Monday, May 6, 2013

Rapscallion: Hamilton, Ontario

Without sounding like a broken record, I have to agree with everyone who’s ever been to Rapscallion - it is a great restaurant and a truly wonderful dining experience. Located on the corner of John St. and Young St., Rapscallion is drastically raising the bar for restaurants in Hamilton. While their hours can be a bit of a challenge (Thurs – Sunday only), I can assure you that it is worth the effort. Did I mention that I had spam and loved it?
Foie Gras Torchon
This cozy restaurant packs a small list of bold menu items that are original yet feel like comfort food at the same time. By combining classic dishes with unusual ingredients, the unsuspecting diner is sure to be happily surprised with their meal. They offer up a selection of small plates, encouraging you to order 2-3 items per person. Their wine list is short and they only had one VQA option - a Reif Estate Pinot Grigio, which I ordered. My boyfriend had a Mickey’s, a little green-bottled beer from Milwaukee, which was the only beer available. Although I was initially somewhat disappointed by the lack of selection, I pretty much immediately forgot about that as soon as our first order of small plates arrived. 
Pickled Pork Shoulder
and Triple-Cream
Brie Grilled Cheese

I ordered the foie gras torchon, one of their menu staples. The server (who was extremely informative, personable and friendly) informed us that this was the last night you could get it served cold because they would soon be serving it warm and seared. I’m really, really glad I ordered it. On my plate was a small round serving of soft housemade foie gras. It was light and creamy and didn’t leave an oily residue in my mouth. It was topped with a sprinkling of coarse kosher salt and homemade ice wine jelly that looked like little yellow diamonds. On the other side of the plate were port-soaked grapes and slices of soft homemade brioche. The creamy saltiness of the foie gras went perfectly with the sweetness of the grapes while the brioche added a lovely texture to each bite. My boyfriend ordered the grilled cheese with pickled pork shoulder, triple-cream brie and carmelized onions. It was grilled to perfection, greasy from the butter and the flavors were incredible. Salty, juicy pork with creamy brie, all thoughtfully rounded out by the sweet flavor of the onions.
Cobb Salad
We then split their version of a cobb salad, a perfect example of how there are taking a common dish and transforming it into something unique and memorable. A traditional cobb salad goes something like this: shredded lettuce, diced veggies, boiled eggs and bacon.   The Rapscallion cobb has diced tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado and sugar snap peas in sections on a plate surrounding a small pile of dressed lettuce in the centre (my inner OCD was smiling at the organization and presentation). There are strips of fried spam on one side and on top is a fried quail egg. They drizzle their homemade  creamy dressing over the whole thing and it is perfect. We inhaled the salad, afraid that the other might get an extra bite.
Lamb Parmentier
Tongue and Cheek
Next on our list was lamb parmentier for me and tongue and cheek for my boyfriend. The tongue and cheek came served on a homemade potato pancake, with rich, savory gravy and asparagus. The veal cheek basically looks and tastes a lot like a very tender piece of roast beef and the tongue was similar. While I had previously tasted cured deli-style cow tongue at Vineland Estates Winery, this version was very different in that it was a whole piece of tongue. My boyfriend loved it and the gravy and potato pancake were well-suited to the dish. The lamb parmentier came in a small cast iron ramekin, piping hot from the oven (or more likely the salamander). When I stuck in my fork, I found a layer of tender lamb, topped with buttery mashed potatoes and goat cheese. The lamb was braised, pulled and stewed then baked into this little pot. The potatoes were creamy and mashed with goat cheese which, when baked, gave it a beautiful golden top. It was a warm and comforting dish.
Lemon Curd Crepe
Last but not least: dessert! When the server told us that they had sugar pie on the menu, I instantly knew that was what I would order. Have you ever had sugar pie? My aunt from Québec makes it for me whenever I visit because it is my favorite (well, it is one of my favorites… I have a lot of favorites). Sugar pie, or tarte au sucre as it is known in my family, is a simple pie with lots of brown sugar and often maple syrup. Rapscallion made a traditional version of the pie, serving it warm and à la mode with homemade ice cream on top and lots of maple syrup underneath. My boyfriend ordered the lemon curd crèpe, which came with fresh berries and a deliciously tart lemon filling! They were two very different and very delicious desserts. 
Sugar Pie

I will absolutely, 100% be going back to Rapscallion A.S.A.P. and would recommend it to anyone! (Though, perhaps not to vegetarians since pretty much everything on the menu has meat in it). 
Happy MEating!