Photos by Andrew Mrozowski / Arts & Culture Editor
What It Is:
Motel Restaurant (359 Barton St. East) takes your favourite brunch and lunch dishes and immerses you in the sweetly-pink ‘no-tell-motel’. From themed-cocktails to sweet and savoury plates, there is something to satisfy every palate.
The restaurant is easily noticeable due to its green painted exterior walls, which contrast the brick buildings surrounding the area. Once you step inside, you are instantly transported to the lobby and greeted by Chris Hewlett, the owner and host of Motel. A bright blue neon sign for vibrating beds, pink luggage all around and a long bar extending the length of the space creates an atmosphere that removes you from Barton Street East. On your way downstairs to the washrooms, you will see doors on either side of the hall with room numbers to make you feel as if you are about to check-in for the night.
A staple of Barton Village, Motel strives to bring a little bit of luxury to your busy week either through their daily drink specials or one of their specialty dishes like their champagne pancakes topped with edible gold-leaf.
How to get there from Campus:
For the most direct approach, take the 51 from campus towards Hamilton Go Centre. Walk to the east end of the platform and jump onto the 2. Continue to ride this bus for about 15 minutes and get off at Barton Street East and Emerald Street North. A short stroll to the north-east corner of the intersection will take you to the emerald-coloured building on your left.
For a quicker alternative, you could take the 10 from Main Street West and Emerson Street for an express ride to Main Street West and John Street South. Jump off the bus and head south towards Jackson Street East to wait for the 2 at the bus stop.
Entrees range in price from $16 to $19.75 and usually will require you to request a to-go box because the portions are quite large. On more than one occasion, a meal from Motel has lasted me both brunch and dinner. Sides are also available and they range from $3 to $7.50.
No great brunch can be had without a beverage to compliment. Motel offers a variety of hand-crafted espresso beverages and local freshly-squeezed juices from $4 to $6. If you’re looking for something spirituous, Motel offers a variety of “5 O’Clocktails” for $12. You can also upgrade to Motel-sized drinks for $2.50 or a flask to share with your party for $35.
Although the food is tasty and the atmosphere is inviting, I fully understand that this is not in the every-day student budget; however, Motel is great if you are looking to treat yourself after a hard week or need a go-to Hamilton spot to sit down and celebrate with friends.
What to get:
Every time I go to the restaurant, I typically have to tell Chris to come back to our table three or four times because I am so overwhelmed by the menu. I have learned that your choice will come down to whether you want something savoury or sweet for your breakfast-lunch combination. An added benefit is that Motel sources local ingredients, when they can, for their dishes.
If you are looking for a wow-factor or Instagramable moment, try the Champagne pancakes. They come with Devonshire cream, raspberry and pink champagne coulis topped with gold flakes. Fluffy pancakes topped with a light cream, fruity sauce and real gold makes for an incredible breakfast that seems as if it could only exist in a dream.
Looking for something savoury? Last time I went, Chris recommended the Loaded Breakfast Nacho Fries featuring a three cheese blend, crumbled bacon, tomato jam, jalapeno sour cream and two over-easy eggs served on a bed of crispy french fries. This may very well be my favourite item on the menu due in part to its sheer size but also because it tastes absolutely stunning.
Motel offers vegetarian options (including most of their sweet brunch options) as well as the I’m a Vegan which brings together marinated kale, quinoa, sweet potato, pecans and Brussel sprouts drizzled with a roasted vegetable vinaigrette.
Why It’s Great:
No matter what day of the week, you can expect Motel to be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., including most holidays. Some days are busier than others, but they will take your information and text you when your table is ready.
The space is a refreshing change from the typical restaurant environment. It immerses you in a different setting so far removed from Hamilton that you will forget what city you are eating in. The food will make you feel like a superstar (still really cannot get over the fact that you can eat gold on pancakes) and the staff are so inviting that you truly feel like a welcomed guest at staying at their motel.