The whitewashed, nautical digs of the Hampton Social provide the backdrop for a menu that is carefully crafted Orlando
I admit, I had the fantasy of inviting James Cuomo – the combative Facebook Hamptons Douche Spotter – to dine with me at Hampton Social, a restaurant that plays the vibe of the affluent seaside destination on Long Island. I mean, the man has documented countless incidents of summer asshattery committed by legitimate cunts in every neighborhood from Southampton to Montauk since 2013: fat guys wearing tiny speedometers and fur coats in restaurants, running up huge tabs and Leave zero tip; unsuspecting women who let their small dogs sit in high chairs; Driver with bones, parked twice, sometimes vertically.
I had hopes, but unfortunately no such disdainful behavior was observed at this whitewashed hotspot that took over Tommy Bahama’s old room in Pointe Orlando. What a disappointment. Sure, the place looks like the backdrop of a photo shoot in the J. Crew catalog, and would-be fans get a kick in front of the Instagram wall, but there isn’t much else to make fun of. Well, with the possible exception of our server, who thought it appropriate to keep her mask dangling under her lower lip the entire time.
So we drank not-so-strong $ 13 cocktails while taking in the not-so-ocean-breezy digs. In terms of design, Hampton Social does a good job of bringing the exterior into play. The place screams for BRUNCH, which is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekend. Despite the name, the Hampton Social isn’t as shallow as it sounds.
Someone in the kitchen clearly takes great pride in the food that comes out – a conclusion we came to after digging into a plate of beautifully charred grilled octopus ($ 18.50). It’s a nod of a citrus-marinated, fennel-clad dish served alongside roasted vegetables, beets, green lentils, and orange supremes cut in half for bite-sized ease.
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Then came the chicken lollipops ($ 15), the dark hue of which was the result of a curry and soy marinade that gave these chamois a deep flavor. Nothing fancy, but this is finger food the way finger food should be made. Even the smoked eggplant ($ 14) with a vibrant mix of vegetables and grains (cauliflower, lentils, onions, green sprouts, and more) took some thought and painstaking effort to construct. It was served on crispy bowls of watermelon radish garnished with feta.
Certainly not the level of attention we expected. A pleasant surprise? I would say so. Even the self-proclaimed pizza snob in the group couldn’t help but praise the avocado and corn pizza ($ 15), a cheesy, rustic pie made with roasted tomatoes, garlic butter, basil, and lemon peel. There’s also corn on the plate with braised short ribs ($ 28) – charred niblets floating on a corn mousse – that highlighted the less-than-fork-tender platter of citrus braised meat, the only gaffe of the night.
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Of course, it wouldn’t be a meal in the Hamptons without a lobster roll (market price) and I have to say the meaty number served here was really impressive. You can choose between “Manhattan style” (served warm with butter) or “Maine style” (cold with creamy mayo). In steamy Florida, the latter is the way to go. It’s served with homemade fries, but do yourself a favor and upgrade to mac and cheese (made with orecchiette) for $ 2 more, or enjoy it with a side of hearty New England clam soup ($ 9).
Just as impressive were double-wrapped shrimp tacos, which didn’t shrink from the heat and were filled with jalapeños, fresnos, a spicy aioli and citrus coleslaw. We couldn’t fault the spicy key lime pie ($ 9) served with strawberry gelato and mint-sprinkled whipped cream or fluffy, beignet-like donuts ($ 13). We really enjoyed the latter with vanilla ice cream, hot honey and chocolate sauce.
In fact, the Hampton Social completely destroyed my snappy ideas about the place. This was not a corporate-backed bastion of Brooks Brothers-clad Boers as I had originally assumed. It wasn’t a place where I would like to mock or fool myself. In all honesty, I’m glad I didn’t ask Mr. Cuomo to have dinner with me. Had he done that, I would probably have been the only shower discovered.
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