To owner Scott Forbes, becoming a chef was more than just a career choice, it was a passion that stemmed from a childhood love for cooking. While other kids his age were watching cartoons, Scott was more preoccupied by Julia Child’s The French Chef and The Galloping Gourmet.
Scott was in high school during the early 90’s recession and knew finding a job in the food industry would be difficult without credentials. So, he decided to make the move to Toronto where he attended The George Brown culinary program. His training allowed him to cook abroad and at various well-known Toronto eateries. But Hamilton is Home as they say, and home was calling.
Scott and wife Jennifer packed up and moved back to Hamilton in 2014 and haven’t looked back. They are now happily settled in Crown Point where they are raising son Arlo and fur-baby Nina. Scott refers to Ottawa Street as sort of an ‘inclusively gentrified’ neighbourhood, there is a mix of old and new, most store fronts are fixed up and occupied but this has all happened without losing the history and sole of the street.
Scott and Jennifer came across the 80 Ottawa Street location in 2017, at the time it was a take-out fish and chip joint. The owner was interested in selling the business and Scott figured it would be a good location because of its history. They did some much-needed renovations, fixed up the façade and added some personal touches to the overall design of the space and opened for business in the winter of 2018.
The kitchen is exposed so you can watch Scott prep your order from beginning to end. He is known to engage with his customers in between tossing together your made to order coleslaw while you wait for your meal. It’s a big reason why customers keep coming back, they feel so comfortable and at home with Scott that picking up takeout feels more like stopping in to visit and old friend.
The company being great is just an added bonus because the food truly speaks for itself. It is unique, handmade, flavourful and unlike any other fish and chip restaurant you’ll ever step foot in. A lot of this has to do with influence from Scott’s travels and just a desire to push the envelope in what is to be expected from his menu.
At first glance you will see your classic Fish & Chips – Haddock, Halibut and BC Rockfish. All fish is sustainably sourced from either Vancouver Island B.C., Digby Nova Scotia or Norway. Each option comes served with chips, slaw, house made tartar sauce or masala ketchup. The menu continues to intrigue with items like Spicy Szechuan Calamari – Buttermilk marinated, lightly dusted, and fried then tossed in Szechuan peppercorns and served with a sesame, chili and coriander slaw and a side of Hammerhead’s special sweet chili sauce. The Sri Lankan Style Fish Curry is known as a customer favourite. Scott simmers BC Rockfish in a sauce of tamarind, coconut and Hammerhead’s house-roasted ground masala and serves it on a bed of basmati rice or chips. Scott is celiac so the entire kitchen and every menu item is gluten free.
The menu is constantly evolving with new daily specials or features like pickerel tacos, clams and chips or fried oysters. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the amazing dishes offered at Hammerhead’s, we suggest giving them a follow-on Social Media if you haven’t already @HammerheadsOnOttawa for daily specials and weekly features. There is also a large fridge and freezer section when you walk in that is stocked with house made soups and chowders, shrimp, scallops and a variety of fresh and frozen fish.
When COVID hit, Hammerhead’s felt prepared to pivot to meet this new normal, they were already set up to run a strictly take-out business anyways so they dedicated their focus to getting food into the hands of the community as efficiently as possible. Scott has actually noticed a shift in society for the better over the past few months. “People are seemingly more conscious than they were in the past, they are questioning things and are educating themselves about major issues like sustainability.” It gives him hope, Scott goes on to say “when I used to talk about our sustainable fish people’s eyes would start to glaze over, now they are interested and want to engage in conversations about the topic, it’s great”
Want to learn more? Visit Hammerhead’s at 80 Ottawa Street N today!
Order online: hammerheads-hamilton.com
80 Ottawa Street N