Summer flavours: the Roasted Red Snapper. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Summer flavours: the Roasted Red Snapper. *Photo by Sarah Lagan

If you hadn’t noticed, there’s been quite a buzz surrounding the Fairmont Hamilton Princess lately. 

With hotel renovations still on going, the Marcus Samuelsson pop-up restaurant is now in full flow, the waterside 1609 eatery is open for business and the brand-new happy hour Marina Nights has been launched. 

I was recently invited to 1609 as part of a media dinner and thought I’d take the opportunity to share the experience. 

I’d heard mixed reviews of the restaurant over the past few weeks — it’s important to know that there is quite a small selection yet some nice surprises.

Glancing at the menu, you’ll notice a few eye-catching ingredients — the Roasted Beet Salad comes with a lime labneh — a type of strained yoghurt; the Fresh Jumbo Crab Roll is served with tobiko — flying fish roe; the Local Grilled Wahoo comes with gribiche — a mayonnaise-style sauce found in French cuisine, while the mussels ditch the obvious white wine or marinara sauces for a Thai red curry, coconut and peanut accompaniment. 

The chef clearly likes to pickle — several options throughout the menu include an item that has been pickled including the tomato served with the grilled wahoo, the fresh pickles with the Chicken Satay starter and the fresh vegetable pickle in the Pulled Pork BBQ.

For a starter we tried the Charcuterie, which was served with cornichon (a savoury picked cucumber), and chicken satay with peanut sauce and, yes, you guessed, fresh pickles. 

The chicken satay stood out from this course with its delicious sweet, sticky marinade served with a rich peanut sauce. 

The flatbreads were popular among our group — I especially liked the Margarita made with buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomato and Princess basil. Sometimes simple is best as this dish proved and it was also refreshingly light. 

We also tried the 1609 flatbread with Portuguese chorizo, caramelised onion and smoked gouda, which had an almost BBQ sauceflavour. I prefer my margarita but the others in the group were quick to finish off the 1609. 

For the main dish I tried the Roasted Red Snapper with Bermuda Corn, Fava Bean Summer Succotash. The serving was quite small for the $32 price but the fish was cooked beautifully — seared crisp on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside, and the succotash was light, refreshing and delicate in flavour.

It’s always good to see Bermuda corn on the menu — frankly, it’s the best corn out there. 

We also sampled some of the cocktails — the White Wine Sangria was a hit with its beautiful summery, citrus flavours. 

Beware of the mojito with passion fruit — it’s extremely sweet and boozy. 

What really sets 1609 apart is its stunning location and backdrop — overhanging Hamilton Harbour, you could imagine you are a luxury yacht heading out to the sunset.

You can also see the new pool facilities from the glass-panelled balconies that encircle the restaurant. There are some tasty and different options on the menu but for fine dining, head to the ‘pop up’.