[UPDATE 10/1/2015: I originally reviewed Persimmon Cafe (back before it was cool) back in August 2013. Since then, I’ve been to Persimmon approximately 157,000 times, so I didn’t think it was fair to leave my review as it stands. So much has changed with them (and me!) since then, that I wanted to give a more accurate representation of what it’s like to experience Persimmon.]
Persimmon Cafe, for those of you lame-os not in the know, is my favorite restaurant in Charleston. The space is kind of off-beat–I mean, who would think to put a cafe inside of a laundromat? But, it works. It really does.
The menu is simple and contains just the right number of choices so as not to leave you overwhelmed. I’ve had pretty much everything on the menu (multiple times), so I’ll go through and review each of the menu items I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, starting with my favorites.
Orzo Pasta Salad
The Orzo Pasta Salad (orzo pasta, honey, balsamic vinegar, craisins, red onion, goat cheese, $1.50) is definitely my favorite thing at Persimmon. No matter what I come in for, or how hungry I am, I always order the pasta salad. It’s got a great amount of tang from the vinegar that’s balanced out by the creaminess of the goat cheese. It’s heaven.
Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich
My standard order for a long time at Persimmon was the curry chicken sandwich (red onions, curry chicken salad, and golden raisins, $7.50). In my first review, I said “I’m a sucker for curry chicken, so that’s probably why I liked this one the best. I’d probably get that again if I went back,” and I did. A lot. It’s got a very strong curry taste, so if you’re sensitive to that, I’d recommend one of their other sammies instead.
Rosemary Lemon Tea
They have a really interesting selection of homemade drinks, like vanilla lemonade, basil limeade, and rosemary lemon tea. I always (literally, always) get the rosemary lemon tea. It’s my favorite drink of all time. Even more than diet coke, and that’s really saying something. They use a lemon-rosemary simple syrup that they add to their freshly brewed tea, and it is unique and totally delicious.
My new favorite sandwich is The Greek (thick-cut turkey, Greek-style salad, sheep’s milk feta, mayo, warm naan bread, $8). I don’t think I’ve ever had a sandwich like the Greek before. It’s so good. The sheep’s milk feta has a unique taste, much different from regular feta. It’s creamier and goes really well with whatever dressing they put on the Greek salad (I’m assuming Greek dressing??). The whole sandwich is a work of art.
Tell me, is there anything better than a restaurant that lights marshmallows on fire right in front of your face? No. No, there is not. Especially when those flambeed marshmallows sit atop a holy grail of nutella custard. Thick, creamy custard, big chunks of Nutella, hot toasted marshmallows… This is basically why the phrase “food porn” was invented.
When Persimmon introduced the Italian sandwich (hard salame, sorpressata, prosciutto, provolone, dressed spinach, mayo, torta roll, $8), I was so excited that I cancelled my lunch plans and ordered that instead. I have a problem, I know. It has all the trappings of a classic italian sandwich: fatty italian meats, provolone cheese, and lots of mayo. They throw some spinach in there so your body gets some nutrition out of it. It’s very greasy and I feel like I need to wash my hands (and face) afterward, but man is it delicious.
Adult Grilled Cheese
The Adult Grilled Cheese (smoked Gouda, green apple, prosciutto & cheddar, $6.75) is a classic. When you pulled the sandwich apart it was nice and melty and cheesy. I really liked the green apple, which adds a level of freshness to the sandwich (and pairs really well with the gouda).
The butternut squash sandwich (grilled butternut squash, curry cashew butter, honey, goat cheese, $6.75) is also a favorite among my friends. Rob once made it vegan-style for my cousin, and she’s still talking about it, 2 years later. Lauren requests it every time she visits Charleston. Grilling the butternut squash brings out its full flavor, and the curry cashew butter complements the nuttiness of the squash perfectly. Then you have the goat cheese, which makes everything taste better, and a little bit of honey for some sweetness. It’s a winner for vegans and carnivores alike.
Persimmon also makes one of the best lobster rolls (light mayo, parmesan, celery, $16.50) in Charleston. They don’t have it on the menu very often, but when they do, you should definitely order it. It’s big and it’s decadent, but it’s also totally worth it.
This is Sean’s favorite sandwich because it’s so manly and full of meat. The cubano (thick-cut ham, pulled pork, plantain dijon, havarti, bread & butter pickles, torta roll, $8) is really unique twist on a classic cubano sandwich. I love the way the plantain dijon balances out the tanginess from the pulled pork, and the havarti brings the whole sandwich together.
I love tuna and I love tacos and Persimmon combined that love into 1 menu item, the Blowtorch Tuna Tacos (peanut butter & ginger slaw, spicy mayo, blowtorched tuna, $3.50/taco). They’re super simple and packed with flavor, especially if you like tuna.
Soups! (All of them)
Persimmon has 2 soup options daily to choose from and they consist of the following options (on rotation): Tomato Parm; Sweet Potato, curry and goat cheese; spicy black bean and corn; cream of asparagus; and potato cheddar. They’re all $4 each and come with a toasted piece of bread. They’re also all delicious. You can’t go wrong with any of them, although my faves are the sweet potato, curry, and goat cheese and the potato cheddar.
In my first review, I ended it by saying “I can’t wait to go back. I highly recommend you check this place out if you haven’t already,” and that holds true today. Even though I’ve eaten there more times than I can count, I always look forward to my next visit!
226 Calhoun Street