Charleston SC shrimp and grits
One of the most essential of Carolina Lowcountry foods, visitors and locals can have a look here at who makes the best shrimp and grits (and contributors can rank theirs, if they like, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being good. Please offer the price if possible)
THE SWAMP FOX: $13.25 lunch $18.25 dinner
Rating: ? (this was my first ever shrimp and grits so I don't know what to rank it)
This was a decent-sized bowl of thick-like soup that was actually pepper jack grits dunked in a lobster and tasso ham gravy. The rich combination had a very distinctive sweet/salty/spicy mix, almost Asian in taste, with bits of Vidalia onion and bell pepper coming to the surface every now and then. The five large shrimp hitting the pool were almost crumbly-tender, and it was overall a very rich and potent broth that was very tasty (and award-winning, according to the restaurant, though what that award is isn't said).
MARINA VARIETY STORE: "The Bear Island Specialty" L$8.99/D$14.50
The wooden booths and nautical theme relay a typical family-priced steak and seafood joint situated serenely at the crowded city marina and peering over the marshy grasses of the Ashley River. The shallow dish presented an amalgam of color, incuding a white sphere of butter-laden grits topped with a brothy caramel-colored ladling of gravy and interspersed with the green and white of crunchy bell peppers and onions. Punctuating it come seven tightly-curled shrimp, their tenderness on the unenviable side, poking through almost hidden among the soup. More obvious is a small gathering of cubed sausage on the side, its striking robustness a lumpy contrast to the richness of the grits and gravy. But stringily and both undercooked and overdone, the scattering of onions and peppers provide a crunchy sharpness to the smooth base Overall, this dish lacks in the complexity of The Swamp Fox's offering, if not the richness, as the butter quantity is obvious, the sausage profound, and the overall sidling down one's throat unmistakable, disrupted only by the bite of the not-quite-tender enough shrimp.
Marina Variety Store and Restaurant
17 Lockwood Dr Ste E, Charleston, SC 29401
HOMINY GRILL: L+D $16.95
The simplicity of the frilly curtains, table-side lamps, and wooden floors, tables, and high-backed chairs of the well-publicized restaurant indicates the food. It comes forward in a plate - no bowl here- of shrimp and grits, a marshmallow fluff-like circle of grits scattered with seven medium-sized shrimp, and blanketed by a spray of mushrooms, scallions, and bacon. This is simplicity refined; the grits are smooth and pure, the shrimp flavorful without requiring seasoning, and the remainder sauteed to indescribable tenderness. No overwhelming richness and gravy to be found, this is essential food. For those seeking a simple, pure, and basic shrimp and grits meal, this is the plate for you. For $16.95? It would likely be once.
re: General Knowledge
I second the Mt. Pleasant Boulevard Diner recommendation- a large bowl of coarse (in a good way) yellow grits with tangy cheddar sauce throughout. Too many shrimp for an accurate count, as they keep on showing up amongst the tomatoes and onions even when you think you've eaten them all already. A couple of fried pickle spears tucked in at the edge of the dish are all important. $9 at lunch, I believe- I've never been able to finish the serving on my own.
I think the quality of ingredients is comparable to Hominy Grill (possibly smaller-sized shrimp, but many more of them), but with less emphasis on presentation.
BOULEVARD DINER: L$9/D$13
The interior of the Boulevard Diner is as undescriptive as its title, and the shrimp and grits here come served in a cereal bowl, slathering over the edge and appearing like nacho cheese dip. The yellow grits are quite coarse, not a good thing in my thoughts, and the cheddar cheese taste nearly consumes the grits. Minuscule bits of tomato and scallion are present, but they are too small to be of any impact. Nine smaller shrimp are submerged, their tenderness needing more, and two fried pickle spears are tucked at the side. Notably, there is no meat (or gravy) aspect. I cannot recommend this product, as it seems to be a rather uninteresting mess.
409 W Coleman Blvd, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
A transcendental experience awaits those who take part in the impressive shrimp and grits offered by Anson. Though not large (it is a first course), this is a perfect composition of food. The cream and right-tender grits are evenly met by bits of flavorful housemade bacon, both escorted by the fruity bathing of a great tomato gravy. Almost like pinatas spinning in a divine place, six corkscrew-shaped shrimp are tenderness perfected, while bits of green onion are the bite. The only downside is the end.