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What’s on the menu at Le Tambour Tavern, a new Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton

It’s from the chef-owner of Union, Côte de Boeuf and Hearts Grey County

By Liza Agrba| Photography by Joshua Best
What's on the menu at Le Tambour Tavern, a new Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton

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Name: Le Tambour Tavern Contact: 345 James St. N., Hamilton, 289-389-5255, letambourtavern.com, @letambourtavern
Neighbourhood: West Harbour, Hamilton Chef-owner: Teo Paul (Union, Côte de Boeuf, Hearts Grey County) Accessibility: Fully accessible   When Teo Paul, the chef-owner of Ossington’s Union and Côte de Boeuf, had a friend approach him about building a new restaurant in Hamilton, he wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the idea. He’d just caught his breath after a harrowing renovation on the dilapidated building that would house Hearts, now a beloved roadside tavern in Grey County, but he went to scout the potential spot just in case.

Teo Paul, the chef-owner of Le Tambour, a new steakhouse in Hamilton

A short jaunt from the West Harbour GO Station in downtown Hamilton, the building had a storied history—it was a tavern and rooming house in the 19th century and, most recently, an iconic live-music venue called This Ain’t Hollywood. In other words, big shoes to fill. But, if Paul’s history of building restaurants is any indication, he has a knack for bringing the best out of a space without stripping away its soul. So, when Paul saw the sizable room’s high ceilings, original floor and black doors plastered with band stickers, he also saw what it could become. “You know when you just feel it?” he says. “The space just revealed itself.” (Fun fact: that’s also what he said about Hearts.)

Two years of renovations later, Paul dubbed the restaurant Le Tambour Tavern—a homage to one of his favourite Paris steakhouses—and finally opened its doors in August. Not content to parachute in every so often, he moved into the apartment upstairs and now cooks at Le Tambour four days a week. “I really like living here. It feels a bit like being on vacation,” he says. “Hamilton is pretty calm. People talk to one another, no one’s raging on the roads, and parking officers give you a chance to fill up the meter before slapping you with a ticket. It reminds me of Toronto in the ‘90s.”

The exterior of Le Tambour Tavern, chef Teo Paul's new Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton
The food

In many ways, Le Tambour is a culinary sister to Union, with elements from Paul’s other restaurants—rustic but expertly executed dishes with strong seasonality and clean, bold flavours. Unique to Le Tambour is an open-fire grill. There, Paul serves roast hen with fries and chalet sauce, grills whole fish glazed in brown butter, and saturates a hefty French T-bone steak with char and smoke. Steak, chicken and a rotating crudo are among the menu’s staples, but the details change based on what local suppliers bring in. (Speaking of which, legendary organic farmer Ted Thorpe not only supplies Le Tambour but sells produce outside the restaurant most nights, sometimes accompanied by a band.)

A crudo of tuna and scallops at Hamilton steakhouse Le Tambour
On the day we visited, the rotating crudo featured rich tuna and Japanese scallops laced with yuzu, lime, jalapeno and coriander for a simple, bracingly fresh bite. $26

 

Smoked trout roulade at Le Tambour, a Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton, Ontario
Here we have the smoked trout roulade with sliced cucumber, shaved red onion, crème fraîche, and lip-smacking bread and butter pickles made according to Paul’s grandmother’s recipe. It’s served with toasted baguette slices and lemon wedges. $24

 

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A serving of escargot and sourdough bread at Hamilton's new Parisian steakhouse Le Tambour
Le Tambour is guaranteed to make converts out of any snail haters. Their escargot is dressed with garlic butter, anise-forward Pernod and parsley, buried under a thick layer of nutty Comté cheese and broiled. $20

 

Dungeness crab legs at Le Tambour, a new Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton
Two steamed Dungeness crab legs served with warm butter, charred lemon, parsley and a house cocktail sauce ringing with Old Bay, habanero and horseradish. $32 for one leg, $60 for two

 

A sliced T-bone steak, roasted veggies and frites at Le Tambour, a Parisian steakhouse in Hamilton, Ontario
One of the menu’s pièces de résistance is this French T-bone steak for two. Paul coats it to order in his grandfather’s steak rub, a heady mix of black pepper, garlic, Worcestershire and soy. The steak is grilled to a perfect medium-rare over an open fire till the fat crackles and melts. It’s served with herbaceous hotel butter, fire-roasted veggies, fries and a house-made mayo for dipping. $90

 

A surf-and-turf spread at Le Tambour, Teo Paul's new Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton, Ontario
The drinks

There’s a tight old-world wine list of which nearly everything is available by the glass, and a small selection of Hamilton brewery heavy-hitters like unfiltered Clifford Pinball Wizard APA and the zippy Lime Chuggy from Fairweather Brewing Co. Cocktails include a bevy of concoctions, some which incorporate house-made infusions, and even some delightful zero-proof options.

A Vieux Carré cocktail at Le Tambour Tavern in Hamilton, Ontario
Here we have a classic New Orleans Vieux Carré made with Lot 40, Courvoisier VS cognac, Dolin sweet vermouth and herbal Bénédectine liqueur. $18

 

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The Pastis Punch, a cocktail at Le Tambour Tavern in Hamilton
This is the highly drinkable and refreshing Pastis Punch, a blend of creamy orgeat, house berry syrup made with spent fruit, and hints of orange and lemon. $14

 

A spritz at Hamilton's Le Tambour Tavern
A floral St-Germain spritz with soda and fruity Belstar prosecco. $15

 

A zero-proof cocktail at Le Tambour Tavern, Teo Paul's new Hamilton steakhouse
The day’s zero-proof option was an uncompromisingly complex Summer Shrub featuring lemon, soda and a house-made apricot shrub. $8 ($15 with a shot of Calvados)
The space

It’s a big, warm room with high ceilings, exposed brick and gorgeous woodwork by Paul’s long-time friends Daren Johnson and Josh Hall, who also worked on Hearts. A mural by local artist Barbara Klunder features cartoon animals playing the drums—a cheeky nod to the restaurant’s name—overlooking a sizable horseshoe-shaped bar that doubles as a beverage and seafood station. There’s a dining area with tall barrel tables and cozy banquettes and, on the far right, a butcher’s table overlooking an open-fire grill and a glass-encased meat locker. Like all Paul’s restaurants, it feels like a roadside tavern with minimal pomp but heart and character in spades.

The bar at Le Tambour, Teo Paul's new Parisian steakhouse in Hamilton, Ontario
The dining room at Le Tambour, Hamilton's newest steakhouse, repurposes barrels as tables
The dining room at Le Tambour, chef Teo Paul's new Hamilton steakhouse
Teo Paul and his team prep for dinner service at Le Tambour Tavern, a new steakhouse in Hamilton, Ontario
Whole chickens hang next to open fire in the kitchen of Le Tambour Tavern, a new steakhouse in Hamilton
A chef at Le Tambour roasts crowns of broccoli over open fire
Chef Teo Paul and his team in the kitchen of Le Tambour, a new steakhouse in Hamilton, Ontario
Dungeness crab legs and oysters on ice at Le Tambour, a new Parisian-inspired steakhouse in Hamilton
The aging room at Le Tambour Tavern in Hamilton

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