The Village, 44 Beaumont St, Hamilton, Mon-Fri 7-3, Sat-Sun 7-2.30.
It has been said before that the highest levels of service depend upon the smallest of things. Having your name remembered by the waiter. A minute or two saved on your order when you are running late. Handed your favourite newspaper. It is these kinds of tiny but thoughtful gestures that I am reminded of when I sit down for a coffee with Sam Tsolakis at The Village.
He may only have been in business for six months or so but Sam has all the ease and composure of a veteran Hamilton restaurateur. Is it because you feel so genuinely welcome in his cafe that you may as well have known the man for your entire life? Maybe it is the way he seems to enjoy juggling a number of tasks at once.
Or is it a uncommon combination of both?
Although The Village has plenty of morning customers seated inside and out, Sam has all the time in the world to sit down and share with me his passions for mediterranean food, his ancestral homeland of Greece and the cup of coffee now in front of me. He has also gone to the trouble of organising the most helpful of things – a one-on-one chat, in the café, with the person who roasts and blends the beans ground in here every day.
An entire wall has been devoted to a sunset painted over the Aegean.
Under the brand new banner of First Call Roasters, local coffeesmith Doug Thew lost his fair share of sleep before finalising the flavours for Sam and his growing numbers of customers. Using Colombian, Guatamalan and Ethiopian beans to complete a medium-bodied but sweet finishing brew, Thew has added a fresh element to this famous coffee neighbourhood. His years of dedication to the roasting craft have handily coincided with his and Sam’s mission to custom roast a classic all rounder.
Another coincidence might be the colours of the First Call branding – a quintessentially Hellenic pairing of blue and white that has livened up the overall facade enormously. On the inside of the cafe, where I sit with a traditional Greek breakfast of haloumi, olives and lemon-oiled eggs ($20), an entire wall has been devoted to a sunset painted over the Aegean. Near where Sam holds his arms out to welcome more customers like long lost cousins, a cosy row of tables is filled with old men reading their favourite newspaper. In any other place the artwork above their heads would feel too sentimental - like a tribute to an old-fashioned place far away. In this village it suits perfectly.