Our server said it best, “This place was designed to be put on Instagram.” From the moment you step over the threshold, it feels like you’re walking into the East Coast’s Pinterest board. From the living plant mural that spells out The Hampton Social to the inviting glow of the pink neon “Rosé all day” sign to chandeliers made out of old pallets, ship rope, and Edison bulbs, everything is perfectly designed to put you in vacation mode.
Starting with cocktails and moving into the menu, everything was beautifully considered, exceptionally delicious, and charmingly fun. Take their signature Frosé for example, a cocktail in slushie form combining Tito’s vodka, rosé, and peach puree with a mint leaf and a sugar rim. It’s tasty, adorable, and totally addictive. Especially once they open their outdoor seating this summer, it’s going to be unstoppable.
The main event, of course, is the exceptional seafood. Classics like the lobster roll can be ordered Manhattan-style, buttery, and warm, or Maine-style, chilled and creamy. There are inspired innovations such as the Scallop Risotto, replacing the rice with cauliflower coconut risotto and adding an umami glaze to the pan-seared scallops. It delivers all of the warm comfort flavors while simultaneously providing a lighter twist on the dish. Every plate is as enchantingly constructed as the restaurant itself.
JAR OF KING CRAB
This was the highlight of the night. Everything on the plate wore blackened grill marks, from the slices of warm bread to the half a lemon, adding a little smoke to the citrus. Perfect shreds of crab meat soak in a jar filled with warm garlic butter and herbs. The bread absorbs the butter and underscores the crab perfectly. There’s even a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce for a little added zest. It’s the ultimate seaside comfort food and we talked about it for the rest of the night.
Courtesy of the Cold Bar, the Yellowtail Ceviche combines the light freshness of a salad course with the savory bite of sushi. Since the elements of a good ceviche mirror the elements of good guacamole, The Hampton Social combines the two, a bed of avocado lays just underneath the chopped tuna, onion, tomato, cilantro, and jalapeño. Three options for ceviche delivery are fanned out across the plate: an assortment of tortilla chips, large fresh slices of radish, or cucumber slices. Though my heart belongs to the classic tortilla chip for both the ceviche and the guacamole, there’s a synchronicity of texture, taste, and tone when it’s paired with the radish slices.
THAI CURRY SHRIMP
Walking into the beguilingly preppy atmosphere of The Hampton Social that night, we never expected to be talking about Thai cuisine. But here we are. This entree is one of the dishes exclusive to the Old Orchard location of The Hampton Social. The magic here is in the combination of rice, red quinoa, and a bed of roasted carrots in coconut cream sauce and fresh shrimp in peanut sauce. The flavors are Thai through and through, and the peanut sauce is incredible with the shrimp. The bed of roasted carrots is the true stroke of brilliance. They add flavor, texture, and substance to the dish without adding calories. This is smart, mouth-watering, calorie-conscious cooking at its best.
The Hampton Social is located at 4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Suite C22, in Skokie, 847-307-5207, thehamptonsocial.com.