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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iron Dog Diner
4245 Rivers Ave
North Charleston, SC 29405