Eddie's Bistro - Charleston, SC - report
This place opened up on Daniel Island a couple of weeks ago in a building where two former restaurants (Baker's Cafe and Miss Ellie's Island Soul) had failed. Here's hoping third time is a charm because despite the somewhat uninspired name, Eddie's Bistro is offering up arguably the most inspired food on Daniel Island. First off, let me say that Eddie's Bistro (I think it may already be going by the more informal "Chef Eddie's") specializes in fusion cuisine, which carries a negative connotation in some people's minds. However, I think fusion cuisine primarily fails when chefs don't adequately understand the cuisines they are trying to fuse. This doesn't seem to be the case with Chef Eddie. He is originally from Thailand, he studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, and now he operates a restaurant in the American South. Those are the three points of his triangular fusion, with a heavy emphasis on the Asian. The result is something pretty unique to the area and definitely unique to Daniel Island. From the point of view of food quality and uniqueness (and yes, price point) ,the only real competition this place faces on Daniel Island is Sienna, and that's a high compliment indeed. And now that Sienna's chef/owner has opened up another restaurant downtown and has a third in the planning stage, Sienna doesn't seem to be unique as it once was.
It was strange to see what was once a rather mundane dining area transformed by white table cloths and the soft light of hurricane lamps on the tables. Hopefully, the ghosts of the building's former tennants have been exorcised. Food-wise, that definitely seems to be the case. We started off with a piping hot amuse of crispy crab rangoon--good from what I could tell after the molten interior scalded my tongue. My wife and I then shared appetizers of roti prata (a Singapore Indian flat bread served with a dip of sweet potato curry) and she-crab soup. The she-crab soup was a good example of the genre. The balance of sherry sweetness and pep was spot-on. The texture was thick with crab meat and roe--not as bisque-like as I tend to prefer, but good nonetheless. The roti prata could prove to be addictive. I was introduced to this dish in a Malaysian restaurant in Charlotte, but I think I prefer this version--the flat bread was very flakey and rich while the curry was a great balance of heat and sweet. Oh, forgot to mention, the complimentary bread was a fantastic tarragon biscuit, thin but unbelievably light.
For entrees, I had the crispy duck with a tamarind red wine reduction and lemongrass risotto while my wife had the Thai red curry with chicken. The red curry was a straight-forward interpretation of the dish, very good and spicy with high quality ingredients. I'd rank it in the same league as Basil's version, which is pretty high praise. The crispy duck was close to spectacular. This was definitely in the Asian style, where the duck is all about the skin and not so much about the meat. My only slight complaint about the dish would be that the duck and risotto seemed to compete for my attention rather than complement each other. That being said, they were both so good, I'm really not complaining at all!
Small restaurants often seem to trip up when it comes to dessert, but Eddie's didn't miss a beat. My wife had the chocolate souffle while I had the almond-pandan souffle. The chocolate was rich and decadent while the almond-pandan was light, subtle, and slightly exoctic (thanks to the flavor of pandan leaf). If I had it again, I think I would ask them to leave the citrus sauce on the side, as it inundated the interior of the souffle a little too much in my opinion. Still, it was one of the better souffles I've had. We accompained our dessert with some stout, very sweet Thai iced coffees. Very nice. Eddie's does not have regular (hot) coffee service yet, but presumably will soon. I should also note that they do not have a liquor license yet either, and I think we were the only table not brown bagging wine the night of our visit. The staff appeared very amenable to fetching wine for customers from the nearby Publix, so if you want to share a bottle, the lack of a license doesn't seem to be much of a hiccup at this point.
Though the price point at Eddie's is a little steeper than what I like during these tough times (their lunch prices are more reasonable), I have to say I was very impressed with the food and service on our first visit. Not only does Eddie's offer a unique, continent-spanning culinary adventure, they do it with a sense of assurance that is rare in a restaurant this new. This place is definitely worth a visit, even if you don't live on the island.
"Price point at Eddie's is a little steeper ..." -- could you give us some ideas on pricing? Nothing in your very thorough review -- does sound like it's well worth a visit, but I'd prefer to be forewarned! Love it, by the way, when new and interesting places are reviewed. Have you tried Ali Baba? Saw that in CityPaper as well when looking to see if Eddie's had a website with menu.
Their prices at Eddie's are sort of all over the place. Apps ran from $8 to $14 while entrees ran from $8 to $28, with the lower end being pasta dishes prior to adding a choice of protein (pastas are a separate section of their menu). The duck dish I had was $26. The roti prata was $7. If you choose carefully, you can have a reasonably-priced meal there, but a lot of the more intriguing options are priced higher. I hope they get a website soon.
I have tried Ali Baba. The food was quite good and I really enjoyed sampling some of their Middle Eastern sweets, but the experience was somewhat marred by service missteps that seemed to be resulting from how busy the place was (this was the first week they opened). I think the crowds may have faded a bit now, so hopefully service is better. You order at a counter and they bring your food out to your table, so one would hope they would master the "complexities" of the system fairly quickly.
glad to read such a thorough review - the bistro never appears (as i drive by) to be open. i will be sure to stop in; perhaps after a trip to the farmers market. have you ever tried the other bistro on the island? browers bistro (dont think thats the right name - but its on river landing drive)