lost, for a little while

charleston interlude: dinner at the tattooed moose
April 20, 2011, 9:38 pm
Filed under: food, trips

Sweet baby Jesus

It was a triple-decker sandwich. Three layers of soft, just-barely-sweet Hawaiian bread, crunchy lettuce, thickly-sliced tomato, slathers of garlic aioli, apple smoked bacon, melted cheddar, and duck confit. You heard me: duck confit.

The moment I read about the “Duck Club” at the Tattooed Moose in Charleston, I knew that’s where I needed to go for dinner while in town. Forget traditional southern food; I was zeroing in on this prime example of delicious overindulgence. And I loved every bite.

With a name like the Tattooed Moose, I was expecting a biker bar, but the decor was lacking anything from the leather & license plates genre. Also? I didn’t see any tattoos on that moose. It hung proudly above the bar, surrounded by various deer heads (most wearing hats), but was sans any markings. In fact, if you disregarded the prevalent display of taxidermy, it seemed very much like a college/hipster hangout: rough wooden tables, comfy leather seats, and Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, and Miike Snow playing over the speakers.

My server ambled up to my booth in a plaid flannel shirt and pushed his shaggy hair out of his eyes as he asked me what I wanted to order. I asked how big the Duck Club was, and with his hands, he pantomimed a perfect cube about 6″x6″x6″.

“Most people have trouble finishing it,” he said.

“Okay. I’ll have that, then,” I told him, and sat back to look around after he left me alone.

To my right were two guys sipping beers and watching golf on one of the plasma flat screens. Behind me, I could hear the rowdy table of twenty-somethings, obviously already several beers ahead of the two guys next door. And why not? With prices ranging $2-$8 a bottle and a lengthy list to choose from, you didn’t have to be stingy.

There were boxes of board games stacked on the ledge that ran around the perimeter of the room, and the group behind me seemed to be partaking in a round of drunken Jenga. If there’s anything better than a good board game, it’s a good board game played when drunk. I approved.

As I waited for my sandwich, I flipped open the menu again and scanned the rest of the items. It was your typical pub fare of sandwiches, burgers, and a limited breakfast menu with one difference: the addition of duck to many of the more standard items. Mike’s Famous “Duck Club,” Duck Hash, Duck Fat Fries, and — this one made me a little queasy to think about — the Garbage Plate: “Meat, Cheese, Eggs & Veggies on a Bed of Duck Fat Fries, Smothered in Sausage Gravy. Just the mess you need to forget about last night!”

To go along with the hangover food was an additional “Hair of the Dog” drink menu, special for brunch (served 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays), which included Bellinis, Mimosas, and a “High Octane” Bloody Mary.

My waiter dropped off the sandwich and a thick stack of napkins. There was nothing left to do but take a bite and try to hang on.

Looking back, I think I would have been better scraping off some of the aioli, but in the moment, it was a glorious bite of heart-stopping goodness. The bread was soft and just lightly toasted — not hard and mouth-scratching like with some clubs — and the crunch of the lettuce and bacon was a much-needed contrast to the rich duck meat (I opted out of the red onion and pickles that were included, as well). I made it two bites before feeling the need to grab my first napkin and wipe up, and so it went: three bites, clean. Repeat. This is not a sandwich for self-conscious eaters, and the whole time I couldn’t help but wonder what the guys to the right thought of me, my face shining with grease and sandwich fillings plopping onto my basket every few bites. Most likely: sexy.

Halfway through, I took a break and some long pulls from my ice water (any other beverage would have felt like suicide). My server swung by again to see how I was doing (he took forever noticing me at first, but soon after was very attentive) and all I could manage was a shake of the head and a small grin.

I let out a deep breath, took one more gulp of water, and picked up the other half. Let’s do this.

With each bite, I grew more full, but not once did I want to put the sandwich down. I simply took more time between bites to thoroughly study the menu and my surroundings. Outside, there was a deck for outdoor seating, which I learned was a recent addition to the place. Once a month there were Good Beer Tuesdays, with live music and free samples from a featured brewery. The non-alcoholic drink menu included the odd mix of iced tea, Coke products, Gatorade, Dr. Brown’s Root Beer, and Red Bull.

I had one bite left in my hand, and I forced myself to finish it before leaning back and throwing the last crumpled napkin in my basket. I was so going to regret this later, but it was worth it.

My server came by again and eyed my empty basket.


It was.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Can’t wait to go well out of my way to hit the tattooed moose…and I KNOW you looked “sexy” …you go , girl!
xxxoooauntie barby

Comment by auntie barby

1. I’m glad you ended up liking the duck confit.

2. I am so not surprised you finished it.

Comment by Adrienne

I also agree with Adrienne, SO NOT SURPRISED you finished it. And second, a girl who can put down that kind of food is ALWAYS sexy.

Comment by Anneliese

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