Hamilton’s at First & Main

Hamiltons, located on the Mall is the perfect place for lunch or dinner especially in the warm months when you can sit outside on the patio and people watch. Inside it’s bright and cheerful, decorated in yellows, blues and pinks with hardwood floors, an oak bar, exposed duct work and funky artwork. Floral fabric booths line the walls and make for an intimate diversion from the crowds on the Mall. This is another local favorite in part because everyone seems to like the owners.

The menu changes often and it is not lengthy, but what is there is delicious and perfectly prepared. Some highlights:
Duck Confit Springrolls with Collard Green Kimchiand Apricot-Ginger Sauce, Carolina Jumbo Shrimp, Poached in Chardonnay and Lemon with Woodson’s Mill Creamy Grits, Smoked Roma Tomato Confit and Fresh Arugula,Herb Basted Polyface Farm Chicken Breast with an Herb Risotto, Almond-Currant Tapenade and a Cider Jus

For dessert, opt for the chocolate sampler and the cheese board and pair it with a Virginia dessert wine, Rockbridge V D’or Late Harvest Vidal Blanc

The wine list favors Virginia and California with a touch of France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Oregon. There are about 18 wines by the glass. Because there were so many Virginia choices, we decided to give them a try and were pleasantly surprised. The Blenheim Chardonnay and the Barboursville Merlot were delicious.

Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is a lively and fun place….the romance can come later.

“Marble-top tables, crisp linen napkins, and fresh flowers let you know you’re in for some high style at this urbane bistro in the Downtown Mall. It’s the kind of place you’d take a special date, but not necessarily propose marriage. The menu changes frequently, but if offered, the pan roasted crab cakes on Jasmine rice and red pepper purée will demonstrate the chef’s prowess. Frommer’s