Dining: The Legend of Hamilton Walkers
The Legend of Hamilton Walkers
Story: Bridget Broihahn
Photos: Robin Scholz
The much-anticipated Hamilton Walker’s Steaks, Seafood and Spirits is open in the heart of downtown Champaign at 201 N. Neil St. It is named for the Walker Opera House and the Hamilton Hotel, which operated in the very same location. The recent addition to downtown endeavors to be a gathering place for those who want fine dining.
The restaurant atmosphere is a 1940s style decor enhanced by a historically fictional character, Hamilton Walker. “The Legend of Hamilton Walker’s — an alternate history,” is historical fiction. The restaurant is what the fictional Walker would have created if he were indeed real. It’s hard to believe that this man did not exist! The creators of the fiction used period pictures and facts from the Champaign-Urbana area to produce the dapper Walker, who is an amalgam of many who lived in Champaign, circa the 1940s.
As far as the cuisine is concerned, Hamilton Walker’s has a familiar, comfort food vibe, which has been reinterpreted with an emphasis on premium and quality ingredients, meats, seafood, and produce. Chef Zachary Schweig is the head chef, and was recently a chef at the Ritz Carlton in St. Louis. Schweig aspires to offer a superior eating experience for the Champaign area. Schweig grew-up in Champaign, so he is totally invested in the restaurant’s success.
“Hamilton Walker’s is based on classic, simple preparations from our nation’s past. Straightforward, clean flavors of the primary ingredient, unencumbered by a fusion of additional flavors, we let the quality of our ingredient speak for itself,” Schweig said.
“We are proud of all of our foods, but some of our highlights include any of our butcher meats, Steelhead Trout, Crab Cakes, Bacon Avocado Sandwich and any of our desserts,” he said.
And about those sides, salads and soups?
“Abundant, flavorful, significant … we take what we do seriously; it is our profession, our calling. We do not neglect any part of the experience our guests enjoy at Hamilton Walker’s,” he said.
Seafood lovers will appreciate that the seafood is received in the kitchen within hours of their catch.
“The salmon retains many qualities of wild salmon because of the area’s severe tides that result in constantly advancing and receding water levels,” Schweig said.
The entire staff, led by general manager J.J. Dupuy, is dedicated to serving up a delicious dining experience, coupled with excellent service. They will also indulge specific needs of customers as well.
“We’ve designed the menu for every taste and preference. including vegetarian and gluten-free. We’re able to accommodate most allergies, dietary restrictions and preferences because we can add, edit and eliminate ingredients to meet diners’ needs,” Schweig said.
For more information, call 217-350-0363 or go to hamiltonwalkers.com.