The Ruby Red Jewel of Drinks – Sweet Strawberry Lemonade & Sippers at Hammersmith’s, Part III

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It’s hot, it’s humid, and we’re capping off this 3-part Hammersmith’s series with a refreshing, juicy sweet drink: a fruity, punchy, thirst-quenching strawberry lemonade!  Hammersmith’s has quite the assortment of beverages and I was actually taken aback – in a good way – when I realized this.  Many places may excel in one particular food and drink category (savoury mains, desserts, wines, and drinks, for example), but it’s a real gem when you can find a place that wows you on all fronts and I love that Hammersmith’s kicks each one (food, dessert, and drink) in the pants with such graceful ease.  Their strawberry lemonade, at $3 a pop, preens from the chalkboard drink menu like the ruby red crown jewel that it is, sitting snuggly between other cold, homemade drinks such as regular lemonade, iced tea, grapefruit juice, and an Arnold Palmer which is half iced tea, half lemonade – you learn something new every day!  

In addition to getting giddy over the grapefruit juice and strawberry lemonade drinks on the chalkboard,  I went into conniptions over their selection of loose leaf tea!  Cream Earl Grey, organic peppermint, honeybush raspberry, and rooibos Canadian blueberry were just some of the ones I was really excited about.  I know it’s ridiculously hot out and I know for a fact I wouldn’t physically drink a hot tea outdoors in this type of weather, but I love loose leaf tea and for a split second, I considered ordering one that morning.  The flavours sounded delicous and having a morning tea has become somewhat of a morning ritual for me now, kind of like coffee to many folks.  And did I also mention that their loose leaf tea comes in a little pot of its own for $3 and perfectly this pairs with their brunch scones?!  No?  Okay, well, there’s that too.  But I stopped myself just before I could take the plunge knowing I’d need something cold to tide me over for the first part of the day.     

The strawberry lemonade packs a fruity punch and you can literally see some of the little strawberry seeds floating around in the glass – it’s that fresh.  It differs from the strawberry lemonade from Butler’s Pantry in that Hammersmith’s leans a little more on the sweet strawberry side than it does on the sour lemon and I love it because it is so fruity, summery, and refreshing.  It still has that lemon tang to it, but it’s not overwhelming and what’s great about it is that the flavour isn’t too concentrated or diluted and watered down.  It truly tastes like lemonade married with a basket of freshly picked strawberries at their peak of natural sweetness and it’s such a wonderful complement to the savoury brunch dishes, as a palate cleanser and as an equalizer when it comes to dishes that err on the side of bitter, like the asparagus and bitter greens.

Even though summer won’t be dying down anytime soon, I’m so looking forward to seeing what Hammersmith’s will have in store in the coming months with their seasonal menu and dishes.  I would love to come back later on in the summer and try their braised beef and goat cheese sandwich, their green beans and watercress, their duck plate, and of course some tea and sweets.  This first visit was amazing and it ended being so much more than I ever could have hoped for – great food, great drink, really nice people, and with my good timing and sheer stroke of luck, a delicious free cupcake!  Here’s to many more anniversaries celebrating amazing food.     

*****

Hammersmith’s is located at 807 Gerrard St. East in Riverdale, at the corner of Gerrard and Logan Ave.  They are a brunch and lunch cafe open from Wednesday to Sunday (10am-3:30pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 9:30am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays), with a price fixe dinner currently available on Thursdays and Fridays for $35.  Currently, for the summer, they are also now open on Mondays from 10am-3pm!  They accept cash and debit only.

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Back to Cupcake Basics With Sweet Chocolate & Vanilla – Scones, Cupcakes, & Desserts at Hammersmith’s, Part II

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Happy 1st Birthday, Hammersmith’s!

What’s better than a brunch cafe with delicious sandwiches, salads, and breakfast fare?  A brunch cafe with all of those things plus desserts for sweet endings!  I love it when I can plan a meal from beginning to end with either an appetizer and a main or a main and a side, and a dessert to neatly book end the happy experience.  I especially feel this way when I go out for sushi – if there isn’t dessert on the menu, I am one very sad cookie!  While I don’t order appetizers, extra sides, or dessert every time I’m out (I’d say this happens maybe 2 times out of 10 – foreshame!), it’s just nice knowing I can enjoy a variety of sweet and savoury items in one go because it also means an endless amount of mix-and-matching possibilities during future visits.  

Hammersmith’s delivers on all fronts.  Not only does Hammersmith’s do a mean sandwich and salad brunch plate (I could eat their arugula salad with olive oil and razor-thin radish slices endlessly), they also bake homemade baked goods and desserts on site including fresh scones, giant monster chocolate chunk cookies, and fluffy, mouthwatering cupcakes!  Much like their savoury brunch menu, their selection of sweets will change on a regular basis to reflect the season or pure inspiration.  They will always have scones though.  Their scones are available for purchase individually for $1.25 a piece, or as a scone plate for brunch with jam and cream for $5.  You could totally transform this into a lovely morning tea type of meal with a pot of hot loose leaf tea!

Brunch and afternoon tea scones

The frosted cupcake crown jewels

The showcase of desserts!

I truly believe I was blessed with good fortune on this day.  On Canada Day, Hammersmith’s celebrated their 1st anniversary and birthday!  How exciting it was to be a part of their special day!  And can you take a wild guess as to what made the birthday/anniversary festivities even mor jubiliant?  CUPCAKES!  Every patron was given a free cupcake in honour of this occasion and I was absolutely taken aback and shocked – in a good way!  Can you believe it?!  It’s almost as if the foodie gods wanted me to inhale a fresh cupcake over the weekend! 

They had cake stands full of plump cupcakes in different vanilla and chocolate combinations with the sweetest of decorations (rainbow sprinkles!  Chocolate sprinkles!  Pink sugar sparkles!  Crushed chocolate bits!) and they were all so pretty and so inviting.  Choosing my free cupcake (normally priced at $2.85) was like choosing a crown jewel – giddy but really hard to do!  Part of me was dying to snatch up the vanilla with sweet rainbow sprinkle dots and another part of me was yelling to grab the marble cake with marble frosting.  The “all-things-pink-and-pretty” part of me won over though and I chose the sweet chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and pink sugar sparkles.

If you love that fresh cocoa taste combined with moist-out-of-the-oven softness and soft, creamy, whipped buttercream, these are right up your alley.  It’s crazy because even though they’re light, airy, and fluffy in both cake and frosting, their cupcakes are surprisingly filling!  They’re decorated and piped beautifully and they truly have that comfort food, straight from home oven feeling to them and they taste delightful.  They make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside because they really exude that “I was baked with love” glow.  It’s good old fashioned cupcake basics at its finest. 

The chocolate cake was fudgy with all sorts of warm cocoa goodness lurking throughout and the frosting was so soft.  The cake wasn’t so soft that the cupcake toppled over, but it wasn’t stiff and dense either and you could enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed – in one piece in your hand (or in my case, with a dainty fork!) as you take bite after bite of fluffy goodness.  What was fantastic about it was how they compared to other buttercreams.  It didn’t leave a greasy film, it didn’t taste like a mouthtful of butetr, it wasn’t too sweet or bland, and the ratio between cake and frosting was perfect.      

Fluffy and soft like marshmallow cream

Happy 1st birthday to Hammersmith’s and happy cupcaking, cookie noshing, and scone nibbling for all the sweet tooths!  Next up tomorrow: Hammersmith and drinks!

*****

Hammersmith’s is located at 807 Gerrard St. East in Riverdale, at the corner of Gerrard and Logan Ave.  They are a brunch and lunch cafe open from Wednesday to Sunday (10am-3:30pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 9:30am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays), with a price fixe dinner currently available on Thursdays and Fridays for $35.  Currently, for the summer, they are also now open on Mondays from 10am-3pm!  They accept cash and debit only.