First Look: Hampton + Hudson
Inman Quarter gets a stylish new gastropubMonday September 26, 2016 06:00 pm EDT
In May, the couple ticked another dream off the old list. Their first solo venture, Hampton + Hudson, is a neighborhood gastropub inspired by an Atlantic Station pop-up they did three years ago. “We wanted to … create a space that everyone is comfortable in,” Billy says. “Somewhere we could go with our kids, but somewhere we could also meet up with friends for dinner and cocktails.”
Tucked into the lower level of the Inman Quarter development, H+H’s 3,500-square-foot interior was designed by Jenn and features a bar made from antique barn wood and repurposed cabinetry. Brown leather booths, tall ceilings, paned glass window walls and custom Tobin Hagler light fixtures strung with Edison bulbs co-exist with flat screen TVs tuned to ESPN, creating an upscale sports bar vibe.
No value assignedAt 8 p.m. on a Sunday the place was loud, with ’90s alt-rock blaring, dudes in visors and gals in rompers gathered around the bar. We opted for a cozy round booth in one of the quieter offshoot dining rooms, a dimly lit grotto all to ourselves.
Service was friendly, well-informed, and prompt. An extensive drinks menu lists nearly two dozen beers on draft and plenty more in bottles, a selection of wine and 10 specialty cocktails — two pre-mixed, one with cold brew coffee and one called Stifler’s Mom. My favorite was the Upper East Side, a gin and elderflower-infused nod to the Strecks’ NYC days.
Jason Hall of Saltyard, Max’s Wine Dive, and Mason Tavern is executive chef. His menu pulls from a diverse array of influences, eschewing typical bar fare with trendy snacks and shared plates ranging in price from $4 to $13: avocado toast, hot chicken biscuit sliders, Korean kimchi glazed wings, cool ranch chicharrones, vegan-friendly roasted eggplant dip — there's something here for everyone.
The charred octopus salad, beautifully presented on a wooden slab, was tender if slightly overwhelmed by the citrus of the salad. Smoked chili mac and cheese had a smoky, creamy, and slightly spicy blend of Parmesan, provolone, Gruyère, and smoked pimento.
Steak tartare tacos on a potato chip shell with cured egg yolk seemed poised to deliver, but arrived with a monochromatic appearance and flavor profile. The sprinkling of herbs on top couldn't quite balance out the oily weight of the raw beef and fried shell.
Mains are divided by eating style — Handhelds ($10-$14) and Fork + Knife ($14-$21) — and come with suggested beer and wine pairings. The 36-hour porchetta panini was a favorite: delightfully rich and tender with silky au jus for dipping and a pile of crisp hand-cut frites seasoned with tarragon and parsley.
No value assignedSurprised to see a vegan entrée at a gastropub, I felt compelled to try the cauliflower steak. Thick slabs of sliced cauliflower arrived on a bed of curried lentils with grilled mushrooms, smothered in a bright orange carrot purée. As a non-vegan, I would’ve preferred this dish as a side, but it certainly earned points for creativity.
Desserts range from $8 to $10 and rotate often, though banana pudding is a staple. We tried the house-made fig cobbler, which arrived in a mini cast-iron pot and tasted like a warm Fig Newton topped with vanilla ice cream.
H+H embodies Inman Park post Inman Quarter takeover, as this corner of the neighborhood continues to feel more and more like a mini Midtown. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on whom you ask, but the restaurant certainly does liven up the development’s under-trafficked lower walkway, and provides its new neighbors with a trendy spot to throw back a drink and watch the game.