McCrady's or F.I.G.?
- izzizzi May 19, 2007 03:46 AM
I know that there are many posts on these two restuarants, but I just wanted a more specific opinion between the two. I am going to for Spoleto and want to go to a very nice restaurant with great food. I have resesrvations at McCrady's at the moment and heard that it was very good, though I've also heard that F.I.G. was great and have been wanting to try it as well. I recently read a negative review on McCrady's and am starting to have doubts on where to go. Has anyone gone to either recently and have an idea on which would be a better experience? Thanks!
I went to both last weekend. Both my fiancee and I believe that FIG was the better of the two by a significant margin. They represent pretty much the very opposite ends of the culinary spectrum. FIG's food is very warm and inviting, using local fresh ingredients and tasty recipes. McCrady's is all about experimentation - using chemicals to transform radishes into liquid, sauces into solids, and water baths to cook meats at exact temperatures to the 0.5 of a degree. For us, the food at McCrady's came across as impersonal, cold, and pretty bland. (Just for the record, we ordered the golden egg - an egg wrapped in 23-karat gold that you actually eat, slow-cooked maine lobster, chilled lobster and crab salad, arugula and baby beet salad, ribeye steak, rack of lamb (both entrees referred to by our waiter as the best of the evening), and a couple of desserts). Nothing was bad, but nothing wowed us. At best, some things tasted okay, and at worst, some things tasted very strange when the experimentation went too far (e.g. the carrot confit with my ribeye and the parsnip puree with the lobster tasted of the same chemical - I don't know what it was, but it tasted like something out of my old college biochem. lab.) McCrady's could exist in any region of this country - nothing about the ingredients or style was specific to Charleston or the South. It was "generic hypermodern."
Conversely, at FIG, the short rib was melt-in-your-mouth tender in a pot roast tradition and was the single best bite of food I've ever consumed. The red snapper dish was simply prepared with stewed potatoes and artichokes - a wonderful dish allowing the natural juices of the extremely fresh fish to really come through perfectly. The white shrimp and radichio salad was very "hip" and had a subtle asian flair to it. The apple tart tarin dessert was beautiful - perfectly carmelized baked apples and a very tasty pastry shell.
Both atmospheres rock. But when my fiancee and I return to Charleston, FIG will be at the top of our list. McCrady's will not be on our list. While the chef at McCrady's seems to revel in the joy of experimenting with cooking, FIG revels in the art of wonderful-tasting food.
(oh btw, this doesn't factor into our comparison at all, but FIG turned out to cost less than half of what McCrady's did for the same number of courses)
My wife and I both thought that McCrady's was way overrated. The food was good and all, but we have had much better in Charleston at numerous restaurants.
I would have to say McCrady's and F.I.G. are apples and oranges, so it really depends on what kind of dining experience you are looking for. Both use local ingredients, though more so at F.I.G where it is pretty much a religion, and neither one presents a particularly "southern" style of cuisine, though there are a few exceptions like the Carolina gold rice pudding at F.I.G. McCrady's is all about experimentation, so if you go, I would recommend their tasting menu. If you are open to the idea you may not fall in love with everything you taste, the experience can be quite extraordinary, and in my opinion the good far outweighed the parts I didn't like or that seemed to have fallen short on execution. F.I.G., on the other hand, is all about the execution, simple as it may be, and that's the rub in my opionon. At its best, F.I.G.'s dishes really let the locally-sourced ingredients shine through; at its worst, the dishes can be, well, sort of boring. I would recommend their gnocchi, pork, and aforementioned rice pudding without reservation. Other dishes have been hit or miss in my experience.
I like both restaurants a lot, and I don't really think you'd go wrong with either one if your mind's open to the unique qualities of each. Hope this helps!
My wife and I ate at FIG while on honeymoon in Charleston, and I had a near-religious experience with the Portuguese fisherman's stew. Across the board, the rest of the food was only slightly below that OMG quality. Truly one of the best meals I've ever had.