Food Talk + Functions
Anatomy of a Dish: Charred Octopus Appetizer

Charred Octopus with Salsa Roja, Toasted Peanuts, Castelvetrano Olives and Cilantro

Don’t be scared.

Sure, you might find this Spanish octopus a bit intimidating if you were to encounter it underwater, with its sharp beak intact and its eight limbs outstretched to their full two-foot diameter. But after a good poaching in white wine and lemon, it’s a much tamer beast – with a mild, meaty flavor and superbly tender texture.

Chef de Cuisine Jeremy Webb and his team will take care of that pesky beak (“gotta watch out for that”) and consign the not-so-pretty head to a future staff meal. Once properly poached, each delicious leg (arm? tentacle?) awaits its turn on the grill to be quickly charred before it’s sliced and served.

“Octopus is great grilled,” says Executive Chef Curtis Shaver. “It’s a good summer dish – perfect for grilling season. People might be afraid it’s too rubbery or too fishy, but it’s not; just give it a try.”

The spicy, smoky-sweet salsa roja in this dish is a chilled puree of roasted tomatoes cooked with onions, garlic and chili peppers. Its similarity to Spanish romesco sauce inspired the addition of chopped Virginia peanuts for nuttiness and crunch.

Mirroring the mild tenderness of the octopus itself, buttery green Castelvetrano olives are rich and fresh, rather than briny or salty. Whole cilantro leaves and a dash of lemon oil finish this dish with a pop of fresh flavor.

Want a glass of wine with that? Of course you do! An easy pairing from our house list is the 2016 Acrobat Pinot Gris, produced with sustainable winemaking practices in western Oregon. It’s tart and light, dry, and just fruity enough to balance its acidity: in short, an accessible crowd pleaser that plays well with food.

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  • Hamiltons'

    101 West Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902



  • Monday: 11:30am-3:00pm | 5:00-9:00pm
  • Tuesday: 11:30am-3:00pm | 5:00-9:00pm
  • Wednesday: 11:30am-3:00pm | 5:00-9:00pm
  • Thursday: 11:30am-3:00pm | 5:00-9:00pm
  • Friday: 11:30am-3:00pm | 5:00-10:00pm
  • Saturday: 11:30am-3:00pm | 5:00-10:00pm
  • Sunday: 10:30-2:30pm Brunch


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