When a brand new "soda fountain and luncheonette" opens in 2014 promising to pay "homage to the New York of the 1940s, when automats dotted the streets and a perfect day involved a roller skate through the park followed by a pop into the local soda fountain," we get excited. The idea of no frills french toast, towering turkey clubs, greasy burgers, and classic ice cream sundaes have that effect on us. It's safe to say we had high hopes for the allegedly "Heat-Map" worthy Hamilton's Soda Fountain. Unfortunately though, this place is an absolute disaster.
The problem with Hamilton's is that it feels like a partially thought through idea with horrible execution and zero attention to detail. The food is terrible, the servers are the worst, and there is zero vibe. It feels unfinished, like they just decided to open once they got their marble bar set up and had chairs delivered. There are no cozy booths, there is no old jukebox, they don't even play music for that matter. There are no funky big menus, no pickles on the tables, and even the candy jars behind the counter are only half full with the worst kinds of candy. And aside from bad service and bad food, it's the little things here that really frustrated us. Like, when you order a big ice cream float in one of those tall glasses, they don't give you one of the long spoons. You have to ask. Like, the fact that there aren't condiments on the table. Like, the fact they didn't know what Russian dressing is. Like the fact that we strolled in for breakfast one day and were told the kitchen was broken, so they only had cold stuff. Like, the fact that it's a diner that specializes in ice cream and kid food, but doesn't have a high chair. Come on!
Look, it's entirely possible that my suburban Westchester upbringing and appreciation for the local diner we all thought was awesome (The Mont), combined with an unhealthy obsession with ice cream and french fries had me way too excited about the possibilities of Hamilton's. I get off on places like an old pharmacy turned into a legitimate throwback soda fountain, and a restored diner that only serves organic, local, sustainable food. Some restaurants get it, others most certainly do not. Hamilton's Soda Fountain doesn't even come close.
Somehow you can't substitute the vegetables that comes with this omelette, something about batter being pre-made, which freaks us out. That means those vegetables have been cut up for hours just sitting in raw egg, waiting to be cooked.
Chicken Salad Sandwich
Very plain. Very boring. It's a shame too, because good chicken salad is hard to find.
Not bad, probably because it had bacon on it and we made sure they toasted the bread. If you find yourself at Hamilton's, the turkey club is safe harbor.
Bacon on bread, without any sign of a condiment. There's nothing to see here. Keep it moving.
French Toast is the ultimate barometer of how seriously a diner takes its breakfast food. Even at the worst diners, their french toast can have that deep griddle flavor that comes from years of love and butter. Hamilton's is simply sad. There's nothing to it. A couple pieces of bread that have been soaked in egg batter, thrown on a flat top, and then tossed on a plate. There's no crisp outside layer, no stack of fruit on top, and no hint of delicious vanilla anywhere to be found.
Read Toast, French.
We're not burger elitists by any stretch of the imagination, but you can find better no-frills burgers pretty much anywhere. This thin (and cheap, I will add, very cheap), meat sandwich comes with a sad piece of iceberg and a mealy tomato on top, and you'll have to ask for ketchup if you want it. We added a layer of french fries, because that'll always help. You can do significantly better.
Probably the best thing on the menu. Huge rings, fried to a crisp, and super crunchy. Approved.
OK, so I know I said the onion rings were the best thing on the menu, but I lied. It's actually the Caramel Crunch Sundae. It's solid, but not life changing, and it won't compete with the other great New York ice cream out there right now. Crunchy wafers, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and hot fudge rarely sucks. Hamilton's doesn't make their own ice cream, obviously, that'd require work. Instead they import from an upstate called "Jen's," which we can't find on the internet. The ice cream sodas are nothing to write home about, mainly because they're made in haste, instead of with love. Same goes for the milkshakes, which get way, way, way too blended and literally arrive sipping as smooth as regular milk. You can do way better for ice cream in this town, that's for damn sure.