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Queen of the Food Age

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Cocktails to Sip in Charleston This Summer

July 5, 2017

When it comes to sippin’ cocktails in the summer, some drinks are better than others. We’re looking for bright, refreshing flavors, and fresh, local ingredients.

Here are some of my favorite summer cocktails in Charleston, in alphabetical order:

Bar Mash

Tropiganda


Just because we’re not in the Caribbean, doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy a good tropical cocktail! The Tropiganda is made with Cathead Vodka, passion fruit, lychee, pineapple, and island spice and will have you wishing you were wearing a grass skirt.

82 Queen

Jasmine Martini

Confederate Jasmine might be the unofficially-official flower of Charleston, so it makes sense that 82 Queen’s summer cocktail would be a Jasmine Martini. Featuring Jasmine-infused Dixie Southern Vodka, Sweet Vermouth, house made Honey Syrup, and fresh lemon, this cocktail is best enjoyed on a porch while telling people “bless your heart.”

Blind Tiger Pub

Bloody Mary

The Blind Tiger 2.0’s best summer cocktail is an oldie but a goodie. Featuring local Dixie Black Pepper vodka, and Charleston Bloody Mary Mix (Bold and Spicy) with Pickled Shrimp, pickled okra, olives and cucumber, it’s best enjoyed during brunch.

Burwell’s

Blueberry Mint Smash

This cocktail features Reyka Vodka, ginger liqueur, lemon, fresh juiced blueberry and mint – making it the perfect fruity summer cocktail, and even more perfect for sipping on Burwell’s Rooftop Patio.

Proof

Penicillin

A scotch drinker is no joke – and neither is the Penicillin at Proof. A modern classic originally created by Sam Ross, you may not need the antibiotic after sipping on Proof’s adaptation of this sweet and citrusy cocktail, but a few too many and might we recommend an Advil? The Penicillin smoothly blends Monkey Shoulder Scotch with honey, ginger, lemon and Islay scotch for a cocktail that means business.

Scarecrow

A Place to Call Home

If gin’s your go-to, then you better start calling Scarecrow Hearth & Liquor Bar home. A Place to Call Home features Hendrick’s gin, Lavender Vanilla Syrup and is topped off with sparkling rosé. Rosé all day? Yes way.

 

SOL Southwest Kitchen

Mezcal Mule

Tequila is SO 2016 – Mezcal is the new, hot Mexican spirit of choice.  SOL Southwest Kitchen puts a twist on a traditional cocktail with their Mezcal Mule. With Montelobos Mezcal, cucumber, fresh squeezed lime and ginger beer, this refreshing drink will cool you down before it heats things up.

 

Skinny Dip

Frosé

If you didn’t drink frosé, did summer really happen? Skinny Dip’s frosé, available at Rudi’s Coffee & Vino upstairs, features notes of grapefruit and ginger, and is capped off with a fresh-picked mint leaf. Frosé all day, indeed.

What are your favorite summer cocktails?

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 7/3/17: What’s For Lunch?

July 3, 2017

So, if you’re like me, you’ve been celebrating 4th of July for the past 2 days with countless hot dogs and hamburgers straight off the grill, full days out under the sun, and more than my fair share of alcohol (but it’s okay, because I was at a house party where I slept on an air mattress with the most adorable dog in the world. That’s how I party responsibly).

This week’s quote is semi-patriotic in theme in that it represents America’s #1 pasttime: eating. Enjoy your actual 4th celebrations tomorrow!

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch”
–Orson Wells


Queen on the Road Restaurant Reviews

Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee Part 3: Linger Longer Steakhouse

July 1, 2017

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a 4-day stay at the Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee as a representative of The Daily Meal. This is part 3 of a 3-part series. For more about my experience, read my review of Gaby’s By The Lake and Georgia’s.

Keep in mind that this meal was complimentary and that for official review purposes, I was treated to a prix fixe menu. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Linger Longer Steakhouse

The most upscale of all of the dining options at The Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee was the Linger Longer Steakhouse. Chef Casey Burchfield has put together a menu that appeals to both casual and sophisticated palates in a way that is very approachable. Because I’m adventurous, he put together a special prix fixe menu for the purposes of this review. Our waiter was also a certified sommelier and took a lot of pride in pairing each course with the perfect glass of wine or cocktail. And because I’m a big jerk, I apparently didn’t take a photo of a single one of those drinks.

Seven courses, NBD


As we sat down, we were treated to an amuse bouche, which consisted of a tartare duo. The beef tartare was served on a puffed piece of beef tendon (it had the consistency similar to that of a shrimp chip), and was a very unique presentation and use of ingredients. It was big enough for 2 bites, but much less messy to eat in 1, so that’s what I did. The tuna was served on a dehydrated rice cracker, and tasted very similar to what you’d find in a sushi restaurant.

A great way to start the meal!

The first official course was lobster bisque with butter poached lobster. I’m not sure what the deal is with the Ritz Carlton, but they’ve really figured out the secret to a great bowl of soup. The bisque was rich and decadent, but still light and airy enough so as not to weigh me down, which was good because I still had 6 courses to go. The lobster was perfectly poached, making this dish a definite winner.

Lobster bisque is the key to my heart, apparently.

The second course was a grilled leek and burrata cheese with truffle and garlic. Burrata (aka cheese-stuffed cheese) is one of my favorite cheeses because I love how creamy it is, and the combination of the tangy and smoky flavor of the grilled leeks was perfect with the cheese.

“Cheese-Stuffed Cheese” will be the name of my memoir.

Course 3 was seared scallop, ramps, strawberry, and white asparagus. I was really excited for this dish–despite the fact that I don’t usually like scallops–because I had been hearing a lot about ramps being kind of the “it” vegetable of 2017. For those who don’t know, a ramp is a wild onion that grows during the spring in Eastern Canada and the U.S. It has a sort of garlicky-onion flavor and is bite-sized. The combination of the buttery scallops (which were phenomenal, btw) with the tart strawberries and garlicky ramp was a harmonious orchestra of flavor.

I’ll never eat scallops the same way again!

Chef had recently spent some time in Thailand, so the fourth course was a Thai-inspired BBQ pork with sweet onion, green papaya, and a spicy tangy sauce. The pork itself had a nice crispiness on the outside and practically fell apart on the inside. Pork usually goes well with fruit, but the combination of the green papaya and the tangy sauce was exceptional.

Why don’t we put papaya in more things?!

The fifth course was Faroe Island salmon with sweet pea puree, ragout of spring vegetables, and a garlic emulsion. The dish was absolutely gorgeous in its plating, and the flavor did not disappoint. There was a lot going on, from the pea puree to the garlic emulsion, but it all came together beautifully.

I need to take a class on how to identify which flowers are edible and which will kill me. I’m assuming these were the former since I’m still alive.

The sixth course was a prime Manhattan steak with potato puree, sweet & sour ramps (yay, more ramps!), and a bacon-mushroom bordelaise. Holy moly was this good. If I hadn’t been so stuffed from the previous courses, I could’ve eaten like 3 more plates of this steak. Chef Casey is magical!

The thing on the bottom right that looks like a baby onion? That’s a ramp.

For dessert, we had a Valrhona Chocolate soufflé with white chocolate ice cream and fresh sliced strawberries. The souffle was basically a chocolate-flavored cloud, and the ice cream was a great palate cleanser.

Chocolate is always ok by me!

As an added bonus (an after-dessert dessert, if you will), Chef sliced up some Bentons Bacon country ham, which he served to us on a charred barrel plate with a rye whisky and amaro aperitif. The saltiness of the ham plus the sweetness of the amaro was a great combination, and I almost preferred it to the sweet dessert.

This photo comes courtesy of our awesome waiter who didn’t give me any details when he asked to borrow my camera. I’m just a very trusting person, and it resulted in this badass shot of Chef Casey.

Linger Longer Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Product Review Product Round-Up

Products We Love: June 2017

June 28, 2017

Being a food writer comes with a lot of fun perks, not the least of which is the fact that a lot of companies send us fun food products to try out with the hopes that we share some of our favorites with our readers! I’ve been getting a lot more of these products lately, so we wanted to share with you some of our favorites that would be perfect for a 4th of July party, summer cookout, or just because!

1. Pure Growth Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits

I did not take this picture. I wish I was that talented!


I will admit that because these are marketed at kids, I assumed they would not really be my thing. I threw them in the car while I was driving to Atlanta, thinking maybe it would delay how long I was able to drive before stopping for food. To my surprise, they were absolutely delicious! And pretty filling, too. I ate 1 pouch and was good for the whole 5-hour drive to Atlanta. Kids or not, if you often eat breakfast on-the-go, I highly recommend these!

Where to buy: Amazon.com, Target

2. Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips

Let’s just put them all together in one bowl and let what happens happen.

How am I only just discovering these amazing chips?! As someone who usually doesn’t love potato chips (they’re just too greasy, I don’t get it), these were like a reinvention of the classic potato chip. They’re super crunchy and don’t leave your fingers feeling like an oil slick afterward. My favorite flavor is the Spicy Pimento Cheese, although the State Fair Fried Pickle is a close second.

Where to buy: LowcountryKettle.com, local grocery stores around Charleston

3. Arctic Zero Lactose-Free Ice Cream

So I’ve recently been trying to cut down on my dairy intake because I think I’m starting to develop a bit of an intolerance to dairy (which I ignore most of the time). When Arctic Zero sent me a couple of their pints, I was super pumped. The peanut butter swirl was my all-time favorite. Keep note that it doesn’t taste like regular ice cream, but as a frozen dessert, it was pretty delicious.

Where to buy: Amazon, Bi-Lo, Walmart, Publix, Earth Fare

4. Fire Department Coffee

Isn’t their branding pretty?

Coffee that’s aged in liquor barrels? Why not! If you’re a fan of Irish Coffees, then you’ll love this brand. My favorite is the bourbon roast. I will say that I am not a fan of the tequila roast (tequila and coffee isn’t my jam, apparently…good to know). I also really like this company because they partner with organizations like Sons of the Flag, which benefits burn victims, so I can feel like I’m doing a good deed with each morning brew.

Where to buy: firedeptcoffee.com

5. Muuna Cottage Cheese

Muuna acai bowl FTW!

This month was apparently about me learning to like foods I had previously thought I didn’t care for. Muuna Cottage Cheese sent me a few different flavors to try, and I went in not sure how if I was going to like any of them. I can safely say that the blueberry flavor is delicious when mixed with some granola or as part of an acai bowl (which is how I’ve been using it), and the plain is really good when used in dips!

Where to buy: Ingles and Giant


Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 6/26/17 – Breaking Fast

June 26, 2017

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! I traveled up to Washington DC to visit some of my friends. We shared a casual bottomless brunch together, which consisted of Greek-inspired small plates and enough mimosas to drown a small village (which, in a way, we are). I love the brunch lifestyle. It’s so much more casual and lowkey than every other meal.

In that vein, this week’s quote comes from John Gunther and will put you in a Sunday sort of mood (even if it is a lame ole Monday).

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.
–John Gunther

I think happiness is also dependent on avocado toast, but maybe that’s just me.


Queen on the Road Restaurant Reviews

Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee Part 2: Georgia’s

June 23, 2017

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a 4-day stay at the Ritz Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee as a representative of The Daily Meal. This is part 2 of a 3-part series. For more about my experience, read my review of Gaby’s By The Lake.

Keep in mind that this meal was complimentary and that for official review purposes, I tasted smaller portions of the menu. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Georgia’s


A slightly more upscale, but still casual offering is Georgia’s. They just brought in a new chef (Shaun Thomas) and did a rebrand of their menu and the restaurant itself, so I was one of the first to try everything the new restaurant had to offer. I visited for dinner and for breakfast and both meals were fantastic.

Dinner

As soon as I sat down for dinner, I was greeted with an adorable bread basket, which consisted of a salted yeast roll, cheddar bacon biscuit, and cornbread with whipped butter and jam. They were all delicious in their own right, but my favorite was probably the cornbread, which had just a hint of sweetness to it and practically melted in your mouth.

Although it’s rare for me to meet a bread basket I don’t like.

For dinner, I tried a number of things, but my favorite–by far–was the She Crab Soup (Lemon Yogurt, Chives, normal portion: $12). I sometimes tend to be wary of she crab soups, because people can be a little heavy handed with the sherry, which is not my favorite flavor, but this was perfection. It was creamy and had a nice depth of flavor that was balanced out by the lemon. A perfect cup of soup.

More like “ME crab soup,” amirite??

Because I was officially receiving tasting sizes of the different menu items, they brought out this adorable wooden board of appetizers, which consisted of the tomato salad (Duke’s Mayo, Red Wine Vinegar, Cucumber, Red Onion and Basil, Georgia Olive Oil, normal portion: $9), and Southern spreads with grilled bread (Tomme Pimento, Peanut Hummus, Georgia Olive Oil, normal portion: $10). The

I’ll take 3 more of these please.

The Seafood Purloo (Carolina Gold Rice, Local Oysters, Shrimp and Crab, Shellfish Stock, normal portion: $26) was absolutely fantastic. I was worried it was going to be overly fishy, but it was really well-balanced without being overwhelming. Plus, the rice was cooked perfectly!

Rice is the best because it basically just becomes whatever you cook it with.

The Meatloaf (Sparta Mushroom Gravy, Spicy Ketchup Glaze, Whipped Mash, normal portion: $18) was good also. My portion had crispy bacon wrapped around the outside, which gave a little smokiness to the meat, which harmonized well with the sweet and spiciness of the ketchup glaze.

Idk why meatloaf gets such a bad rep when it’s so delicious!

One dish that really surprised me was the Charred Okra (tomato jam, lemon, $5). I tend to think that okra is best either pickled or fried, so I had kind of low expectations for this dish. But in reality, it was exceptional! Charring the okra took out a lot of that signature sliminess, while adding in just the right amount of smoky flavor from the char. Plus, the tomato jam is my new jam (pun intended); I wish I could put it on everything!

Because you’re not truly a Southerner if you don’t like okra!

Their take on sort of a baked bean dish is the Sea Island Red Peas (with cornbread crumbs, $5). They were cooked almost al dente, and the thing I love about the Sea Island Red Peas are just how much more flavorful they are than other types of peas. Plus, the cornbread added a nice touch of sweetness to the dish that was nice and unexpected.

The best peas there are!

The Collard Greens (with ham hock, $5) were pretty standard. I like that they go ahead and bring out some pepper vinegar (house made) without having to ask, which saves us all some time. If you like collards, you’ll love these!

Vegetarians beware.

The Seasonal veggie (local squash, $5) was a local squash with a ricotta and squash topping and fresh roasted tomatoes. I kind of OD’d on yellow squash a couple of years ago with a CSA I’d signed up for, so I wasn’t really looking forward to this, but it absolutely blew me away! The homemade ricotta with the squash folded in was exceptional, and the squash itself tasted like it came straight out of the garden right before it was put on my plate.

One of the only times in my life that I’ve actually enjoyed yellow squash.

The Fried green tomatoes (Poached Lobster, Herb Aioli, Blackened Butter, full portion: $14) were really unique in that they were topped with a little bite of poached lobster. It was almost like a lobster roll + FGT all rolled into one. I love the cornmeal breading they used on the tomato, which was really light and still allowed you to get the full flavor of the tomato.

Like a little lobster nugget.

My favorite dessert (and the only one I took photos of) was Mary Beth’s Heath Bar Custard (tahitian vanilla, butter shortbread crumble, whipped cream, chopped heath bar, $10). The recipe comes from Chef Thomas’s grandmother, and he says it’s “the only thing I remember her ever cooking.” I love heath bar, so I thought this was fantastic (even though each bite made me feel like my stomach might explode, since I’d already eaten so much). It’s sweet without being cloying and the crunch of the heath bar was a perfect counterbalance to the creaminess of the vanilla custard.

Breakfast

For breakfast, I kept it simple and easy by ordering the Eggs Benedict (Two Poached Eggs, English Muffin, Choice of Canadian Bacon or Smoked Salmon, Hollandaise, Breakfast Potatoes, $18). It was your typical eggs benny, and my eggs were perfectly poached and runny. The hollandaise was really tasty, and was the perfect condiment for me to dip my home fries in!

Sometimes simple is best!

Since they had also just released their new breakfast cocktail menu, I tried a few of those as well. The first was their Bloody Mary (bacon-washed vodka, house made spicy Bloody Mary mix, garnished with heirloom cherry tomatoes, house pickled veggies, lemon, bacon, and purple kale straight out of the Georgia’s garden, $15). I don’t normally like Bloody Mary’s, but I have to say that this was pretty tasty!

And when it matches the backdrop this perfectly, how can you say no?!

Next up was The Motivator (Kahlua, Godiva, Disaronno, Iced Coffee, with Irish Cream Finish, $15), which was their take on an Irish coffee. I don’t usually like to mix coffee and liquor, but this was nice and refreshing. I especially liked that it was served over ice, which made it feel a lot lighter than normal.

Coffee with a kick!

Another option is the Sunrise to Sundown (Skyy Vodka, Orange Juice, House-Made Raspberry Syrup Drizzle, $12), similar to a Screwdriver with the added touch of raspberry syrup drizzle. It was the ideal drink for sitting out on the patio with the lake as a backdrop.

A drink that really says “good morning!”

All in all, I would highly recommend this for a casual breakfast or dinner, especially when the weather is nice because the patio is awesome!

Georgia's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Featured Foodie

Featured Foodie: Jai Jones

June 21, 2017

This month’s featured foodie is someone I’d followed (aka stalked on Instagram) for a while before I actually met him IRL. We became fast friends during the Charleston Wine + Food Festival this year, and have attended a number of food events since then, which have helped to solidify our friendship, even though I sometimes hate him for being such an awesome food photographer. Meet Jai Jones!

What inspired you to start taking photos of your food?

I’ve always loved photography and capturing those moments in life that take us back to a time or memory in our past. After my college years of eating anything that was cheap and quick, then making the move to Charleston, I began to gain a great appreciation for the culinary scene in this city. I believe that food is an art in itself, and enjoying a great meal is something that we all have in common.

What’s one of your biggest “Wins” you’ve accomplished in your blogging / food career?


So far, working with the Charleston Wine and Food Festival Street Team over the past two years has to be one of the highlights. The festival continues to grow and evolve every year, and it’s been a lot of fun having the opportunity to cover some of the amazing events (and phenomenal food) that all makes the Charleston Wine and Food Festival such an awesome, can’t miss event every year.

 What are some of your favorite spots in Charleston (restaurants/bars/etc)?

Ah, that’s always a tough one! Right now for restaurants I would have to say Spero, Edmunds Oast, Cinco, 167 Raw, Stella’s and my go-to spot downtown that i’ve loved for a really long time, Cru Cafe.

When it comes to bars in Charleston, you’ll likely find me at Faculty Lounge, Royal American or the rooftop at Revelry Brewery. For a great cocktail, you can’t go wrong with The Belmont, 492 or The Gin Joint.

Your new office is right near Workshop… what are some of your favorite things to eat there?

I love the food hall / fancy food court concept of The Workshop- it’s been tough for me to resist going all the time since it’s opened! The one place I haven’t tried yet (which will likely happen in the next week) is JD Loves Cheese, but I’ve heard great things. I’ve always loved Pink Bellies and have ended up there the most so far. The pastries at Bad Wolf Coffee are some of the best I’ve had, especially the Kouign Amman, which is one of their signatures.

I know that you have quite the obsession with Lewis BBQ (some might even say you moved downtown to be closer to Lewis), what about it do you love so much?

Ha, that’s likely partially true. I met John Lewis at the Charleston Brown Water Society’s BBQ Invitational back in 2014 when he still lived in Austin, and prior to that had never experienced true Texas brisket. After learning about the process, and then taking that first bite, I was hooked. It was one of those moments that redefined how I feel about a type of food.

What are you really craving right now?

At this moment? A burger and beer from Poe’s.

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 6/19/17: A What-The-Hell Attitude

June 19, 2017

Happy Monday once again, dear readers! I stumbled upon this quote by my hero, Mrs. Julia Child, and I really connected with it, for many reasons. First of all, I often have a “what-the-hell attitude” toward many things in my life, especially cooking. This is great because I take more chances and get out of my comfort zone. On the flip side, it can suck because I’m winging things and not sticking to recipes, so even when things turn out awesome, it’s nearly impossible to repeat. Does anyone else have this problem?

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
— Julia Child


Queen on the Road Restaurant Reviews

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee Part 1: Gaby’s By The Lake

June 16, 2017

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a 4-day stay at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee as a representative of The Daily Meal. Having never stayed at a Ritz Carlton before, I was expecting it to be luxurious, but my visit managed to surpass my already high expectations, not an easy feat to accomplish! I dined in all three of the resort’s signature restaurants, spent a ridiculously long time in the heated infinity pool, and even tried my hand at kayaking on the lake, something I haven’t done since college.

That’s Gaby’s right there to the far right (next to the infinity pool)

While the activities and amenities of the resort were luxurious and amazing (don’t even get me started on how much I loved the spa), the on-site restaurants really blew me away. Originally I was going to do 1 post about the entire stay, but I thought it would be more valuable to break it up by restaurant, because I ate a lot (like, an embarrassing amount of food) and want to make sure I do each restaurant justice.

The whole resort campus was a dreamscape.

For more of my Ritz Carlton adventures, read my review of Georgia’s.

Gaby’s By The Lake


Gaby’s is definitely the most casual of theThe Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee restaurants, and for good reason.The Chef at Gaby’s, Brandon Peterson, does an amazing job of keeping food approachable, while also still ensuring that it’s delicious and not something you’ll find anywhere else. The atmosphere might be super casual, but their food is anything but. It’s located adjacent to the pool and has the tagline, “no shirt, no shoes, our pleasure;” Basically, that means you can get out of the pool and walk straight in to order something for lunch or dinner (which I may have done).

And I encourage you to do it as well. After all, you’re on vacation!

I started with a cocktail, the Strawberry Fields, which was basically a strawberry lemonade with Tito’s vodka ($15) and the perfect cocktail to sip poolside on a warm sunny day. It was sweet and tart and refreshing.

It’s glowing because it floated straight from heaven into my hand.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the brussels sprouts (Korean chili aioli, pickled shitakes, crispy onions, shaved radish, $8). Oh. Em. Gee. They were so yummy. I came back and ordered them a second time for dinner, they were that good. The korean chili aioli was just a little spicy, and a very creamy, while the pickled shitakes added a nice tang, making the whole dish an explosion of flavor.

I’ll take 100 orders of brussels sprouts, please.

My favorite entree that I tried was the ribs platter. I’m not usually excited about ribs, but these were some of the best I’ve ever had. Apparently, they’re glazed with a Coca-Cola sauce, and they have just a nice hint of smoky and sweet… you gotta try them. And the biscuit and pickled vegetables are awesome side dishes, and offer very different, yet harmonious, flavors.

And just look at how colorful the platter is!

One of the things they’re most known for is the lobster grilled cheese (Havarti Cheese, Parker House Bread, $21): holy decadence, Batman. This bad boy had lots of butter, lots of havarti cheese, and lots of lobster. It’s like a lobster roll, but taken to a whole different level. I could (but probably shouldn’t) eat this every day.

I mean is it really a trip to the Ritz Carlton if you don’t eat lobster at least once?!

If you like fried fish tacos (marinated catfish, chipotle slaw, fresh cilantro, lime sour cream, $17), the ones at Gaby’s are very tasty. They’re also nice and light so you can eat them in your bathing suit and not feel gross and bloated afterward.

Is there a more appropriate pool-side food than fish tacos?

At one of the meals that I visited, we started with the Southern Hummus (boiled peanuts, black-eyed peas, Lebanese salad, Greek yogurt, warm pita and tortilla chips, $12), which was a fun play on regular hummus. I like that it had a sharper flavor than traditional hummus, and the Lebanese salad paired really well. If you like hummus, you’ll love this!

These veggies definitely negate all the cheesy, buttery lobster I ate earlier, right?

Sour Cream and Onion Baked Pretzel with local beer cheese ($12) were just ok. The beer cheese was really delicious (can I please dip some fries in this??), but the pretzels were a little on the dry side. They had good flavor, they just didn’t taste as fresh and soft as I would’ve liked.

Beer cheese is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

For my dinner entree, I ordered the grilled swordfish (cumin-spiced carrot puree, Israeli couscous with grilled veggies, cucumber and fresh herb salad, basil oil, $29), which was spectacular. The fish was cooked perfectly and paired really well with the grilled veggies and couscous. I love Israeli couscous because it’s so pearly, and each bite was sheer perfection.

I barely edited this photo. It was naturally this vibrant.

My mom ordered the 12 oz Prime NY strip (garlic and herb smashed potatoes, melted leeks and mushrooms, roasted garlic butter, smokey house steak sauce, $45) and absolutely loved it. It was cooked perfectly to her medium-well request, and was a high quality steak. The real winner of the plate in my opinion, however, was the garlic and herb smashed potatoes. We’re both pretty particular when it comes to mashed potatoes because my mother thinks she makes the best mashed potatoes in the world, so we were both blown away by how good these were.

You get the Tina Gallimore seal of approval, Chef Brandon. A truly rare occurrence.

Whether you’re staying at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds or just visiting Lake Oconee, I recommend giving Gaby’s a visit for lunch or dinner!

Gaby's by the Lake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston Restaurant News Restaurant Openings

I Met Andrew Zimmern, Y’all

June 14, 2017

How’s that for a headline? I mean, to be fair, I sort of stalked him through a crowd and enlisted the help of Charleston Foodie Babe to corner him into taking a pic, but still…a photo’s a photo.

Even if it’s not the greatest photo quality. Still counts!

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to a media open house for the new restaurant 1Kept in the Renaissance Hotel (replacing Barony Tavern, RIP). I had a plus one and invited my friend and fellow food blogger, Elise from Cookin’ With Booze. She’s also a fellow CofC grad, and a Yelp Elite and… (come to think of it, she might be trying to bodysnatch me…)

‘Cept she remembered the booze for the photo, so she’s already one step ahead of me.

The space is totally revamped from when it was Barony Tavern, instead of a campy hunting lodge, it now feels a lot more upscale without losing the rustic charm that I loved.


Andrew Zimmern is the Renaissance Hotels’ “Global Navigator” which as I understand it is basically a fancy word for “spokesman.” He was in town to help kick off the restaurant’s debut, and spent the day hanging out with awesome Charleston people like The Cocktail Bandits, Mike Lata, and Elise Testone. Hardly anyone seemed that impressed that he was there, but Elise and I definitely got a little starstruck. In fact, I think I still have the nail marks in my arm from where she grabbed me and whisper-shrieked “he’s here!” when he walked in.

Host of 1 Kept Opening Party! Andrew Zimmern checking out @rencharleston new digs & restaurant. #businessunusual

A post shared by Simone Bruderer (@simonebruderer) on

The drinks available were your choice of a Moscow Mule or a Negroni, and it was Negroni week so obviously I had to try that (although you know I tried both cocktails and even let the Cocktail Bandits slip me a shot of tequila, because that’s how I roll).

The food was not as prevalent, and honestly as far as passed hors d’oeuvres go, not that impressive. But I also don’t think it was indicative of their actual menu.

  • Watermelon gazpacho with crab: best bite of the night-refreshing, sweet, a lot of crab
  • Pimento cheese toast: tomato jam on top had a nice sweetness that complemented the sharpness of the cheese
  • Skewer with pork and fruit: (I did not try this, but according to Elise) “the fruit was soaked in something and tasted artificial”
  • Steak with chimichurri: chimichurri had nice flavor, steak was really chewy and too big of a piece for a 1 bite appetizer. The potato offered little-to-no flavor

In addition to listening to Andrew introduce the new space, we also were treated to a mini-concert with Elise Testone, which was a very special treat.

Can’t wait to try out the actual food soon! Also, be sure to follow Elise on Instagram: @CookinWithBooze

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