Hello Naples Fans,
Today I’m going to mix it up a bit by bringing you all of the juicy details of my experience during grand opening night at The Hampton Social in Naples located in Mercato, the swanky shopping and dining venue in North Naples. What I’ll cover:
- Who Was There
Disclaimer: I am not an official food critic and this is not a paid advertisement. Every year my Naples real estate clients ask if I’ve been to all the new restaurants and what I think. New clients always ask for restaurant suggestions so this is just an additional knowledge stream included in my real estate service.
Upon entrance, the vibe is definately swanky. You don’t actually see the bar until you turn the corner although you do get a peek at the expansive dining room.
At the hostess stand, a very gracious host quickly assisted my friend Raquel and I by arranging the last two seats together at the already full bar.
The decor is fun and interesting and the bar is big but not so big it’s hard to get a good look at everybody. The bar space is nicely and uniquely lit. We favored the “rope” lighting captured at the top of the photo the most.
The small and uncomfortable metal barstools are a bit of a miss. You can see the smaller barstool the gentleman to the left of the picture is sitting on. Those are what is available at the bar. The metal chairs with the backs actually came from a handful of hightop tables located just off the main bar.
I wasn’t greeted at the bar nearly as quickly as I was at the hostess stand but hey, what can you expect for opening night? Actually, if they want the bar full, the service is going to have to get on point. It took well over 5 minutes to get a menu and closer to 15 to place a drink order. I came for the “Frose´” all day but the machines weren’t working so I opted for a glass of Wairau River. If you’re a New Zealand Sav. Blanc enthusiast, it’s a nice option.
The girl bartenders at the beginning “non-served” more like those ole Pelican Larry’s girls back in the day where maybe you get served when you’re a guy but may not get lucky when you’re a girl with your girlfriends. We were enthusiastically greeted by a billion dollar smile from the guy bartender who opens up Hampton Social’s all over. I see why they bring him in. He has an outstanding personality and was an amazing bartender.
They have a good selection of hip appetizers and small plates so we went that route for our first visit.
We ordered the Yellowtail Ceviche, Avocado & Corn appetizer and I simply couldn’t resist the Jar of King Crab. No, I don’t have photos but you can follow the link to their website provided at the top of this post or go see for yourself. I found it a little weird the bartenders missed completely in describing the Jar of King Crab but they were nice enough to point one out to me across the bar later on.
When our food arrived we ended up with the Avocado Toast instead of the Avocado and Corn but they agreed to comp us for it so we ate that instead. It was a good mistake for them because that ended up being our favorite out of the three choices. I’m not a tomato fan but they do something amazing to it and paired it with goat cheese with some ridiculously amazing toast with avocado. The bread is a little tricky to cut so ladies prepare to manhandle your food a little bit. It was so good, I didn’t mind. Hahaha.
The Jar of King Crab was really good too but it’s only 3 oz. so don’t expect to make a big meal out of it. It comes with that same bread as the Avocado Toast. I’m not really a huge bread maniac but this is just really good!
The Ceviche is a bit of a disappointment because it didn’t really have that citrus zing I was expecting and the pieces of fish are so small they’re forgettable. Raquel missed it altogether and thought she ate the Avocado and Corn appetizer we ordered but never got.
Who Was There
It looked like the same Naples demographic with a heavier sprinkle of holiday visitors and part-timers. While they are trying to gravitate more towards attracting millennials with their vibrant decor and avocado toast, I think they’re going to have trouble getting the full commitment from this tiny Naples prospect base with their costs to partake.
The only “millennials” I saw was one couple and later a couple of girls who tried to order a drink with a fake I.D. They swiftly left after getting denied. Hahaha! It may not be a bad idea to have a backup plan in case the millennial thing doesn’t work out.
It’s expensive like every fine dining place in Naples. There’s no shocker there. What was a little weird however was that Rose´ was the only happy hour option and there were zero happy hour food specials. I suppose they’re taking full advantage of the high season and holiday visitors coupled with a splash of opening day enthusiasm. They’ll be completely empty this July if they plan on keeping that position.
At $21.00 for 3 ounces of crab, I seriously doubt I’ll go for that again but I’ll probably have another round of that avocado toast sometime in the future. My glass of wine was $12.00, the Avocado Toast was $17.99 and the Ceviche was $13.99. I’ll pass on that next time.
I wasn’t comped as promised for the Avocado Toast which whatever…it was my favorite so I didn’t mind. I see they were nice enough to take off the extra $3.00 they charge for it compared to the price they charge for the other appetizer. You might be super loud and clear with your order or be prepared to raise a fuss if this sort of confusion bothers you.
Overall, we had tons of laughs and it’s almost always fun to hit a new place. McCormick and Schmick lasted 10 years in this location. I think it’s a little too early to determine if The Hampton Social has the same staying power.
They’re hyping up their Sunday brunch and I imagine that has all of the ingredients of being a fun place provided they get the kinks out. The menu looks amazing and it is likely to be a big hit for Mercato.
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