Cartoons, Connect Four, and Confit: The Tattooed Moose

5 Apr


One of the many mounted, hat-wearing Creatures

It’s that stress eating time of the year. Finals are looming closer than we’d like to think, and one traditional way to cope with the pressure is eating. There is something that’s just comforting in chowing down. For an excursion into your primal food cravings and the north side of town, check out the Tattooed Moose.

The year-old bar is getting a reputation as Charleston’s capital of guilty pleasures. If The Tattooed Moose was a musician, it’d be Elvis Presley, in his late 1970s and bacon doughnut phase.

Though the afternoon crowd has middle-aged diners, after the sun goes down there’s hardly anyone over the age of thirty sitting at the shady and graffiti-plastered tables. The place-and newly installed patio-fill up with patrons that dig Blaixploitation soundtracks and gargantuan gastronomy.

It’s a little out of the way on North Meeting Street next to an environmental advocacy office and past the I-26 exit. Unless you have a whole day ahead of you, walking there is not an option, though after eating one of the comfortably decadent bar food concoctions they’ve grilled, fried, buttered, and dipped there, a walk might be a good idea, or at least a nap.

At the top of the hunting lodge inspired bar, there’s a stuffed moose head sporting a fedora. At the top of their menu, there’s a stuffed sandwich that sports the distinction of being “the best sandwich ever made.” With the soups and salads lacking grandeur, the sandwiches are the way to go.

How does the Moose enter their treat into the taste-bud hall of fame? Their signature item is Mike’s Famous Duck Club ($13.50), a towering triple-decker flowing with smoky duck confit, crisp bacon, and slabbed cheddar. For posterity’s sake, tomato, lettuce, and red onion dog pile on. The dome is slices of pork-fat butter fried Hawaiian bread. For extra indulgence (and if anything here is worth doing, it’s worth over doing), order a side of shoestring duck-fat fries ($1.50) with garlic aioli, a dense French onion dip that is fantastic for two fries at once.

The duck club, which can easily be split with whoever you drive there with (and should be) has layers of textures. Though grilled, the outside is still moist and squishy, owing to the airy Hawaiian bread, and the middle gets a bite from the sharp aioli and brisk onion.

If the club doesn’t catch your appetite, the Tattooed Moose has another option that’s a holiday meal in a basket. Their Thanksgiving “Leftovers” Sammy ($7.50) takes all of your favorites from Turkey Day and slams them onto a denser sunflower wheat bread, meaning you can get fried turkey, stuffing, and a wine-flavored cranberry mayo even if it isn’t the last Thursday of November. They even include a dish of gravy to dip the sandwich in.

If the Scooby-Doo worthy munchies weren’t cartoonish enough, you’ll be in the middle of a comic strip tinkering on unreal. The place has only been open for a year, but there’s enough graffiti-artistic (a flowing octopus) to the promotional (I heart duck fat fries) to the deprecating.

McCrady’s or Magnolia’s may be elaborate in their entrees, but the Tattooed Moose is one late-night Charleston destination that mocks “high cuisine” with a sense of humor that makes a journey there just as worthwhile.


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