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Charleston, SC Events Restaurant Reviews

Sushikon Brewshi Tour

May 13, 2016
IMG_3554

The only time “I ate sushi on a bus” is an ok statement.

Earlier this month, we attended Sushikon’s Brewshi Tour. Sushikon was started by the same people who brought us Octobachi downtown, which is sadly no longer. When I first heard about this tour, I thought it sounded like a really fun, new, and unique idea. It’s sort of like a food-truck-meets-brewery-tour-meets-sushi.

If you close your eyes you can pretend like you're in Japan!

If you close your eyes you can pretend like you’re in Japan!

This was only their 3rd tour ever and they have many more planned for the next few months. We went to three local breweries and were served a sushi meal in between each stop. We met at the bus depot downtown around 6 pm and left to go to our first brewery, Freehouse Brewery.

That's what we're talkin' bout.

That’s what we’re talkin’ bout.

 


If you haven’t ever been, I would recommend making the trek just for the view alone; it’s absolutely gorgeous!

Plus, dog friendly! Win-win!

Plus, dog friendly! Win-win!

We tried two half pints while we talked to frequent brewery goers and looked at the equipment. Freehouse had a gorgeous view of the Ashley River, but was a tad small, so it gets crowded very quickly. The beers were very refreshing and crisp.

Half pints are like mini-muffins: they don't actually count as real life.

Half pints are like mini-muffins: they don’t actually count as real life.

After about 30 minutes at Freehouse, we headed back to the bus to enjoy our first round of sushi: sushi nachos with fresh, local tuna, imitation crab, avocado, carrots, cucumber and caviar on top of blue corn tortilla chips. The nachos were tasty and light after our first round of beers.

You heard that right. Sushi. Nachos.

You heard that right. Sushi. Nachos.

While eating sushi nachos, we headed toward our second brewery, Tradesman on James Island. Driving down Folly Road, you would never suspect the building behind a gas station to hold many, delicious beers.

Oh, hey, secret Brewery. Nice to meet you!

Oh, hey, secret Brewery. Nice to meet you!

This two-story building has different taps on the different levels, and each beer is named after something trade related, and each tap has a tool as a handle.

The closest I'll ever get to being in a tool shed.

The closest I’ll ever get to being in a tool shed.

Some of the beers we tried were infused with different flavors that we’d never seen anywhere else. Including a coffee beer that was not a stout or porter, but more of a light beer. One of the beers that is frequently on their menu is called Coco Nuts & Bolts made with toasted coconut, which I will definitely be going back to try as they had run out.

IMG_3579

Is it just me or are these half pints getting bigger?

As we made our way back to the bus, we had a platter of sushi waiting for us. The sushi tasted fresh and was very filling, but wasn’t overly flavorful or unique.

At least it looks pretty!

At least it looks pretty!

They also turned on these cool lights inside the bus once it started to get dark outside.

Disco sushi bus! New band name!

Disco sushi bus! New band name!

We made our way to the last brewery, Low Tide on Johns Island. This brewery was definitely the largest and had the most equipment.

Low Tide; High Appreciation.

Low Tide; High Appreciation.

It’s a new building that is decorated with a very beachy feel. We were impressed with the beers we had as they were all unique flavors, especially the Pete’s Coconut Chai, which is a darker beer with notes of coconut and chai. For a dark beer, it was surprisingly light.

Still no word on who this "Pete" fella is, though.

Still no word on who this “Pete” fella is, though.

When we got back on the bus to head downtown, a dessert sushi was waiting for us. We were not very impressed with the dessert. Fruit sushi isn’t something I would normally order on the menu, but I also wouldn’t want something that’s supposed to be sweet wrapped in seaweed. I think if they had a green tea ice cream, mochi or even mango rice pudding, it would have been a better alternative to what they served.

Hey, you can't win them all.

Hey, you can’t win them all.

Overall, we had an awesome time on the Brewshi Tour, but I think they have a few areas they could improve. I think the overall price is too expensive, being about $100 per person after taxes. The food was good and I loved that the tuna was fresh and local, but I’m not sure the food was worth the price of the tour. Visiting the breweries was great and being able to try their different beers on tap was a fun way to be introduced to each brewery. It wasn’t as much as a tour as I expected, the breweries were a little too small for that. The tour guide on Sushikon has a lengthy resume, working with many breweries, and is incredibly knowledgeable. He was available for questions during the brewery visits, but we didn’t actually get any official tours of the breweries, which I think would’ve been really fun. I think they also will need to have a rotating brewery list because as a return customer, you wouldn’t want to go back to the same brewery each time.

IMG_3592

Still have no idea what any of this stuff does.

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Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

The Darling Oyster Bar

April 1, 2016

The Darling is King Street’s newest seafood offering, taking over the former Union Provisions space. The one time I visited Union Provisions, I was very disappointed; so when I walked into The Darling, I was a little wary and curious to see if they could succeed where UP so clearly failed. I’ve been twice now and I have to say, The Darling is a huge improvement, and a great option for affordable seafood on King Street.

Love those lights above the bar!

Love those lights above the bar!

The first time I visited was with TQuizzle  for their media dinner. We went all out and tried a little bit of everything on the menu. First, the drinks: Syd had the Basil Daisy (Wodka Vodka, Aperol, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, Sugar, Fresh Basil, $9) which was light and refreshing.

How could it not be with a name like "Basil Daisy?!"

How could it not be with a name like “Basil Daisy?!”

I went the more Caribbean route with the Bermuda Swizzle (Goslings Gold Rum, Falernum, Ginger, Fresh Squeezed Pineapples and Oranges, $9). It tasted just like a drink I’d want to sip on while lounging on the beach in the Bahamas.

Like summertime in a glass!

Like summertime in a glass!


Next, the food. We wanted to get a good idea of all the different things on the menu, so we kind of went all over the place. From the raw bar, we started with the Tuna Poke (White Grapes, Shoyu, Sesame Seed, $13). Having been to Hawaii a bunch, TQuizzle was not super impressed with this version of a poke bowl; she wasn’t a huge fan of the grapes. I, however, thought the grapes were a really cool contrast to the big ole chunks of tuna. Granted, this was my first poke experience.

Not to be confused with a Pokeball, which is not food.

Not to be confused with a Pokeball, which is not food.

Also from the raw bar, we tried the King Crab Parfait (Avocado, Grapefruit, Sourdough Crumble,
Herb Pistou, $15), which I was a little underwhelmed by. The dish relied heavily on avocado and grapefruit, and it was served as more of a dip than what I was expecting. The flavor was lacking a little bit of depth for the price point.

Do not order this if you don't like Grapefruit.

Do not order this if you don’t like Grapefruit.

From the regular menu, we decided to be adventurous and try the Snapper Toast (Potato, Pickled Red Onion, Country Ham, Sourdough, $7), which ended up being one of our favorite things we tried. The bread was buttery and had a nice crunch to it. The pickled red onion gave a bit of acidity and complemented the creaminess of the potato and snapper. Definitely not something I would normally order, but I’m really glad I tried it!

Plus, it's so colorful and pretty!

Plus, it’s so colorful and pretty! Also, this picture came from my second visit because I ordered it twice.

TQuizzle isn’t much of an oyster person, but I am, so I ordered the Baked Oysters with Pimento & Sourdough Soppers ($9 for 3 oysters). If pimento isn’t your thing, the baked oysters also come with maitre’d butter & breadcrumbs for a more traditional offering. I really enjoyed the pimento oysters; they were decadent and very flavorful.

Served on a bed of salt and in the shape of a Palmetto Tree, which I thought was adorable (although I'm not sure if they did that on purpose or not).

Served on a bed of salt and in the shape of a Palmetto Tree, which I thought was adorable (although I’m not sure if they did that on purpose or not).

Speaking of decadent and flavorful, we couldn’t resist trying The Darling’s take on a poutine: the Clam Chowder over house cut fries (Local Clams, Vegetables, Sourdough, $9 for just the chowder, $10 over fries). Wow. These were exceptional. They bring a little gravy bowl of clam chowder to the table and pour it over your fries right in front of you (watch the video here), which I really appreciate because it prevents the fries from getting soggy before they’re even served to you.

There are few foods that aren't improved by putting them over french fries.

There are few foods that aren’t improved by putting them over french fries.

To finish, we decided to try a couple of the options on the dessert menu. TQuizzle opted for the Bombolini (Doughnut, Lemon Curd, Fruit Preserves, $8), which she really enjoyed. They were light and fluffy little donut balls and I really liked the fruit preserves that came with them.

And "bombolini" is such a fun word to say.

And “bombolini” is such a fun word to say.

Since I can never say no to anything chocolate, I opted for the Chocolate Cake Bowl (Buttermilk Anglaise, Toasted Peanuts, Chocolate Sauce, $8). If you like chocolate and cake, you’ll like this. My only complaint was that the cake was a little dry.

I love chocolate, but I don't love cake. I'm an enigma.

I love chocolate, but I don’t love cake. I’m an enigma.

On my second visit, I met my friend Basil & Bubbly for happy hour. We sat at the bar and annoyed the bartenders with our constant photography. I started with the  Shoulder Monkey (Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Grilled Pineapple and Sage Syrup, Orgeat, Lemon, $9), which was so tasty. I loved the how the tartness of the pineapple cancelled out any of the alcoholic taste from the scotch. I could drink this all night long.

And the devil monkey on my shoulder tried to convince me to.

And the devil monkey on my shoulder tried to convince me to.

We split an order of the Creole Shrimp (Anson Mills Rice Cakes, Mustard, Bacon, $11), which was fantastic. I’m not sure what they put in those rice cakes, but I want that secret recipe. I’ve never had shrimp that tasted so good. Definitely give this dish a try!

For the rice cakes alone.

For the rice cakes alone.

For our second round of drinks, B&B got the Sherry-Colada (Lustau Cream Sherry, Coconut Cream, Fresh Pineapple, Angostura Bitters, $9), which I was a little afraid to try since a drink with Sherry as the base sounded a little strange to me. As it turns out, I was a silly goose because that drink was really delicious. It was light and also tasted like something you’d want to drink while on a beach somewhere.

"If you like Sherry Coladas..."

“If you like Sherry Coladas…”

My second cocktail was the Smoke on the Harbor (Goslings Gold Rum, Lime, Sugar, Compass Box Peat Monster Scotch Rinse, $9), which was a self-proclaimed unique twist on a classic daiquiri. I loved it. It was totally unique and unlike any other daiquiri I’ve had before. Not sweet, but not savory. I highly recommend giving it a try. The cocktails at The Darling are legit. I haven’t had a single one I didn’t like.

Looks can be deceiving, because this puppy is strong.

Looks can be deceiving, because this puppy is strong.

To go with our second round of drinks, we decided to split the Lobster Cocktail (Mango, Endive, Lemon Herb Vinaigrette, $14), which was a huge success. The lobster was very tender and not chewy at all. The lemon herb vinaigrette was fresh and with the mango, offered just the perfect amount of citrus to complement the shellfish.

ice not salt

This time, it was served on a bed of ice (not salt. even though they look the same).

The bartender was really talking up the Warm Date Oat Cake (Coconut Ice Cream, Caramel, $7), as “the dessert people come here to try. It’s what everyone orders,” so we decided to give it a try. Considering that most oat-based desserts tend to not be as sweet, I was really taken aback by how cloyingly sweet this was. I liked the caramel, but it packs a punch. It had the consistency of a really fat sugar cookie, with a firm outer shell and a nice chewy inside, which I really liked (see my aforementioned cake comment). The coconut ice cream was really subtle, and was not nearly as sweet as the caramel, which I was glad for. Overall, a very pleasant dessert if you’re in the mood for something very sweet!

Coconut ice cream is bae.

Coconut ice cream is bae.

Both of my experiences at The Darling were very positive and I can see this becoming a very popular hangout space for everyone from young professionals to older tourists. Give it a try!

Smile, TQuizzle!

Smile, TQuizzle!

The Darling
513 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 641-0821

The Darling Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Iron Dog Diner

March 25, 2016

I admit that I am a creature of habit. When it comes to restaurants, I tend to stick to Johns Island, James Island, and Downtown. When venturing outside of my usual radius, I tend to stick to old favorites. Poe’s on Sullivan’s Island; La Norteña in North Charleston; Jack’s Cosmic Dogs in Mount Pleasant… but I got out of my comfort zone recently and tried a new place out in Park Circle, the Iron Dog Diner, with my dad.

Back off ladies, he's taken.

Back off ladies, he’s taken.

The Iron Dog Diner is named for the area in which it’s located (apparently, it’s the Iron Dog District, but I definitely didn’t know that!). The space is super cute; it’s very retro chic. I think if I ever had the patience to start a cafe, this is who I’d want to design it.

Next time I'm bringing a book and camping out for a while.

Next time I’m bringing a book and camping out for a while.

After we placed our order with our very friendly waitress, but I got restless so I stood up and wandered around to have a looksie. What caught my eye was the dessert case. “What’s this?” I inquired. “A coffee-glazed cronut ($3). We make them fresh every morning,” the waitress responded. Then she laughed at the way my face lit up. “We’ll start with one of those.” It was light and moist (sorry) and flaky and not overly sweet, which I appreciated. We finished it in under a minute. It paired perfectly with the hot cup of coffee I was nursing.

Like a pastry made by angels.

Like a pastry made by angels.


Former Daniel Island Club and Anson Chef Lee Padgett came out and said hello to us and let us know that the daily special was a Smashed Potato Pancake Topped with White BBQ Pulled Pork, Served with an Apple Pecan Salad ($10). That sounded like my jam, so I ordered that. I really loved the potato pancake, as it was unlike any potato pancake I’ve ever had before. The white BBQ sauce was nice and mild; perfect for brunchtime. I also really loved the apple salad, which was fresh and added just a touch of sweetness to the dish (from the candied pecans). I was particularly impressed with how unique the dish was; I can’t think of any other place in Charleston serving anything like this.

It came together really well.

It came together really well.

My dad ordered the frittata–mostly because I think he likes saying the word ‘frittata’–which consisted of Oven Baked Eggs Topped with a Pork Belly Hash ($9.50). The pork belly in the hash was cured in the oven with curry, so it has a really nice depth to it, without being overwhelming. I like how perfectly cooked the pork belly was (I hate when it’s too chewy), but this was like fat, happy bacon bombs, which was a perfect compliment to the potatoes. The eggs were light and fluffy and the whole dish was really simple, but beautifully done.

Frittata. Frittata. Frittata.

Frittata. Frittata. Frittata.

Because we were feeling adventurous, we also ordered the Biscuits and Gravy to split (2 biscuits with milk sausage gravy, $6). The biscuits were amazingly light and fluffy, which was a nice balance to the heavy sausage gravy. This is definitely a stick-to-your-bones kind of breakfast. There was a nice hint of pepper in the gravy without being overwhelming, and I quite enjoyed the consistency of the gravy: not too thin, but also not too thick. Just right.

I'm the Goldilocks of sausage gravy.

I’m the Goldilocks of sausage gravy.

Because we hadn’t eaten enough, our waitress was able to sweet talk us into ordering dessert (see what I did there??), which was a chocolate chip cookie baked in a little cast iron skillet, topped with 2 generous scoops of vanilla ice cream ($5.99). Chef Padget said the key is “just like cooking cornbread. Get the skillet nice and hot before you put the batter in, so it gets a little crisp on the outside, but stays warm and gooey on the inside.” And boy did it ever. This might be one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had.

You gotta get it with the ice cream. Magnifico!

You gotta get it with the ice cream. Magnifico!

All in all, we were delightfully pleased with our meal, the service, and the atmosphere of Iron Dog Diner. This gives me an incentive to get out to North Charleston more! If you’re ever in Park Circle area, I suggest stopping by to give IDD a try; they’re open for brunch Tuesday – Sunday and dinner Thursday – Saturday.

It's so cute!

It’s so cute!

Also, here’s a bonus shot of Chef Padgett who was kind enough (and sufficiently weirded out by) my request to get his photo. If you see him, give him a high five or something, because he’s awesome.

Thanks, Chef!

Thanks, Chef!

Iron Dog Diner
4245 Rivers Ave
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 203-4682

Iron Dog Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Mercantile and Mash

January 27, 2016

I have been so excited to try Mercantile & Mash ever since I first heard about the project way back when. I’m so glad they finally found something to do to revamp the old cigar factory, because it’s such a great space.

Doesn't it just look like a place you want to come hang out for a few hours? Or forever?

Doesn’t it just look like a place you want to come hang out for a few hours? Or forever?

The idea behind Mercantile & Mash is simple, but unique: Mercantile is a self-described “gourmet food emporium” featuring homemade and local products such as charcuterie, cheese, fresh baked goods, grab-and-go items, and other food essentials. They also recently introduced the Chef’s Counter, a gourmet lunch experience that I was lucky enough to try out last week. The menu changes regularly, but I’ll give you the rundown on each of the dishes I tried.

I'll have one of everything, please.

I’ll have one of everything, please.

First, the Rappahannock River Oysters (shallot, cucumber, and housemade kimchi mignonette, $13). The oysters were perfectly prepared and I’ve never had anything like the kimchi mignonette before. The sourness of the kimchi paired perfectly with the oysters and the sweetness of the shallot. I highly recommend these if you like oysters!

It's like lunch AND a work of art!

It’s like lunch AND a work of art!


Next, the Smoked Tuna Crudo (fennel, orange, pistachio, and pomegranate, $14). I love tuna, so I was really excited for this dish. I loved the combination of the fish with the pistachio and pomegranate, but the orange felt a little superfluous to me. My dining companion was also a little disappointed and wanted a little more flavor out of the dish. Regardless, if you like tuna, you’ll probably enjoy this dish.

Like a little bite of sunshine.

Like a little bite of summertime and sunshine.

Next, my favorite dish, was the Beef Carpaccio (crispy sweetbreads, mustard, apple, and a mustard seed aioli, $14). The beef carpaccio itself was full of flavor and perfectly spiced. The mustard and apple offered some sweetness and tanginess to the dish, and the buttermilk-fried crispy sweetbreads were perfection. Our waitress described them as “adult chicken nuggets” and they practically melted in your mouth. I’d come back for this dish alone.

Plus, this photo got me like a thousand likes on Instagram. #score

Plus, this photo got me like a thousand likes on Instagram. #score

Next up was the Local Acorn Squash Soup (goat cheese, sherry, brown butter, and sage, $9. The soup was creamy and velvety, but lacked some depth that I was looking for.

"ACORN SOUP FOR YOU" - Hipster Soup Nazi

“ACORN SOUP FOR YOU” – Hipster Soup Nazi

The Butternut Agnolotti (duck confit, dates, hazelnuts, and vanilla bacon, $12) was really interesting. The vanilla was very strong, but was a great complement to the creaminess of the butternut pasta and dates. I liked that the duck confit was not inside the agnolotti, but rather served alongside in the pasta.

Like little pasta pillows.

Like little pasta pillows.

The Seared Scallops (roasted cauliflower, parsnip, almond, and citrus, $16) were perfectly cooked and were huge on the plate. The sauce that they were served with was amazing, and I wished they would bottle it so I could put it on everything.

Is this ambrosia?!

Is this ambrosia?!

The final entree of the meal was the Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Chop (ham hock, brussels sprouts, cider, and ginger, $18). The pork was amazing… it was moist and flavorful and I loved the cider and ginger that went along with it. The brussels were also perfectly cooked; not too hard and not too mushy….juuuust right.

Like the Goldilocks of vegetables.

Like the Goldilocks of vegetables.

We also tried an iced coffee from the “coffee wizard,” a concoction that he created dubbed the“Steve Palmer” (named after the owner). Instead of lemonade and tea, they combined limeade and iced coffee, which was surprisingly delicious.

Go into this one with an open mind.

Go into this one with an open mind.

The space itself is breathtaking and perfect for lunch with friends, a casual coffee date, or working remotely. They also offer great take-and-go options like their “dinner for two” deal. Be sure to stop by and check out this amazing space if you haven’t already!

And so whimsical!

And so whimsical!

I was feeling lazy the other day so I decided to try out the aforementioned “dinner for two.” It has all the makings of a home-cooked meal, without the hassle of a bunch of dishes. Remember that scene from Mrs. Doubtfire when Robin Williams (as the title character) orders a bunch of take out and puts it on the plate to pretend like she cooked the whole thing herself? This is basically that.

Just call me "Sydney Doubtfire."

Just call me “Sydney Doubtfire.”

The week that I chose had the following options:

  • Bone-In Cheshire Pork Chop with a South Carolina BBQ glaze, herbed confit fingerling potatoes, bourbon buttered mushrooms, and baby greens salad for $30
    OR
  • Seared Blue Crab Cakes with pickled okra and mustard seed aioli, sweet potato purée, steamed broccoli and bell peppers and baby arugula salad for $32. It was a tough choice, but I ended up going with the pork.

Everything came packed neatly in little tin containers. To cook, you preheat your oven, remove the plastic covers, place the containers on a tray, and cook for the recommended time in your oven. Easy peasy.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Except the salad. Don’t cook that, ya crazy.

Once everything was nice and hot, I plated it like normal and pretended like I’d made the whole thing from scratch. Which no one believed because I am nowhere close to a gourmet chef (except in my own mind).

 

I'm so profesh.

I’m so profesh.

No good dinner is complete without a tasty dessert to go with it. Although it’s not part of the dinner-for-two deal, I stopped by the baked goods case and grabbed something nice and chocolatey in the form of a chocolate, bacon, peanut butter, and banana bar.

Chocolate heals all wounds.

Chocolate heals all wounds.

Basically, I’m in love with Mercantile and Mash. It’s a great place to come for a morning coffee, brunch with friends, a lunch meeting, or to grab something quick to put together for dinner. Try it, and I bet you’ll fall in love, too.

Now you're speakin' my language.

Now you’re speakin’ my language.

Mercantile and Mash
701 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 793-2636

Mercantile And Mash Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Vincent Chicco’s

December 4, 2015

Vincent Chicco’s is one of seemingly 1,000 Italian restaurants in Charleston (and no I’m not counting Olive Garden in that list, sorry). I remember hearing a lot about VC’s when it was first being constructed, but I recently realized that I didn’t actually know anyone who’d ever eaten there. Since it’s my job to tell y’all about food, I went in and got the scoop (and like 4 bowls of pasta, don’t judge me).

Look at that sexy brickwork.

Look at that sexy brickwork.

Because I think eating Italian food without bread should be illegal, I started the meal with the bruschetta (House Focaccia Bread, Local Tomatoes, Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Goat Cheese, Basil, $10). Speaking of things that should be illegal, I think this is the best bruschetta I’ve ever had. The bread was that great consistency where it’s nice and crunchy on the outside, but soft and gluteny on the inside. The tomatoes and goat cheese were locally sourced, while the olive oil was imported from the Motherland. Note: if you aren’t a fan of goat cheese, you might want to go with a different app, because they don’t skimp on that creamy goodness when it comes to their bruschetta.

I'm not sure there's anything better than cheese on bread.

I’m not sure there’s anything better than cheese on bread.

Next up was the Roman Artichokes (Roasted Shallots, Heirloom Tomatoes, Castelvetrano Olives, Micro Herbs, $9), which were fantastic. The waiter made a point to tell me that the olives and artichokes were both imported from a tiny town in Italy that the chef picked out specifically because they produce the best quality of both veggies. I love how well they balance local ingredients with those imported directly from Italy. The artichokes were marinated and basically melted in your mouth without any of that chewiness that I’m used to from the artichokes on the Harris Teeter olive bar. I’m usualy meh about olives, but these were fantastic. Give me a bowl of these, and I’d eat ’em like popcorn.

lll

But that would be really gross to have at the movies.


The Masami Wagyu (Pickled Peppers, Capers, Parmesan Tuile, Sun Dried Tomato Aioli, Dried Olives, Heirloom Tomatoes, Ciabatta Toast, $11) was a cool take on a carpaccio, but it was a much thicker cut of meat, which was interesting. It was a little on the chewy side, so I was glad they gave us the crunchy ciabatta toast to add a little more texture to each bite. The sun dried tomato aioli was so good, you could put it on an old piece of shoe and call it a gourmet meal.

But please don't ask me to do follow through with that statement.

But please don’t ask me to do follow through with that statement.

I’m a fan of every cheese that’s ever existed, and the Housemade Burrata (Served With Roasted Tomatoes, Saba, Aged Balsamic, Marinated Olives, $9) was no different. It’s basically described as “cheese-stuffed cheese,” like a cross between mozzarella and brie, it was super creamy and paired extremely well with the roasted tomatoes and aged balsamic vinegar.

Taking back my earlier statement. Cheese-stuffed-cheese is better than bread and cheese.

Taking back my earlier statement. Cheese-stuffed-cheese is better than bread and cheese.

The menu at Vincent Chicco’s for entrees is split between Italian American favorites like Chicken Parmesan (Topped With Parmesan & Mozzarella Cheese, Served Over Spaghetti & House Tomato Sauce) and dishes that are a little more authentically Italian like the Veal Saltimbocca (Fresh Sage, Mozzarella, Prosciutto Di Parma, Fettucini, $24). Obviously I wanted to be a little more authentic, so I ordered solely off the Italian side. The Veal Saltimbocca was delicious, but a bit heavy on the sage, so be prepared for that.

veal

Take my sage advice. (Man, I’m so funny).

Ever since watching the first episode of Chef’s Table, I’ve been kind of obsessed with Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti With Pecorino Toscano, Parmesan Cheese, Cracked Pepper, Topped With A Parmesan Tuile, $19) and Vincent Chicco’s version was pretty great. Even though the sauce is essentially just cheese and butter, it was very light and totally delish. Kind of like a grown up version of mac and cheese.

Like alfredo, but way better.

Like alfredo, but way better.

I think the Lamb Sugo (Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder Bolognese Style, Tagliatelle Pasta, House Ricotta & Lavender Mint, $19) was my favorite of all the pastas I tried. It kind of tasted like a deconstructed lasagna, if I had to compare it to anything. The house ricotta was superb and the lavender mint was a cool element that I wasn’t really expecting. It made this dish very unique and is a dish I’m sure to order again on my next visit.

ggg

That lavender mint, though.

Even though there was literally no more room in my stomach, I decided to order the Tiramisu (Espresso Rum Soaked Italian Lady Fingers Mascarpone Cream, $9) to be able to give a well-rounded review. I was not expecting it to come out covered in chocolate and cappuccino anglaise sauce, but I was really thankful for it, because it was totally yummy. I think if you’re a tiramisu purist, you might not be a fan, but if you love dessert in general, this is a definite win.

I'm drooling.

I’m drooling.

I also couldn’t pass up trying the Zeppole (Italian Donuts, Vanilla Sugar, Shaved Chocolate, Cappuccino Anglaise, $9), which were basically mini funnel cakes. They were so damn good. If you have a soul, you will like the zeppole.

Hello, Italian donuts. Where have you been all of my life?

Hello, Italian donuts. Where have you been all of my life?

Vincent Chicco’s is hidden in the alley between Rue de Jean and the Charleston Music Hall and is connected to Michael’s on the Alley by way of Victor’s Social Club. It’s a little hidden gem in Charleston, and I highly recommend you check it out!

That brickwork is even sexier at night.

That brickwork is even sexier at night.

Vincent Chicco's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Parlor Deluxe [CLOSED]

November 12, 2015

I’ve been to Parlor Deluxe twice since it opened back in August, and I’ve been a bit underwhelmed each time. When I first heard the rumors about the “hot dog, tater tot, and waffle shop” coming to Spring Street, I was excited, as those are 3 of my favorite foods. But these aren’t your regular, run-of-the-mill hot dogs. These are something else entirely. Like the Lil’ Kimchi Dog—a beef dog with toasted dried shrimp, miso mustard glaze, house kimchi, crushed peanut, and cilantro on a brioche roll. The hot dog is mostly bread, and the brioche is a little dry. But the kimchi and mustard glaze are pretty tasty.

Gotta give 'em props for the name, though!

Gotta give ’em props for the name, though! Photo by Mac Kilduff

The ice cream comes from Hilton Head Ice Creams and they rotate a few flavors at a time. There are approximately a bazillion (ok more like 15) different toppings you can add to your cone or cup, so you can have a totally new experience every time you stop by (although I don’t recommend the homemade gummy bears). Or get a milkshake, egg cream, or a jerk float using Cannonborough Soda Company sodas.

Look! Lily's hand is famous!

Look! Lily’s hand is famous! Photo by Mac Kilduff

There are 4 different kinds of tater tots available on the menu, each unlike any other tater tots you’ll find in Charleston. Take for instance, the Sour Cream and Onion, a take on everyone’s favorite potato chip. They come with dill and malt sour cream, Tabasco hot sauce, and crispy onions with a special dipping sauce. The tots themselves are super crispy, which I like in a tot.

Look, Lily's hand is famous again! Photo by Mac Kilduff

Look, Lily’s hand is famous again! Photo by Mac Kilduff


The waffles are made fresh when you order them, and come with a variety of Parlor Deluxe’s housemade toppings. You can build one yourself, or go with one of any of the premade versions, like the Bees Knees, topped with chia seed lemon curd, granola bark, local honey, and toasted cardamom berries.

Leggo my waffle. Or something like that.

Leggo my waffle. Or something like that. Photo by Mac Kilduff

The hot dogs range from $8-$11 (a bit pricey for a hot dog) and the offerings change regularly to include new ingredients and flavor combos, like the Cheeky Greeky, a beef + “gyro” spiced dog topped with cucumber and lemon greek yogurt, Fishing Creek feta cheese, fennel, radish, and roasted chickpeas on a seeded roll. I thought the roasted chickpeas were awesome, and this hot dog was pretty delicious, although the bun was a little dry. I would’ve liked more of that lemon greek yogurt to even it out.

We should put chickpeas on more things.

We should put chickpeas on more things.

Or check out the more “traditional” dog, a beef dog topped with slow cooked pork chili, house sauerkraut, chopped onion, and cheese whiz on a toasted pretzel roll. Lily ordered this one, and I’d say it’s probably my favorite on their menu.

Easy Cheese!

Easy Cheese! Next time I’m going to ask them to write my name.

The atmosphere inside the tiny corner shop is pretty rad. The whole place looks like a soda shop out of the ’50s if it was designed by a trendy New York City designer from today. There’s black and white checkered tile on the floor, an ice cream scoop collage behind the cash register, and a bright neon sign that says “Parlor” above shelves stocked with ingredients for the perfect ice cream sundae. Pops of mint color pervade the retro cool corner spot. There are only about 3 tables in the whole place, but fortunately the food is made to be eaten on the go.

I need some more neon in my kitchen at home.

I need some more neon in my kitchen at home. Photo by Mac Kilduff

Parlor Deluxe is open noon to 12 am, Tuesday through Saturday; 5 pm to 12 am on Sundays; and is closed on Mondays. While I appreciate what PD is trying to do, I’m not entirely sure I’m hip enough to enjoy it. The hot dogs are good. The tots are ok. The waffles are unique and fun… but I don’t think I’m in a hurry to come back.

 

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Spero

October 2, 2015

I first learned about Spero in April when the City Paper wrote an article titled “Spero May Be The Best Under-The-Radar Restaurant in Town.” I didn’t read any of the article (I have a bad habit of only reading headlines), but added Spero to my list of restaurants to try right then. On my first visit, in the spring, I went 3 friends, which was a great choice because we were all willing to share dishes, so I got a great variety of what Spero had to offer. We started with the “Pickles and Pate” (chicken liver, half sour pickles, bread and butter pickles, mustard, $5.5), which was pretty delicious if you like pate. I thought it was great with the buttery bread and vinegary pickles, with a little tanginess from the mustard. The pate itself was a great consistency and had a nice subtle smokiness to it.

om nom nom

om nom nom

Our second starter was the bread flight (yes, you read that right. A flight of bread). It consisted of the sourdough pretzel bread with ham and mustard butter, beef tallow biscuits with horseradish cream, and cornbread with burnt honey miso butter ($6.50). It was divine. Each bread had a totally different flavor profile and paired perfectly with the condiment to which they were assigned. I would go back for the bread alone.

Why aren't bread flights a thing EVERYWHERE?!

Why aren’t bread flights a thing EVERYWHERE?!

We split a few of the small plates, including the Roasted Beet Salad (beets, berries, bleu cheese, buttermilk, battlestar galactica, $7.5), which was pretty good. Beets aren’t my favorite, so I only tried a bite, but it was absolutely gorgeous to look at!

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.


I, of course, opted to try the Lamb Barbacoa Sammich (pulled lamb, lemon pickled jalapeno, mayo, queso fresco with a seasonal side, $9), which had my name all over it (not actually, but it may as well have). It was awesome. The lemon pickled jalapeno took away any gaminess the lamb might have had, leaving it perfectly tender and packed with flavor. The bread was nice and soft and the sandwich was a great size for sharing.

baaa

baaa

Someone lame at the table (whom we’ll call Voldemort) ordered the Red Russian Kale Salad (strawberry vinaigrette, candied local pecans, $6.50), which was tasty for a salad. I mostly just at the candied pecans.

Piled high!

Kale piled high!

Another person at the table ordered the Braised Beef Sammich (pickled carrots, whipped bleu cheese, $10), which was also really tasty. The beef was packed full of flavor that literally dripped down your chin after you took a bite (in a good way). The pickled carrots gave it almost a banh mi kind of flavor, and the whipped bleu cheese was creamy and a great complement to the beef & carrots.

yummy in my tummy

yummy in my tummy

We got 2 of the oatmeal cookies for dessert, which were served with ice cold glasses of milk. The cookies are baked to order, so they take about 12 minutes or so from when you order them. We were so enthralled with our company that we didn’t notice that our cookies were taking forever until the chef / owner came out to apologize to us for “technical difficulties.” I was confused because technical difficulties + cookies didn’t really equate for me. But he explained “first there were cookies on a tray, then there were cookies on the ground. But we’re starting all over… it just might take a few more minutes.” It was definitely worth the wait, as there are few things in this world better than a fresh baked cookie and ice cold glass of milk.

Cookies on a platter.

Cookies on a platter.

The second time I visited was in the summer (technically “sautumn” or “summer into Autumn” as they called it) with Lauren. We sat at the bar, which I highly recommend, because it gives you a much more inclusionary experience and makes you feel as if you’re a part of the restaurant (for example, they do their “safety meeting” at 9:30 every night, where the whole kitchen staff shotguns a beer together. I’ve never worked in food & bev, but if I did, I hope I would’ve worked in a place like this). We started with the Chilled Acorn Squash Soup (herbed goat cheese, pickled onions, $5.50). The goat cheese was amazing and totally sold the whole dish. It was velvety and smooth and super flavorful.

Dat goat cheese, tho.

Dat goat cheese, tho.

After the soup was the Marinated H2Omelon Salad (beef tataki, thai basil, mint, $6.25). Big, thick pieces of watermelon with a little spicy kick, served with thinly sliced steak. Looking at the description, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together and if the flavors were going to mesh well together, but after my first bite all my worries disappeared. I loved the contrast of the spicy watermelon with the mint and seared steak and would highly recommend it if it’s on the menu again.

That's a-spicy watermelon!

That’s a-spicy watermelon!

Next, we got the Roasted Okra (jalapeno honey, bleu cheese, peanuts, $6.75), which were amazing. Lauren commented that she loved that they kept the okra whole because that kept it from being dried out. I loved the jalapeno honey and blue cheese combo with the okra, which is, again, never a combination I would’ve thought up on my own, but it really worked! 

jalapeno honey butter

I cannot get into my properly emotional state without my jalapeño honey butter!

After the okra came the delicata squash (Vietnamese caramel, sour yellow curry, brown butter breadcrumbs, $7) which perfectly cooked and caramelized on one side, with a great mixture of spicy and sweet. Probably my favorite thing we ordered. Also, can I please get brown butter breadcrumbs on everything I order in the future? kthx.

Caramelized Squash just sounds so sexy.

Caramelized Squash just sounds so sexy.

To finish, we decided to go with 2 of their Pigerdoodle (I think that was the name) cookies (like snickerdoodles, but made with rendered pig fat). They were great. Super rich, and melty…just the way I like a cookie: “warm, sweet, and directly in front of my face.”

You know what doesn't sound sexy? "Rendered pork fat."

You know what doesn’t sound sexy? “Rendered pork fat.”

All in all, the prices for the small plates are more than reasonable, and if you haven’t stopped by this neighborhood gem yet, then I feel like you’re missing out on an essential part of Charleston. What are you even doing with your life.

I "hope" to return soon!

I “hope” to return soon! (Get it… guys? Do you get it?)

Spero
616 Meeting St,
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 203-3255

Spero Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

O-Ku

September 16, 2015

I’ll happily admit that I’m addicted to sushi. O-Ku will be my third sushi restaurant I’ve reviewed on my blog, but by no means will it be my last. For my birthday lunch, I decided to try out O-Ku’s lunch menu because I’d only ever been for lunch and dinner (and a few cocktails).

And also for this reason.

And also for this reason.

Syd and I decided that since it was my birthday lunch (see: gif above) we would order a smorgasbord of sushi. We started with the Panko Fried Shrimp Bento Box (which includes Spring Mix Salad with Ginger-Carrot Vinaigrette, Crab Salad and Avocado Sushi Roll, Steamed Glass Noodles with sautéed mushroom, onion & carrot with sweet ginger garlic soy sauces, $13) because I’ve never actually had a bento box before.

And look how cute the little box is!

And look how cute the little box is!

It was huge and very filling. The shrimp were perfectly fried and the panko gave them a nice crispiness without being too heavy for lunch. The tangy dipping sauce they came with gave a nice sweetness and rounded out the flavor. I really enjoyed the lightness of the ginger-carrot vinaigrette salad dressing and appreciated that they used real greens instead of limp iceberg lettuce in their salad. The sushi came in 4 pieces, and was your standard crab and avocado roll. The steamed glass noodles were an interesting addition (and fun little puzzle to try and eat with chopsticks). All in all, the bento box alone would be a very filling meal for lunchtime for a normal human.

Bento box unboxed.

Bento box unboxed.


But I am not a normal human, I am part sushi monster, so we ordered 3 more rolls of sushi to split between the 2 of us.

And without even a hint of shame.

And without even a hint of shame.

First, we tried the Tuna Wrapped Roll (Spicy tuna, cucumber, tuna, spicy aioli, eel sauce, $13.50), which was very delicious. I absolutely love tuna, so I was a huge fan of the extra piece of tuna on top of the roll. The fish is very high quality and the ingredients were really well balanced.

Although, I'd avoid this roll if you're not into spicy mayo. Or tuna.

Although, I’d avoid this roll if you’re not into spicy mayo. Or tuna.

Our second roll was the Black Dragon Roll (Spicy seafood mix, cucumber, avocado, eel, eel sauce, spicy aioli, $15). I also really like eel, although I am a little hesitant to order it sometimes, as it can be chewy. Not so at O-Ku. The eel practically melted in your mouth, and I loved the slight kick from the spicy seafood mix.

Although, I was disappointed that it didn't come out looking like a dragon.

Although, I was disappointed that it didn’t come out looking like a dragon.

Our final roll (and my favorite of the 3) was the Potato Roll (Shrimp tempura, avocado, shoe-string potatoes, eel sauce, sweet chili mango, $12.50). When one thinks of sushi, “potato” doesn’t usually come to mind, but O-Ku really makes it work. The outside of the roll is nice and crispy and maintains the distinct taste of potato chips, even with the sweetness of the eel sauce and sweet chili mango. Inside, you get the saltiness from the shrimp tempura, and creaminess from the avocado. It really is like an adventure for your tastebuds.

Why don't we wrap more foods in potato?

Why don’t we wrap more foods in potato?

All in all, I had an outstanding (albeit expensive) lunch at O-Ku for my birthday. Assuming you only order food for 1 person, instead of 5, O-Ku is actually a pretty affordable option for a sushi-lovers lunch. Also be sure to stop by for their Happy Hour on Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 5:00 – 7:00 PM and get half off sushi rolls and great drink specials.

And to eat 2 rolls for the price of one. #SushiMonster

And to eat 2 rolls for the price of one. #SushiMonster

O-Ku
463 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 737-0112

O-Ku Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Caviar & Bananas

August 24, 2015

Caviar & Bananas has been making a lot of fun changes to their menu lately, and I’ve been by a couple of times to check out their new sushi menu, brunch offerings, and salads. Here’s what I’ve had.

All of the food. I've had all of it.

All of the food. I’ve had all of it.

Sushi

Creole White Fish – $9.95
Blackened white fish, snap peas, shaved jalapeño, red bell pepper, roasted tomato, brown rice, Asian remoulade sauce

Creole Whitefish

Creole Whitefish

This I think was my favorite roll of them all. The Asian remoulade sauce is quite delicious and lighter than your typical spicy mayo. I’m not crazy about the snap peas (which make an appearance in many of the rolls at C&B), but they do add a nice layer of crunch without the added calories of tempura.


Crispy Crab & Coconut – $8.95
Coconut fried crab, julienned carrots, scallions, daikon radish, brown rice, and peanut red curry sauce

Coconut + Crab + Sushi = Tastiness

Coconut + Crab + Sushi = Tastiness

This one was also really delicious, and I loved the Asian flair with the coconut and red curry peanut sauce. It was super inventive and unique while not getting too complicated. All the flavors really complemented each other well.

Cucumber and Avocado – $5.50
Cucumber, avocado, citrus cream cheese, brown rice, sweet soy reduction

Just a typical cucumber avocado roll.

Just a typical cucumber avocado roll.

The only things that really set this roll apart from any other cucumber & avocado roll is that it uses citrus cream cheese and has a sweet soy reduction. These distinctions definitely give a little extra to the roll than you’re used to getting, but it’s very subtle. The soy reduction is a little sweeter than typical soy sauce and the citrus cream cheese adds some brightness to the roll.

Salmon Citrus – $6.95
Salmon, snap peas, shaved jalapeño, cucumber, cilantro, white rice, lime sauce

One of the prettiest rolls I've ever eaten!

One of the prettiest rolls I’ve ever eaten!

This was the only inside out roll of the bunch, so it had a different texture to it than the other rolls. The lime sauce was nice and creamy without being too tart or sour. My only complaint with this roll was that I wish there had been some avocado or something else inside to give it extra creaminess because it was a little dry.

Shrimp Pad Thai – $9.50
Poached shrimp, egg, peanuts, scallions, cilantro, white rice, pad Thai sauce, lime

One of the weirdest rolls I've ever eaten.

One of the weirdest rolls I’ve ever eaten.

This one really took me aback at first bite. I really wasn’t prepared for the flavor profile here. It legitimately tastes like pad Thai that’s heavy on the egg (so it’s a little spongy). But after I got over the initial shock, I found that I actually really liked it. If you’re not super adventurous when it comes to sushi, I’d opt for one of the more traditional rolls.

Spicy Crab – $5.95
Spicy crab, snap peas, cucumber, white rice, spicy chili sauce

Great in theory; not my favorite in execution.

Great in theory; not my favorite in execution.

This was probably my least favorite, probably just because I’m not a huge fan of the snap peas. It was very fresh tasting, like a salad in a roll. The spicy chili sauce was a little overpowering because it’s got such a strong flavor.

Brunch

I, like many of my fellow Charlestonians, take my brunches very seriously. There are few things worse than a subpar brunch, especially when there are so many great options for this hallowed meal. I’ll be the first to admit, Caviar & Bananas wouldn’t normally have been on my list of places to brunch, but after trying nearly half of their menu, I can say that they’ve taken over one of the top spots on my list of favorite brunch locales.

Avocado Toast – $5.00
Smashed Avocado, Cotija Cheese, Pickled Red Onion, Radish, Fresh Herbs, Grilled Sourdough Bread

I sometimes dream about this toast.

I sometimes dream about this toast.

So simple, but so delicious. I’ve had quite a few avocado toasts in my life, but this is probably my favorite (Sorry, Park Cafe. You’ve been replaced). There’s something so fresh and tangy and unique about the pickled red onion when paired with the perfectly ripe avocado and buttery grilled sourdough. It has to be tasted to be to be fully comprehended. You can also add on a fried egg or citrus grilled shrimp, but I’m a purist. All avocado, all the way.

Crispy Chicken Buttermilk Biscuit – $9.00
Southern Fried Chicken Breast, Scrambled Egg, Aged Cheddar, Tasso Gravy, Buttermilk Biscuit, CHOICE OF A SIDE

Now that's a biscuit.

Now that’s a biscuit.

Talk about a big mamajama, this biscuit is the real deal. I highly recommend splitting this with another person, because they basically give you an entire fried chicken on a biscuit. The tasso gravy is a creamy, peppery complement to the aged cheddar cheese, which pairs perfectly with the crispy fried chicken.

Veggie and Eggs Benedict – $10.00
Poached Eggs, Vegetable-Quinoa Cake, Wilted Spinach, Fresh Herb Hollandaise, Whole Wheat English Muffin

And so green, too!

And so green, too!

I love how unique this is. I’m not usually crazy about eggs benedict (they give me flashbacks of having to make hollandaise by hand), but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t delicious. I also really enjoyed the vegetable-quinoa cake, which was jam-packed with flavor. The fresh herb hollandaise was a little on the thin side, but I thought it worked well with how thick the veggie cake was.

“Weekend” Fried Egg Sandwich – $9.00
Fried Egg, Seared Prosciutto, Wilted Spinach, Roasted Tomato Marmalade, Whole Wheat English Muffin, CHOICE OF A SIDE

For those of you without much imagination in the brunch department.

For those of you who aren’t very adventurous in the brunch department.

This was probably the most basic of all of the brunch items I tried. Essentially just a breakfast sandwich, the most interesting element of this dish was the roasted tomato marmalade, which added some sweetness and depth to the sandwich. I thought this one was a little dry, and I’d recommend maybe ask for more marmalade or adding cheese because it definitely needed a little something.

Sweet Potato and Kale Hash – $7.00
Sweet Potato, Kale, Poached Egg

A nice twist for the more health conscious bruncher.

A nice twist for the more health conscious bruncher.

A really simple dish in theory but bursting with flavor in execution, this sweet potato hash was a delightful surprise. I really wasn’t expecting much, but they season it wonderfully with herbs and just enough kale to make it interesting.

Parmesan Fried Potatoes – $3.00 á la carte

Dry potatoes are the worst potatoes.

Dry potatoes are the worst potatoes.

Ok, so I wasn’t so impressed with these. They tasted like they’d been reheated: very dry and gritty. They had a good flavor, so there’s potential there. But in the future, I wouldn’t go out of my way to order this.

Smoked Jalapeno Grits – $3.00 á la carte

Gritttts

Then again, I always think grits need more salt.

These grits were thick and had an interesting layer of depth to them, but needed some salt. They were good. Not great, but good.

Salads

The Toscana
Mixed Greens, Crispy Prosciutto, Shaved Parmesan, Vanilla Poached Pears, Shaved Fennel, Toasted Walnuts, Chianti Vinaigrette

You had me at "crispy prosciutto."

You had me at “crispy prosciutto.”

The Toscana was probably my favorite of the two. It’s really hard to beat the taste of crispy prosciutto and shaved parmesan together, but then they throw in some sweet vanilla poached pears, which were quite the tasty complement to the saltiness of the prosciutto, the licorice-ness (new word) of the fennel, and the nuttiness of the toasted walnuts. I’ve never had Chianti before (thanks, Silence of the Lambs), but I’m a huge fan of the Chianti vinaigrette.

The Baja
Romaine, Cotija Cheese, Avocado, Corn, Tomato, Cucumber, Jicama, Pickled Red Onions, Pumpkin Seeds, Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

Obviously, mine was not this gorgeous.

Obviously, mine was not this gorgeous.

The Baja was kind of a cross between a Caesar salad and a Southwestern salad and had a great hint of freshness to it due to the chipotle lime vinaigrette. The corn gave the salad a great texture (is it cliche to say that it popped?) and the jicama and cotija cheese added a really unique creaminess, while the pickled red onion was tangy and sweet at the same time. The whole thing came together wonderfully. If you choose to add the citrus-grilled shrimp, you won’t be disappointed.

Caviar & Bananas
51 George St,
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-7757

Click to add a blog post for Caviar & Bananas on Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Barony Tavern [CLOSED]

June 25, 2015

[Barony Tavern is now closed as of 1/29/17]

In Charleston, chefs are often the biggest local celebrities we have. I get more excited seeing Sean Brock than I do Bill Murray whenever he inevitably pops up downtown. One (of the many) local chefs I follow is Chef Robert Carter. I went to Peninsula Grill shortly before he left and I enjoyed dinner at Carter’s Kitchen weeks after it opened (sorry to report that I wasn’t as impressed with Rutledge Cab Company, but no one’s perfect). When I heard about his newest venture, Barony Tavern, I was pumped to give it a try.

llll

Food always excites me.

The restaurant is located inside the Renaissance Hotel, in the location of the old Wentworth Grill (RIP). The décor and ambience really appealed to me; I loved all the dark wood, deer paraphernalia, and old books. I felt like I was dining in someone’s private library or a study in an old mansion.

Including the creepy "villain behind the portrait with cut out eyes" a la Scooby Doo.

Including the creepy “villain behind the portrait with cut out eyes” a la Scooby Doo.

The appetizers were all so tempting, we couldn’t settle on just 1, so we got 3 instead. First, the grilled softshell crab BLT was a special. I’m normally not a fan of softshell crab (usually it’s served fried), but somehow grilled, I actually really liked it. Served with Portuguese slider roll, bacon, marinated roma tomatoes, bibb lettuce, and green goddess aioli. The flavor combo was just delicious.

But I'll pretty much eat anything with bacon on it.

But I’ll pretty much eat anything with bacon on it.


Our second app was the crispy oysters with a kale pesto and smoked bacon ($10). These oysters positively melted in your mouth. The bacon added a nice hint of smokiness and the kale pesto with the crispy piece of kale on top gave it a really interested texture and flavor that was reminiscent of some Asian food.

And it tastes just as good as it looks.

And it tastes just as good as it looks.

Our third appetizer was the seared beef carpaccio with okra aioli, fried okra, and arugula salad ($12). My first question after trying this dish is “why isn’t the fried okra just straight up on the menu?” because it was some of the best fried okra I’ve ever had. I loved the super light cornmeal breading and the way it paired with the smoky, salty beef. Like prosciutto on crack.

lll

Plus fried okra.

We also tried the toasted farro salad with oven roasted grapes, baby kale, feta, pistachios, and red wine vinaigrette ($9), which was unique and very tasty. The thing that’s great about farro is that it’s a little heartier of a grain, so you don’t really feel like you’re eating healthy. Also the oven roasted grapes were like little flavor bombs within the salad, which I thought was a great touch and a happy surprise.

And I rarely get excited about a salad.

And I rarely get excited about a salad.

We also got a side of the caramelized cauliflower with truffled brioche ($7), which was outstanding. It was cheesy and truffle-y and if I hadn’t known better, I don’t think I would’ve guessed that it was cauliflower.

Mmmmm

Which is the best way to serve cauliflower.

We were also interested in the basil-marinated duck livers available on the tavern menu from the bar area, which were served with wilted lettuce, tomato coulis and bacon jam ($10). Since I’ve never had duck livers before, I didn’t have a lot to compare it too, but it was very gamey. I liked the contrast of the tomato coulis and the bacon jam which gave it a meaty, sweet flavor. I recommend it if you are feeling adventurous.

Adventurous is my middle name...(not really. It's Lauren).

Adventurous is my middle name…(not really. It’s Lauren).

For a main course, we decided on the crawfish-stuffed shrimp, which was served with a Charleston “red rice” of orzo and creole butter ($26). The shrimp were cooked perfectly and I thought the dish as a whole was very creative. I enjoyed the orzo, but by that point I was getting full and I didn’t want to waste room in my stomach on orzo when there was still that cauliflower to be eaten.

I love it when food is stuffed into other food/

I love it when food is stuffed into other food/

For dessert, we were interested in one of the specials of the night, which was a piece of chocolate brittle topped with a layer of chocolate mousse, with peanut butter brittle mousse, and a salted caramel sauce. It was rich and decadent and basically heaven on earth.

You had me at "chocolate."

You had me at “chocolate.”

We also tried a slice of the world-famous coconut cake that is Chef Carter’s specialty. He uses his grandmother’s recipe and it tastes very homemade. It’s perfectly sweet, and packed full of coconut. I definitely recommend it.

"You had me at cake."

“You had me at cake.”

On a secondary visit, I tried the Barony Burger (brioche bun, aged cheddar, bacon, green goddess aioli and fried onions, $16) and it was outstanding. Just the right amount of greasy from the perfectly seasoned meat, plus the tanginess of the aged cheddar and saltiness of the bacon. I thought the green goddess aioli was a great and unique addition which set it apart from other burgers in the city.

Hey burger, you're coming home with me.

Hey burger, you’re coming home with me.

But the real shining star is Chef’s fried chicken (which you can get on his Sunday supper menu). It might be some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Perfectly crispy on the outside; juicy and wonderful on the inside. A chicken lover’s dream.

Fry Fry Chicky Chick.

Fry Fry Chicky Chick.

All in all I think Barony Tavern is a great addition to the culinary scene in Charleston. If the full menu is too expensive, I definitely recommend checking out the tavern menu, as it gives you a great overview of what the food is like for a smaller price.

Barony apparently means "deer" or something? I have no idea.

Barony apparently means “deer” or something? I have no idea.

Barony Tavern
68 Wentworth St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 297-4246

Click to add a blog post for Barony Tavern on Zomato

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