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Jun 19, 2008 08:59 AM

Charleston: Garibaldi,Fig,Cru,Poogan's, and general angst

I'm not thrilled with myself...I didn't try a single new place on this trip to Charleston.

As noted in my pre-trip plea, not much is opened on Sunday night. I described as best I could to my parents SNOB,Garibaldi's, Poe's and McCrady's...they picked Garibaldi's. I'm at a loss to describe my experience salad was fine, my crispy flounder was good, as always, but somehow not as good as it used to it might have been fried a little in advance and then sauced upon ordering. My Dad got the crab stuffed grouper, he didn't share. My Mom didn't like ANYTHING she saw on the menu, and ordered the scallops app and the razor clams app at my suggestion. I thought her razor clams were excellent, scallops sub par (she proclaimed them too spicy...i could not detect ONE note of pepper). The restaurant itself seemed very tired. This was a long-time favorite, but I think I've been there my last time.

Monday we went to FIG. It was delicious. I had the chicken liver pate, the polenta w/ asparagus and MORELS and ramps, and sides of rapini and farrro w/ corn and lima beans. Waitress suggested a gewertztraminer (sp?) which was perfect. My Mom actually liked her potato ravioli and her shrimp and raddichio salad. My dad had the grouper w/ clams, had to be forced to share (grouper was fabulous...just barely cooked and the perfectly seasoned).

By tuesday, it was clear I was going to have to make some changes in my planned feeding at either Bacco or Sienna. I didn't think I could stand another meal explaining what everything was on the menu to my parents (so no Sienna) or hearing my mother announce that "everything has cheese and garlic on it at Italian restaurants" (so no Bacco). I opted for Cru Cafe...thinking the setting would be less threatening than a more modern room, and the menu items more accessable. My trigger fish was very good , but not as good as my Mom's grouper. The trigger fish was served over a smear of corn purree on top of lima beans. Very , very good, and I appreciated actually having enough veggies. Mom's grouper was served on panzanella (" is there vinegar on this?") I started w/ tasty buttermilk fried oysters on salad. My dad had shrimp and pasta and again didn't share and didn't appear to like it.

At this point, I was torn between major irritation at my perfectly intelligent parents for being culinary Neanderthals who appear to think appetizers are for fools, sharing at the table is kinky, obvious garlic a deadly flaw, and a menu that doesn't offer shrimp and/or scallops fried and/or broiled a confounding disappointment..... and guilt because I had failed to please them w/ any of my choices. So....while ignoring the many mentions of "good restaurants on Shem creek", I latched on to my Dad's mention of Poogan's Porch, and we went there for early lunch on our way home yesterday.

Finally: everybody was happy. We arrived as they opened at 11:30. The biscuits were JUST out of the oven and HOT!. The cup of she crab soup we allowed ourselves (1-4 bites per person and left the rest on the table) was pretty good - not stellar, but pretty good. My shrimp Po Boy was also good/not stellar. Sweet potato fries were very good (I'm planning my heart attack for next Thursday) Daddy didn't complain much about the shrimp and grits, although he picked out the sausage and the peppers. Mom ordered her shrimp Po Boy grilled rather than fried and it was unfortunately way too salty.

So here's the weird thing: taken individually, their comments about their dishes were better at Fig and Cru than at Poogan's...yet they clearly enjoyed their meal better there. Just because the room was quiet and the food was conventional, I suppose. I think this effect must have something to do w/ why people go to chains...apparently some people want consistency and familiarity more than any other feature in a restaurant. Sigh.

Oh well, everybody (Daddy included) liked Modica Gelato! Thanks for reading!

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  1. hi danna,

    it's hard raising parents, isn't it?

    1. Danna - I'm laughing like crazy here because your parents must be related to mine! In fact, when we go to a restaurant, I always make sure that my mom orders something I can eat because She inevitably won't like it and will ask me to switch plates. Go figure - very often, when we got to a really good restaurant, she'll ask for a burger. All this despite the fact that she's a gourmet level cook and can make the most fabulous and exotic foods at home!

      1. How expensive is FIG? There website doesn't have prices on the menu. I hate when they do that. Not everyone in downtown Charleston owns their own company.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tennreb

          I hate it when they do that too! I believe a fish dish is around $25. The veggie sides are about $7. Apps low teens. Wine prices reasonable. The fish dishes are enough that you would not feel uncomfortable to only order an's not little precious plates.

        2. Danna, while my parents are a bit more adventurous than yours, they did insist we go to Fleet Landing last visit, despite the protests of my wife and me. As expected, it was pretty mediocre, though my parents enjoyed it and the stuffed hushpuppies were really good (worth at least a trip to the bar if not a full dinner there).

          Anyway, how would you rate the much-vaunted biscuits at Poogan's Porch? Our one experience there featured such bad service we vowed never to go back--the biscuits never even found their way to our table.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Low Country Jon

            Oh My! I'm afraid our server wouldn't have survived had I been denied biscuits (this goes or any server, any restaurant, any bread...I have a bread problem). The biscuits are quite good. Not greasy at all, light, tall, white, I really have no complaints. My dead grandmother didn't make them, but you can hardly hold a restaurant to those standards ;-) My Mother and I debated whether they were yeasted or not...she thinks they were baking powder biscuits with the addition of some sort of starter. She is out of my league on these finer points of biscuitry. One thing for certain, they leave Hominy Grill in the dust.

            1. re: Low Country Jon

              I've had horrible service at Poogan's Porch on multiple visits but that doesn't stop us from having brunch there.

              Doubtful I'd go for lunch or dinner but I find it hard to beat PP for brunch.

              On a scale of 1-10 the buscuits at Poogan's Porch are at least a 15.

            2. How funny. I just spent the last few days in Charleston too, with extended family on my husband's side (11 colorful folks). I organized one dinner outing to Hominy Grill, but we left the pickiest eaters at the beach house. Luckily, everyone had a great time, even though not everyone was blown away by their food. The patio was a fantastic setting and the waitstaff was awesome. We were the last table of the night and our waiter said we were the most fun group he's had in a long time. So everybody won!

              On Folly Beach, my pick of Taco Boy was a bit disappointing. It was more expensive than I imagined, but at least my strong margarita and tasty salad made up for it. The family raved about our meal at Folly Beach Crab Shack, but I wasn't as jazzed. The crab legs were so salty. I wanted to try Bowen's Island instead, but I was trying a new approach to vacationing...going with the flow, not planning every meal. Despite my grumbling, it turned out to be a nice change of pace!