saturday, February 23, 2013

For noon on a dreary february Saturday afternoon, this coffee shop was very quiet.  Only 4 patrons in the whole place, but that didn’t deter us from trying something new.  The décor was very kitchy, very James St inspired with a mix of vintage club chairs, sofas, hutches and tables.  Lots of good natural light flooding into this previous floral shop.  The shop was dotted with good corners to curl up with a good book or work endlessly on your laptop.  The front window had a nice view of the street for people watching and passing the day by. 

The two gentlemen serving at front of house were friendly and inviting, albeit a tad slow moving for coffee shop service and only 2 people in line. The California Benny came recommended from their own website and Hamilton magazine so I ordered that plus a latte.  My husband ordered The Caprese Panini plus a hot chocolate, seeing as he’s not a coffee drinker.  One of the servers retreated to the back to get started on our meals, which I was a little worried about.  No resident chef on the weekend for brunch? This could be bad! Meanwhile our drinks were made with time and care and were brought to our table when ready.  Both were delicious.  The latte had good foam, smooth flavor and was hot (my pet peeve is lukewarm drinks!!!).  My husband has quite a sweet palate so he prefers the sweet, slightly processed hot chocolate taste, opposed to the rich dark cocoa flavor.  He was happily satisfied with his cup of hot chocolate. 

Our meal came within 10min and although slightly tiny in portion, they looked fresh and appetizing.  The California Benny was a whole wheat muffin (yay for no white bread!) split open topped with fresh guacamole, two pretty good poached eggs (its an art to poach an egg perfectly in my opinion, with the right amount of runny warm yolk) and topped with a citrus salsa.  Oranges, peppers, onions and tomatoes added zing and a touch of heat which was a nice twist on the typical eggs benedict.  James Panini was good but not exciting.  It didn’t look very full of ingredients although it was served with a nice side chick pea n bean salad. 

The front display case was fairly empty and had the last yogurt parfait, last 2 slices of carrot cake and a few cans of beverages on the bottom.  It wasn’t inviting at all, although I guess someone liked the food and ate it all up right?! The counter had some wrapped chocolate loaf, cookies and biscotti which looked yummy, but the 2 lone bagels supposedly from the Bagel Shoppe on Locke, looked lonely and again not very inviting.  I guess with only 4 patrons on a Saturday it would be unrealistic to expect a bounty full of product spilling over the counters, tempting our taste buds right?!

Our bill came to around $20 (hey I didn’t pay ok! That’s what husbands are for!) and I’d say moderately worth the value.  It wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t jumping outta my seat in excitement either.  I think had the place been a little more lively, filled with 20’s something hipsters, the aroma of cappuccinos all around me and the buzz of a Saturday afternoon downtown, the experience might have been heightened.

I hope this place survives and makes a name for itself.  It has all the potential in the world, has a beautiful building and location and has a menu that will keep the locals and visitors happy.  I’ll come back next time maybe for just a coffee and biscotti and chat with a girlfriend I haven’t seen in a long time.  Maybe our voices will fill the mostly empty room next time?!

Food: 3.5*, Value: 3*, Service:3.5*, Décor/Ambiance: 4*
Overall: 3.5 (potential, needs improvement, would return just to see how it turns out)

 Red Crow Coffee on Urbanspoon


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