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Restaurant Reviews

Taco Mamacita

July 25, 2014
What would Mexican brunch be without chips and dip??

*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 Harry and I gladly made the trek out to Sully’s for a tex-mexican brunch.

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). Harry was obsessed with 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. 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??

Harry 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 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. Harry 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 Harry 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

Taco Mamacita on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Leon’s Oyster Shop

June 20, 2014
Even non-oyster lovers can love these oysters.

Last week when Cullen and Taylor were visiting, we all decided to try out a new lunch spot downtown. Cullen & Harry were 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?”

Harry apparently had not yet eaten enough oysters, so he 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. Harry ate it in like 2.5 seconds, but I snuck a bite in when he wasn’t looking. Like I said, I’m not crazy about oysters, but 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

Leon's Oyster Shop on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Georgeans Caribbean Soul

May 23, 2014

A few weeks ago (before my life got insanely busy), Lily and I took to walking the bridge after work a couple of nights a week. After one of these walking-talking-gossip sessions, Lily and I decided to reward ourselves for our hard work with some Caribbean food.

I mean, basically.

I mean, basically.

 

Lily and Chrissy suggested we order from Georgeans Caribbean Soul because they were a little obsessed after they discovered it. Chrissy enticed me with the promise of yummy jerk chicken and “bangin’ mac and cheese.” Chrissy and I ordered the Jerk Box with mac & cheese, cauliflower mash, and rice & veggies ($10). Their mac and cheese is thick and creamy and cheesy and I loved how flavorful the cauliflower mash was. If I didn’t know it was cauliflower, I definitely would’ve thought it was mashed potatoes. So yummy. The jerk chicken was full of spice and only a little heat, and was so yummy. My only complaint was that they use skin-on chicken (but that’s more of a personal preference than a fault on their part).  

So. Much. Food.

So. Much. Food.

Lily ordered the curry chicken bowl with mixed veggies and rice and cauliflower mash ($7). The curry is mild and deliciously home-y. The chicken curry is served over the veggies and rice so the curry sauce flavors that, too. Lily was definitely a fan.

Look at that curry sauce. I can almost smell it.

Look at that curry sauce. I can almost smell it.

The owners were awesome and super friendly, even though we ordered 20 minutes before they closed, forcing them to stay open an extra 20 minutes to prepare all of our food. She said they keep the light on and the door open while they’re there, so even if it’s past closing time, “if somebody’s hungry, we’ll feed ‘em.” They also said that they can make most Caribbean dishes, even if they’re not on the menu, as long as you give them a little heads up. 

And this is their whole menu.

This is their whole menu, and I still had trouble deciding.

You get a lot of high quality food for not a lot of money. If you haven’t stopped here yet, get your butt down to Line St. and order some jerk chicken!

And they just added these cute little tables! Via Facebook

And they just added these cute little tables! Via Facebook

Georgean's Caribbean Soul on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

CO

March 28, 2014
My strategy for most things is "throw everything in there and hope it tastes good."

So I’m a recent Vietnamese food convert. I’m kind of surprised it took me this long, but nobody’s perfect. I’ve been eating banh mi for a couple of years now, and am obsessed, but I never really ventured any further into Vietnamese cuisine until one fateful day back in December when I stumbled on a tweet from Foodmancing The Girl talking about how much he loves Pho.

You had me at "free dumplings."

You had me at “free dumplings.”

That first lunch was awesome. I took Foodmancing’s advice and got the pork belly buns (pork belly, pickled cucumber and carrots, hoisin, cilantro, $6), and those suckers were on point.  The buttery bread, the perfectly cooked pork, the crisp pickled veggies…I’m drooling a little just thinking about them. If it wasn’t Friday during Lent, I’d probably head there for lunch right now.

Seriously. They're so good.

Seriously. They’re so good.

The main purpose of my visit, however, was to try Pho for the first time. I was a little intimidated because I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I opted for the beef pho (rare beef, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, cilantro, thai basil, scallions, beef broth, $12) which was so good it’s sinful. Not really knowing what the protocol was, I just dumped in all of the accoutrements, including lots of hot sauce, which added a little more heat to the broth than I was prepared for, but it was still delicious. The beef was sliced really thin and cooked perfectly and the flavors of the soup came together perfectly. I was instantly a fan.

My strategy for most things is "throw everything in there and hope it tastes good."

My strategy for most things is “throw everything in there and hope it tastes good.”

When Naomi came to visit, we were excited that CO had a vegan menu for her to choose from. We started out with a couple of fancy cocktails, which were delicious. Naomi really enjoyed her asian pear cider (spiced rum, schnapps, asian pear, cinnamon, $9) and I thought the spiced mandarin caipirinha (cachaca, grand marnier, muddled mandarin & lime, star anise simple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, $9.5) was pretty unique and awesome as well.

Look at that smile!

Look at that smile!

and then ordered some Tofu buns (crispy tofu, pickled cucumber and carrots, cilantro, $6) which were really good (although not as good as the pork belly. But as a carnivore, I might be biased). My only complaint is that without the hoisin sauce, they were a little dry.

Tofu and I have an uneasy truce.

Tofu and I have an uneasy truce.

I was trying to branch out and try something other than my usual pho, so I deferred to the waitress who recommended the hanoi noodles (spicy yellow curry, onion, carrots, zucchini, rice noodles, shrimp, shanghai sausage, $14). I really liked it, although the flavors started getting a little overwhelming towards the end. The shanghai sausage wasn’t my favorite, but the shrimp was perfectly cooked and really delicious. Also it’s asian food, so there’s a lot of grease.

Still delicious, though!

Still delicious, though!

Naomi was really sad that the green curry was not vegan for some reason (and they never responded to my tweet asking them why), so she ended up ordering the vegan yakisoba (rice noodles, tofu,  cabbage, carrots, onion, zucchini, garlic, sweet mirin soy sauce, $14) instead. She absolutely loved it and was basically licking the bowl by the end. I really liked how well they cooked the tofu, which is high praise coming from me.

Gotta love a restaurant that gives you plenty of cilantro with every dish.

Gotta love a restaurant that gives you plenty of cilantro with every dish.

Next time I go, I really want to try the curry laksa (shrimp, shredded chicken, bun rice noodles, shredded cucumber, thai basil, baby bok choy, spicy coconut broth) and the mapo doufo (ground pork, tofu, edamame, carrots, black bean garlic sauce), which both sound delicious. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you check it out, especially their new $4 happy hour special weekdays from 4-7.

Plus the space is just so sexy!

Plus the space is just so sexy!

CO
340 King St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 720-3631
Co on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Dell’z Uptown

March 14, 2014
Next time, I want to try the vegan spinach & artichoke dip.

One of my favorite places to order from for lunch or stop by late night after the bars close, is Dell’z Deli. Dell’z specializes in delicious healthy fare and it is spot on every single time I visit. When Naomi came to visit, I was excited to take her to Dell’z Uptown to try some of their vegan specialties. I’m neither vegetarian nor vegan, so I was a little worried about a meatless menu, but I put my faith in Dell, and boy did I make the right decision.

I mean, people this beautiful couldn't possibly make a bad sandwich.

I mean, people this beautiful couldn’t possibly make a bad sandwich. Photo from Dell’z Website

So let me preface this by saying that Naomi, Lily, and I went to Dell’z 2 days in a row, and Naomi and I got Dell’z late night a 3rd night, and we probably would’ve gone a 4th time if Dell’z had been open on Sunday. It’s that good. On day 1, we started with an order of the black bean hummus (topped w/ fresh veggies. served with garlic pita chips, drizzled w/ lime & avocado, $7), which is definitely in my top 3 favorite foods of all time. I’m not even exaggerating here. I don’t think I can accurately describe what makes it taste so good, so you should probably just go order some for yourself. You can thank me later.

Seriously. Go order it right now.

Seriously. Go order it right now.

For my meal the first visit, I decided to try something new and ordered the Lucky Bowl (black eyed peas, red and green peppers, red onions, creole, turnip greens, brown rice, vegan bacon crumbles, $9) because it looked delicious. And boy, was it. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the vegan bacon, but it added a good level of smokiness to the heat of the creole spices. I would order this again for sure.

Plus I love those marinated tomatoes they put on everything.

Plus I love those marinated tomatoes they put on everything.

For their lunch on day 1, Lily and Naomi both got the acorn bowl (sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, quinoa, and onions served inside half an acorn squash, $12 I think), which was on special. I don’t usually like mushrooms, but this dish was so delicious. Naomi and Lily were basically licking their plates by the end of the meal.

This picture is from the Dell'z Uptown Facebook page

This picture is from the Dell’z Uptown Facebook page

On day 2, Naomi, Lily, and I decided to try out the vegan nachos, despite the fact that Naomi kept saying that “vegan cheese is nasty” and that we probably weren’t going to like it. Boy was she wrong. In fact, if I didn’t know otherwise, I never would’ve guessed that it wasn’t real cheese. I think we polished these off in less than 5 minutes.

Next time, I want to try the vegan spinach & artichoke dip.

Next time, I want to try the vegan spinach & artichoke dip.

For our entrees on day 2, Lily and I both went with my usual Dell’z order, the Hummer wrap (black bean hummus, cilantro, salsa, tomatoes,
sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, fresh field greens, drizzled w/ fresh lime, $8). When I order from Dell’z Deli, I usually add chicken, but it’s just as good without the chicken, I promise.

Gosh it's so beautiful.

Gosh it’s so beautiful.

Naomi decided to try the My Thai Bowl (zucchini, squash, vegan sausage, brown rice, cabbage, spinach, pasta, topped with mango salsa, $10) for her entree the second day. It was a really interesting combination of flavors: smoky, sweet, spicy, and savory all at the same time. The “pasta” that they mention is Thai-style rice noodles, which I thought really added another level of dimension to the texture. I don’t know that I would order this again, but if I was with someone who did, I’d definitely steal a forkful (or two!).

And it comes served with pita wedges!

And it comes served with pita wedges!

After spending a few days eating at Dell’z with Naomi, I came to the conclusion that I could definitely become a vegan, and even enjoy it, if I could eat at Dell’z for every meal. So if you haven’t stopped by Dell’z Uptown or Dell’z Deli yet, you’re really missing out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some black bean hummus to order.

 

I don't remember what used to be here, but I definitely don't miss it.

I don’t remember what used to be here, but I definitely don’t miss it.

Dell’z Uptown
511 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 641-0352
Dellz Uptown on Urbanspoon

Dell’z Deli
1A Cannon St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-5376
Dell'z Deli on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Desano Pizza Bakery

February 21, 2014
I changed my mind. I might go eat this for lunch. #CantMakeDecisions

Recently, I met up with Laura and Lauren from Blue Ion for lunch. I picked Desano because I’d been wanting to try it, and boy, am I glad we did. The place was relatively empty when we first got there, but we were impressed with the size of the space and how immaculately clean and inviting it was. It had a very interesting feel about it; it felt at once brand new and years old, which was strangely calming.

Then again, we were 2 beers deep, so that could've had something to do with it...

Then again, we were 2 beers deep, so that could’ve had something to do with it…Photo from Urbanspoon

When you first arrive, you order at the counter and then wait for your food in the dining room. The lady who was working the counter (whose name I’m sad to say that I don’t remember) was really funny and helped us make the perpetually difficult decision of which pizza to order. She also let us know that all of the ingredients they use to make their pizza–from the flour they use to make the dough, the salt they use to season it, and the buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes that top their pizzas are all flown in fresh from Italy. And their pizza dough is made fresh daily in small batches. And their three pizza ovens (which were also imported from Italy) can cook your pizza in under 90 seconds. Like, whoa. What is this place?

It's blurry because this place really is like a dream. A delicious, pizza dream.

It’s blurry because eating at Desano is like a dream. A delicious, pizza dream.

Some of the ingredients, like Peppadew, we’d never heard of, and she patiently explained to us exactly what everything was (a peppadew is like if “a sweet pepper and a cherry tomato had a baby that was kind of sweet and spicy all at the same time”), and made some genius recommendations.

For reference. Sidenote: They sell these at Whole Foods stuffed with goat cheese, and they are positively sinful.

For reference. Sidenote: They sell these at Whole Foods stuffed with goat cheese, and they are positively sinful.

We started with the San Gennaro pizza (sausage, peppadew, garlic, buffalo mozzarella, caramelized onions, $15), which also shares a name with one of their 3 pizza ovens. The crust is Napoletana-style, which means thin crusts and a nice char, which is refreshin and different. The pizza was so good, I can’t even explain it accurately. It had a great mixture of spicy (from the sausage) and sweet (from the peppadew and onions) and cheesy (from the mozzarella and garlic). It was perfection.

I might actually go eat this for lunch today #noshame

I might actually go eat this for lunch today #noshame

The other pizza we ordered was the Bianca (Mozzarella, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, pecorino romano, $13). I’m a little obsessed with white pizzas and have yet to find one in Charleston that lives up to the amazing white pizza I’ve had in Boston. This one definitely came the closest. It is freaking delicious. La, you might even convert from the Gourmet White at Mellow (although, you never really will, let’s be serious). I can’t wait til my mom is off of her HCG diet so I can take her here and have her try it. She’s also a white pizza snob. It was cheesy, garlicky, and delicious and I would even go so far as to say that it’s the best white pizza in Charleston.

I changed my mind. I might go eat this for lunch. #CantMakeDecisions

I changed my mind. I might go eat this for lunch. #CantMakeDecisions

After eating a bunch of pizza and drinking beer, you’d think our gluttony would be satisfied, but you’d be wrong. Did I mention that Desano hand fills cannoli? Because they do. And they let you choose from a variety of toppings and it is glorious. Since we were practically the only people in there, the counter girl made us a custom cannoli based on her favorite toppings. I don’t remember what it was, except that it was delicious and had I not been disgustingly full, I would’ve ordered another.

She's like a magical cannoli wizard.

She’s like a magical cannoli wizard.

The level of service at Desano was also exceptional. From the moment we walked in, we felt like they actually cared about us having a positive experience. While we were waiting for our pizzas to come out, one of the guys from the kitchen came out to apologize and say that they’d overcooked one of our pizzas and were making us a whole new pizza. They brought out the overcooked one anyway, so we essentially got a whole pizza for free (and we didn’t even ask or complain or anything!). Plus, even though they sell alcohol, they’re totally fine with you BYOB and don’t even charge you a corkage fee! That’s some excellent customer service right there.

These ovens are serious business. Photo from the Charleston City Paper

These ovens are serious business. Photo from the Charleston City Paper

DeSano Pizza Bakery
94 Stuart St.
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 637-4225
DeSano Pizza Bakery on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Rutledge Cab Company

November 22, 2013
Oh look! The potatoes have some paprika on them in case you hadn't already gotten enough paprika with your paprika.

I was really excited for Rutledge Cab Company. I really wanted to like it. I mean, how could you go wrong? Chef Bob Carter! Old gas station! Good reviews! Unfortunately, despite the fact that I was desperately hoping to love it, it just didn’t really turn out well.

Yeah, basically this.

Yeah, basically this.

First of all, I’ll go with something positive. The service was spot on. Our waitress was really awesome and very patient with us, and made lots of recommendations (which we ignored). We started with an order of the Chicken Fried Sweetbreads (Alabama white sauce, $11). We were trying to be adventurous since neither of us had had sweetbreads before. I think I would’ve liked them a lot more had they not totally covered it in this overpowering smoked paprika.

Chicken fried sweetbreads

Turns out sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bread.

Our second appetizer was the Fried Cheese Curd (Green goddess-horseradish dressing, $9). Again with the paprika. Seriously. I would’ve loved these if not for that. They weren’t very cheesy flavored as you’d expect because they’re just the curd (I was expecting it to taste like fried white cheddar bites. Definitely did not). The ones that I had that weren’t covered in paprika were delicious.

I mean, fried cheese is going to be good no matter what it's made of.

I mean, fried cheese is going to be good no matter what it’s made of.

For her entree, Tina got the BLT Benedict (Smoked bacon, English muffin, wilted spinach and tomato-bacon hollandaise, $13). She liked it ok, but wasn’t a fan of the hollandaise. I thought it tasted almost licorice-y, which was a really strange combo.

Oh look! The potatoes have some paprika on them in case you hadn't already gotten enough paprika with your paprika.

Oh look! The potatoes have some paprika on them in case you hadn’t already gotten enough paprika with your paprika.

I got the Roasted Lamb Sandwich (Havarti cheese, pickled cabbage and toasted hoagie, $13.50), which I actually really enjoyed. I thought it was really good. My only complaint was that I think they either over toasted the hoagie, or that it was stale before they toasted it. You know how when you over toast bread it gets that same consistency as styrofoam? Not my favorite. But other than that, the sandwich was delicious. The lamb was tender and flavorful, and I loved the pickled cabbage. I wasn’t a huge fan of the fries, which tasted like they’d been batter dipped before they were fried. Which seems kind of unnecessary.

It was almost like a lamb &

It was almost like a lamb & pickled cabbage philly cheesesteak. Delish

Overall we were pretty disappointed. Thinking maybe we just ordered the wrong things, we decided to try one of the things our waitress originally recommended, the Grilled Vegetable Flatbread (Smoked onion aioli, olive tapenade, parmesan and fresh herbs, $9). I thought it was just ok, but then again, I don’t really like olive tapenade. Tina wasn’t into it at all.

And it was just about as delicious as it looks.

And it was just about as delicious as it looks.

The space is super cool, so I wouldn’t mind going just to hang out & drink, but I’m definitely not in a hurry to eat there again.

From the Rutledge Cab Co. website

From the Rutledge Cab Co. website

Rutledge Cab Co.
1300 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC ‎
(843) 720-1440

Rutledge Cab Company on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Leaf Café

November 8, 2013
I mean, look at how tall it is. Like a chicken wearing a hat.

So this is going to be a shorter review. I’m just getting over bronchitis, so I’ve been pretty housebound and not inspired to write much. But I feel indebted to you guys since I didn’t do a quote this week or a review last week. So, enjoy! I went to Leaf last week with Laura because I hadn’t seen her in a million bajillion years and we’ve both undergone some changes recently, so it was a good time to dish and commiserate.

snarksnarksnark

snarksnarksnark

We decided on Leaf because it was close, and cheap, and I really wanted a sandwich. The space at Leaf is really cool, and I like it more than when it was Vickery’s (plus it’s lacking that weird smell that the bar area always seemed to have). It was a nice day, so we decided to sit on the patio.

Look how pretty! Thanks for the picture, Susan Lucas!

Look how pretty! Thanks for the picture, Susan Lucas!

Laura got the Southern Fried Chicken sandwich (potato fried chicken, tomato, greens, creole aioli on whole wheat roll, $9) with a side of parmesan truffle fries and a sweet tea. The I tried a piece of her chicken, and it was really yummy; nice and crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. The sandwich was a monster, and she had a hard time eating it, but she liked it a lot.

I mean, look at how tall it is. Like a chicken wearing a hat.

I mean, look at how tall it is. Like a chicken wearing a hat.

I got the Braised Short Rib Grilled Cheese ( burgundy braised beef, manchego and gruyere cheeses served on tuscan sourdough, with a delicious jus of mushroom tea and beef demi glacé for dipping, $11). I also got it with a side of parmesan truffle fries. I loved this sandwich. It was everything I wanted it to be. The jus was the perfect accompaniment to the sandwich and I enjoyed every bite. The parmesan truffle fries were good as well, although not out of the norm for Charleston.

I promise there's a sandwich buried under all those fries.

I promise there’s a sandwich buried under all those fries.

All in all, I enjoyed my lunch at Leaf. The service left a little something to be desired, but the food made up for that. I’d definitely eat here again!

From the Leaf website

From the Leaf website

Leaf Cafe
15 Beaufain St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 793-2230
Leaf on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Oak Steakhouse

October 4, 2013
Kind of like Lincoln Logs, but with lettuce and bacon.

My final restaurant week visit was with my roommate, Regina, to Oak Steakhouse. I’ve been wanting to try Oak for a while now, curious to see if it could beat out my beloved Halls Chophouse (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).  I know that most people say that you shouldn’t judge a restaurant based on Restaurant Week, but I think that’s just BS. If they can’t produce quality food during RW, then they just shouldn’t participate.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

We started off with the spicy strawberry margarita, which definitely lived up to its name. So. Spicy. It was good, but we had to have them tone it down a little bit because we’re wimps. My mother would’ve loved it though.

More like StrawBURNy margarita.

More like StrawBURNy margarita.

After we placed our orders, we were brought some bread and butter. It was good bread, I have to say. Nice and warm, and salty, very similar to the benne seed rolls at Husk. And the butter tasted like butter..so there’s that.

Bread and butter are my bread and butter.

Bread and butter are my bread and butter.

For my starter, I got the wedge of Kurios Farms Bibb Lettuce Salad (local grape tomatoes, bacon lardons, creamy danish bleu dressing, regularly $10). Bibb wedge salads are not actually anything like your typical wedge salad (it’s just the nature of the beast), so I’ve learned not to be disappointed when I order a Bibb “wedge” salad and it comes out as basically just a bunch of lettuce leaves stacked on top of each other. But it tastes delicious!

Kind of like Lincoln Logs, but with lettuce and bacon.

Kind of like Lincoln Logs, but with lettuce and bacon and significantly less fiber.

Regina got the Vidalia onion bisque (lump crab, bacon crumble), which apparently was a special restaurant week thing. It was weird. Neither of us particularly cared for it. I get that vidalia onions are sweet, but this was ridiculous. It was overly sweet for a savory dish and I didn’t think that the flavors melded well together. Glad it’s not on the regular menu, because I would not order that again.

It seems like a lot of soup until you realize that the bowl is only like half an inch in depth.

It seems like a lot of soup until you realize that the bowl is only like half an inch in depth.

For entrees, I got the Certified Angus Beef Filet Mignon with whipped potatoes, spinach, petite carrots, and Oak’s housemade steak sauce. Being a renowned steakhouse, I was really looking forward to it. I even ordered it medium because everyone gets mad when I order it medium well (because apparently there’s some rule leftover from caveman days where your meat still has to be bleeding when you eat it, or you’re an uncultured swine). When it came out, I was upset to see that they’d precut my filet. Part of the satisfaction of ordering a steak is cutting it at the table and watching the juices ooze out onto your plate. Because they’d precut it, when I went to eat it, my steak was already cold, like it had been sitting out for a while, and not under a heat lamp. This was only emphasized by the fact that Regina’s food came out steaming for a good 5 minutes. I was also bothered by the “smear” of potatoes I got on my plate. I’m all about good plating, but this was ridiculous.

I think they really took that "Lincoln log" comment to heart with those carrots.

I think they really took that “Lincoln log” comment to heart with those carrots.

Regina got the pork shank served with sweet potato puree, braised greens, sweet apple and peach chutney. She replaced the sweet potato puree with roasted corn maque choux, by telling them she had an allergy, because they didn’t allow substitutions, which again, just bothers me. (I hate chefs that get so hoity toity about their food that they don’t let you substitute stuff. Yes, I get that some people like to make like 15 substitutions, and those people suck, but if you’re like me and you abhor mushrooms, AND you’re paying upwards of $40 dollars a plate, you shouldn’t be forced to eat them. I think this might have been another RW thing, where they already had everything premade and didn’t want to have to make real food for people who were only paying the RW price. Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox for real now, I promise.) The pork shank was awesome and fell right off the bone. The maque choux was super tasty and I’d definitely order this dish again. Basically, I was really jealous of Regina’s meal.

Plus, she got like 100% more food than I did.

Plus, she got like 100% more food than I did.

I also couldn’t resist ordering a side of the smokey bacon macaroni and cheese, $8.50. I mean, smoked bacon macaroni and cheese sounds delicious. I thought it was pretty good, but was a little disappointed in the cheese sauce. It was a little too creamy and not quite cheesy enough, but that didn’t stop me from devouring it. I’d probably still order that again. I like it better than Halls Chophouse’s mac & cheese and that’s about the only leg up that Oak got over Halls during this meal.

I'm really bad at Mac & Cheese photography. What's up with that.

I’m really bad at Mac & Cheese photography. What’s up with that.

The dessert that came with the RW menu was “S’mores” with dark chocolate mousse, graham crackers, taosted marshmallow, and salted caramel. It was weird, but I liked it. The graham cracker wasn’t like normal graham cracker, I’d say it was more like a nilla wafer (but like a rock hard version). I thought the combination was really interesting. Regina wasn’t a huge fan of the dessert, and although I can’t say it’s my new favorite thing, I thought it was pretty good.

Now this is pretty plating.

Now this is pretty plating.

Oak definitely didn’t live up to my expectations, but it had enough potential that I might be willing to give them another chance (on someone else’s dime, of course, that place is expensive).

Does anyone else think that tree looks more like a mushroom than an oak?

Does anyone else think that tree looks more like a mushroom than an oak? (photo: from Oak Steakhouse)

Oak Steakhouse
17 Broad St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 722-4220
Oak Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Lana Restaurant & Bar

September 27, 2013
Apparently the greener, the tastier.

Another one of my restaurant week stops was with my Irish friend Sheena at Lana Restaurant & Bar, a mediterranean and southern-style restaurant downtown. The space is pretty small, and we were tightly packed in. Like, really tightly.

Basically the seating arrangement version of this.

Basically the seating arrangement version of this.

After placing our orders, our waitress brought us some bread served with probably the best olive oil I’ve ever had. I don’t know what made it so good, but you could definitely taste the quality.

Apparently the greener, the tastier.

Apparently the greener, the tastier.

To start, I ordered the lamb spanikopita (ground lamb, spinach, goat and feta cheese, wrapped in phyllo, tzatziki, tomato–mint relish, $10.00), even though it wasn’t on the restaurant week menu. It came out more like a Greek-inspired lamb egg roll, but it was still pretty freaking delicious. I would definitely order that again.

I like most things in egg roll form.

I like most things in egg roll form.

For the RW appetizer, Sheena and I both opted for the gnocchi amatriciana (spicy tomato ragu, pancetta, caramelized onions). Not sure if this is on the regular menu, or if it was special for RW, but this was some of the best  gnocchi I’ve had in Charleston. The sauce was perfect, and the gnocchi were nice and light–they practically melted in your mouth. Mmmm…

Yes. They consider this an appetizer.

Yes. They consider this an appetizer.

The menu was really nice at Lana. They didn’t limit you to just the restaurant week main courses–you basically got to choose any main course you wanted. I stuck to the RW-specific offerings, as I wanted to try something new. I opted for the braised short ribs with roasted potatoes, roasted vidalia onions, and arugula romesco sauce. The ribs were a little dry, and it weirded me out that there wasn’t actually a bone, but they were delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed my main course.

Except I'm still not sure how I feel about romesco sauce.

Except I’m still not sure how I feel about Romesco sauce.

Sheena ordered off the regular menu and got the duck (seared duck breast, leg confit, corn, summer beans, leeks, peach glaze, $24.50). The confit was a little salty for my liking, but that breast was out of this world (that’s what she said??). I would recommend this dish for the duck breast alone. I also was a huge fan of the summer bean succotash thing they did.

The breast is the part that's all cut up, in case you were confused.

The breast is the part that’s all cut up, in case you were confused.

For dessert, I got the chocolate cake (devilish chocolate cake, espresso gelato). It was ok. Nothing special.

Yep. Looks like chocolate cake.

Yep. Looks like chocolate cake.

Sheena got the olive oil cake (lemon olive oil cake, warm berry compote). Now that’s a dessert. I don’t know if it was just because they used that awesome olive oil, or what, but I loved this cake. It was sooo yummy. The berry compote was a great accompaniment and the flavors did a great job of complementing each other.

And plus it looks like a little castle!

And plus it looks like a little castle!

I was really impressed with Lana, especially given the fact that it was Restaurant Week. That makes me want to go back again to see how they do on a normal night. I think when I go back I’ll try the pork (scaloppini pork tenderloin, tomato-caper butter, parmesan risotto, $20.00), which I think sounds outstanding. I love pork scaloppini.

Brought to you by Google Maps and ADT

Brought to you by Google Maps and ADT

Lana Restaurant & Bar
210 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 720-8899

Lana Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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