what: crispy duck confit
where: Hampton Street Vineyard, 1201 Hampton St., 803-252-0850
Hampton Street Vineyard, just off Main Street and tucked just below street level, is always warm and inviting. This isn’t a mega-restaurant, filled with a loud crowd. It’s as fancy or as chill as you want it to be, the drinks are well-mixed, and the wine list is impressive. There are friendly faces around the bar. And in the wine room, where small groups can reserve tables, you might find a book club, a family, or a group of business partners who need a little privacy. But no matter how many people are there, the experience feels personal, and it’s hard to decide exactly what to order, because everything looks good.
Which is why I was thoroughly entertained when one of my dining companions enjoyed the duck confit twice. Because it’s that good. I arrived early to photograph the dish for this very page and reluctantly shared with my three friends when they arrived. The confit, so tender you legit don’t need a knife because it falls off the bone, is delightfully, obscenely, gloriously crispy on the outside. It’s served with delicately flavored sweet potato gnocchi to counter the richness of everything else on the plate. Tasso ham lardons provide porky crunch (and who doesn’t love a little porky crunch?), and blistered tomatoes, arugula, and red onion turn the dish into a balanced dinner, because vegetables are good for you. The blackberry thyme gastrique brings out the flavor of the duck (and is also very pretty, no?).
I shared the entree as an appetizer to save room for everything else I wanted (salad, crab cakes and lamb chops — and bread pudding for dessert). But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of the friend who ordered it again for dinner. When it’s that good, why not?
Hampton Street Vineyard is open for lunch from 11:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and for dinner from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The bar opens at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.