We felt the fantastic energy of The Hampton Social as soon as we arrived at the hostess stand. The waiting lounge is framed in the front window—three functional hammocks hang from the ceiling, an ivy wall frames a wine case topped with the words “Rosé all day” in cursive pink neon, and white washed terracotta flower pots sprout hanging greenery strung on ship’s rope hanging from the ceiling.
It’s stylish. It’s vibrant. It’s cool. It’s a massive loft space—clean, beachy, and brand new as of the end of November. The back wall proclaims “The Hampton Social” in big letters of living sod. “Yacht Club” is stenciled above the brick pizza oven in the corner underneath a full-sized canoe hanging upside down from the ceiling. Every aspect of the experience is elaborately curated and totally gorgeous.
A quick glance at the dinner menu confirms that this place is all about the East Coast seafood experience, from their Raw Bar with oysters and the Royal Atlantic Platter to a Starters menu that’s two thirds ocean based. They make a statement.
We began with the King Crab Dip, which combines three types of cheese with fresh shredded crab, artichoke, and spinach. This creamy concoction is covered in a crumble of breadcrumbs and baked toasty in a petite cast iron cassoulet. It’s served with thick slices of sourdough, nicely toasted and gently grill blackened. The three-cheese blend and decadent crab are the headliners here and really define the cozy presence of the dish. The vegetables provide earthy undertones that beautifully balance the richness.
The Brick Oven Pizza section is the one place on the menu where the seafood option is wildly outnumbered. However, this is The Hampton Social we’re talking about: the Midwest’s answer to the Eastern seaboard. We had to try the White Clam Pizza. The dough is lovely. It’s a little heartier than Neapolitan crust, with just enough blackened charm from the brick oven’s intense temperature. Here, the seafood actually takes a backseat to the rest of the preparation. There are whole clams speckled across the pizza bringing nice bite and texture, but crème fraîche, white wine, and garlic sauce really dominate the flavors, as does the unexpected touch of giardiniera. It essentially tastes like delicious cheesy garlic bread with giard’. A brick oven-charred half lemon stuffed with potent parsley acts as the pizza’s centerpiece, but given the crisp acidity of the giardiniera, it functions better as decoration than a flavor accent.
There are a wide range of salads and there’s a section of the menu called Land, dedicated to red meat and chicken offerings, but when we asked after must-have entrees, we were told the same two again and again.
The Lobster Roll comes a choice of two ways—with the lobster “Manhattan style (buttery & delicious)” or “Maine style (creamy goodness).” The other distinction between the two is that the Manhattan-style lobster arrives hot, the Maine-style is served chilled with mayonnaise. We opted for the Maine-style. The lobster roll bread is at least half the battle. Folded around the lobster like an upscale hot dog bun, it’s thick, incredibly buttery, and perfect. With the richness of the lobster and the sauce, this is an entree decadent enough to land on the dessert menu. As full as we were by the end of the night, it’s the only dish we had to finish completely.
The Fish Tacos were another highlight of the evening. Served on a ridged taco tray to keep each taco together and easy to manage, the flavors and presentation are flawless. Thick cuts of mahi-mahi are grilled and flaky, providing a smoky meat presence. The Hampton Social chipotle mayo rises above everything, providing a palpable heat without impeding any of the other flavors within the tortilla. The chopped avocado is creamy, without cooling the spice. Purple cabbage provides a pop of color and a crunch, and a squeeze of lime over the top brings a little extra zest. These tacos are supremely delicious and perfectly balanced.
For dessert, we chose the Warm Salted Caramel Crunch Cookie. It’s prepared in a cast iron skillet keeping it chewy with a mild exterior crunch. It’s dotted with butterscotch chips and drizzled with caramel to add a sharper sweetness to the cookie’s already deep caramel flavors. It’s crowned with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, a wonderful complement to the warm sweetness underneath.
The Hampton Social is located at 705 Village Center Drive in Burr Ridge, 630-219-0009, thehamptonsocial.com.