Hamilton Grill’s Famous Oysters

By Julia Realmuto

In the small town of Lambertville, New Jersey a modest white colonial restaurant carefully is situated on the calm Delaware River. While from the outside it may appear to be a home filled with history and stories of the past, the aroma from the charcoal grill lures diners in for their infamous Mediterranean cuisine. To this day, my family and I feast at this restaurant frequently, whether be it for special occasions or just a casual Thursday night meal, where we know we will get a delicious product and never be disappointed.

As a child, I was a parents dream I would not only eat my veggies but I enjoyed them, I wouldn’t limit my palate to steamed baby carrots but instead ate beets sprinkled with red wine vinegar that I had helped to prepare. My small fingers would be stained fuchsia from peeling the root vegetables. I never had to be told to eat anything; I trusted my parents’ guidance when it came to food.

On what is a typical hot and humid New Jersey summer night, the chant of crickets and the twinkle of thousands of stars in the sky heighten my senses. Once seated at our usual table at the Hamilton Grill Room, my parents place their anticipated appetizer order. After only a couple minutes, there appear atop a bed of ice cubes, a dozen super-fresh oysters on the half shell accompanied with a champagne mignonette and lemon wedges. At the age of eight however, when examining what was placed in front of my discovering green eyes, all I could think was ‘that looks slimy.’ As a child I had been to the beach countless times but this shell was like nothing I had ever send. It was oddly shaped, as well as rough unlike the clamshells I was used to collecting on the seashore. I decided this creature could only be the pariah of the ocean world was supposed to be consumed? Not possible. After watching my parents with amazement gingerly spoon on the champagne mignonette and effortlessly slurp down the raw oyster seemingly pleased, I was intrigued.

I looked to my parents for their permission to initiate what I would later become a defining moment in my long journey of food. As I somewhat nervously picked up the surreal aphrodisiac, prepared for me by mother, I mimic what my parents had previously demonstrated for me; and I cautiously slurp. Suddenly there is a myriad of flavors and textures exploding in my mouth. As the briny, chilled, smooth oyster glides down my esophagus, all I can think is ‘that was unlike anything I have ever tasted. After I took a few seconds to collect my thoughts about what I had just experienced I saw my parents waiting in anticipation for my review. When I went to grab another oyster they had gotten their answer, I was in love. Unfortunately, for my parents their daughter was developing an eclectic yet expensive palate.

Ever since that evening that served as an epiphany, my adventure with food has continued. Each time I dine at the Hamilton Grill Room; which is less frequently now that I am away at school, I make it a point to order the dish that opened my eyes to what the world of food held for me; each time this simple mollusk delights all of my senses, tantalizing my taste buds.