Downtown Hamilton is undergoing a revival with new shops and businesses all along High Street and elsewhere. One of the tastiest discoveries is the High Street Café.

The café, which marks its first anniversary in June, is owner and executive chef Phil Wong’s concoction of made-from-scratch food and old-time general store.

“I always wanted to combine an eatery with a kind of general store,” says Wong, who has collected antiques for years including the 260-pound wooden Indian at the center of the café that once called the former Tom’s Cigar Shop in Hamilton home.

Wong looked at several properties in Hamilton but decided on High Street because he saw the potential of the city’s reinvigorated downtown.

He hasn’t regretted the decision. “We’ve been very busy,” he says.

After buying the building, which was once a shoe store and a Hallmark Card Shop, Wong, who owns the café with his wife, Alena, and brother-in-law, Anthony Cianchetti, spent about a year stripping away the old interior and installing new mechanical systems, drywall and a kitchen. Along the way they chipped away concrete covering Terrazzo in the old shoe store entrance and uncovered hand-painted wallpaper.

The general store at the front of the café also features an assortment of locally made foods, handcrafted items and art. 

“All the merchants here try to help each other out,” Wong says.

Open Sunday through Friday for breakfast and lunch, the café features fresh ingredients and made-from-scratch recipes such as the Hollandaise sauce featured on three types of Eggs Benedict: Traditional, Florentine with spinach and tomato, and fresh Turkey.

Wong and sous chef Sean Vernon have more than 50 years combined experience in food preparation including working at local country clubs.

It’s reflected in menu items ranging from the aforementioned Benedicts to an assortment of lunchtime sandwiches, soups and salads.

“We use the KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple, Stupid),” says Vernon. 

One of the most popular lunchtime items is the chicken berry salad—mixed field greens with fresh berries, red onion, bacon, blue cheese, candied pecans and a choice of grilled or blackened chickentopped by the house-made honey poppy seed dressing.

While focusing on made-from-scratch recipes and a lunchtime line that can stretch out the door, the café can still offer quick service. Diners place their order at the counter at the front of the kitchen and their food is ready in minutes.

“When you place an order, we can have a well-done burger ready in 9-10 minutes,” says Vernon.

A growing part of the café’s business, something Wong is emphasizing, is its full-service catering operation for everything from weddings to corporate events. The menu ranges from appetizers to prime rib.

With a growing list of fans from as far away as Oxford and Lebanon, the café also is making plans to expand operations. It hopes to open a downstairs room by summer seating up to 50 for diners and events.

Wong is also planning to obtain a wine license so the café can offer evening events featuring different types of cuisine such as sushi and Spanish-style tapas.

High Street Café, 250 High St., Hamilton. Eatery open Sunday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Retail and bakery open until 5 p.m. weekdays. 513-805-7428, highstcafe.com.