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Apr 29, 2008 06:41 AM

Charleston Spoleto June 5-9 recs

My 2 sisters and I will be coming to Charleston for the Spoleto festival. This is our plan so far-Thursday night Peninsula Grill, Friday night Anson, Saturday brunch Poogan's Porch. We were considering going to the Spoleto finale at the plantation Sunday night (taking a picnic?) so we are interested in Sunday brunch also. We could do lunch rather than brunch but we are interested in only 1 big meal a day. We have rented a condo, so we can have yogurt and fruit for breakfast. For the other meal we could do a bowl of she-crab soup or tapas. A client of mine also recommended High Cotton, Mama Brown's, Garibaldi's and Fleet Landing (for the view, probably at lunch). We decided to rent a car, so that opens up Mt. Pleasant for us. Anything we should do differently and how do we fill in the gaps?

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  1. We actually might change the Thursday night to Langdon's, have 2 lunches or brunches (Saturday and Sunday-our big meal of the day) at Tristins, High Cotton, Magnolia's or Poogan's Porch, which 2 should we do? We also need a light lunch on Friday and snacks or tapas on Saturday and Sunday nights. Our planes are around noon Monday so we probably don't have time for lunch unless we get it to go and eat in the airport, any recs for that?

    10 Replies
    1. re: glecroy

      You may want to check out Cru Cafe for bruch one of those'll need reservations most likely.

      1. re: RDfoodie

        Too many restaurants, too few meals in town! We're obsessing about the restaurant selections, now we think our favorite picks are SNOB, Cru Cafe, Anson's, and Sienna, but could change again. We have a total of 3 lunches and 3 dinners, one of which might need to be a picnic on Sunday, depending on the weather. One each day will be small plates, a bowl of soup or snacks. Are any of the places much better either at night or at lunch than the others, or better for small plates or she-crab soup or whatever? The remaining places we are considering are Hank's, Fish, Peninsula Grill, Basil, Chai, Tristin's, Langdon's or Palmetto Cafe. It will be my first time to Charleston. I'm from Alabama, so collard greens, etc. are not what I would order. One sister doesn't eat red meat but does eat fish. She's from Pensacola so she can get fresh fish from the Gulf any time. She and I have never been to Charleston. The other sister (recently moved from Baltimore to PA) was there last year for Spoleto. We may try to make our reservations next weekend, which is nearly a month in advance. Will that be early enough, given the festival? Thanks for your help! Gail

        1. re: RDfoodie

          Cru Cafe does not serve brunch, and they are closed Sundays and Mondays. I do agree that you will need reservations, and this is a place that you could do either lunch or dinner.

          Out of your other choices, I like SNOB, Hank's, Fish, Basil, Chai, and Tristan. Tristan does a nice lunch, as does SNOB and Fish. Hank's is only open for dinner, but it is good seafood. It is a lively place, and by contrast Fish has a more neighborhood feel, but both are well liked by locals. Basil and Chai are owned by the same people, my feeling is you could do one or the other. I haven't been to the others on your list, but I have heard good things about all of them except Langdon's....I just don't know anyone who has eaten there.

          I also want to second mle17's suggestion about hitting Ted's Butcherblock before the finale. If I were you, I would make sure they are open on Sunday's.

          1. re: lizzy

            A mild word of warning: we had to walk out of Hank's after sitting for 15 minutes while the 2nd-day trainee waiter who was inexplicably assigned an enitre section basically floundered about and utterly failed to do his job competently. He did keep stopping by to say that he would "be right with us", but words don't suffice to quench a thirst or fill a belly.

            Perhaps this was an abberation, but I have strong skepticism about a management staff that would allow that sort of thing to happen. He was incompetent, and it should have been painfully obvious to the folks in charge.

            1. re: uptown jimmy

              Wow, this surprises me. I have never received anything less than professional service by both management and serving staff. I would like to think this is a fluke, but I will definitely be on the lookout next time we dine at Hank's.

              1. re: lizzy

                The shame was we really, really wanted some raw ersters, and I guess Hank's is the place, or so we were told.

                The thing that makes me go "hmmm" is that the server admitted as we exited that he was a "2nd day trainee". But he wasn't shadowing anyone, and wasn't being monitored. The place was packed to the gills, and the idea that management would put that guy in a prime section all by himself, the fact that they allowed him to get in completely over his head on his 2nd day is ridiculous. I'm a restaurant lifer, and that sorta thing just is not done. Ever. And there really wasn't an adult in evidence acting in any sort of managerial capacity.

                Hank's hais a solid reputation in Charleston, and I hope they don't let it get away from them. We did have one nice experience there a few years back. But like I've said before, Charleston is too good a food town for us to risk good time and money on places that are even occasionally capable of that sort of gross incompetence. I mean, that guy was completely in over his was like one of my worst stress nightmares back when I waited tables....

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  I have also worked in restaurants, and I agree both you and he never should have been in that situation. I hope it's not a sign of things to come.

                  On the other hand, if you are looking for raw oysters the next time you're in town you might want to try Pearlz on E. Bay. However this place comes with a hefty warning, unless everyone in your party is prepared to eat from the raw bar this might be a place you would want to skip. They are a chain wannabe, and their food is nothing worth noting, but they do a good raw bar...especially oysters.

            2. re: lizzy

              Which would be your 3 "not to be missed" dinners and 3 best lunches or small plates? I guess these are our choices, other than the Sunday picnic:
              Peninsula Grill, SNOB, Cru Cafe, Magnolia's, High Cotton, CoCo's, Sienna, Hank's, Fish, Tristan, Raval, Chai, Anson, Sienna, Landgon's.

              And I think Ted's is closed on Sunday. Any other picnic suggestions? Or would it keep a day in the condo frig?

              1. re: glecroy

                I think anything you would order from Ted's would keep one day in the fridge. I would just keep that in mind when you ordered.

                I would skip, High Cotton, CoCo's and maybe Langdon' I said earlier I don't know anyone who has eaten there. Both Raval and Chai are known as late night eats/bar, I just wanted to let you know in case this is not your cup of tea.

                I would just look at menus for each restaurant you are interested in, and decide if it suits your needs. Some of the restaurants on your list I have never visited, and except for Cru I am not familiar enough with the menus to make a decision. However, I will say that Cru is my favorite restaurant, and with the exceptions I pointed out I think you have a good list.

                1. re: glecroy

                  Of your choices listed, I would pick Sienna, Cru, Hank's. Admittedly, i have not been to all. High Cotton in G'ville kinda sucks, so I would avoid that one, Anson I found disappointing given the review they got in Gourmet a few years back.

          2. The finale is really lovely, you should get a some wine and a picnic from Ted's Butcher Block ( and head up there for the afternoon and evening.

            1. This is what we settled on:
              Thursday night Peninsula Grill
              Friday lunch Cru Cafe
              Friday night SNOB
              Saturday lunch Tristin
              Saturday night Hanks
              Sunday brunch Magnolias
              Sunday night picnic Ted's Butcherblock
              Monday breakfast Josephs
              Thanks for the help!! We'll report back on our favorites.

              1 Reply
              1. re: glecroy

                Can't believe no one mentionted Fig or Charleston Place- two local favorites and two personal favs for food sytle and innovation. Langdons over Peninsula, only heard so so reviews lately