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Rebranded Bardō offering ingredients for success

The former Earth to Table Bread Bars on Locke and James streets have a new name and a new look but remain committed to good food. 

A trivial casualty of the pandemic was that my Bread Bar James brunch review never saw the light of day. Restaurants faced frequent closures and when Bread Bar reopened there was (for a time) no longer a brunch.

Things have changed. All of the Bread Bars (James, Locke, Guelph) have rebranded as Bardō – and brunch at the James North location has resumed. 

Earth to Table: Bread Bar first appeared in 2010 on Locke Street with the James location opening in 2019. Family-owned Pearle Hospitality’s 2021 acquisition of the controlling interest of Bread Bar set in motion some rebranding and rejuvenation. The Locke Street location has been renovated and all three locations have been renamed Bardō –pronounced “bar dough” – alluding to the eateries’ continued inclusion of “dough” things they do best such as pizza, bread and baked goods. In their own words, they are building on the foundation that “good ingredients matter”… (and remain) “committed to the ingredients that make up the perfect meal – seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, exceptional food, and outstanding service.”

HAMILTON CITY Magazine’s recent focus on the King William dining district mentioned that this restaurant row was bookended on John and James with additional noteworthy eateries – Bardō James St. being one. It was time to visit, seeking updates.

Bardō James St's sweet cherry pie pizza features white sauce, mozzarella, cherry chutney, prosciutto, hazelnut, arugula, basil, and mint.
PHOTO: Bardō James St.

Arriving for dinner, several shareables showcase their fresh breads. The bread plate offered a variety of fresh warm breads served with beet butter, chutney, hummus, and cheesy toast with za’atar. This was the first sign that servings would be generous.

Taking a pass on the soups, salads, classics that included mac ‘n cheese and burgers, as well as all the wonderful pizzas, our choice for the next course was the pasta and the grain bowl. The latter was a sight to behold; an artistic plating of quinoa, kale, roasted broccoli and cauliflower with dried fruit gastrique (a sweet and sour sauce), soft-boiled egg, roasted sweet potato, miso, crispy chickpeas, puffed wild, rice (a fun garnish) all topped with maple tahini dressing. Included was a choice of protein – salmon, chicken, braised short rib (winter), falafel, or fried tempeh. This was delicious and healthy and some made it home for a midnight snack. 

The pasta dish was campanelle, a fresh egg pasta shaped like a fluted horn. Plated on puréed butternut squash, the flavour notes were caramelized onions, brown butter, shaved Parmesan, sage pesto and chilli flakes. An optional add-on was roasted mushrooms or braised short rib.

Cookie butter cheesecake was a perfect shared dessert, delivering the lingering flavours of speculaas, orange zest, and white chocolate ganache. The dessert roads not taken were bread pudding, upside down cake, pie, brownie or wonderful affogato.

The interior of Bardo James St. PHOTO: Diane Galambos

We will beat a path back to Bardō for its inviting all you can eat/enjoy Sunday brunch, which seems like good value for $49 per person. Included are two alcoholic beverages, and countless visits to the buffet for fresh bread and croissants, yogurt and granola, cedar plank salmon, chia pudding, a selection of pizza slices (vegetarian, meat, vegan) and a cured meat antipasto. The included additional à la carte menu takes things over the top. Diners can order all they can eat. 

In the à la carte egg category are eggs Benedict, omelettes, shakshuka, spanakopita scrambled eggs, scalloped potatoes with a poached egg, and even breakfast ramen. Savoury à la carte options are: coconut curry, fried chicken, chorizo with sweet potato hash, smoked salmon, butternut squash on toast, marinated beets with halloumi, home fries, bacon and sausage. The sweet choices include pancakes, French toast bread pudding, almond polenta cake, and breakfast cake with fruit compote.

One’s appetite is the only variable determining how much value you get for the price of this all-you-can-eat brunch. A kids brunch (ages 3-13) is also available. 

(FYI If you undertake some internet research before visiting, note that there is a “Bardo St. James” in London, England – and it is not always getting complimentary reviews. Hamilton’s Bardō James St. seems to have all the ingredients that deliver dining satisfaction.)

Bardō James St.

14 James St. N., Hamilton
IG: @bardojamesst