The menu at Hampton + Hudson does not only list wine pairings for everything, but also beer and cocktail pairings, and you can find all three types of beverages here on tap. There are several vegan options, plus gluten-free items in every section of the menu.
A neighborhood place should allow enough kinds of food and drink to suit all the neighbors, and even still, Hampton + Hudson asks patrons to reach inside themselves for a more optimistic interpretation of comfort food than the traditional expectation of lowest common denominators at a local dive.
For example, there are real flowers on the tables. No big deal, but after a long day at work when I’d really like somebody else to cook dinner for me, sniffing a sunflower in a Mason jar as I await my meal reminds me to keep my head up. Don’t worry, gentlemen, there are plenty of televisions. This is a space where you definitely can sit at the bar and enjoy talking to strangers about the game. There have been some events catering to soccer lovers and they also host a team trivia night for those in search of mental exercise.
The bar runs most of the length of the main dining room, with lots of seating as well as standing room, but if you’re not in the mood to socialize, Hampton + Hudson respects that. There’s a covered patio as well as a smaller room full of booths, and the main dining room tables give the bar a wide berth. Combined with the giant picture windows overlooking a sunny courtyard, this is a recipe for spaciousness where you could jam a lot of people in here before the place feels too packed.
Even if you’re not in the neighborhood, the food and service are worth a little trip. This menu touches all the bases: small plates for sharing, classic diner entrees, delicatessen faves, side and salads, a couple of items that can pass for breakfast.
If you’re in the mood for Southern comforts, go for the hot chicken biscuit sliders nestled in cast iron. If you’re still trying to sneak in something like brunch, go for the lox toast, which is actually on an everything bagel. If you just want to stay on trend, order the avocado toast that actually foregrounds ricotta and radishes or order the charred octopus. If you have the kids with you, order some mac and cheese that’s normal enough for a toddler to eat but interesting enough for you to finish whatever is left when the kid is through. The only thing I ordered that was boring and predictable turned out to be the fish and chips, but on a Tuesday night after a meeting runs too long, even that has its place.
All the dishes were fresh, locally sourced, properly cooked, put together and plated with care, and of above average deliciousness for a neighborhood place. There were three dishes that really stood out as excellent. One was the waygu pastrami and kraut, a delicate, salty stack of goodness that warmed the heart and taste-buds of my wife, who grew up on Long Island deli sandwiches.
Another was the steak tartare tacos with potato chip shell. It sounds like a gimmick but the shell is really very sturdy and the total effect was delicious. I could’ve eaten a dozen of those and gone home happy. The last was a dessert called a Tennessee tea cake that came with a heavy coconut crust and a generous helping of fresh blueberries alongside a scoop from Queen of Cream.
Whatever version of casual dining you’re into, Hampton + Hudson will deliver with ease. The service is attentive but not obtrusive, intelligent but not chatty unless you so desire. Billy and Jenn Streck have once again gambled well in asking us to elevate our daily selves an inch, just as they did with Cypress Street Pint and Plate.
Hampton + Hudson is located at 299 N. Highland Ave. in the Inman Quarter development. For more information, visit hamptonandhudson.com.
Megan Volpert lives in Decatur, teaches in Roswell and writes books about popular culture.