"What I Ate This Summer"-Charleston, June 2011
I know lots of people read this board and want Charleston recommendations, so I thought I would write up the places we ate over the past week and a half while we were on vacation. So that you can understand my point of view, this was our 13th trip to the Charleston area since 2005. We stayed on Sullivan's Island and we had a car. We mostly ate breakfast and lunch at our house (lots of salad and fruit so I could eat out every night!), so most of these reviews are for dinner, but I'll group them by meal.
Juanita Greenburg's Nacho Royale-we ate a Saturday lunch at the newer Mt. Pleasant location. The food was just as advertised-fast, fresh, and inexpensive. I had the chicken nachos royale, which would have been plenty for two, and my husband had the steak quesadilla. We were both very happy with our selections.
The Tomato Shed-This little gem is on Johns Island and was recommended by a friend of mine who lives in the area. It's part restaurant, part farm stand market. The majority of what they serve is grown right on their farm or comes from another SC supplier. This was the freshest food we had on the entire trip and every one of us loved our lunch. I had the sweetest shrimp salad I've ever tasted, and the tomato pie and squash casserole sides were wonderful. Everything just had that truly "homecooked" taste to it. We also bought a lemon chess pie to go. It was devoured when we got back to the house and the plates were practically licked clean! The Tomato Shed is only open for lunch and gets crowded quickly. We got there about 11:45 and walked right in to a table, but by 12:15, people were stacked all around waiting to be seated.
Sermet's Corner-After eating dinner here, I think this King St. restaurant is underrated. I had a sauteed chicken dish with butternut squash agnolotti that was delicious. My parents had a pork tenderloin dish that they claimed was fantastic. The restaurant wasn't terribly crowded, service was good, and prices were extremely reasonable. Most dishes were in the $12-17 range, with a few priced higher.
The Old Village Post House-I absolutely adore the dining room of the restaurant. It's located in the Old Village section of Mt. Pleasant and you feel tucked away and somewhat hidden from the crowds of tourists. It's almost like you're in the dining room of a friend who has a really amazing house in the Old Village. At any rate, service here was great and the food was delicious. I started with a peach salad and had a trout dish, with a wonderful fresh corn side. My husband had the NY strip, which was perfectly seasoned and cooked. Prices here are more upscale, with most entrees in the mid-20's.
Pane e Vino-This little restaurant, which is on a side street off of King St., was hard to find at first, but worth the effort. There wasn't an obvious sign outside, so we drove past it twice, trying to decide if we had the right address, but then we noticed the Italian flag. The food and the charming patio area were worth the extra gas we used cruising around the block multiple times! We started with the funghi fritti, which were as addictive as crack, served with sea salt and truffled pecorino. I could not stop eating them! My husband ordered the spaghetti bolognese and said it was the best sauce he's ever had. I had the spaghetti allo scoglio and it was very good. The atmosphere on the patio was very romantic and service was excellent. Most pastas were in the mid-teens and meat entrees ran to the mid-20's.
La Fourchette-I think this may have been my favorite meal of the trip. This tiny French bistro was crammed with patrons on a Friday night. I started with a wonderful tomato-rosemary soup and then we both had steak frites with a green salad. The steak was perfectly cooked and the duck fat fries were sheer heaven! Well, at least that's what I thought until I had dessert. I wasn't going to have dessert, but then another table ordered profiteroles and they looked so good, that I decided I needed some, too. Fantastic! The pastries had the perfect density and the chocolate sauce was warm and poured tableside. So good! Service was good and entree prices ranged from mid-teens to upper 20's.
Peninsula Grill-This truly is my favorite meal of the trip. We eat here for our anniversary every year and every year we leave saying, "Wow! That was an amazing meal!" This year was no exception. My husband had the NY Strip and the goat cheese smashed potatoes. I started with a salad that was a special that evening, featuring local John's Island heirloom tomatoes. Then I had the boneless Berkshire pork chop, with cheese grits and collard greens. We both shared the famed coconut cake for dessert. This restaurant is a model of great service that is unpretentious while still being attentive to your every need. The food was outstanding. Prices for entrees are in the $30-$40 range.
Poe's Tavern-This Sullivan's Island hangout is the home of my favorite burger and no visit to the area is complete if I don't have one!
Andolini's Pizza-I love their vegetarian slice and I could eat the crust all day long. I don't know if it's truly NY style, as it claims to be, but the crust is wonderful, chewy with just a bit of crunch to it.
Page's Okra Grill-We ate a dinner and a breakfast here. It is truly "Local Food for Local Folks". It is just good old home cooking, with most dinner entrees in the $8-$12 range.
Bowen's Island-Almost to Folly, but worth the drive, if you love truly fresh seafood. This is one place where you can have a great view and still have great food, as long as you love fried seafood. I think this place (which is much less dive-y now that they've finished their new dining room) has the absolute best fried shrimp ever. The only service is when they scream out your name. You throw up a hand and they bring you your order. The rest of the time you're on your own, but with seafood this fresh, who cares?! Prices are mostly $12-$20ish.
Cupcake-There are two Charleston locations, but on this trip, I only went to Belle Hall in Mt. Pleasant. If you love cupcakes, this place is hard to top. I sampled four different cupcakes over the span of the trip. They were all good, but my favorite was the chocolate salted caramel. If you've ever had the Gigi's version of this, well Cupcake's blows it out of the water completely. Insanely delicious!
Charleston Farmer's Market-We stopped here on our way home on Saturday. I stocked up on some bread from Rococo bakery, some preserves from Colonial Charleston Kitchens, and then I hunted down the elusive Roots ice cream wagon. I know you really shouldn't eat ice cream at 10am, but hey, I had already had breakfast, so it's not like it would ruin my appetite! Roots ice cream is made in small batches with locally sourced ingredients and not your run of the mill chocolates and vanillas. Among the selections on Saturday were blueberry fennel, peaches and cornbread, and my choice, fraiche mint. It was delicious and very refreshing, even if it was a little early in the day for ice cream. (Is there any such thing?!)
I know this report/review is long, but hopefully it will be helpful to others who like to eat! It has definitely helped me to see why my clothes are little snug right now! :)
great report and sounds like my dream vacation. I agree that Sermet is a gem. I really need to get to that farmer's market!! can you describe that fried shirmp at Bowen's in more detail? size, type of breading? did they offer oysters this time of year?
thanks for the report.
the shrimp at Bowen's are smallish with tails removed.Breading medium to light.The best part is that wonderful sweetness and crunchy snap of our local shrimp.I had a shrimp po bay at Pearlz this past weekend and their shrimp were very simular in a good way.No local oysters now,sorry.
Mollybelle gave you a good description of the shrimp. I had friends staying on Folly who met us there, and one of the girls said, "Oh, you got popcorn shrimp!" I had to explain that the local shrimp are small, but they are so sweet and delicious. The breading was light. For about $13, I got 1/4 pound of fried shrimp, french fries, a small serving of slaw, and two hushpuppies. The slaw wasn't anything to rave about, but the rest of the meal was very good.
The Farmer's Market is wonderful, but be prepared for heat and crowds in the summer. I've been in October and it was much calmer, although still busy. We had already eaten a great breakfast at Page's, but I almost wished we had waited, because they have vendors cooking all sorts of delicious smelling items, like crepes with fresh fruit and Nutella. You need to go if you're ever there on a Saturday during market season.
What a truly wonderful report. You did ALL the good stuff! You went all over the place and did it right.
I love the Mater Shed, but I don't get out there much, so nice to know they are keeping it real.
I love Sermet's, and I concur that it's underrated. It's affordable, fresh and delicious, but most visitors just want some variation of shrimp and grits. El. Oh El.
Old Village Post House is exactly like you said. It's just us.
Well done! I keep telling you, Betsy- come on down here and live with us!
Old Village Post House
101 Pitt St., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464