The Scout, The Tap House, and Basil 1791: Radical libation and dining in Hamilton “O”
On January 20th, 2018 I received a phone call from some friends of mine. Pat & Katie
(originally from Boston) who have grown quite fond of Hamilton and wanted to spend the
afternoon/evening carousing downtown. Being the quintessential Hamiltonian carouser, I instructed them to name the time and place. We would start off at Municipal Brew Works. This is one of Pat and Katie’s favorite Hamilton haunts.
Upon arrival at the Municipal Brew Works the mood is lively. Patrons of this fine drinking
establishment are in the usual high spirits. The employees always have a smile to share. I am soon greeted by my high school friend Barbie. She was sporting a unique black MBW top accented in gleaming silver micro sequin-like speckles. I asked Barbie if they had the shirt in a mens large. The table has a chuckle as I become the target of friendly wisecracks. Once the jokes subside it was time to order.
Municipal Brew Works recently unleashed their latest brew “Scout IPA”. Scout is a hopped-up ale with a vibrant honey color and a citrus flavor ensemble that delivers a piney finish. The more I sip it, the more I dig it. There is a deep connection between this ale and the brewing family at Municipal Brew Works. This connection is lovingly detailed on MBW’s Facebook page:
Scout IPA is indeed a fitting tribute and one of the finest ales around.
“Named in honor of one of the brewery’s matriarchs, Beverly “Scout” Jackson, we
are proud to pay tribute to an amazing woman with what is truly one of the most
amazing beers we have yet tapped. Coming by her nickname naturally, Beverly was
a true scout amongst her friends and family, always two steps ahead of the pack and
looking for ways to ensure that those around her were safe and sound and always
having the best time possible. Like the Mosaic hops that power this beer; so named
for their ability to provide a multitude of flavors from a single source, our Bev was a
true mosaic in life – mother, wife, grandma, sister, professional, philanthropist and
friend. So come on down and join us in a toast to our very own “Scout”, who is no
doubt surveying the Promised Land to make sure that we all have plenty to eat and a
great place at the table the next time that we shall meet.”
The next stop is North Second Tap and Bottle Shop. Located on the edge of Hamilton’s Historic German Village, NSTBS is a one of kind live music and beverage venue for the area. North Second has weekly performances in a multitude of music styles as well as the regular Tuesday evening open jam sessions. They have wine on tap and up to 10 different craft beers. You can sample some of the Municipal Brew Works flavors here. In absence of a stage performance, I enjoy soaking suds while listening to the groovy music flowing from vinyl on the house turntable.
On this Saturday afternoon, there would be no scheduled acts for the North Second stage but this did not prevent a live performance. There were some travelers from Colorado who had taken up lodging at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel a block over from North Second. One of the travelers asked the owner Dan if it would be ok to bring his guitar in and take the stage for a bit. Dan abided his request. The seasoned traveler played and sang for nearly 2 hours. It was a fantastic impromptu performance and I am certain that it won’t be the last.
Time for food
The Quarter Barrel on Hamilton’s West Side was having a soft open so getting a table would take longer than we wanted to wait. We journeyed back over the High Street bridge and landed at Basil 1791. Basil was inundated with friendly faces and eager diners. It would take some time before we could get a table. We were lucky enough to find open seats at the bar next to fellow Hamilton natives, Kyle and Paula. Good conversation soon followed as I watched my pal Taylor mix it up behind the bar.
Another stroke of luck was the addition of a sushi bar next to the booze. It made for easy ordering of a Tiger roll prepared right before our eyes. A delicious and much-needed appetizer which properly soaked in bellies full of craft beer. The prompt delivery was appreciated. High fives to the Chef. With one serving of Sushi remaining we were called to our table. I carried that portion with me along with my bar drink to meet our server, Katelyn. The menu at Basil 1791 is extensive. I liken it to a culinary trip around the world due to the variety of cuisine offered.
For the table, we ordered fried rice, crab rangoon, and pot stickers. All were cooked to perfection and expeditiously devoured. The booze was getting the best of me and I was nearing the proverbial food wall. Out came the Entrees.
I select the Sweet and Sour Chicken. The veggies were fresh. The chicken was delightfully breaded and flavorful. I might have been the best I have ever tasted. Katie sampled the General Tso and it too was fantastic. Pat’s entree would take our dining experience to a whole new level. Pat ordered a sizzling steak entree that was served on a very hot skillet. The placement of the entree onto the hot skillet delivered some spectacular presentation. The steam from the skillet created a cloudy ‘whoomph’ reminiscent of a magician making an egress under the cover of smoke plume. Heads in the restaurant turned as our table became the center of focus. It was an awesome spectacle as the steam rose to the ceiling.
Cue the fire alarm
As we dug into our entrees the fire alarm began to squawk. We felt a bit awkward about having tripped the smoke detectors. After a nervous pause, we looked around to see how people were reacting. Everyone seemed to shrug off the alarm and resumed dining. The alarm was soon deactivated and we continued our fabulous dining experience. I am certain that if the roof caved in, it would not have mattered much to anyone. They would have kept on enjoying the offerings of Basil 1791. This was my second trip to Basil. Both visits have been outstanding and I cannot wait until I return. There is a good time waiting for you right here in Hamilton. Thank you to the Hamilton Police Department for keeping our city clean and safe. And huge thanks to the Hamilton Fire Department rapid response to Pat’s steak 😉
Terrance Huff is an award-winning filmmaker who lives, works and plays in Hamilton, Ohio.