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Restaurant Reviews

Swig & Swine

January 16, 2015

One of my favorite new restaurants to open in West Ashley recently was definitely Swig & Swine. I love me some good pork and boy, does Swig & Swine have some good pork!

I mean, basically.

Also, your body weight in pulled pork seems to do the trick.

The first time I went with friends, we couldn’t decide what we wanted, so we ordered the Family Platter (Smoked Chicken Wings, Ribs, Smoked Turkey, Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Smoked Pork Belly, Homemade Sausage, w/ 3 sides, $38), since it had basically everything on the menu.

Seriously. Everything but the kitchen sink.

Seriously. Everything but the kitchen sink.

All of their meat is amazing. The ribs and the chicken wings are something else entirely, and the brisket is so flavorful. I’m not as crazy about the pork belly, but that’s more of a texture thing for me.

Talk about a successful before and after pic.

Talk about a successful before and after pic.

The pulled pork is smoky and yummy all on its own, but that’s unnecessary because Swig and Swine has 4 different sauces you can use, a sweet red, Carolina mustard, vinegar, Alabama white, and they’re all delicious. My favorite is the mustard and it might be one of the best mustard sauces I’ve ever had. Their sweet red is also great, and you’ll like the Alabama white if you like that white sauce at Japanese restaurants (which I do).

If you love BBQ sauce, this is the place to be. Photo via Swig & Swine's Website

If you love BBQ sauce, this is the place to be. Photo via Swig & Swine’s Website

For the sides, we chose Mac & Cheese (obviously), Beans w/ Brisket, and Pickled Vegetables. The mac and cheese is awesome, I highly recommend it if you like a classic shells-and-cheese-style macaroni.

Seriously good macaroni.

Seriously good macaroni.

The baked beans are tangy and meaty (from the brisket) and smoky, and just great all around.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit...

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

 

The pickled vegetables are the perfect texture, not too soft, not too crisp and I love the taste of the vinegar they’re soaked in.

And what an array of veggies!

And what an array of veggies!

On a follow-up visit, we got the same family platter, which we split between 4 of us, so we managed to have some room leftover for dessert (Banana Pudding or Mini Pies, $5). I went with the chocolate pecan pie, which was served as a mini-pie-for-one with homemade whipped cream on top, which was nice and fluffy and just a touch sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It's so cute and miniature!

It’s so cute and miniature!

Lily got the banana pudding, which I’m normally not a fan of, but this was pretty darn good. It tasted like real bananas and not banana flavoring, and was nice and creamy and topped with something that had the consistency of meringue.

It tastes much better than it looks, I promise.

It tastes much better than it looks, I promise.

Ben May got a blueberry cream pie (I think that’s what it was), and it was thick and creamy with fresh blueberries on the bottom. We were all very quiet as we ate our desserts, which is very unlike us, so that’s how you know it was good.

This definitely had a different name than "blueberry cream pie" but I can't for the life of me think of what it was.

This definitely had a different name than “blueberry cream pie” but I can’t for the life of me think of what it was.

If you get a chance to go to Swig & Swine, you definitely should. Get the family platter and let me know what your favorite meat or side is!

This is exactly how a classy roadside BBQ joint should look.

This is exactly how a roadside BBQ joint should look. Photo via Swig & Swine’s Website

Swig & Swine
1217 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407
843-225-3805

Swig & Swine on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

The Rarebit

December 5, 2014

Most nights in Charleston when I end up going out for a drink, I’ll either end up at Rec Room or Rarebit (or realistically, both). Their menu is delicious (and designed by my newest chef obsession, Brannon Florie). Their drinks are creative and tasty and the atmosphere is usually pretty fun. Plus I’m a sucker for their Moscow Mule (Smirnoff vodka, Sweatman’s ginger beer, limeade, $8), which uses the best ginger beer in town.

I'm a sucker for a good mule.

I’m a sucker for a good mule.

But mostly I go there for the mac and cheese ($3.50 as a side). (Prepare yourself. There will be lots of pictures of mac and cheese in this post). This is probably my second favorite mac and cheese in Charleston. It’s creamy and cheesy and just so delicious.

I mean, just look at it.

I mean, just look at it.

All their food is flavorful and fresh, and I’ve never had a bad meal. The Country Fried Steak (skillet fried, battered steak with buttermilk pepper gravy served with creamy mashed potatoes & green beans, $15) is my standby favorite. I order it 9 times out of ten and I’m never disappointed. It’s served hot and crispy, topped with a flavorful pepper gravy…the whole thing just comes together perfectly.

And of course I get it with the mac and cheese. I mean, are you even surprised?

And of course I get it with the mac and cheese. I mean, are you even surprised?

Lily has ordered the Southern Fried Catfish (local farm raised catfish served with mac & cheese and sauteed spinach, $14) is good, too. It’s also served hot and crispy and perfectly seasoned. I’m not usually one to order fish, but I’d definitely order this again.

Oh, hey, look. More mac and cheese!

Oh, hey, look. More mac and cheese!

They even have food for vegans! The Vegetable Rarebit (baked squash, zucchini, seasonal vegetables, spinach & portabella saute served over a chili pepper chutney garnished with a glazed baby carrot, $11), which is awesome. Just make sure they don’t put honey on it like they do their “vegan” burger. Someone in the kitchen is not vegan enough for the vegans I know.

When Naomi ordered this, she definitely thought that carrot was a hot dog and almost passed out.

When Naomi ordered this, she definitely thought that carrot was a hot dog and almost passed out.

After 10, they only serve their breakfast menu, which is ok with me, because they consider a Patty Melt (two pressed flat Angus patties topped with American cheese & caramelized onions on rye toast) to be breakfast food. And it’s a great burger (better than their actual burger, in my opinion). Especially at midnight after one too many Moscow Mules.

via Yelp

If there even is such a thing. Photo via Yelp

Speaking of catfish, the Catfish Po Boy (fried catfish with lettuce, tomato & housemade mustard remoulade on a New Orleans French roll, $9) is just awesome. You get the same piece of catfish as pictured above, served on a freshly baked N’awlins roll, with their sweet and tangy mustard remoulade. What’s not to love? We got it was a side of the breakfast potatoes which are also really great. They’re cubed and fried so that they’re nice and crispy on the outside and soft and potato-y on the inside. Exactly what you’d want.

Did I mention that I'm usually here at night?

Did I mention that I’m usually here at night?

As far as their sides go, they’re delicious. Here are a few of my favorites (other than the mac & cheese, obviously). The Succotash Salad (lime beans with fresh corn & sundried tomatoes, $3.50 as a side) is healthy food disguised as a treat because it tastes so darn good. A great option if you’re dieting (like me) but don’t want to feel like you’re missing out on all the good food.

Or just don't even try to pretend like you're being good and order it with the mac and cheese, which is what I'd do.

Or just don’t even try to pretend like you’re being good and order it with the mac and cheese, which is what I’d do.

The Bacon Lentil Salad (exactly what you’d expect, $3.50 as a side) is also a good “healthy” alternative. Lentils are healthy, right? These guys are delicious and just a little smoky from the bacon. Not your typical southern comfort food, but it gets the job done. Ok, the one thing I’ve been disappointed by in all of my visits, was the Track Burger (pressed flat steak burger with ketchup, mustard, and pickles on a Cuban bun. Single, $4, Double, $6, Cheese, $1). The meat is absolutely perfect, very flavorful and yummy, but the problem is that the patty is just so flat compared to the bun. There’s really no point in even ordering it unless you get a double.

Pictured here with the Track Burger and (you guessed it), mac and cheese.

Are you bored with all the mac and cheese pictures yet?

I went with Lala one time when she ordered the Tomato Soup (roasted tomato and basil puree, $5), which I really enjoyed. I’m a little iffy about tomato soups, but this one tasted homemade and not like it came out of a can. It also had a bit of creaminess to it that I really appreciated. She ordered it with a side of grits ($3.50 as a side), which came out really dense and a bit dry, still in the shape of the scoop they portioned it with. They were a little disappointing, but not bad. She also got bacon (because hey, why not) which tasted like bacon.

I love it when food keeps the shape of the thing it was in before it was on your plate. Love. It.

I love it when food keeps the shape of the thing it was in before it was on your plate. Love. It.

It can get a little crowded on a weekend night, but I love the atmosphere of the place. The wait staff is dressed in like a modern take on a 1950’s diner, and the decor is fun and modern as well. It’s usually pretty dark inside, and seating is a bit limited, but I still love it.

I'm obsessed with the decor in here. How cute is that light??| Photo via Acacia Falzone Photography

I’m obsessed with the decor in here. How cute is that light??| Photo via Acacia Falzone Photography

The Rarebit
474 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 974-5483

The Rarebit on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

McCrady’s

November 7, 2014
*Note, I received a free meal at McCrady's as part of a luncheon I was 
invited to on behalf of Wines of Provence*

Last week I was invited to a wine-pairing lunch at McCrady’s. Since that sentence contains some of my all-time favorite words, I was quick to respond “yes!” (that should come as no surprise, since you should be aware of my obsession with Sean Brock by now). Upon arrival at the McCrady’s banquet room, I was given a glass of M Rose by Minuty ($19.99/bottle), and it was delicious. Fruity and light and basically everything I wanted in a rose. We all took our seats and were treated to a short presentation about rose Wines of Provence, which I found very informative. Afterward, we got a 5-course lunch, prepared by Lucas Weir, the banquet chef at McCrady’s.

I have a love/hate relationship with prix fixe menus

I have a love/hate relationship with prix fixe menus

I have personally always preferred rose wine to red or white because I think it’s a perfect balance. One of the diners at our table who’s been in the wine business for a number of years remarked that rose is “the only wine [he] knew of that really goes well with BBQ.” And if that isn’t a good enough reason to drink rose wine, then I don’t know what is. #PinkWineMakesMeHappy

Especially 5 bottles of pink wine.

And 4 bottles of pink wine makes me sing horrible renditions of 80’s songs. But that’s a bit long for a hashtag.

Course 1 – Grilled Shrimp with Persimmon, Peanut and Benne paired with Hecht & Bannier Cotes de Provence Rose ($17.99) and Mâitres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise Le Provençal ($14.99). I loved this dish. It was fruity, but much more savory than sweet. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and served with the perfect amount of persimmon sauce, with a little bit of crunch from the benne seeds. Both of the wines paired perfectly, but I preferred the Hecht & Bannier with the food (but the le provençal was better on its own).

I wish all shrimp tasted like this.

I wish all shrimp tasted like this.

Course 2 – Steamed Sea Trout with Turnips and Carolina Gold Rice paired with Gassier en Provence Sables d’Azur and Maison Saint Aix, AIX. I’m usually not a fan of trout, and I never would’ve ordered this on my own, but it was absolutely delicious. Very mild, citrusy, and creamy. The citrus and creaminess went really well with the AIX Rose, which I really enjoyed. It had a nice hint of grapefruit and was absolutely perfect with this meal. The Sables d’Azur I found to be a little blander and although it was still good, I preferred the AIX.

You can eat the skin, I'm told. But I never eat the skin.

You can eat the skin, I’m told. But I never eat the skin.

Course 3 – Ember Roasted Pork with Chestnuts, Grapefruit, and Truffle paired with Chateau la Gordonne La Chapelle Gordonne ($29) and Chateau de Bernes Terres de Berne ($19.99). The pork was superb. It melted in your mouth and was bursting with flavor. I wasn’t as big a fan of the chestnuts, as they had the same consistency as undercooked beans. But maybe that’s the way chestnuts are supposed to be eaten? I’m not sure. In terms of the wines, I preferred the terres de berne for sipping on its own, but the la chapelle gordonne was absolutely perfect with the pork (and now I totally understand what he meant about roses pairing well with BBQ).

Now I'm going to be really bougie and only order rose with my BBQ.

Now I’m going to be really bougie and only order rose with my BBQ.

Course 4 – Green Hill Camembert, Honeycrisp Apple, and Appalachian Red Corn paired with Chateau d’Esclans Les Clans ($65). This was one of my favorite courses. I loved the cheese with the apple and the mustard sauce that came with it. They made the Appalachian red corn into little crisps that tasted like cornflakes and were just a little sweet. Everything about this dish, from the taste to the preparation, was absolutely delicious. The wine that was paired with this dish was my least favorite of all the ones we tasted (and it’s a good thing too, since it was also the most expensive). It was very acidic and oaky and had a distinctly bitter and smoky taste. Just not my cup of tea.

I think all meals should have a cheese course.

I think all meals should have a cheese course.

Course 5 – Banana Cake with Coffee and Black Walnut paired with Chateau Paradis Rouge ($17.99). This was probably my least favorite course. The banana cake was dry and bitter from the coffee. The wine was nice and fruity and I opted to make that my dessert and gave up on the cake.

A sad ending to an otherwise perfect meal.

A sad ending to an otherwise perfect meal.

All in all I had a wonderful meal at McCrady’s (like every other meal I’ve had there), and I appreciate Wines of Provence for inviting me and helping open my eyes to the wonders of rose wines. Now that I know how well they pair with pork, and how inexpensive they are, I’ll definitely be having a few glasses of these roses in the future!

And I'd like to sit right here while I drink them, please and thank you.

And I’d like to sit right here while I drink them, please and thank you. Photo via Facebook

McCrady’s
2 Unity Alley
Charleston, SC 29401
(843)577-0025
McCrady's on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Sweeney’s (Johns Island, SC)

October 25, 2014

Sweeney’s has been on my list for a while now, but for some reason, whenever I found myself on Johns Island, I’d end up eating at Wild Olive or JB’s BBQ (because I’m a creature of habit). This restaurant week, however, I convinced Becca to join me at Sweeney’s for dinner. The atmosphere is cozy and quiet, but we were one of only 3 tables of people in the whole restaurant.

And I am OBSESSED with this patio.

And I am OBSESSED with this patio (via Facebook)

It had been a tough day at the office, so I felt like I was justified in ordering a cocktail. I went with the Appalachian Trail (Midnight Moon Blueberry Moonshine, Lemon and Mint, $9) and it was sooo good.

blueberry-moonshine-cocktail

Dangerously so.

For my appetizer, I opted for the Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad (Apples Walnuts Bleu Cheese and Creamy Citrus Vinaigrette, $9), which was really great. I loved the sweetness of the apples, paired with the tanginess of the blue cheese & kale. This is a winner.

I would definitely order this again.

I would definitely order this again.

Becca decided to try the Tempura Broccolini (Chili Aioli, $7). I’m not a huge fan of tempura in general, but these weren’t bad. I probably wouldn’t order them again, but that’s more of a personal preference. I will say that Sweeney’s version was far less greasy than I’ve had elsewhere, which I appreciated.

And that sauce was pretty yummy, too.

But that chili aioli, though.

For some reason I was also hankering for a bowl of soup, and decided to try the vegetable beef soup ($6). I’m pretty picky when it comes to tomato-based soups, but this one surpassed my expectations with flying colors! It was very fresh tasting and bursting with flavor, and I could tell it was homemade and not from a can.

The only thing Campbell's Soup is good for is pop art.

The only thing Campbell’s Soup is good for is pop art.

For my entree, I opted for the Braised Beef Short Rib (with whipped potato, collard greens, heirloom tomato jam, $25) and it was out of this world. The beef was literally falling apart and the heirloom tomato jam added a nice bit of sweetness to it. I don’t usually like mashed potatoes, because my mother’s have spoiled me, but these were probably just as good as my mom’s (just don’t tell her that).

I want to crawl into that bowl and live there.

I want to crawl into that bowl and live there.

Becca went with the Pan Seared Chicken Breast (Tasso Ham, English Peas, Roasted Mushroom, Angel Hair Pasta and Brown Butter Cream, $20). I stole a bite (or 3), and I have to say, it was pretty dang good. The noodles were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was indulgent without being too heavy.

A big bowl of happiness.

A big bowl of happiness.

For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate Pie (Chocolate Ice Cream and Toasted Marshmallow, $8). It was good, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it the way I was with the rest of the meal.

Note: Don't order this if you don't like marshmallows.

Note: Don’t order this if you don’t like marshmallows.

The only part of the whole meal I have to complain about is that as we were waiting for our dessert to come out, we noticed that the table next to use (who came in right as we received our entrees), received a plate of cornbread after they ordered their meal. After looking around, we noticed that all the other tables in the restaurant had gotten cornbread, but we seemed to have missed the cornbread train. As we were paying our checks, we brought the cornbread situation up to our waiter who apologized profusely for forgetting to bring our cornbread out and happily packed us up some cornbread to go. I was stuffed, so I waited until I got home to try it, and I have to say, it was some of the best cornbread I’ve ever eaten. Ever. It was sweet, but not too much, and it had a consistency that was almost cakey. It was perfect.

 

I couldn't find a picture of the cornbread, so here's another picture of the patio! via Sweeney's.com

I couldn’t find a picture of the cornbread, so here’s another picture of the patio! via Sweeney’s Website.

Sweeney’s
3157 Maybank Hwy
Johns Island, SC 29455
(843) 559-5633

Sweeney's on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Minero

October 10, 2014

I’ve been waiting for Minero to open for what feels like my whole life. From the minute I heard that my culinary obsession, Chef Sean Brock, was opening a Mexican restaurant, I knew that was a place I was going to enjoy.

Be still my corazon!

Be still my corazon!

So when I got word that last Friday would be Minero’s official first day, I grabbed Lily and Sheena and forced them to wait 45 minutes for a table in order to try and be one of the first people to try it out. Considering all the hype around the opening, I was surprised the wait was only 45 minutes. While we were sitting outside patiently (and by that I mean “the opposite of patiently”), an older gentleman (who looked not unlike a retired sea captain) who’d just finished his meal stopped to tell us that “it’s defintiely worth the wait. And order el Satánico! Blended!” So when it was finally our turn to be invited in, that was the first thing we did.

As well as the Titán and Dragón Rojo

As well as the Titán and Dragón Rojo

The space is super cool and very inviting. I’m obsessed with the exposed brick, soft lighting, and general earthy feel of the whole place. It’s a little narrow, but the ambiance was spot on for a Friday night dinner. While I was trying to figure out what to order, I noticed Chef Brock walk past our table and let out an audible, involuntary gasp. My hero! In the flesh! Right there! I’m embarrassed that I acted like a 12-year old fan girl, but honestly no one was surprised.

Loading

Full house for the night.

View on Instagram

The menu is relatively short, which I think is a good thing because I was already having a hard enough time deciding on an entree. To start, we ordered the guacamole ($8), which was topped with radish, mexican chili powder, and plenty of cilantro. It was super flavorful and fresh, but a bit on the small side. The tortilla chips were perfect and served in a warm mitten (I don’t know what to call it) and were seasoned well enough to be delicious all on their own. And they better be since he sampled over 40 kinds of corn to perfect them.

guaca-guaca-guaca, mole mole mole. A dip! A dip, dip!

guaca-guaca-guaca, mole mole mole. A dip! A dip, dip!

We also ordered the queso fundido ($9), which is the opposite of the kind of queso that immediately springs to mind (thanks, Moe’s. You’ve ruined me forever). It’s thick and melty and made with smokey roasted poblano, spicy chorizo and meant to be eaten with soft corn tortillas, rather than crispy chips. It was delicious and I think we polished it off mere minutes after it was brought to our table.

You can't go wrong with melted cheese, though, really.

You can’t go wrong with melted cheese, though, really.

Because we had trouble deciding which tacos to order (despite there only being 6 varieties on their menu), we decided to each order 2 and share them so we could get an idea of how each one tasted. Lily picked the fried whiting (pickled green tomato tartar, cabbage, red onion, $4) and the pork carnitas taco (confit, jowl, chicharron, salsa verde ,chilmole, $3.5). They were both delicious, fresh, and flavorful, although if I had to pick a favorite of the two, the carnitas would win hands down.

I don't know if I've ever met a taco I didn't like...

I don’t know if I’ve ever met a taco I didn’t like…

Sheena opted for the grilled steak taco (charred onions and peppers, queso fresco, garlic-amarillo, $4), and the tacos al pastor (marinated and grilled pork, pineapple, avocado, $3.5). The tacos al pastor were awesome with the pineapple, giving a tart and savory flavor to the spiced meat. The steak tacos, though, were out of this world. They were so full of flavor and the meat was tender and juicy…

Dat steak though...

Dat steak though…

I got the final two options, the chargrilled chicken taco (mango, cotija, lime pickled red onion, pasilla de Oaxaca, $3) and the green chorizo taco with potatoes and grilled onions ($4). The chicken tacos had a nice smokey taste from the chargrilling and were very good. However, the chorizo tacos made me stop and close my eyes, chewing slowly so as to really savor the flavor. Each of us had the same reaction. If you’re debating, I definitely recommend the green chorizo taco over all the others.

I'm glad I tried the chicken taco first, or else I would've been super disappointed.

I’m glad I tried the chicken taco first, or else I would’ve been super disappointed.

After our taco feast, we were still a little peckish, so we decided to try the Hotdog confit and deli ham torta (avocado, tomato and chipotle mayo, $9.5), because we were way too intrigued to not try a confit hot dog. I’m so glad we did. The sandwich was huge, but it was unlike anything I’ve ever had. It was topped with some kind of shredded greens (cabbage, I think?), which gave an extra hint of freshness to the salty pork.

Do you see how big this sandwich is??

Do you see how big this sandwich is??

Basically, I want to live in this restaurant. The prices were really reasonable for everything and the quality was top-notch. The service was absolutely awesome, some of the best I’ve ever had. I left feeling like I was best friends with our server by the time we left. In fact, let’s just put a little plaque under table 13 that says “Reserved For The Queen.”

Or just add my name to the sign, that works, too.

Or just add my name to the sign, that works, too.

Minero
155 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 789-2241

Minero on Urbanspoon

 

Restaurant Reviews

Twenty Six Divine

September 26, 2014

One of the best parts of Restaurant week in Charleston is that it always falls on my birthday week, so I end up going out like 4 or 5 times with different friends to celebrate. This year, I had 4 great meals, but my favorite of all the places I tried was Twenty Six Divine! I hadn’t ever even heard of it prior to RW, but I’m officially a fan. Walking up, Sheena and I were delighted by the courtyard, and the interior was small and cozy and felt like we were eating dinner at a friend’s house.

It's like eating dinner in somebody's living room!

Photo Bomb!

When we first sat down, we were greeted by Jennifer Parezo, co-owner & pastry chef (with her husband Enan, who’s the chef). She sat down 2 different kinds of rolls for us to enjoy, and enjoy we did. I loved the hawaiian bread, it tasted similar to the kind you buy in the store, but amplified by about a thousand. So fresh and warm. Mmm… The multigrain roll was also super flavorful and I loved the sunflower seeds on top.

I'll just cancel my entree and eat more bread, please!

I’ll just cancel my entree and eat more bread, please!

For my first course, I went with the Bacon & Avocado Salad (mixed greens, baby tomatoes, goat cheese, avocado, radish, smokey tomato vinaigrette). It was awesome. I love pretty much any salad with bacon or goat cheese in it, and this one had BOTH. The veggies in this salad tasted so fresh, I wonder if they picked them from the garden that morning!

So yummy

I could totally eat this every day.

Sheena got the White Bean Zucchini Cakes, which came with red pepper coulis and more fresh baby tomatoes. They came out looking like mini crab cakes and had similar consistency, but the flavor was totally unique. I wish I could figure out how to make them because they were so simple, but also so full of taste.

And that sauce!

And that sauce! I’m in heaven.

After they cleared out our appetizers, we were each given an amuse bouche of a little cheesy pastry, and it was soooo good. I could’ve eaten a whole basket of those. And they served it on one of those individual soup spoons and it was just too cute.

But 20 in a basket would be even better! #Addicted

But 20 in a basket would be even better! #Addicted

For my entree, I debated furiously between the pork dish and the lamb dish. In the end, my southern side won out and no one was surprised when I ordered the Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork (pork shoulder, collards, petite jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins, smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese). The pulled pork was served wrapped in the collard greens like a paleo burrito, and it was unique and totally delicious. I loved the tanginess of the BBQ sauce paired with the collard greens. And that macaroni…. So good.

And who doesn't love a tower of jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins??

And who doesn’t love a tower of jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins??

Sheena opted to be a little healthier than I, and chose the Cilantro-Lime Seared Mahi Mahi (roasted chayote squash, Carolina gold rice cake, mango buerre blanc). I’m not crazy about fish, but I loved this mahi. It was so full of flavor and was cooked perfectly and cilantro-lime of the fish struck the perfect balance with the mango buerre blanc.

Meals like these make me wish I'd continued on with culinary school.

Meals like these make me wish I’d continued on with culinary school.

For dessert, I was lured into ordering the Chocolate Mousse Cake by the promise of Salted caramel that accompanied the buttermilk chocolate cake and the dark chocolate mousse filling. It was super rich, but super delicious. Everything you want from chocolate cake.

With the added bonus of salted caramel!

With the added bonus of salted caramel!

Sheena, being a pastry chef herself, was ready to judge the crap out of the Mixed Berry Ricotta Tart she ordered for dessert, but ended up singing its praises. The light fluffy vanilla tart was the perfect counterpoint to my rich chocolate cake.

And how cute is that plate?!

And how cute is that plate?!

Once we were stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable, we were given a tiny 2nd dessert of mini apple tartlets which Sheena and I couldn’t stop raving about. She loved that they used nutmeg, rather than cinnamon which gave it a really unique taste and differentiated it from a standard apple pie. I hope these are on the regular menu, because they were so yummy!

And so cute and mini!

And so cute and mini!

I can’t wait to come back and try them out for brunch when I can sit out on this little terrace they have out back. Thanks for the great meal Jenn & Enan!

I can already see myself sitting right there, drinking a cup of coffee, lamenting my hangover.

I can already see myself sitting right there, drinking a cup of coffee, lamenting my hangover.

Twenty Six Divine
682 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 297-8118
Twenty Six Divine on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Tupelo Honey Cafe, Greenville, SC

September 5, 2014

Once upon a time, Lauren and I were looking for a good brunch place in Greenville. My mom did a quick Google search and suggested Tupelo Honey. From the moment we walked in, I could tell I was going to like this place. The atmosphere was fun, colorful, and inviting, and it smelled absolutely amazing. I now make it a point to go to Tupelo every time I’m in Greenville, and sometimes Lauren even drives up from Augusta because it’s that good, and Shay always makes time to meet us there, no matter how busy she is.

And we always have this amount of joy, even if we've had to wait an hour for a table.

And we always have this amount of joy, even if we’ve had to wait an hour for a table.

Once you order, they bring you a plate of these huge, warm housemade biscuits that are served with housemade blueberry preserves, which are out of this world, and some honey (which I assume is the tupelo variety). Also the biscuits are huge. And flaky. And warm.

Are you drooling yet?

Are you drooling yet?

My favorite appetizer is the “Southern Popcorn,” or as you might know it better, fried okra ($7.95). It’s well worth the price, as they give you approximately 4,000 pieces of okra. It’s perfectly fried and only has a little bit of the “slimy-ness” that people associate with okra, which I personally think is delicious. They serve it with “Carolina white sauce” which pairs perfectly.

Give me ALL THE OKRA

Give me ALL THE OKRA

On the past couple of trips, we’ve also gotten the fried green tomatoes ($7.95), because Shay has suddenly found a deep affinity for them. They’re breaded in cornmeal and served over their delicious goat cheese grits and sprinkled with fresh basil. They’re also so freaking tasty.

Seriously. Why is there not a Tupelo in Charleston?!

Seriously. Why is there not a Tupelo in Charleston?!

Lauren always gets the Venerated Veggie Bowl (Our Goat Cheese Grits, topped with salsa verde black-eyed peas, savory sautéed greens and crispy fried okra. Served with Sunshot Salsa, $12.95). I’m pretty sure she dreams about those goat cheese grits sometimes. All the flavors mesh really well together and there’s a great harmony of texture in the bowl. Plus it has “veggie” in the title, so it tricks you into thinking it’s healthy.

It's not. But it is delicious.

It’s not. But it is delicious.

I try to get something different every time, although it’s hard because I definitely have a favorite. The Southern Fried Chicken BLT (Crispy-fried, natural, hormone-free chicken
breast, maple peppered bacon, dijonnaise, fresh lettuce & tomato on an artisanal bun, $10.95) is out of this world. It’s HUGE and bursting with flavor. So yummy.

Served here with the salsa verde black eyed peas

Served here with the salsa verde black eyed peas

Shay recently got the In Praise Of BBQ plate (8 ounces of slow-cooked, hand-pulled pork ‘cue tossed with smoked jalapeno barbecue sauce. Served with fried okra and New South sautéed greens, $13.95). I’m usually hesitant to order BBQ from a non-BBQ restaurant, but Tupelo’s version is delicious. It’s tangy and has a little kick to it which sets it apart from most southern BBQ offerings.

You definitely won't leave hungry.

You definitely won’t leave hungry.

Their sides are all delicious and reasonably priced at $3.75 each. They also have a veggie plate option, where you can choose 3 for $10.95 or 4 for $12.95 and build your own meal. All 13 sides that they feature are awesome–I’ve never been disappointed by any of them so far. I’m especially fond of the mac and cheese (obviously), the salsa verde black eyed peas, and the cheesy smashed cauliflower.

Veggie plate with smashed cauliflower, brussels, and mac & cheese. Pretty good choice, if you ask me!

Veggie plate with smashed cauliflower, brussels, and mac & cheese. Pretty good choice, if you ask me!

There are currently 8 locations throughout SC, NC, and TN. I think it’s about time they build one in Charleston. I’m pretty sure I could singlehandedly keep them in business. Plus, they just debuted their new brunch menu!

Waaah, I want to go to there.

Waaah, I want to go to there.

Tupelo Honey Cafe
1 North Main Street
Suite – T
Greenville, SC 29601
864-451-6200

Tupelo Honey Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Edmund’s Oast

August 22, 2014

I’ve been to Edmund’s Oast a couple of times. First for brunch, and then for dinner. For brunch, I went with Lily, on a lazy Sunday morning after a night of drinking and debauchery. When we walked in, I was struck by how massive the beer list is. It’s not even a list, it’s a whole wall.

I'll have one of everything!

I’ll have one of everything!

I also really liked the design of the menu. Simple yet sophisticated.

So many words!

So many words!

We started with an order of the cornbread (served with honey butter, $4) which is absolutely mindblowing. I think it might be the best cornbread I’ve ever had. And that honey butter. OMG. I can’t even explain it, you’ll just have to try it for yourself. Somehow, we hit the jackpot, and they accidentally sent out a second cornbread, which Lily and I devoured before they’d realized their mistake.

Seriously. Is this made out of angels?

Seriously. Is this made out of angels?

They change their menus weekly, so I don’t know exactly what I ordered, but it was delicious. I ordered a dish that was a play on biscuits and gravy. It was potatoes confit with jerky gravy, cornbread (more cornbread!) and sunnyside eggs. Now, I don’t love eggs, and I can really only eat them scrambled (it’s a texture thing). It was so freaking good.

You had me at "

You had me at “Potatoes.”

Lily had braised pancetta with polenta, slow poached far eggs & smokey greens. That braised pancetta was unreal. Lily fought my fork away when I tried to steal a taste off of her plate, but I managed to sneak some away when she succumbed to the bliss of her breakfast and closed her eyes for a second.

With a side of sunburn.

With a side of sunburn.

We also split a side of bacon, because we’re lardos. It turned out to be a good decision, because it was awesome. Plus they smoke all of the meat in house, so it would’ve been wrong to not try the bacon. Right?

Right?!

Right?!

Here’s where they age / smoke all of the meat. It’s cool how much it adds to the ambiance while still being functional. I love this place!

Can I come back here every weekend??

Can I come back here every weekend??

The second time I visited was with my mom for dinner, and we went all out (as one usually does when Tina’s involved). Since it was after 5, and they had such a nice selection of specialty cocktails, Tina decided to try a Red Wedding cocktail (Elijah Craig 12 year, amaro averna, orange peel, hibiscus thyme sweet tea ice cubes, $12), which seemed appropriate because we were going to be watching Game of Thrones later that night. She loved this cocktail, and despite it being kind of pricey, ordered a second one. She loved that the flavor of the drink changed as the ice cubes melted, and she said it tasted unlike anything she’d had before.

I mean, how could you not??

I mean, how could you not??

When you first walk into EO, one of the first things you notice is the massive beer wall, 48 taps chock full of local and not-so-local ales that you can try. One of the beers they brew in house, the PB&J beer had always intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try. OMG. It is so good. It sounds like it might taste overly sweet or overpowering, but it’s anything but. You get a slight sweetness when you first sip, and a hint of peanut butter after you swallow. I’m a fan.

Even though they apparently don't have it anymore. Sadness.

Even though they apparently don’t have it anymore. Sadness.

To start, we got the “Gin Joint” style Jerky (1.50), which was cut thin, appropriately tough, and super flavorful. It had a very “real” taste. Nothing artificial here. Slightly firm, but also crisp that made is seem homemade and like a lot of work was put into it.

Even if it was a little more on the "well done" side.

Even if it was a little more on the “well done” side.

At the waitress’s recommendation, we also ordered the braised lamb meatballs(apricots, argus cider, mint, $12) as an appetizer. Although this was probably my least favorite dish of the meal, it was still very flavorful and yummy. I really liked the salty-sweet aspect that the apricot added, and I liked that they were kind of spongy, but not frozen tasting.

I do love me some lamb!

Like if Swedish meatballs were made of lamb and tasted nothing like Swedish meatballs.

I ordered the chicken gizzard and duck heart tagliatelle because I was feeling adventurous after the amazing bone marrow pasta I had in NYC, and was not disappointed. Tina was really grossed out by the idea of the dish, but was absolutely astounded by how good it tasted. I would probably order this every time I go back. The noodles tasted homemade and were the perfect vehicle for the sauce. So yummy.

I think the only part of a duck I haven't eaten now is the feet.

I think the only part of a duck I haven’t eaten now is the feet.

Tina got the Chicken and rice porridge which was so delicious. She’s always really nervous about getting chicken soups because she considers hers to be the end-all-be-all. She just kept saying “Oh my god, this is so yummmeh,” every time she ate a spoonful. So I’d say that’s a hit.

And this one was juuuuust right!

And this one was juuuuust right!

For dessert, we couldn’t resist the call of the fudgy brownie with graham crackers and meringue. This dessert is possibly heaven on earth. If heaven had a flavor this is what it would be. I don’t even think I can accurately describe it here, so just go order it and be astounded. Like. It’s SO GOOD. I can’t get over it.

I don't think I'll ever have a brownie this good ever again.

I don’t think I’ll ever have a brownie this good ever again.

The waitress recommended the dessert cocktail, which we were a little skeptical of since it had egg in it, but we decided to go for it to try something new. Not my favorite.

Can't win 'em all!

Can’t win ’em all!

Tina also ordered the cookie sandwich (because, why not?) and it was delicious and simple. I want to start making this at home.

I love cookies and sandwiches, so this is the best of both worlds.

I love cookies and sandwiches, so this is the best of both worlds.

We ordered the strawberry cake as well, and it came to the table after the chocolate thing. I think we would’ve loved it a lot more if we’d eaten it before the chocolate orgasm dish, but after that brownie, all other desserts pale in comparison. I think if you’re less of a chocolate person, you’d much prefer this strawberry cake, which was tangy and fruity and not so sweet, but somehow that was ok.

And plus, look at how pretty it is!

And plus, look at how pretty it is!

I’d have to say that this was an outstanding meal, and I can’t wait to go back again. Plus, the atmosphere is something else. I absolutely love it here.

Plus, those lights!

It’s like modern medieval.

Edmund’s Oast
1081 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 727-1145

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Restaurant Reviews

Taco Mamacita

July 25, 2014

*Note: I received a free gift certificate from Taco Mamacita to come by and try their food. That does not impact my review of them at all*

I was invited not long ago to try Taco Mamacita by one of their marketing managers after they started serving brunch. She sent me a gift certificate for 2 for brunch, and so I gladly made the trek out to Sully’s for a tex-mexican brunch with a friend.

Not quite what I was expecting...

Olè!

Since I was starving ( and had a gift certificate), I of course wanted to order one of everything on the menu. I started with a mimosa (what is brunch without one, after all), which tasted like a mimosa. Nothing necessarily special (but then again, that’s not why I order mimosas. There’s only so many ways to mix OJ and champagne). It was only when we left that I noticed that they do a strawberry coconut mojito, which is like MY JAM. Next time.

I have a mimosa addiction.

I have a mimosa addiction.

We started with an order of the dip trio (queso, mango salsa, and guacamole). I loved the mango salsa and I think would’ve preferred just getting a full order of that. I loved that the guac tasted like fresh avocado and didn’t have a whole lot going on; it was simple. I think the queso was my least favorite of the trio, not to say that it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t anything special.

What would Mexican brunch be without chips and dip??

What would Mexican brunch be without chips and dip??

The person I was with ordered the Peruvian chicken, which I’d never tried before, and was super excited about it. He thought it was flavorful and spicy, and that it was good, but it didn’t live up to the expectations of the Peruvian chicken that he had in Peru and in Peruvian restaurants. I thought it was good and tasted not unlike a rotisserie chicken, which you can’t go wrong with. He got 2 sides with it, chipotle turnip greens, and Mexican street corn. The Mexican street corn was on point, I’d venture to say even better than Taco Boy. He hated the turnip greens, expecting them to be more like collard greens, which they were not. I really liked them, although they were spicier than I was expecting.

Apparently "Peruvian Chicken" means "Half of a chicken"

Apparently “Peruvian Chicken” means “Half of a chicken.”

We also tried the breakfast torta with chorizo and a side of the homefries. The chorizo torta was good, a little greasy (but hey, it’s chorizo), but taste-wise it was yummy. We ended up taking it home because we were so stuffed, but my friend ate it for lunch the next day and said it was just as good.

A sandwich that's still good on day 2 is impressive.

A sandwich that’s still good on day 2 is impressive.

The homefries were really disappointing. They were dry and overcooked and I was really disappointed. The waitress recommended them highly, so I think maybe we just got the leftovers from an earlier cooked batch, but still, I was hoping for more.

Maybe I'm just weird?

Maybe I’m just weird?

I also ordered the fish taco, because I love fish tacos, and was underwhelmed. I thought it was flavorless and disappointing. I was really hoping for more, especially since it was more expensive than places downtown like Taco Boy or Taco Spot.

If you've got "Taco" in the name, you should make sure that your tacos are the best thing on the menu.

If you’ve got “Taco” in the name, you should make sure that your tacos are the best thing on the menu.

All in all, I’d say this was a perfectly acceptable place to go to brunch, lunch, or dinner. Although I probably wouldn’t make a special trip specifically out to Sullivan’s to eat here like I would with Poe’s or Obstinate Daughter, I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to grabbing some lunch if we were already in the area, especially since they have a really nice patio.

Just look at how pretty it is!

Just look at how pretty it is! via Facebook

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Restaurant Reviews

Leon’s Oyster Shop

June 20, 2014

Last week when Cullen and Taylor were visiting, we all decided to try out a new lunch spot downtown. Cullen was craving oysters, so we thought we might give Leon’s a shot, since it had gotten pretty good reviews so far. When we got there, I ordered a diet coke, and knew right away it was going to be a great lunch when they served it to me in an old-timey glass bottle.

Mmm... My lifeblood.

Mmm… My lifeblood.

We started with raw oysters (cocktail sauce, mignonette, saltines, Market price), which we split between the 4 of us. I’m a little iffy about oysters (ew, slimy!) but these were outstanding. They tasted great and were surprisingly un-slimy. We topped them with a spritz of fresh lemon juice, cocktail sauce, and mignonette sauce, which was delicious. I’d absolutely order these again.

Even non-oyster lovers can love these oysters.

I know they look slimy here, but I promise you they really weren’t.

We also decided to try the char-grilled oysters (half dozen, lemon, parsley, butter, parmesan, $10). To be honest, I thought these were going to taste like grilled oysters, but instead they tasted exactly like oysters Rockefeller (which is also on the menu), and although they weren’t exactly what I was expecting, they were still out of this world, so none of us were disappointed. I loved the cheesiness of the parmesan and how the butter and parsley perfect complemented it. I also loved the bread they served it with. Extra buttery and toasted perfectly. Mmmm.

I never thought I'd crave oysters, but that's exactly what I'm doing right now.

I never thought I’d crave oysters, but that’s exactly what I’m doing right now.

For an entrée, Cullen and I both decided to get the fish sandwich (fried or grilled, lettuce, tomato, duke’s mayo, $13). The catch of the day was Mahi, so we both decided to try it fried. They serve it on these big fresh buns from Browns Court Bakery, which are delicious all on their own, and the sandwich came together like something from a symphony.

"Hey girl, can I buy you a fish sandwich?"

“Hey girl, can I buy you a fish sandwich?”

Lily apparently had not yet eaten enough oysters, so she decided to try the fried oyster sandwich (lettuce, tomato, avocado, comeback sauce, $13). I’m not sure what comeback sauce is, but this sandwich was on point. Lily ate it in like 2.5 seconds, but I snuck a bite in when she wasn’t looking. This sandwich was awesome; the oysters were fried perfectly, the breading was nice and crisp, and you can tell they served it as soon as they cooked it because it was still nice and hot, and the breading hadn’t yet had an opportunity to get soggy.

Oysters, oysters, everywhere.

Oysters, oysters, everywhere.

Taylor opted for the shrimp sandwich (fried or grilled; lettuce, tomato, avocado, comeback sauce, $13). Because we had all decided to clog our arteries together, she also opted to get it fried, and though I tend to prefer grilled shrimp, this sandwich was delicious. Idk if I would’ve though to put avocado on a shrimp sandwich, but it really, really worked.

That bun, though.

That bun, though.

There’s so much more on the menu that I want to try—from the fried chicken, to the fried clam wraps, to the shrimp toast—so you can bet that I’ll be back…and soon!

Chabby chic, it's the new thing. Via Southern Living

Chabby chic, it’s the new thing. Photo: Lacy Morris / Southern Living

Leon’s Oyster Shop
(843) 531-6500
698 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

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