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High Cotton (Charleston, SC) Review (Long!)

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This is a bit belated, but I thought I’d share a review of a meal my husband and I ate at High Cotton in Charleston on Saturday, June 30. We used to visit Charleston with more frequency than we do now, so when we do get down there and get to have a nice meal, it’s a treat (toddler in the mix)! We went to High Cotton on my husband’s request; we had a wonderful meal there about 3 years ago, and sadly, our experience was not duplicated on this visit. We had reservations at 7:30 and arrived a few minutes early. The hostess could not be bothered to greet us and after we stood there a bit, she finally acknowledged us and had a busgirl guide us to a table directly in front of the path to the kitchen. We requested a different table and were shown to the quieter, smaller dining room on the left as you enter the restaurant.

The table was in a high traffic area that was fine until I had to duck down on two different occasions so that a waiter could get food to the table next to me!

Starters:
The bisque: It was good, but nothing spectacular; it was decent, rich bisque.
The Caesar salad was not impressive: the croutons were stale and the lettuce was wilted. The dressing did have a nice anchovy flavor that was great, though.
Pickled beet and goat cheese salad: I was excited to order this because I love all types of beets, but this was over pickled to me; it was extremely tart and the preparation on the beets overwhelmed their sweet and earthy flavor. The salad had orange segments that were nicely prepared, but very tart and radishes that were fine, but a little flavorless. I would have liked to see this salad with blood oranges instead of what was included.

Main Course
Braised Boneless Beef Shortribs: This was definitely the highlight of the meal. The beef was melt in your mouth tender and extremely flavorful. It was served with whipped potatoes and king trumpet mushrooms and was just an outstanding dish.
Skillet Seared Yellowfin Tuna: This was the low point of the meal. The tuna was with shitakes and beets on wilted spinach with a lemon caper vinaigrette. I ordered it rare and was, but it was also saltier than a salt lick. It was shockingly salty.

Before I could say anything, a manager or assistant manager came up and asked us how our waiter was (which was an odd question). We said fine, but then I explained that my tuna was terribly salty. She was apologetic and asked if I wanted another meal. We had already waited 25 minutes between clearing our appetizer dishes and bringing the main meals, so I didn’t relish waiting anymore and I said that it was okay and I didn’t want another meal; I didn’t feel very hungry and figured I could cut off the outside that was very salty and just eat the interior meat. I made this choice of my own accord despite the manager’s attempts at providing a new meal. The manager then told us to save room for desserts because they were on the house. It was a nice gesture.

We finished our main courses and each ordered dessert. I took a trip to the restroom and found it in disarray with trash and toilet paper strew on the floor, a sopping wet sink and soap spilled on the counter. The desserts came and were completely unmemorable and then the waiter brought our check. We were not charged for my dessert but were charged for my husband’s.

I was pretty annoyed at the entire situation so I paid and tracked down the manager who had promised the desserts. I told her that I understood that everything that happened was beyond her control but that we were disappointed she had charged us for my husband’s dessert when we were promised desserts. She explained that my dining companion was perfectly happy with his meal. I said, my experience was shared with him, so perfectly happy isn’t a great description. I also told her that I wasn’t expecting any other action, but I was displeased with the way things turned out. At that point, she insisted on crediting his dessert so I would return to the restaurant. I allowed the credit, but I told her that I would not be back.

It seems like they were really having a very off night, but with so many wonderful options in town, I won't test that theory in the future.

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  1. Wow, that sucks. i hate it when a meal is mediocre, and when it's mediocre with unpleasant service, It makes me clench my teeth.

    High Cotton has opened a location in Greenville, and I have heard enough bad things not to go there. I was really surprised because several years ago, as was your experience, it got pretty good reviews (in Charleston).

    Better luck in the future!

    1 Reply
    1. re: danna

      I had a wonderful dining experience at the Greenville High Cotton in June. The duck was superb as was the service....our waiter was also an actor and he was FABULOUS! My dining companion was thrilled with her dinner as well.

    2. High Cotton has been a restaurant I liked very much. All of my meals there have been very good. However, a friend of mine ate there with her family two weeks ago and said that the whole experience was similar to yours. Looks like a trend. I will still eat there agin but will probably start recomending it with some reservations.