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mount pleasant

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Carter’s Kitchen [CLOSED]

September 20, 2013

For restaurant week, Lily and I decided to try out Carter’s Kitchen out in I’on in Mount Pleasant. I’d tried Peninsula Grill a couple years back right before Chef Robert Carter left and was not super impressed with the food that we got. I’ve heard such good things about Carter’s Kitchen, however, that I was willing to give it a try. It took a lot of driving around Stepford I’on before we finally found the restaurant, and then it took some more driving around before we finally found parking.

Those two guys are most definitely robots.

Those two guys are most definitely robots.

The restaurant is located within the Inn at I’On, and is relatively small, but still has a very homey feel about it. Idk, maybe it’s the tan walls.

Hmm... now that I'm looking at it, those walls are a little too skin colored for my taste.

Hmm… now that I’m looking at it, those walls are kind of skin colored (image: Dining Around Charleston)

I had been all excited to try the apple-pumpkin bisque they had listed on their restaurant week menu online, but when we got there we saw that they’d replaced it with a boring tomato bisque, which I thought it tasted like Campbell’s Soup (i.e. not was I was paying $40 to eat). Lily said I was being judgy and that I always think tomato soups taste like Campbell’s, but then I saw another lady on OpenTable said the same exact thing, so now I feel validated.

Pictured: disappointment soup.

Pictured: disappointment soup.

For Lily’s appetizer, she got the “Country Ham Crumb Crusted Seared Scallops with Melted Leeks and Orange Butter,” which she raved and raved about. She only got three on the plate, and although they were decently sized, that’s still not a ton of food. Luckily, she cut me off a bite so I could try it (it was delicious).

Not the best photo, I know, but beggars can't be choosers!

Not the best photo, I know, but beggars can’t be choosers!

For my entree, I opted for the braised short rib with truffle grits and spinach pie. The short rib was awesome, the meat fell off the bone and was super juicy. The spinach pie was probably the weirdest thing I’ve eaten in a while and was unlike any spinach pie I’ve ever had. I really don’t know how to describe it. Those grits, man. Those were the ticket. I’d go back again just for those (but, joke’s on me, because they’re not on the regular menu).

You can tell from this picture just how weird that pie is. Delicious, but weird all the same.

You can tell from this picture just how weird that pie is. Delicious, but weird all the same.

Lily opted for the stuffed quail served on fresh pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms. I thought the portions were pretty good, and the quail tasted great. I even liked the noodles in the mushroom sauce. All in all, I was very impressed with our entrees.

Is it just me, or do they kind of look like the old Muppet guys?

Is it just me, or do they kind of look like the old Muppet guys in the theater?

For dessert, I got the coconut cake (I mean, it’s Bob Carter. Of course I get the coconut cake). And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Not in the least. The cake was moist and flavorful and deliciously coconut-ty, and the frosting was perfect–not too sweet. This made the whole trip worth it.

And, obviously, the cake was the best picture I took...

And, obviously, the cake was the best picture I took…

Lily got the other dessert, just so we could try it. It was a lemon tart topped with lots of meringue (and I mean lots), served with a side of strawberry compote. It was really good. I loved the tanginess contrasted with the sweetness…although I could’ve gone for a little less meringue.

It really should read "meringue, served with a side of lemon tart"

It really should read “meringue, served with a side of lemon tart”

Overall, I’d say I had a pleasant experience at Carter’s Kitchen. I think I’d be willing to go back and give it another shot to blow my socks off (for the coconut cake, if nothing else). If you’re in the Mount Pleasant area, looking for a good dinner spot, I’d recommend looking into Carter’s Kitchen.

Just remember to watch for robots. (image: Carter's Kitchen)

Just remember to watch for robots. (image: Carter’s Kitchen)

Carter’s Kitchen
148 Civitas St
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 284-0840

Carter's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails

March 29, 2013

The first time I visited Crave was June of 2011 with my mom for Sean’s birthday (and because I had a Groupon). I remember it was really delicious, so I don’t really know why it took me so long to go back again. Probably because it’s all the way out by the Isle of Palms connector and I rarely venture out in that direction if I can avoid it. Both Crave and its executive chef, Landen Ganstrom follow me on twitter, and tweet at me pretty much anytime I post anything food related, (ie “Looking for somewhere to eat lunch in Charleston,” etc) with suggestions, which can be really helpful.

Plus, those are some excellent suggestions.

Plus, those are some excellent suggestions.

After I saw that Crave won “Most Life-Changing Mac and Cheese in America” from Esquire Magazine, you can bet they shot to the top of my list of restaurants to try. I had their mac and cheese at the Mac Off in October where they won People’s Choice Best Macaroni and Cheese (Ben didn’t because he was “so full of macaroni I never want to see another bowl of mac and cheese as long as I live”), and it definitely stood out from the crowd. So I dragged Becca out there last Saturday for lunch to try it for ourselves. I started with the Macaroni and Cheese, which I reluctantly shared with Becca, and I have to say, it was pretty damn delicious. It reminded me of that Mitch Hedburg joke “Fettucini alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults,” because it had a similar flavor. I was almost tempted to cancel my entree and just get another order of the macaroni, but I had just enough self-control to resist.

Creamy, cheddary, deliciousness.

Creamy, cheddary, deliciousness.

Becca got the Greek dip to start (Creamy garlic hummus and Mediterranean olive tapenade, served with flat bread and mixed greens topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese), which I gladly shared with her. We were surprised at how good the hummus was. For some reason, I was expecting it to be really generic tasting, but it was actually really yummy. I don’t do olives, but Becca said she loved the olive tapenade.

Gosh, I love hummus.

Gosh, I love hummus.

For my entree, I went with the turkey club (oven-Roasted half pound turkey club served with toasted ciabatta bread, apple wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and cajun remoulade), which was outstanding. You could really tell that the turkey was fresh and not lunchmeat out of a package. It was thick and flavorful and so good. I also love that the bacon was nice and crispy. I hate when restaurants serve chewy, rubbery bacon. This was perfect. And the cajun remoulade was the perfect condiment. The sandwich just went together really well. I got a side salad to accompany my club (to try and cancel out some of the damage I did with the Mac), with the lemon vinaigrette which was good also. It had olives, feta cheese, and cucumbers on it, and it was really good for a side salad, but I wouldn’t say that it blew me away at all. Then again, it’s really difficult to get me excited about a salad, no matter how good it is.

I wish they delivered downtown. I'd eat that sandwich every day.

I wish they delivered downtown. I’d eat that sandwich every day.

Becca got the “Wedge salad” (local Butter lettuce with Humbolt Fog Blue Cheese, Duroch pork lardons, crisp fresh red onions, apples and a cracked black pepper and dill dressing), which more accurately should be called a “butter lettuce salad with a wedge of bleu cheese.” She liked it, but was a little disappointed that it wasn’t actually a wedge of lettuce.

I, however, think all "wedge salads" should actually be a wedge of cheese and a side of lettuce.

I, however, think all “wedge salads” should actually be a wedge of cheese and a side of lettuce.

For dessert, I was really excited to try the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake that they tweeted me about a couple weeks ago when I was looking for a dessert place in Charleston. It’s a “rich Gluten-free chocolate cake with salted homemade caramel butter crème and sea salt chocolate frosting topped with caramel drizzle.” It was, in the words of my mother, “The Bomb.” It was so yummy. I don’t think I would’ve known it was gluten-free if they hadn’t specified it on the menu. I loved that it was sweet without making me feel like I had diabetes by the second bite (I’m looking at you, Applebee’s). They have a bunch of other desserts that look good, too, like Baked Alaska, Seared Pear, Hot Fudge Snickers, Coconut Cake, and an array of ice cream. I definitely know where to go next time I’m looking for dessert.

Omigosh, it's so good.

Omigosh, it’s so good.

I also see that they have a bunch of options that are gluten-free, paleo, and cross-fit friendly for people like me who are trying (keyword here being TRYING) to eat healthier. Despite the fact that our service wasn’t really that great and I really wish they had a better website, the food more than made up for any issues I may have had.  I highly recommend stopping by Crave whenever you’re out in Mount Pleasant or Isle of Palms.

Now, I'm CRAVING Crave! hyuck hyuck

Now, I’m CRAVING Crave! hyuck hyuck

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails
1968 Riviera Dr
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 884-1177

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


Charleston Mac Off

November 16, 2012

If you know nothing else about me, you know I love macaroni and cheese. Seriously. I would give you my kidney for a quality bowl of mac and cheese. My favorite mac and cheese IN THE WORLD was made and served by the special education class at Greenville High School every Wednesday and you had to get there early before they sold out. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying (and failing) to find a bowl of mac and cheese that measured up. Enter the Charleston Mac Off… a macaroni and cheese festival/competition where you get to sample mac and cheese from some of the best restaurants in Charleston. Imagine my delight.

In case you have a bad imagination.

Ben and I bought the VIP package, which included admission and 25 tickets a person. The website said they were going to have 25 different restaurants, but they only ended up having 22, so we had some extra tickets. After we visited about half of the restaurants, we both started getting full and instead of getting a sample each, we started splitting the samples, so we ended up with a bunch more extra tickets. Luckily, they had drink vendors there, so I could drown my sorrows about all these extra tickets. My favorite drink was the Firefly Arnold Palmer, which was dangerously delicious (yay for not being DD!). In the future, I probably would have only gotten one VIP package and just bought general admission for Ben, as I think this would have been a more cost-effective option (plus you can buy more sample tickets as needed once you were actually there).

Ah, yes. I can see that I am in the right place. Photo from Tag Your Pix

Here are the restaurants we sampled: The Roost, Graze, Coleman Public House, Duke’s, Magnolia’s, Castaways, The Tomato Shed, Crave, Angel Oak Restaurant, Sesame, Poogan’s Porch, Cherrywood BBQ & Alehouse, J Paulz, B Gourmet Catering, Smoky Oak, New Moon Pizzeria, Mad River, The Shelter, possibly more, but I can’t remember….Of all of the restaurants there, I’d say Graze, Crave, and Coleman Public House were the best.

Plus, check out that sunset!

Graze was definitely my favorite of the night. Their “Southern Supper” white cheddar mac and cheese with pulled pork and collard greens was outstanding, and it really stood out in the sea of cheesy noodles that was the Mac Off. Although many of the restaurants were doing some kind of pork-related mac and cheese (bacon, ham, pulled pork, etc), Graze was definitely the best. No contest. I obviously wasn’t the only person who thought they were outstanding, as they won the Critic’s Choice Best Mac and Cheese. When Groupon offered a dinner deal at Graze a couple days after the Mac Off, I didn’t hesitate to purchase it so I could taste that delicious mac and cheese again. I’ll let you know how the rest of their menu measures up in a future post!

Also, that was the size of all of the “samples.” Also known as a “full meal” in most parts of the world.

Coleman Public House was serving up smoked gouda mac and cheese with pecan-smoked bacon and white truffle oil. I’m usually hesitant about things with truffle oil because the flavor can be so overpowering, but this mac and cheese was awesome. All of the flavors really complemented each other, and I loved that it was super creamy. They also used those twirly cavatappi noodles, which I love. I know they didn’t win anything at the Mac Off, but they were voted “Best Coma-Inducing Skillet of Cheesy Goodness” on the City Paper’s Best of Charleston 2012 list.

(It’s the one on the left and it is straight up deloicious)

Crave’s Aged Cheddar Mac and Cheese, topped with parmesan cheese, was definitely the creamiest of the entire event. It also had the cheesiest flavors and I think this was the best traditional mac and cheese I’ve had at any restaurant in Charleston. They also won the People’s Choice Best Tasting Mac and Cheese award for the third year in a row this year, so I think it’s safe to say that they know what they’re doing. I was also really impressed that they were actually cooking their mac and cheese on-site, instead of bringing it already cooked like most of the others.

I forgot to take a picture, so I stole this one from Crave’s Facebook page. This was not the size of the sample. But almost.

There were a couple restaurants whose mac and cheese was so bad that I’ll never eat there. At the top of this list was Angel Oak Restaurant, and The Roost. Angel Oak’s tasted like it had peanut butter in it for some reason, which was strange. The Roost’s macaroni was really dried out, so that wasn’t good (especially since this was the first one I tried that night). All of the other restaurants there ranged from “Good” to “Okay,” and basically weren’t worth mentioning, in my opinion. The only other restaurant to get some kind of honor was the Tomato Shed for “Best Use of a Local Ingredient” in their “Shrimp Club Mac & Cheese” (local shrimp, tomatoes, dill, goat cheese, bacon, and something called “bloomy-rind cheese”). I thought it was ok, but was a little too fishy tasting for my liking. J Paulz was there with their truffled mac and cheese, which is really good, but I’d had it before so it wasn’t really that exciting.

The problem here is that there was a lot of macaroni, and not a lot of cheese. Except for the crispy, dried out cheese they put on top.

The most creative mac and cheese was the Mac and Cheese cupcake from B Gourmet Catering. It was a mini-muffin sized cupcake made with cheddar and breadcrumbs and topped with a pimento cheese “frosting,” and sprinkled with bacon. I thought it was good, albeit a little too greasy. They also had some pretty cool entertainment, a DJ, followed by a live band, bull riding, and a cornhole contest and “fire hula-hooper” (no actual fire that I saw). They also had one of those new VW Bugs there that they may have been raffling off, but I was too focused on eating Mac & Cheese to pay attention.

For those of you who might not be able to tell, that hula hoop is not actually on fire. Photo from Tag Your Pix

Next time I’ll probably bring my own chairs (seating was hard to come by as the night went on), and make a whole night of it. It was way better at the Mount Pleasant Park than when they held it at the bus shed downtown, so I hope they hold it there again. Overall I’d say this was the best food event I’ve ever attended and you can bet I’ll be there next year!




Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 10/29/12

October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween! Hope everyone had a fun and productive Halloweekend. I know I did! Friday night, Ben and I dressed up as characters from the Disney movie, Brave (not to be confused with Braveheart which, of course, everyone has seen). I was Merida and an Ben was kind of an amalgam of the three suitors from the movie, although, most people just assumed that Ben was William Wallace and kept yelling Braveheart quotes at him. Which he was totally fine with.

And I got a $7 Bow and Arrow set from Walmart, so I’d call that a WIN.

Friday night before all of the Halloween festivities got started, we went to the Mac-Off, a giant macaroni and cheese competition featuring 20+ restaurants from around Charleston. Plus there was live music and entertainment and it was absolutely gorgeous. I’ll be posting about it later this week!

Saturday and Sunday, Ben and I ate our weight in Indian Buffet (since he’s decided he likes indian food now). Saturday we went to Taste of India and Sunday we went to Bombay Bazaar. Both were delicious. I have to say I kind of preferred Bombay, since they brought us our own little basket of Naan, like how mexican restaurants bring you chips to the table. It was awesome. I seriously could eat indian food on the daily.

This week’s quote is Halloween-themed and comes from Lewis Black. I usually don’t find him funny, but I have to say this quote gives me a chuckle. Enjoy!

“The worst thing about Halloween is, of course, candy corn. Candy corn is the only candy in the history of America that’s never been advertised. And there’s a reason — all of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911”
–Lewis Black

I probably should have put that quote in all caps, since he LITERALLY SCREAMS EVERYTHING.

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