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Mar 29, 2011 06:05 AM

The owners of the Harbour Diner in Hamilton are at it again!

It has been rumoured that Chris and Erin of the Harbour Diner were opening a new place on Locke St. S. in Hamilton.

I can confirm that these rumours are true and that Chuck's Burger Bar is now open and they are continuing the high quality food at decent prices. The space is a narrow,modern room and set up like a small bar with tall stools and tables (sitting 2-4 each max). There is a bar with 7-8 stools and space for seating for three in the front window.

This is a small space and fills up quickly. The feel is halfway between a bar and an upscale takeout. With lots of hard surfaces (concrete bar, glass tile behind the bar, hardwood floors and tables), it gets loud quickly. Chris has once again chosen the music for the place and, like the Harbour Diner, it's an eclectic mix.

This is a place where staying and mingling could be fun, but does not necessarily suit the small place, tall stools and crowd. Think of it as an upscale take out - yes they do accept orders over the phone.

Service is friendly, however seems to run towards the chaotic as the waitresses did not seem to have a set plan on how to serve the tables. There were conversations about what tables had been served and which needed to be served. However I was served quickly, given my menu and my order was taken promptly. It is clear that this is a new restaurant as there is currently no cash register (waitresses were using their iPhones to calculate bills) and they are still waiting on their liquor license. I don't think there is a debit/credit machine yet and cash seemed to be preferred, although I could be wrong.

Chuck's Burger Bar is exactly what the name says - a bar that serves burgers of different varieties, along with fries, side salads and poutine.

They make fresh hand-pattied burgers and sliders made from the following meats:
- Angus Beef
- Venison
- Bison
- Lamb
- Chicken
- Turkey
- Veggie
- Ground Bacon

They serve both regular fries and sweet potato fries and poutines made from both types.

They are also serving the Harbour Diner's missing (and much lamented) turkey wings (1 kg of wings served with your choice of sauce ranging from Lime Buffalo to Vinadloo)...

For the more health conscious, they do have three salads (a green salad similar to the Harbour Diner house salad, Ceasar Salad and Greek Salad).

The buns are obviously from a local bakery (I wasn't able to talk to Chris about their provenance) and they have a HUGE selection of toppings ranging from fresh veggies, to pulled pork, chili, the Harbour Diner Slaw and various "regular" and "artisan" (no extra charge) cheese selections. Chuck's is two doors down the street from the Cheese Shoppe on Locke, so the cheese selection is pretty darned good!

Drinks currently are water, both still and sparkling, various soft drinks (including specialty sodas) and juices.

I ordered the Turkey, pear and brie burger, which came with a nice amount of char from the grill on it. It was topped with two slices of pear, brie, cranberry relish, lettuce, roma tomato and a spicy mayonnaise. It is normally served on a plate with fresh cut fries (unlike the Harbour Diner, who bakes their wedges, these are proper fries), but I had the garden salad as my side. The garden salad was what I have had at the Harbour Diner over the past few years, so I knew it would be fresh and tasty (mixed baby greens, roma tomatoes, red onions and pepperoncini with a balsamic house dressing).

The burger was nicely spiced, perfectly cooked and juicy. The toppings were a nice accompaniment and the cranberry relish was a nice sweet/tart accompaniment. Everything was fresh and the burger was piping hot.

The only missteps were the rather uncoordinated service and the fact that they had not anticipated their immediate popularity over the prior week and they were sold out of the Lamb, Venison and veggie burgers.

Harbour Diner
488 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8L1J1, CA

Chuck's Burger Bar
194 Locke St S, Hamilton, ON , CA

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  1. Mike, thanks for the tip! My wife and I just bought a house in Hamilton and we'll be relocating from Toronto in early May. Perhaps we'll have to start a chowgroup? Cheers, Lyle

    1 Reply
    1. re: bogie

      Welcome to the hood Lyle! There is a chowgroup that met a few times a couple of years ago, but it sort of fell apart due to life happening. I'm beginning to get the urge to arrange something soon!

      Check out the group here:

      I've been to Buckeye's BBQ and enjoyed it - it helps that I am a few blocks from them. Rolly Rockets is good and Camp 31 in Paris is the "gold standard" for local BBQ in the area of the Hammer.

    2. BTW, Mike, have you been to the new Buckeyes BBQ on Ottawa St.? My wife and I stopped in for a very tasty dinner of pulled pork sandwich and 1/2 rack of ribs. They also make 3 signature bbq sauces (mild, maple and chipotle) and their sides are excellent, we had jambalaya and Rickard's mac & cheese. Couldn't resist the deep-fried oreos for dessert either. Owner also gave us a sample of their house-cured bacon, so I can't wait to return for a BLT and also their upcoming weekend breakfast.

      1. Thanks for the tip. I'm going down there asap.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodiemommy

          I'd suggest a chowmeet, but the place is too small...

          1. re: Mike from Hamilton

            OK - we should still have a chowmeet soon. I'll log on to the group this week.

        2. Thanks Mike I am usually disappointed in the burger quality in this city and sometimes you just crave one so bad. O'Neills is the closet I've come to the the ultimate burger but they are rather large. I can't wait to try this place. The toppings sound fantastic!

          1. Must have: the braised short rib poutine - the grilled asparagus takes it over the top.