Charleston Dining - brief report
Let me level set by saying our group of 2-4 couples have been vacationing in Charleston for 9 consecutive years. One couple has made a few extra Winter trips as well. We go for the very best in dining and at various times have been to Peninsula Grill, Hanks, McCradys, FIG, Louis's, BoatHouse at Breeches, etc.
This year we tried three places new to us.
SNOB: An excellent mid-range meal. Great service, reasonable prices, everyone enjoyed. The Salmon dish topped the famous tuna in our opinion.
High Cotton: Another good choice. A bit more upscale although owned by the same folks. Favorites were the crispy oysters with green goddess dressing, the lamb, and the side dishes.
Charleston Grill: After years of great lunches in the courtyard, we donned dress clothes for dinner. The meal was simply spectacular. The ambiance is somewhere between PG (noisy) and soft intimate. The service was impeccible. One diner who brushed a coat sleave in a dish was soon greeted by a inconspicuous, kneeling waiter with a napkin and a bowl of soda water. THAT is paying attention.
The food was outstanding. Every diner agreed it was our best Charleston meal in years. The foie gras is a must for those inclined. The salmon dish and duck confit were also top notch. Each couple was given a basket of 4 mini-muffins upon leaving as well as greated at the door by the manager asking for any feedback. It is pricey but one of the few times we actually felt the experience was worth the fare. Highly recommened.
On our short list for future visits: Circa 1886, Muse, maybe Sienna.
I also just returned from Charleston. I agonised over all the various recs for the high-end dining places (McCrady's, FIG, Anson's, SNOB, Magnolia's, High Cotton, etc). When I got there I was kind of surprised that they mostly had rather similar-sounding menus. Low Country ingredients but prepared in a "new American" way that was not particularly interesting-sounding when one has been eating this way in NYC for several years now. I settled on McCrady's because the space was so beautiful. My experience was not far from this poster's: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/676774
Food was good but not amazing; service was unfortunate. Waited at least 20min between app & main, and mains came out cold without apology. (Once re-heated, the steak was very tender and yummy. Grouper was ordinary. Whole wheat spaghetti tasty. General Tso’s sweetbreads were good. (a rare inventive moment).) But another wait between main and dessert had us thinking it was no coincidence. We did get a complimentary dessert bite though.
Other posters have complained plenty about Poogan’s Porch, so I’ll spare you the details of my insanely over-rushed, under-delicious experience there, but I will say: 1) it was open on Christmas and 2) it had the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted.
My top pick: Amen Street, a just-opened, no-pretentions place in a very cool space. With prices at half of the “recommended” restaurants next to it on that same restaurant row on East Bay St, and a kitchen that seems to both care about its food and try some new ideas (e.g., shrimp corndogs with Asian mustard sauce were light as a feather; hot & sour pickled okra as a great counterpoint to fried green tomatoes) it seems to be filling a much-needed niche. Loved it.
For real soul food, a drive out the unlovely Hway 17 N to “Gullah Cuisine” (1717 Hway 17 N) was worthwhile too.
BTW-- The Boathouse, at Breech Inlet, has a great bar on top of the restaurant overlooking the ICW. Must do during the summer--live music and the last time I went saw lots of dolphins including a mother and baby swimming /playing while watching the sunset! The Hilton at Patriot's Point also has a fun outdoor tiki bar with a great sunset view! Vickery's has an outside bar that overlooks the back of Shem creek--great view up in the tree tops! You won't know the bar exists--as it is in the back--and usually only has the locals. Outside access is on the parking lot side. Edisto Island has the Post Office for fine dining as well.
I was just down in Charleston and stayed at Charleston Place. Our meal at Charleston Grill was nothing less than spectacular. I HIGHLY recommend the chef's tasting menu.
On the trip we also dined at 82 Queen, which was very good, Carolina's for brunch (can't beat $12 all you can drink mimosas!) and Jim n Nicks Barbecue (also very good).
Thanks for the report. Even though it is not in Charleston proper, I would highly recommend Woodlands in Summerville. My wife and I recently enjoyed a 13-course ultimate tasting and it was extraordinary. And the price was quite reasonable for the quality of food.
We tried Sienna two years ago and was a little disappointed with the food. Our waiter was very generous with filling our wine glasses which made for an interesting drive back to downtown. Tristan was excellent for brunch and I imagine dinner would be equally tasty.
re: Shag Waits
Yes, Woodlands is a 4 Star restaurant. I lived/worked in Summerville for 8 yrs--and it doesn't come any better. A couple other recommendations: Vickery's on Shem Creek,
California Dreaming has an excellent fried flounder-very romantic dining overlooking the
harbor-or dockside pull up, Magnolias has an excellent shrimp n grits and free parking!
Hanks , downtown, has excellent seafood selection. 82 Queen and Pogan's porch lots of fun!!