The Hamilton is a colossal restaurant, occupying the cavernous space that was once a Borders bookstore. The space is sumptuously adorned with gleaming wood on seemingly every surface, complemented by warm hues throughout. Gorgeously executed, Clyde’s Restaurant Group was clearly not shy about dumping boatloads of money into this place. Unfortunately, our awe ended there.
Upon entering The Hamilton, my dining companion and I were greeted with “hi.” We said hi back and waited to be greeted further. The hostess stood there blinking at us, as if our roles were reversed and we were supposed to be welcoming her to the restaurant and inquiring after her reservation and seating preference and so on. We silently stood our ground, and after several long moments she decided to usher us to one of the dining rooms. No inquiring after our names, no checking the reservation system, no sense that she’d been through the routine before. It was utterly bizarre.
The food was true to that of all Clyde’s establishments: average. Not bad, but not great. Nothing tantalized our taste buds or tempted us to finish our plates. As per usual, the menu sounded far more enticing than the executed product; I can’t help but feel disappointed every time I dine at one of the Clyde’s restaurants. The Hamilton is no exception.
The most frustrating aspect of our experience was the service. We dined at The Hamilton for brunch, and it was evident that our server was hungover. Things started off poorly and slid downhill from there. Upon arriving, we sat at our table -- without so much as a nod of acknowledgement, a glass of water, or even a menu -- for close to ten minutes. All the while being constantly passed by various waitstaff. It wasn’t until we flagged someone down and threatened to leave that our server appeared.
From then on it was one botch after another: a tea was forgotten and then burned because it sat in the scalding water for too long; an egg dish that was requested without meat was served with bacon on the side as well as whisked into the sauce; soda and water were never refilled, regardless of repeat requests.
In fairness to The Hamilton, we visited it fairly soon after it opened. Mistakes happen to the best of us, and opening glitches are common. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry and fully appreciate how demanding it can be. None of the above will botch a meal. However, when one hiccup after another occurs over the course of a single meal and not a word of apology is spoken? We couldn’t have fled fast enough. It will be awhile before we return.
600 14th Street NW