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Charleston Restaurants

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Zero Restaurant + Bar

December 15, 2016

I want to start off this post by saying that Zero Restaurant + Bar is probably my favorite restaurant in Charleston. I’ve been 3 times now and each visit was even better than the last (and I didn’t even think that was possible). I’m not sure what Chef Vinson Petrillo is doing back in that kitchen, but it is magical. Recently, they changed up the way they present the menu, with the focus being on more of a pre-fixe, Chef’s tasting menu, which is honestly what I would have ordered anyway. It’s a bit pricy at $125 a person, but for 6 courses and beverage pairings, I think you’re getting a pretty good deal.

Then again, I’m always willing to spend more on something delicious.

Even if you don’t want to stay for dinner or order off the a la carte menu (but you really should), you should definitely stop by the bar and try one of their fantastic cocktails. My favorites are The Red Scare (Agavales Tequila, PAMA, Jack Rudy Grenadine, Habanero Simple Cilantro, Lemon, Lime, $13), which has a great little kick to it, and the Alter Ego (Hendrink’s Gin, Lavender, Lime, Habanero Citrus Foam (Egg White), Burlesque Bitters, $13), which also has a kick to it, but is also so fresh and bright. But you can’t go wrong with pretty much anything on the menu.

My Alter Ego likes to pretend she’s constantly being filmed like in The Truman Show.

When I visited recently, I was joined by my friend (and one of my favorite local foodie bloggers) Marianne of Basil and Bubbly. It’s nice going to eat with a fellow food blogger, as you don’t get the same annoyed stares and sighs as people wait for you to take 15 pictures of 1 dish.

Marianne knows what’s up.

Our first course was the Snacks plate, which consisted of Chef Petrillo’s world famous (or at least they should be) deviled eggs with caviar, a foie gras macaron, a lobster roll bite, and a potted “plant.” Each item was about 2 bites (unless you have a big mouth like me). My favorite was definitely the deviled eggs (which I’ve had before and are always a crowd-pleaser), but the potted plant (puffed red quinoa, housemade butter & heirloom radish) was one of the coolest and most unique things I’ve ever eaten. This course was served with a glass of champagne, which gave the whole thing a very whimsical, Alice in Wonderland-type vibe.

And the presentation can’t be beat!

Course #2 was the Beet Tartare (with encapsulated carrot “yolk,” sorrel, yogurt, warm multigrain), which also caught us by surprise. First of all, who’d have ever thought you could make an egg yolk out of a carrot?! Granted it didn’t taste much like an egg yolk, but it sure looked like one. I’m not usually a fan of beets, but Chef Petrillo smoked them on the Zero grill before serving them to us, which gave the whole dish a touch of smokiness, which completely changed the flavor of the beets that I had been expecting. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you might not have even noticed that this dish was meatless. It was that good.

My brain auto-corrected it to “beef” on the menu anyway, so I was really thrown off when it came out and was purple.

Course #3–probably my favorite of the entire meal–consisted of liquid parmesan tortellini (chanterelle mushroom ragout, late peas, spruce tips). They poured a nice broth over the tortellini at the table, which made the dish an entire experience in and of itself. I love any combination of cheese and noodle, but these soft parmesan pillows were out of this world.

Lord, please let them serve liquid parmesan tortellini in heaven.

Course #4, in contrast, was probably my least favorite dish: roasted snapper with potatoes cooked in seaweed and mussels cooked in whey. It was a perfectly pleasant dish, but nothing about it knocked my socks off (although that could’ve just been because I hadn’t had a chance to put them back on after the tortellini…who’s to say).

Socks are such fickle creatures.

The final of our entree courses was something I’m surprised to say that I’ve never had the pleasure of eating before: Beef Wellington (I know, I know…and I call myself a foodie) with foie gras, caramelized onion, wild mushrooms, and aerated potato. Every bite I took of this dish made me stop and say “wow;” the beef practically melted in your mouth, and the potatoes were so light and airy, they didn’t even seem real. When my plate was finally empty, I went into a bit of a depression that still lingers on to this day.

Beef Wellington, where have you been all my life??

For our dessert course, we were treated to tres leches in Chef Petrillo’s classic style. Young coconut, spongy cake, and honeycomb provided 3 completely different tastes and textures, with an understated sweetness that was very satisfying to the palate. I would 110% order this again.

How many milks do I need to recreate this dish at home.

From the impeccable service to the ambiance of the gorgeous outdoor patio to the expectation-shattering culinary prowess of Chef Vinson Petrillo, Zero Restaurant + Bar will forever hold a special place in my heart. If you ever get a chance to dine here, you should jump on that opportunity posthaste!

Posthaste I say!

Zero Restaurant + Bar
0 George Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Zero Restaurant + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato < ignore this rating because these people are insane & not to be trusted.


Random Fodder

Best of Charleston 2015

April 1, 2015

Hello my dear readers. The time has come; today is the day that Charleston City Paper released the results for this year’s Best of Charleston. Although I’m very saddened to not have won Best Local Interest Blog, I am extremely grateful to all of you who took the time to vote for me! We’ll get ’em next year.

best of charleston

Every year, I get sad because some of my favorite restaurants were (like me) overlooked as BOC winners, so I create a list of my own Charleston favorites. Here are The Queen’s choices for Best of Charleston 2015:

Best New Restaurant
R Kitchen

Best Sandwiches
Persimmon Cafe

Best Biscuits & Gravy
Lost Dog Cafe

Best Brunch
The Granary

Best BBQ
Swig & Swine

Most Addicting Mac & Cheese

Best Diner

Best French Food
Brasserie Gigi

Best Trivia Night
Kickin’ Chicken

Best Southern Food
Angel Oak Restaurant

Best Plate of Cornbread
Edmund’s Oast

Most Decadent Plate of Carrot Cake
City Lights Coffee

My New Favorite Taco Spot
Zia Taqueria

Most Addicting Hummus
Dell’z Uptown

Most Deliciously Innovative Take on Baked Beans
The BBQ baked peanuts from Artisan Meat Share

Tastiest Oysters

Best New Sean Brock Restaurant

Best Mt. Pleasant Restaurant
Stack’s Evening Eats

Yummiest Breads
Browns Court Bakery

Best Lunch Downtown
Twenty Six Divine

Best Peruvian Chicken
Pollo Loko

Coolest Ambience
Park Cafe

Saddest Restaurant Closing
Georgean’s Caribbean Soul

What are your picks for this year’s Best of Charleston?

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Persimmon Cafe

August 30, 2013

[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.

It would never really work the other way around, though.

Although, it would never really work the other way around.

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.

Goat Cheese is my kryptonite.

Goat Cheese is my kryptonite.

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.

Hello, old friend.

More for me!

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.

Not as much as I love you!

Not as much as I love you! #soulmates


The Greek

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.

Seriously. Someone frame this for me.

Seriously. Someone frame this for me.

Nutella Custard

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.

Have you ever been turned on by ice cream before?

Have you ever been turned on by ice cream before?

The Italian

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.

Hey good lookin'

Hey good lookin’

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).

Melted cheese is my kryptonite.

Melted cheese is also my kryptonite.

Butternut Squash

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.

What's up butternut, whooooa whoa whoa.

What’s up butternut, whooooa whoa whoa.

Lobster Roll

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.

"Ooooh, the claw"

“Ooooh, the claw”

The Cubano

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.

Persimmon is very multicultural.

Persimmon is very multicultural.

Tuna Tacos

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.

Taco Taco Taco!

Taco Taco Taco!

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.

Yes, soup for me!

Yes, soup for me!

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!

It almost makes me want to start going to the laundromat... almost.

It almost makes me want to start going to the laundromat… almost.

Persimmon Cafe
226 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC

Persimmon Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Cru Café

August 16, 2013

Cru is in a little historic house off of Market Street downtown Charleston. The house is really cute, but when you come in the front door, they only have one room for seating, so they have as many tables and chairs shoved in there as possible. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to eat when crammed into a tiny space with a bunch of strangers, sitting so close that you can’t help but overhear everything that everyone is saying in the whole restaurant, then Cru is definitely the place for you.

Basically this.

Basically this. Minus the dog.

But enough about the atmosphere, let’s move on to the food. We got some bread before our appetizers, which was very good. I would’ve liked it a if they’d toasted it a bit, but it was still good.

Yup. Looks like bread.

Yup. Looks like bread.

We started with the fried green tomatoes with smoked pork belly and feta cheese ($10.50). Phenomenal. Seriously, probably the best FGT I’ve ever had. And the smoked pork belly was out of this world. Seriously, I’d go back just for these puppies.

That smoked pork belly might actually be ambrosia.

That smoked pork belly might actually be ambrosia.

We also got the pecan fried brie with fig compote and local honey ($10.25). I managed to get one bite of it before he demolished it all. That one bite was quite tasty, and judging from the way he “forgot” to share, he really enjoyed it as well.

Ben ate it so fast I didn't get a picture. Picture courtesy of Loo on Urbanspoon.

He ate it so fast I didn’t get a picture. Picture courtesy of Loo on Urbanspoon.

For my entree, I got the center cut Tuna steak, medium rare ($28). I thought it was good (not great), but that was probably my own fault. Everyone says you should get it rare, but I’m one of those weird people who like it more on the “well-done” side. I got it medium rare because the waiter insisted that any higher is blasphemy. I think I would’ve loved it had I gotten it cooked the way I wanted it to. The lady at the table next to us loved hers though, so I guess it’s just a matter of personal preference.

It looks so good, though.

It looks so good, though.

The person I was with got the BBQ Berkshire Pork Osso Bucco with Mepkin Oyster Mushrooms and Haricot Vert, Mash Potato, Smoked Tomato Demi ($23.95). It was really delicious. The pork literally fell off the bone and the mashed potato tasted homemade. He loved it and he had enough to take home extras.

Pork shoulder never looked so good.

Pork shoulder never looked so good.

We also ordered some sides to split. The first was Cru’s famous four cheese macaroni ($8.50). Made with orecchiette, cheddar, pepper jack, fontina, and mozzarella. It was killer. Really, really good.

Cheesy goodness.

Cheesy goodness.

The only thing we were disappointed with during the whole meal was the truffle parmesan fries ($6). Shoestring fries with truffle and parmesan were just not on par with the rest of the meal. Something about the shoestring fries felt cheap, definitely not worth $6.

They neglect to tell you that they bring you a mountain-sized portion of fries.

They neglect to tell you that they bring you a mountain-sized portion of fries.

If you haven’t been to Cru Cafe yet, I highly recommend you go. I for one, can’t wait to go back.

Photo courtesy of dilwyne designs

Photo courtesy of Dilwyne Designs

Cru Cafe
18 Pinckney St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 534-2434

Cru Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Taco Boy

June 21, 2013

I don’t know why, but I’ve been on a serious taco kick lately. I’ve been craving them like crazy. So as such, I’ve tried pretty much every taco place in Charleston. My favorite, by far, is Taco Boy downtown. Not only are their tacos spectacular, the atmosphere is really freaking cool. The inside is all mismatched and looks like someone just put together a restaurant by stealing furniture from all of their neighbors. They also have an awesome patio that is what I see in my dreams when I think of the coolest possible patio there is. If you don’t like tacos, you should definitely come hang out just for the ambience. I also love their mismatched light fixtures and chandeliers. It’s just really cool.

I don't know why I love restaurants with mismatched furniture so much.

I don’t know why I love restaurants with mismatched furniture so much.

To start, we usually get the appetizer trio consisting of salsa, queso, and guacamole (market price). Their guac is killer. It’s so good. If you don’t want a whole trio appetizer, I definitely recommend getting the guac. Unless you’re weird and don’t like avocados. Weirdo. Their queso is also pretty darn good. Their salsa is good too, but not necessarily anything special.

Appetizer samplers are the best.

Appetizer samplers are the best.

I’ve tried pretty much all of the tacos on their taco menu. They’re delicious. I’ll highlight a few of my faves here. My number one favorite is the Fried Chicken Taco (seasoned, breaded chicken breast, lightly fried, with marinated carrots & red cabbage, jalapeño cilantro mayonnaise & chipotle bbq sauce, $3.75). It’s so yummy. Sometimes it’s really spicy, and sometimes it’s not. I think it just depends on who’s cooking. I always get it on flour, because I think it tastes better that way. I also really like the Carnitas Norteno taco (tender slow-roasted pork with poblano rajas & ancho chile sauce, $3.50). I think I like it because it tastes like a pulled pork taco. It’s so juicy and tender and delicious. I get this one on corn. I don’t know why. I just do.

Carnitas on the left, fried chicken on the right.

Carnitas on the left, fried chicken on the right.

My 3rd favorite is the Grilled Fish Taco (chipotle marinated Mahi Mahi with cilantro dijon sauce, field greens & salsa cruda, $3.95). For some reason I think this one tastes the best in the bibb-lettuce wrap (which is $0.25 extra, btw). I love the cilantro dijon sauce. It’s so good. I also really like the Chorizo & Potato taco (spicy mexican ground pork sausage & potato with green chile sauce & onion, cilantro relish, $3.95).  Sometimes I get this one on corn and sometimes on flour. It just depends on my mood. I think this one is really tasty, but if you’re not a fan of chorizo (like my mother), probably don’t order this one.

From left to right: Grilled fish on lettuce wrap, Chorizo & potato on flour, fried chicken on flour.

From left to right: Grilled fish on lettuce wrap, Chorizo & potato on flour, fried chicken on flour.

Some other tacos I’ve had:

  • Baja Fish Taco (tempura fried Mahi Mahi, thinly sliced red cabbage, cilantro & ancho chile yogurt sauce, $3.95). This one is really popular, but I don’t really love tempura, so it’s not my favorite. Ben and my Dad love it though.
  • Al Pastor (thinly shaved spitfire pork, roasted pineapple salsa & pickled red onion, $3.95). I love al pastor usually, but for some reason, this taco just doesn’t do it for me. There’s something weird with the pineapple salsa and I’m just not sure what it is.
  • Southwest Seared Tuna (Southwest seared market tuna with chipotle slaw and cilantro, Market Price). Not my favorite. I love tuna, but this taco was just a little bland and needed a little more texture.
  • Southwest Seared Swordfish (southwest market swordfish with chipotle slaw & cilantro, $3.95). Better than the tuna, but I still prefer the grilled fish.
  • Kimchi Beef (Mexican spice marinated grilled flank steak, Korean BBQ sauce, kimchi, sesame seeds & cilantro, $3.95). Ben likes this one, but I did not. Not even a little.
  • Tempura Avocado (tempura avocado topped with a sweet Thai chili glaze & a citrus, $3.95). I know people who love this taco. I’m not one of them. But I don’t like tempura, so that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Here's a picture of Laura seducing me via taco.

Here’s a picture of Laura seducing me via taco.

I’ve also gotten the grilled chicken quesadilla, which is good. It’s kind of hard to screw up a quesadilla, though. I like that they serve the quesadillas with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole (yay! more guac!). Here’s a picture of Ben from work eating a quesadilla the British way (because he’s British).

Like a sir!

Like a sir!

They have really good (read: Strong) house margaritas, which I love. I also recently tried their pineapple-infused margarita which is really delicious. And lucky for those of us who are on a diet, they feature skinny versions of both their house and pineapple-infused margaritas.

Sorry. I tried to take a picture when it was full, but it was just too good.

Sorry. I tried to take a picture when it was full, but it was just too good.

Basically, if you’re craving tacos, Taco Boy is the way to go (but go to the downtown location. For some reason I don’t think the Folly Beach location is as good….probably because it’s all the way out on Folly Beach).

I would eat the crap out of some tacos right now.

I would eat the crap out of some tacos right now.

Taco Boy
217 Huger St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 789-3333

Taco Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Five Loaves

December 2, 2011

I have no idea how many times I’ve been to Five Loaves (or 5 Breads as Tina calls it). It’s Lauren’s favorite restaurant and one of my favorite casual lunch spots in Charleston, as well. It’s simple, good food. Nothing pretentious or over the top—soups, sandwiches, and salads. For dinner they offer heartier options such as pastas and meat dishes. Everything I’ve ever had there is delicious. Their soups are homemade, creative, and just plain yummy. Lauren’s favorite is the broccoli, potato, cheddar which she couples with the half version of the tomato and mozzarella salad (although she always replaces the mozzarella with goat cheese, which is sacrilegious, in my opinion… She says “mozzarella doesn’t taste like anything” MOZZARELLA HAS FLAVOR, LAUREN. IT’S MOZZARELLA FLAVORED. IT’S DELICIOUS. HAVE YOU NEVER HAD PIZZA BEFORE?!). I tend to stick to the marinated chicken sandwich on baguette (which comes with the house-made mozzarella cheese, WHICH IS DELICIOUS, LAUREN) with a cup of the chicken chili.

The sandwich is quite delicious.

If they have a really good selection of soup that day and I have a hard time narrowing it down to just one, I opt for the 3 soup pours which allows me to sample three different soups. I strongly recommend this option if you are indecisive like me.

Om nom nom

Om nom nom

 If you’re going for dinner, I recommend the tri-colored tortellini in the cracked black pepper parmesan cream sauce. It’s amazing. I’ve also had the gnocchi, which is really good.  I usually eat half of it and take the other half home to eat for lunch the next day. The portion sizes are pretty big, so you definitely won’t leave feeling hungry.
When food is this good, it's hard to remember to take a photo before you eat half of it.

When food is this good, it’s hard to remember to take a photo before you eat half of it.

 I’ve also gotten the chicken parmesan, which also comes with the house-made mozzarella cheese (PEOPLE LOVE MOZZARELLA CHEESE, LAUREN. IT’S NOT JUST ME. YOU’RE THE ONE WHO’S CRAZY), but I don’t really love their tomato sauce that comes on the pasta. I find it kind of bland. The fried goat cheese appetizer is really good if you like goat cheese (which I do). I’ve also had some of their other appetizers. Becca usually gets the turkey sandwich with the cranberry mayo on whole wheat. Tina usually gets the same thing I get (which drives me crazy. I hate getting the same thing as other people at restaurants. I don’t know why. I just do).

Lauren: This is what delicious looks like. Take note. There will be a quiz later.

Anywho. I love Five Loaves. It’s a great place to eat if you’re not looking to eat something super heavy. I love it, and Becca, I will always choose Five Loaves for our Mount Pleasant lunch dates. Just FYI. I’m so excited to go eat there with Lauren whenever she finds it in her heart to grace me with her presence (yes, DC is cool, I GET IT). Only maybe she’ll get something a little heavier so that we don’t have a repeat of Halloweekend (HINTHINT NUDGENUDGE, LAUREN. EAT SOME FREAKING BREAD).

Also, they’re closed on Sundays. Go figure.

Five Loaves Cafe
43 Cannon Street,
Charleston, SC 29403-6068
(843) 937-4303

Five Loaves Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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