Shakespeare’s restaurant is a Hamilton fine-dining fixture that has been serving up its menu of steak and seafood for nearly 50 years to generations of Hamilton families. It’s a classic spot for anniversary dinners, special occasions, and a go-to-local for a traditional and nostalgic throw-back dinner date.
It’s located at Main and Ferguson; the exterior notably one that is likely etched into any born and raised Hamiltonian’s subconscious psyche. It’s been on that corner since it opened 1969, with its Elizabethan era inspired architecture; white exterior walls, wooden timbers, and dark stained glass windows. You’ve probably driven by it a thousand times heading east across the city.
The interior is dark and brooding, keeping in perfect tune with the Shakespearean era inspired restaurant. Wooden ceiling beams, dark wood trim and railings, tavern-like lighting, tables set with starch white table clothes, napkins folded and fanned out at the ready to be placed on laps once the chairs have been expertly pushed out and in as patrons are seated at their table -it’s that kind of place.
In a time when the city is experiencing a massive culinary boom, where foodies rush and flock to all the new hot spots and snap up picture-perfect Instagram photos, a restaurant that can stand the test of time, surviving through the city’s downtown demise and then to still be kicking-it into the city’s cultural and culinary rebirth must be doing something right.
One thing is for sure, Shakespeare’s is one of those places that has amazing staff. Staff that know their frequent customers and family’s by name. Servers that have been doing their job (and doing it well) for so many years that the act of serving has become seamlessly like an extension of themselves an art in and of its own.
The food, although quite traditional in meat, vegetable and potato form, is not exclusively relegated to just steak and seafood. The menu has wild game like ostrich, venison, and wild boar, pastas, lamb and a variety of fresh market fish from swordfish to trout and pickerel (in addition to the usual lobster, crab, shrimp and scallops type seafood fare).
On the night I went to Shakespeare’s we were going to see a show after dinner, the server noted that when I made the reservation, and made sure that our meal moved along like clockwork getting us in and out without feeling rushed.
As we sipped our wine and perused the menu, a tray of olives, pickles, cheese, and hot toasted buttery garlic bread arrived. We didn’t order it, so I assumed every guest gets this starter?
From Monday to Friday you can order a special set meal from their Table D’hôte menu. This menu comes with the garlic bread and relish tray, followed by your choice (from a select menu) of an appetizer, entree and dessert for $49.95.
If you want a steak done right and aren’t fussy about wanting glamorous and eccentric sides beyond steamed green beans and broccoli, then Shakespeare’s is the place for you. There’s nothing I hate more than going to a restaurant ordering a steak and getting a big expensive piece of mega let-down. The steak at Shakespeare’s was certainly no disappointment. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, full of flavour, soft texture and not chewy or overly fatty. These guys know how to select good cuts and cook a damn fine piece of meat – they’ve only been doing it for 50 years.
It’s bold but I’m gonna say it… they’ve got the best steak in the city. Go to Shakespeare’s for the steak and if not for the steak, then go for the dining experience, and unique atmosphere, which alone is worth the visit.
If you’re looking to explore more of the Shakespeare vibe in and around the city likely comparables to other steak houses from that era that have stood the test of time are The Lord Nelson in Burlington and Lord Byron‘s in Waterdown. All pros with similar flare for service, fine-dining and steak.
Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Monday -Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
*walk-ins welcome but reservations are recommended