The night of the HW Sneak Peek dinner did not go as we had planned. Everything turned out wonderfully delicious in the end, but the journey to get there was a cold one.
My husband Corey and I had picked out our 40’s style outfits and got in the car with plenty of time to spare. We were so excited for the night’s festivities, we had been waiting weeks for this special evening. We made a quick stop before we headed to the restaurant. My husband quickly got back in the car and turned the key to get the heat blasting against our freezing skin. To our dismay the car made no sounds of wanting to start. We were stuck! After some quick thinking by my husband and a short walk to the auto parts store, we were back in business. Battery changed and spirits unshaken we were on our way again.
We arrived about an hour late, but you never would have guessed it. No one was perturbed or irritated. When we stepped through the door onto the shiny marble floor, we were instantly welcomed with sincere warmth and hospitality. The hostess checked our names off her list and cheerfully lead us to our table in the dining room. I absolutely love the booth they had reserved for us. It was a regal cresent shaped booth that was slightly elevated to give us the sense of being real VIP’s. The whole night we felt like honored guests at a fancy party.
Once seated we were given a menu and a customer survey to complete. There was a basket of heavenly smelling house made bread laid on the table as soon as we sat down. After I sampled the bread, I instantly picked up the menu and began to scan the rows of delecatable looking dishes. It was a difficult choice because everything looked insanely good. We both wanted to try the shrimp cocktail so that was an easy pick. I settled on one of my favorites for the entree, the Slow Roasted Prime Rib of Beef. They offer a 10 ounce, 16 ounce and 22 ounce. (I chose the 16 oz because that’s truely how I roll.) All the entrees came with a choice of the several mouthwatering salads. I selected the house salad with warm bacon dressing. Corey ordered the Whole New Zeland Rack of Lamb and a spinach salad with the same warm bacon dressing.
Although some of the wait staff seemed a little nervous, they all did a wonderful job. The appetizer came out within 5 minutes and we dug in. The shrimp they serve is called white shrimp. They explained that the white shrimp are just a little bigger and better than tiger shrimp for example. When I saw the silver vessel of shrimp being carried across the room my jaw dropped. They weren’t kidding, the size of the shrimp was enormous. I’d never seen anything like it, and I spent my summers in Maine as a child. The shrimp tasted just as good as they looked. They were cooked to a beautiful opaque pink and tasted meaty, sweet and delcious. The house made cocktail sauce had a bright acidity and a nice kick of spiciness.
Once the shrimp had disappeared, it didn’t take long, our salads were brought out. The lettuce and spinach leaves were a bright vibrant green, as were the veggies on the top. When I gazed upon the radishes I could have sworn I was looking through an Instagram filter. They was so brightly colored. My salad had a nest of sweet shredded carrots nestled on top of the lettuce. When I put my fork in to scoop them up there was a surprise inside, hard boiled eggs. I especially enjoyed the croutons, which again, were house made. Loved it! The warm thick bacon in the dressing was smokey, and the dressing itself had a lovely sweetness. To my surprise it wasn’t greasy at all.
We polished off the salads as though we hadn’t eaten in a week. We leaned back in our luxurious booth and sipped on our 40’s era inspired cocktails as we eagerly waited for the next course. I chose the Blinker made with rye, grapfuit and grenedine. The bartender even came over to our table to greet us and explain the drink in depth.
The entire staff was very knowlegeable about the ingredients put into the dishes. Our fabulous waitresses Haley was fun, courteous and experienced.
The meal had a wonderful flow. As soon as we were done with one plate, they were cleared and the next plates were brought out. When our salad dishes were taken away our main courses were brought to the table in all of thier glory. My prime rib was cooked to a perfect medium rare and melted like butter as I savored each bite. The cut was bigger than I thought it would be, but to everyone’s surprise I ate over half of it with no problem.
The lamb was cooked to a meduim rare and seasoned nicely. We also ordered a side of whole sauteed mushrooms to compliment our meals. They had a wonderful texture and were packed with flavor.
When we’d had eaten our fill, it was time to decide on dessert. I was not going to walk away without trying some dessert. If it was as good as the rest of the meal had been, we were in for a real treat. I quickly looked over the dessert menu and knew I must sample the cheesecake. When the sweet confection was brought to the table, I realized there was no sampling about it. This thick slab of luscious cheesecake was the size of a piece of Papa Del’s pizza, and was topped with monsterous blackberries, blueberries and bright red slices of juicy strawberries. The richness and texture of the desset was reminicent of a thick custard. There was no soggy bottom on this cheesecake. The crust was tender and strongly reminded me of a sugar cookie. I will order this cheesecake again and again and again…and again!
After a quick chat with my friends at the end of the evening (they feel like family now), we were on our way home with delicious food in our bellies and happiness in our hearts. As soon as you step into Hamiton Walker’s you feel like the most special guest in the whole place. They strive to make each diner feel important and valued. This is a spectacular addition to the Champaign community. It’s nothing like we have ever had here. Now we have an outstanding big city restaurant right smack in the middle of our flourishing downtown. The doors will open officially on December the 15th. Meet you at Hamilton Walker’s!