It was one of those things. I got clearance to review The Haberdasher, and word got out before I made it there. It’s no worry, though. I do prefer to do my reviews under cover of darkness so that there is no preferential treatment, but I’ve been visiting The Haberdasher ever since it was on the other end of Dauphin Street, so I know what to expect.
Truth is I’ve been dying to review this place based on the sole fact that I believe in this style of kitchen. Here you have a bar that is executing some really high-end cocktails next to the same things your average Joe would order. It’s the best of both worlds, really. You may find something that tickles your fancy with Barq’s Root Beer reduction as an ingredient, or just a straight-up beer.
Of course there is everything in between, with a huge selection of craft beers in cans and on draft. It’s where Miller Lites mingle with beer snob-approved hops celebrations as muddled libations containing 10 or more ingredients rub elbows with a simple gin and tonic. This is a place where you’d think you could get anything, but they wouldn’t make me a super-girly strawberry daiquiri. I’m a little bitter about it, so I’m just going to focus on the food.
Like I said, I believe in this style of kitchen. What that amounts to is that you have these bartenders cranking out some intense drinks. They don’t need to be interrupted by someone who just wants food. So in the same building, under the same roof, mere feet from the bar, is a food window.
Gasp! You order your drinks from the bar and your food from the window. Sound crazy? Some have a hard time understanding this so let me explain. You are at a bar and a food truck comes crashing through the easternmost wall and parks right in front of the men’s room. You want food. You order from the food truck. That’s it.
The restaurant within a bar is a great concept that keeps the bartenders free to focus on what they do best while the kitchen does the same. Did I mention this food is clever and amazing? What started out as a mere taco stand in the old location has blossomed into quite the restaurant with a heck of a menu.
So on this particular night, with my cover blown, I sat down with The Haberdasher’s own Roy Clark. He’s kind of my inside guy for this place and downtown, keeping me in the know for events and occasionally shooting me a drink recipe. Tonight he was kind enough to keep Catherine and me company while we ordered enough food to pre-emptively ruin our New Year’s resolutions.
The first thing I looked at was the chalkboard specials. When you see Camel burger ($11), you get it. I’m told customers don’t always believe it’s really camel meat, but it is. And it’s from New Zealand, apparently. This burger came with Merlot BellaVitano cheese with shaved cucumbers and house-made curry ketchup. This is a trendy burger with a unique flavor that regularly sells out, but to me doesn’t hold a candle to their PFG Burger ($6).
Mississippi grass-fed beef with garlic herb kefir cheese spread on a rather thin patty sports tomato, charred red onion and spinach for what could be my favorite burger in the city.
The other special was the Scotch egg ($8). This one was so good it would have made my friend David Holloway proud. Soft-boiled egg wrapped in their ground pork sausage and fried, it was served with very good spicy mustard. This was so delicious I almost abandoned the rest of the menu and ordered another. Thankfully I did not.
Katy Peri Peri Chicken ($6) is an amazing house-made naan bread sandwich with braised chicken, shallots, bell pepper, purple and green cabbage, chili sauce and house made chimichurri. That is one fantastic fold!
We couldn’t ignore the tacos. The Pork En Sambal ($4) was braised in Modelo Negro with jalapeños and onions and topped with sautéed carrots and jalapeño slaw. It was just spicy enough, and the slaw was perfect. Relish the Veg ($4) put out the flames with refried sweet peas, spinach and yellow corn, black bean and cilantro relish. Topped with the kefir cheese labneh sauce, both were very good. The pork edged out the win, though.
If it’s flats you want, it’s flats you’ll get. There are two different flats: Veg out! and Pig Out! ($6) come on the same naan. We chose the latter. I guess you could equate it to sort of an Indian pizza with slow-cooked pork, leeks and gouda cheese with fresh oregano and that spicy slaw making another appearance. If you have no room for the entire flat you could order the slaw (or the black bean relish) as a side for $3 each.
Just when we thought we were off the hook and couldn’t eat another bite, they changed the chalkboard menu, adding hand-cut french fries! What kind of monster would I be if I didn’t try these out for you, dear reader? Served with some kind of mayonnaise, Catherine and I both agreed we weren’t crazy about the mayo at first. But after a couple of dips we were ravenous for it!
Of course all this as we were getting drinks from the bar, including normal gin and tonics and Shiner’s new seasonal that is a bit fruity (hints of cherry, maybe?) but not overpowering. The entire evening was delicious. I paid my two tabs and waddled out the door.
The Haberdasher is definitely a place I would bring an out-of-town friend to enjoy drinks and have some great drunk food, but that description sells them short. The kitchen is doing an amazing job keeping it funky but delicious. Mobile has to be proud to have something like this anchoring that end of Dauphin Street. It opens at 4 p.m., and I can envision a spinoff someday that serves lunch.
113 Dauphin St.
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