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Specific requests for honwymoon in Charleston

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uptown jimmy Feb 19, 2007 12:35 PM

Howdy. Me and the lady are getting married next month. We are going to spend four nights in Charleston, SC, and need specific advice from really, really discerning Hounds. We have visited before, and here's a short run-down on our expreience:

Hominy Grill - some of the best fried chicken and mashed potatoes I've ever had, but the rest of the plates were less than stellar. Inconsistency is a problem here, I guess.

Fast and French - great little place, really cool concept and pretty darn fun place for lunch.

Charleston Grille - we had a really awesome time here, wonderful atmosphere, impeccable service, but man the food was rich. I loved the food, but I felt positively awful when done with this dinner. But don't think I don't love me some rich food, just think maybe we'll try one of the other bank-busters this time.

So, though I know Charleston had been discussed many times, I thought maybe some specific questions would help us narrow down the many options, as, frankly, previous posts have unfortuantely shown wildly divergent opinions on various restaurants. Here's a list of our needs and desires for four or five lunches, four dinners, maybe a breakfast or two:

-raw oysters (are there any locals beds?)
-low-country/country cooking sort of thing
-something along the lines of fried oysters and/or a shrimp boil
-really tasty lunches
-one or two really nice dinners, good wine list, etc. Impress-my-palate-with-your-chefly-genius kind of places.
-two or three really good dinners at restaurants that aren't bank-breaking

We are true Chowhounds, not dilletantes. We prioritize food over ambience. We try to avoid really loud, overly-trendy pretenders. We are equally at home at some hole-in-the-wall with great local food as we are at knock-you-over-with-genius joints. We don't like tourist traps, and we don't like being led to mediocre or inconsistent places that some folks think are "awesome"! Not to be rude. :)

Also, is Sweatman's worth the extra drive on our way back, or even scheduling our trip around their limited hours of operation?

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    uptown jimmy RE: uptown jimmy Feb 19, 2007 04:19 PM

    Honwymoon. Note to self: must spell-check....

    I also wanted some info on any good food spots in Mt. Pleasant, Folly Beach, or Isle of Palms. We are going to stay at one of these locations, and might choose one over the others due to good places to get a bite and a drink, especially at night.

    1 Reply
    1. re: uptown jimmy
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      arydolphin RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 05:51 PM

      For Mount Pleasant, there are a number of good places there, some of which I've tried and some of which I haven't had the chance to get to yet. FYI, I've lived in Charleston since 2001. Here are my picks for Mount P:
      Red Drum Gastropub (http://www.reddrumpub.com/): You can either go to this place for a nicer dinner, or sit at the bar for a more relaxed atmosphere. Whichever one you choose, you'll have a good night.
      Langdon's Restaurant and Wine Bar (http://langdonsrestaurant.com/): My fiance took me here for my birthday, and we weren't disappointed. The location is so deceiving (it's in a strip mall next to a workout studio), but the food and wine list are excellent. Call ahead for reservations, it's a small place.
      Culinary Art Company (http://www.pacificdreamscharleston.co...): I haven't been here, but it's getting good buzz around the city for the imaginative environment that the chef creates. Read the Charleston City Paper review for more info: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/gy...
      Six Tables Charleston (http://www.sixtablescharleston.com/): I haven't been here either, and it's exactly what it sounds like. Six tables in the place, 6-course prix fixe menu. This would fall under the upscale "impress the lady" category, I'm guessing, although again, I haven't been there.

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      batdown RE: uptown jimmy Feb 19, 2007 04:35 PM

      this might be a tad tourist trappy (they sell t-shirts), but one of my favorite places for lunch in charleston is Poogan's Porch.

      http://www.poogansporch.com/

      if you go, try the carolina alligator

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        ejmatl RE: uptown jimmy Feb 19, 2007 04:59 PM

        I have to admit I've not been to Charleston in ten years, but I see that Anson's is still in business. It was one of my "must visit" places - and I did visit it every time I went to Charleston. The food was consistently excellent back then. I'm not sure if the reviews available on its Web site are current - but if they are, this place is a "must enjoy".

        eileen

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          lizzy RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 09:49 AM

          Hominy Grill - I usually wind up there for brunch, and it has been awhile since I have been there for dinner. Some people have good experiences, as we always have, but I also know some people have had bad experiences. I think inconsistant may be the right adjective, but I wouldn't cross it off your list either...maybe just move it down a bit. They just tweaked their menu, you can view it at www.hominygrill.com

          Fast & French - I love this place! I know the food isn't the best, but I love it none the less. I think if you are in the area and want a quick lunch or snack it is the perfect place. They have a bottomless cup of french press coffee that is worth stopping by for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

          Charleston Grill - I have never eaten here, although I hope to someday, so I won't talk about the food. I do, however, know that they recently closed for renovations, and I don't know when they are planning on reopening. If you want a similar experience you might want to try Peninsula Grill.

          Raw oysters - Yes, I believe there are local beds, but I am not 100% sure if anyone serves them raw. Downtown, Hank's has raw oysters and so does Pearlz, but this is a chain.

          Fried oysters & shrimp boil - I think the best place is Bowen's Island, and it is a true seafood shack. They are known for their steamed oysters, and they do have good fried seafood. They did have a fire late fall so I would call to see what their menu is before you go. Last I heard they were even taking reservations because of their limited seating, and they only take cash.

          Lowcountry - I know Hominy is considered lowcountry and so is Jestine's downtown, but this has gotten kind of touristy. You could try Martha Lou's or Kitty's Fine Foods, both on Morrison Dr. but in a kind of sketchy part of town. I believe they are both only open for lunch, but they are true lowcountry/soul food. I think they both only take cash.

          Lunch/Inexpensive Dinners - I am combining these, but I will point out if they are only open for one or the other. Cru Cafe - I don't think you can go wrong for either lunch or dinner. They have very good salads and sandwiches, get their mashed potato of the day as your side. We just celebrated Valentine's Day here, I had pork tenderloin with gorgonzola stuffing over tuscan beans and my bf had duck breast w/blueberry sauce over mashed potatoes. If you do dessert, try the dreamsicle cake, it's our favorite. Sermet's Corner - good food with a Mediterranean flair and great people watching. SNOB's - good for lunch or dinner, good wine list, think lowcountry with a twist. I think they have the best shrimp & grits in town. Al di La - Dinner only Italian, with a wine bar and outside seating in West Ashley. Know before you go, you cannot eat off the dinner menu in the wine bar, but you can eat off the wine bar menu in the dining room. I think you can get both outside, but I would confirm this when you make a reservation, and you will need one. It is northern italian, and I love the food. If you do the dining room their gnocchi is outstanding, the last time I was there I had the pasta with lamb ragu. FIG - They emphasize fresh and local, their menu changes with the seasons. If I remember correctly, they have a good wine list, and their Carolina gold rice pudding is fabulous. If you make reservations, make sure you inquire if they will have live music that night, because they set up the band in the dining room and you will not be able to talk to your wife.

          Nice dinners - I have not eaten at either of these places, but I hear very good things about both Cintra and McCrady's. Cintra is Italian and European inspired, and I believe they have an extensive wine list. McCrady's - Upscale American, and they also have an extensive wine list. I think they also have a wine bar with a separate menu.

          I can't really comment on Isle of Palms, but I do know they have a restaurant on the waterway with outside seating called The Boathouse on Breach Inlet. Maybe someone else can comment on this one. Mt. Pleasant has The Wreck on Shem Creek. It is kind of like Bowen's Island, seafood shack on the water, they do fried seafood. IMO, you can skip everything else on Shem Creek, it is very touristy. I honestly can't think of another worthwhile restaurant in Mt. P. so either that's it or my memory is failing me. Folly Beach - 11 Center St. is a wine bar with tapas and outside seating. I don't think the food is supposed to be all that, but it could be a great place to enjoy a bottle of wine. I know some local chefs enjoy Taco Boy, but I haven't made it there yet. Also of note, Bowen's Island is only a couple of miles away from Folly.

          I know this post is very long, but I hope it was helpful. I would be happy to help with any follow up questions, and have a great honeymoon!

          Lizzy

          2 Replies
          1. re: lizzy
            danna RE: lizzy Feb 20, 2007 12:03 PM

            lizzy always gives great advice.

            I agree with: Hominy is pretty good for brunch. Al di La is a great casual yet romatic, low-cost(realtively) dinner. Sermet is very good, casual, reasonable, amazing considering the great location on King Street.

            I don't know about the wow-me nights. I have yet to find anything in that category that was awesome ;-) Places I would like to try: Sienna, Ocean Room at the Sanctuary.

            Folly vs. IoP : agree w/ Lizzy, the food at 11 Center Street is just OK, but what a great open-air space upstairs! I have heard good reviews for Suzanne's, also on Folly. At IoP, I recommend a pina colada at Coconut Joe's (right on the beach, bring a jacket in April to sit outside).

            Have fun!

            1. re: danna
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              lizzy RE: danna Feb 20, 2007 01:24 PM

              Let me just add that Suzanne's on Folly is no longer open. It is now Terrapin Cafe, and from what I gather it is over priced and nothing special.

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            mikeh RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 10:40 AM

            -raw oysters (are there any locals beds?)
            -Hands down, Bowen's Island near Folly Beach (yes, they've reopened after the fire)
            www.hollyeats.com/Bowens.htm

            -low-country/country cooking sort of thing
            -Sweetwater Grill, Summerville SC.

            -something along the lines of fried oysters and/or a shrimp boil
            -again, Bowen's Island.

            -really tasty lunches
            - La Fourchette (bistro French
            )
            -one or two really nice dinners, good wine list, etc. Impress-my-palate-with-your-chefly-genius kind of places.
            - Woodlands Inn, Summerville, SC http://www.woodlandsinn.com/dining.cfm
            - Charleston Grill (they will reopen in March with a lighter menu and decor
            ) - Cordavi - foams and sous vide up the wazoo - http://www.cordavi.com
            - McCrady's - also sous vide with a killer atmosphere http://www.mccradysrestaurant.com
            -Restaurant Sienna (previous chef of 5-star Woodlands) http://www.siennadining.com

            -two or three really good dinners at restaurants that aren't bank-breaking
            - FIG http://www.eatatfig.com/
            - SNOB -
            http://www.mavericksouthernkitchens.c...
            - Old Post Office, Edisto Island - http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overv...

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              quazi RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 11:57 AM

              heelsoxhound had a great post last fall about his honeymoon experience in charleston
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/322949

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                HeelsSoxHound RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 01:54 PM

                thanks quazi! i was going to throw that in had you not already... appreciate the kind word. and jimmy-- if your experience is anything like ours was, your marriage is starting on the right note. have fun.

                1. orzobino RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 02:34 PM

                  Sweatmens is definitely worth it especially if you are chow hounds,,the atmosphere, location etc are great,,the hash very different ......have fun

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                    byteme55 RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 03:08 PM

                    I have been told that Bowens Island has reopened. Here is an article from the local newspaper.

                    www.charlestoncitypaper.com/gyrobase/...

                    It is on a spit of land heading towards Folly Beach, in the open marsh, on the right; sign may look like roadside rubbish. I say to take the plunge and go.

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                      byteme55 RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 03:13 PM

                      Incomplete Bowens Island link.....sorry.

                      www.charlestoncitypaper.com/gyrobase/...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: byteme55
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                        uptown jimmy RE: byteme55 Feb 20, 2007 04:25 PM

                        You guys are great. This helps so much!

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                        arydolphin RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 06:05 PM

                        Jimmy,
                        See my recs on Mount Pleasant further up in the thread. My fiance and I live downtown, so I'll give you a few picks that we like. We're also in your boat, looking for places that won't break the bank. Mikeh and Lizzy have already given you great info.
                        Good Lunches: Hominy Grill, Cru Cafe, Basil (for Thai food), La Fourchette, Fast and French
                        Dinner Places: FIG, SNOB, Fulton Five (small Italian place, very romantic), Peninsula Grill, McCrady's, Cypress.

                        Of course, the dinner places are definitely more pricey than the lunch places, Peninsula Grill, McCrady's and Cypress will probably be the most expensive. About Charleston Grill, they're doing renovations to that space right now, so I may steer clear of it, there are many more choices in Charleston for a nice dinner. I may post more later, I just can't look at the screen any more, this stupid cold is killing me.

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                          strephking RE: uptown jimmy Feb 20, 2007 06:20 PM

                          Mimi's towards Folly Beach has the best shrimp and grits i have ever had. i heard a rumor it closed, but i can't imagine, seeing that every time i went, i had to wait 20 to 30 minutes. also, have cocktails at the top of the Market Pavilion is a great place for a glass of champagne and an app before heading to dinner at Peninsula Grill. I am also a big fan of Blossom! PIscasso's is a great place for lunch. Try Raval Wine Bar for a glass of wine, lots of spanish. Congratulations on your wedding!

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                            wcrjrs RE: uptown jimmy Feb 21, 2007 05:12 PM

                            Hands down The Baothouse at Breach Inlet is the place on the barrier islands.

                            I like The Wreck for fried seafood in Mt. P.

                            Sienna is probably the best foodie spot not downtown.

                            I've heard Gullah Cafe in Mt. P serves some good authentic stuff, but I haven't been there.

                            Fulton Five is great, IMO and feels very intimate in a neighborhood kind of way.

                            Also, you might check out the new chef at Carolina's - word is he spent some time at Per Se.

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