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Slow Food in Charleston SC?

Hi everyone!

I'm a graduate student in Iowa City where we have a strong slow foods community, but I'm going to be in Charleston for a week with my family soon. I know that there is a strong slow foods community in Charleston, but I'm not exactly sure where to go! We want to support slow food where ever we are, and I was just wondering if anybody had any tips on the good places to eat in Charleston?

Thanks so much!

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  1. Mike Lata of FIG is a big proponent of slow food,, and I think Sean Brock of McCrady's is as well. I know the restaurant at Middleton Place has their own garden, but I cannot speak to the quality of the food. Just know that most of the better restaurants in Charleston source at least some of their ingredients from local purveyors, as long as you stay away from the touristy type places. I also know that most of the better restaurants are members of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. You can find that list here: http://www.scaquarium.org/SSI/partner...

    What type of food are you looking for?

    6 Replies
    1. re: lizzy

      That is great, and I really appreciate the link to the sustainable seafood restaurants, which is an issue that has held me back from trying the great seafood around when I've been in the area before. We aren't looking for any particular kind of food, though it's more likely that we will do lunches instead of dinners. We are such enormous foodies that we eat anything, though naturally we like to eat as local as possible. My family has a house on Folly island for a week and we'll come into the city for the museums, history, aquarium, and food!

      FIG and McCrady's are places I've seen mentioned several times on the board and it's great know they are involved in sustainability projects. From the link you left I checked out McCrady's and the tasting menu sounds like a lot of fun. FIG sounds right up our ally too, since I see there are heirloom varieties on the menu and my brother spends all his time helping to preserve varietals for our local seed bank.

      Do you know anything about Slightly North of Broad? That restaurant has gotten a lot of favorable postings on the site, and from their menu it looks like the try to use a lot of local produce.

      Thanks for your help!

      1. re: LifeB

        For lunch, or dinner for that matter, I highly recommend Cru Cafe....great food.

        SNOB is really good. IMO, they have the best shrimp & grits in town. They also have a good wine list, and it's good for either lunch or dinner.

        1. re: LifeB

          FYI - the standards of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative are ridiculously lax. To be on that restaurant list chefs only need to avoid three species of fish (orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and imported shark). Anyone calling grouper or snapper "sustainable" is delusional. If you want valid information on sustainable seafood choices check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch - http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/SeafoodWatch... - you can print out a wallet card use it to decide what to order.

          1. re: mle17

            I did not realize how lax the standards were w/ the SSI, just merely the fact that it exists. I will say in it's defense, however, that I think it is meant to be a guide for SC and not dining around the country. I found your link to be very informative, but the species of grouper and snapper that were listed in my link are not listed in your link. However, I think it is up to each consumer to do as much research as they can before making a decision. Thanks for the info.

            1. re: lizzy

              Having been to many of the restaurants on the SSI lists, they continue to serve many species of fish (grouper and snapper are simply examples I have seen on their menus) that are well know to be unsustainable. I agree that is is up to the consumer to make wise choices, and I encourage everyone I know to carry around the Seafood Watch guides (which are specialized for each region of the country), but if SSI is going to promote itself as making things easier for the consumer by taking the guesswork out of finding sustainable seafood, they should really have stricter guidelines. . .

              1. re: mle17

                The point I was trying to make, and looking back I see I didn't do a very good job, was that the SSI focuses on specific species found and caught off SC waters. What they don't do is address the species as a whole, which your link does very well. I also think they do a poor job of distinguishing between what is caught and what you will find on the menu. For example, just because a restaurant lists "x" on the menu it doesn't mean that "x" is locally caught or sustainable. I agree with you when you say they should have stricter guidelines.

      2. The local foods movement is really growing in Charleston. Over 50 restaurants have joined the "Fresh on the Menu" program, committing to using at least 25% South Carolina produce. Here's a link that describes the program and links in turn to a list of the restaurants: http://www.wciv.com/news/stories/0408...

        In addition to the places already mentioned, the following restaurants place a special emphasis on eating local: EVO Pizza (one of my favorites, where it's not unusual to hear things like, "These figs were just picked from a tree down the street"), Carolina's (they've started their own farm as well), Sienna, Alluette's, the Glass Onion, and Huck's Lowcountry Table.

        Your brother might be interested in Owl's Nest Plantation in Monck's Corner. They have the largest collection of heirloom seeds in the state. They usually have a booth at the farmer's market in Marion Square on Saturdays.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Low Country Jon

          I really feel like I've hit the motherload with your link and suggestions. Evo looks fantastic, especially the pistachio pesto, and I love Carolinas 'garden to plate' initiative. My brother is excited about the prospect of meeting a fellow seed preserver as well, since he would much rather be in his garden than at the beach. :)

          If you ever want to come to Iowa City, we have a thriving local farms field to family initiative with lots of participating restaurants.

          Thank You!

          1. re: LifeB

            You have excellent food radar! The pistachio pesto pizza at EVO is one of our favorites. We usually gild the lilly by adding the bacon and the mushroom ragout. If they have panzanella on their specials menu when you visit, definitely try that as well. Their housemade chocolates are pretty great, too.

            If you go to the farmer's market, be sure to check out the Charleston Crepe Company. They make some great crepes, both savory and sweet, using authentic French crepe griddles. They also use local ingredients where possible, I believe. There's usually a line, so the earlier you go the better, in order to avoid waiting too long in ninety degree heat.

            1. re: LifeB

              Evo is great. I had the pistachio pesto pizza last night, one of my favorites, and all I can say is yum!

              1. re: lizzy

                Just wanted to bring this up to the top, just in case someone hasn't been to EVO. Son and future DIL live virtually 2 minutes away, and it took me armed with Chow tips, to get them there. Fabulous, loved everything about it. That pistachio pesto pizza, with mushroom ragout, was incredible, only topped by the special Speck (air dried ... prosciutto?) pizza.. Comfortable surroundings, affordably priced, perfect for those who don't cotton to meat, and a drink list that is longer than the menu (loved their beer flights especially). The arugula salad was perfect, and a regular portion was enough to share for three. Especially liked the salad dressings, served intelligently on the side.

                If a visitor wanted to do the Hunley, this would be a terrific stop for dinner. Afterwards, take a walk in the park by the river, and enjoy the evening breeze. Charleston just doesn't get much better than this.

                Overall, good food, good vibes. Good choice. Son thinks EVO should cater his wedding reception ...