Charleston Foodies - A ?
heading to Charleston for my anniversary and just wanted to get some opinions on a few restaurants we've narrowed down to eat at for the weekend...i know some of them have been talked about on here before, but any new or additional thoughts are greatly appreciated!
Thanks a ton!
I'm not a critic, not an industry professional, and not even a Charlestonian, but between us, my wife and I have over a hundred years of eating experience, which has to count for something. Visiting from Dallas for a couple of days this week we went to Jestine's Kitchen, Slightly North of Broad, and Cru Cafe. All were good, but Cru stood out. A really terrific menu, fresh ingredients, attractively presented and priced, a great vibe and a terrific team in and out of the kitchen. We loved the calamari salad, shrimp over orecchiette with kielbasa, and a swordfish special, and the wine and bread pudding were great too.
As a couple we got the chef's table... great fun but we wanted everything we watched them make.
I really really loved Hominy Grill last Friday for lunch when I was down in Charleston. Most of my Charleston trips are spent eating at the "fancier" places, but I decided to try Hominy on a tip from Chowhound. wow, was I impressed. I was hoping to be but was skeptical considering I've lived in the South for 20 years and have tried my share of down-home "meat-n-three" places, but Hominy really puts a lowcountry twist on things with more deft execution that one normally finds in such casual places. For lunch I had the cornbread-encrusted triggerfish with sides of collard greens and squash casserole. The triggerfish was so moist, fresh, and juicy inside and the breading thin and light yet crispy outside. One of the most successful seafood dishes I've ever had, and that says a lot coming from someone who lived 20 miles from the beach for two decades of his life. The sides were excellent too, and I finished it off with their signature buttermilk pie, which grew on me with each successive bite.
So yeah, Hominy Grill is a definite must. Try one of the specials on their chalkboard to get what's fresh, local, and in-season. You won't be disappointed. Seriously, if Hominy Grill were in the Triangle where I live, I'd eat there at least once a week.
p.s. As good as Gullah Cuisine is, my dining companion and I both agreed that Hominy Grill is better.
For special occasions my husband and I love Peninsula Grill. We've dined there at least 5 times in the past couple of years and always had a lovely, delicious experience. The staff is amazing, not at all stuffy and full of good suggestions for new wines to try with each course. The last time we were there we had a wine we especially loved and without us asking our waiter pulled the label and affixed it to a Peninsula Grill card that we framed as a memento of our anniversary. Sweet. Their coconut cake is in the running for best of the best - no offense to my mom.
Trattoria Lucca is excellent. The food is fresh (seasonal), authentic, and affordable. The only downside is that it is extremely loud in there. Book a reservation if you go. The restaurant was featured in The Best of Charleston issue of the Charleston City Paper. I imagine they will be slammed this weekend.
I liked Trattoria Lucca. Not as much as Sienna(same chef), but of course it wasn't as expensive either, and closer to downtown. I wasn't super-impressed w/ the wine list. We waited at least 20 minutes even though we had a reservation. I'm not knocking it, mind you...I think you would have a very nice meal there.
My first visit to Fig was just so-so. I had sucking pig and some standard salad. i might never had returned except circumstances led me there. That time I had a local fish and some of the vegetables off the "contorni" section of the menu. That's when i fell in love with the place and I haven't changed that ordering plan since. I was in Charleston in Dec and was CRUSHED when i didn't get to go to Fig. Another point...the last two times I was there , the wine by the glass I ordered was so delicious I wound up seeking out the bottle in wine stores and making it a favorite.
If you go to Gullah Cuisine, go for the lunch buffet. I've experienced terrible service there at dinner.
Here's a post I did recently about Hominy Grill, a place I would definitely recommend for the southern food enthusiast: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6006...
I've had mixed experiences at FIG so I would recommend it with some reservations.
If you're coming by way of I-26, Sweatman's may be worth a detour. Otherwise, it's a long round trip for 'cue that didn't overly impress me or some others on this board. I do give them props though for cooking their 'cue the old fashioned way--whole hog over open pits. It's a dying art.