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Husk Experience (Charleston)

We recently had dinner at Husk. Overall the experience was underwhelming. Quality of food ingredients were excellent, preparation was so-so. My daughter and I ordered a Lamb Turrine, my wife, roasted Pork- 2 ways and our son, a crispy Chicken. We also ordered the skillet corn bread for the table.

Lamb Turrines were flavorful, but dry. Seasoning in the farro that accompanied the lamb was too strong for the dish and in the same bite with lamb, overwhelmed the lamb. My wife's pork was good and well seasoned. Chicken was so so....the 2 slices of white meat were fine, but the 2 slices of dark meat were cool and greasy. The dumplings that supplied the base for the vegetables were dry and bland. Corn Bread was dry and bland. No pieces of bacon in the corn bread, but the bacon flavor came from the use of bacon grease as an ingredient and to coat the cooking skillet.

Price points were fine, but portion sizes were a but small, with a larger amount of secondary items compared to the main ingredient. Wine list is surprisingly small, but well chosen and moderately priced.

The restaurant flat out refused to honor a request, even though very little effort would have been required. We were told that "Chef's Orders" precluded satisfying our request, even though we could have walked over to the bar area and not encountered any difficulty.

I get that Mr. Brock is providing a high end take on the concept of eating fresh off of the farm. But I suppose we have been spoiled by the ability to source high quality and ultra fresh ingredients for home use. We all agreed that we have eaten better meals at other local restaurants and at home. It seems I am not alone in this opinion in that others, who's taste I trust, have expressed the same sentiment. Upon relaying our experience, friends quickly shared their issues with the food preparation, quality of service and refusal of the staff to remedy problems that occurred at the table. While Husk was won several awards and was recently named one of the "Best New Restaurants in America", if your dining preferences do not fit into Mr. Brock's vision, you may not have a good experience.

That said, I was intrigued by the Bourbon selection listed on the bar menu. I will probably try a few of the selections when the weather turns colder.

Best,

Ross

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  1. I agree with you. I've been a couple of times, had no complaints at all, but it's been such a hassle to get in when there are other (REALLY) good places close by. I think the hype has been such that it raised expectations. I'm waiting for it all to die down and I'm going again. But I have to say, it's all easier at FIG. There's absolutely no reason for requests not to be honored when everybody else in town is happy to do so. Shoot, it's Charleston. Good manners and excellent hospitality are what we do best.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      Completely agree with you on Husk and FIG. I desperately wanted to LOVE Husk. I poo-poo'd everyone that had been underwhelmed and posted about it soon after it opened, saying that they needed to give it time. Well, I had the same underwhelming experience (except that I loved the country ham sampler - but that doesn't speak to the skills of the back-of-the-house).

      Now FIG on the other hand.... good God I love that place. My stomach just growled thinking about it. Easy, breezy, ridiculously delicious food. Aaaah...


      Ooh, and like Danna, I'm a Cru fan too. Hey Danna, have you been to Fat Hen yet? If not, guuurl, you gotta get over there. That place is amazing!

      1. re: lynnlato

        FAT HEN: I have. The fries, OH, the fries. And the creme brulee french toast was everything the name implies, although I didn't expect it to be that good.

        FIG. It embarrasses me to be so in love with a place. I bet it's not "easy breezy" in that kitchen though. I sense a perfectionist at work back there ;-)

          1. re: danna

            Oh that's right Danna, I forgot about those duck fat fries you fell in love with - ha! True about FIG... but whatever organized chaos is unfolding behind the swinging door is not felt in the laid back atmosphere of the dining room - dig. ;-)

            Sue, that would be amazing. It seems that I have little "my time" these days though and I worry we'd have a hard time finding a date that would work for all of us. But I will email you next time I'm headed that way and maybe we can work something out. I would love to meet ya and eat something tasty.

      2. FWIW, Bon Appetit has just placed Husk at number one out of ten new restaurants in the country.

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        Bon Appetit Restaurant
        621 Highway 441 S, Clayton, GA 30525

        11 Replies
        1. re: DaleJ

          Yeah, i just read that. From the write-up, you couldn't really tell why it was chosen. Just that there was much love.

          Unlike the OP, I thought the cornbread was greasy and bland, not dry and bland ;-)

          Husk is a conundrum for me, because I've had some really good things and some really bad things there. The stunning beauty of the restaurant itself makes me want to keep giving it more chances. I'll be in town in a couple of weeks and I can't decide whether to take another swing, or stick w/ Cru or other old favorites. I'm going w/ my parents and I think they would like the decor, but they aren't foodies, and they aren't going to be wow'ed by stuff just because it's southern. they've seen country ham before ;-)

          I'm curious what the request was. My Dad has a heart condition and often orders things w/out butter, hold the cheese....stuff like that.

          1. re: danna

            Well, at least you won't have to go to That Place Which Shall Remain Unnamed that your dad likes! And you are right. Country ham and bacon are just that.

            I'm going to email you.

            1. re: Sue in Mt P

              oh, He Doesn't Like It Anymore, I assure you ! (although I do fear he is still searching in his heart for the great fried seafood joints of his youth...I don't think those Calabash shrimp even exist anymore.)

              Awesome pancakes at Husk, though. And i will say that I did eventually score some honey if I recall correctly when I asked for (off the menu) jam for my biscuits. Drives me crazy when a place that serves biscuits doesn't have jelly in the house. Is it just me? Don't biscuits need jam? Not just Husk, i've noticed this more than once.

              1. re: danna

                Maybe we need to carry Mrs. Fields Wadmalaw strawberry jam in our purses.

            2. re: danna

              "I'm curious what the request was."

              Request was for a burger from the bar menu. The request was made by our very polite teenage son. Burgers were being served at the bar, while we were in the restaurant, but "chef's orders" precluded having a burger brought into the main dining room. If we pushed the issue, I could have walked into the bar, ordered a burger then brought it into the dinning room. I overheard another patron ask for salt and pepper. Patron was told that s&p are not available because, and I quote, "the chef says everything is delivered perfectly seasoned".

              In relaying our experience to friends, I have found that Husk is a very polarizing subject, either people are enraptured or think it is pretentious. In fact I am very surprised at the vehemence of opinion regarding the place. Most agreed that the food could be excellent, but it was hit or miss. However, putting up with the confining conditions under which the food is offered makes for an unhappy experience. Either you fit into the restaurant box that Mr. Brock has created or you don't. One friend characterized Husk as The Food Nazi comes to Charleston ! Ouch.

              All that said, I may give it another try because I really appreciate what they are trying to do and I want to try the bourbon menu when the weather gets colder.

              Best,

              rl1856

              1. re: rl1856

                Thanks for sharing that. Denying the burger request to a kid certainly seems prissy and pretentious, but the ""the chef says everything is delivered perfectly seasoned" thing would have put me over the top. I would never request salt unless something were undersalted, so I wonder what I would have said given that response.

                I wonder now how much s*** my server must have gone through to get me the honey and to put my gravy "on the side" of my biscuit. (i tried to have it held and she talked me into on the side. I think gravy on a biscuit is disgusting)

                Hit or Miss restuarants drive people crazy. There's a chef in Asheville who's last two ventures have been Hit or Miss to the point of torturing me. You get something so divine one visit that you keep going back, in spite of some totally unacceptable dishes.

                1. re: danna

                  My pet peeve at any restaurant is when salt and pepper are not available. Some people may prefer their food more salted or peppered. My not be the chef's preference but it is the diner's and their request should be honored.

                  1. re: KathyH

                    Agree with y'all on the s&p. That really trips my trigger when they are so arrogant to assume everything is "perfectly seasoned" - what bullshit! Dining is a subjective experience, and if I want more salt & pepper dammit, give me the GD shakers! (sorry) :)

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Right. I decided long ago that no one will tell me what I like and how I like it.

                      1. re: Sue in Mt P

                        Last March I ate at Alinea in Chicago. 20+ courses. Grant Achatz is my hero - the man is brilliant, to say the least, but my rabbit consomme was too salty. And all three of us at the table thought so.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Check out the "disappointed in alinea" thread on Chicago right now. Some restaurants develop such a following that their fans will not tolerate any criticism. I thought Alinea provided some of the most memorable mouthfulls in my dining history. Still, i had complaints ;-)

          2. Oh dear, now I don't know what to do. We have reservations at Husk for Labor Day weekend, my 20 yo daughter and me. We looked at the menu and chose it over several others. But she is fickle and might try to pull a fast one - like wanting a burger from the bar menu.

            We have been to quite a few other places in Charleston and selected Husk over 82 Queen, FIG (been there), SNOB, (done that), etc. We only have 2 nights in Charleston and we were going to choose some place less stuffy for the second night. Seafood is a treat for us, as we live in the MidWest.

            What to do?

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            82 Queen
            82 Queen Street, Charleston, SC 29401

            8 Replies
            1. re: Diane in Bexley

              I wouldn't worry. I've been to Husk and had a wonderful meal. Going again this weekend. But, then again, we didn't ask for any substitutions. Is your daughter generally agreeable to the menu? (even though it changes each day it is not radically different) If so, just stick to it.

              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                Mrs CHM and I ate at Husk about three weeks ago. Service could not have been better, although we didn't ask for salt and pepper. I guess the food really didn't need it. Mrs CHM did ask for her beef to be cooked well done and that the mushrooms be left out of the dish. I love mushrooms, so without thinking, I spouted, "I'll take 'em". They served them on a little side dish just for me. And they were great.

                I had the wood roasted clams with sausage. One of the best dishes I've ever had. I also had a tilefish for my main. Perfectly seared and a really nice piece of fish. It didn't live up to the clams, but it was really good. Mrs CHM liked her well done beef as well.

                I thought the bar was really cool. We were only in there for one drink before our table was ready but I would have liked to spend more time in there. We had a nice time and I highly recommend it.

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  What is the other restaurant you have chosen?

                  I don't think you'll have a bad meal at Husk. I think even those of us who are criticizing Husk are more or less saying that it doesn't live up to the hype, not that it's a lousy place for dinner. I'm considering a return visit myself. Just be prepared for some hit or miss-ness ;-)

                  1. re: danna

                    I realize you can't have the bar menu in the dining room but can you have the dining room menu in the bar area?

                    1. re: KathyH

                      this article talks all about the cheeseburgers...and they were in the dining room
                      http://www.postandcourier.com/news/20...

                      1. re: LaLa

                        I believe they offer the burgers in the dining room for lunch but only at the bar during dinner. I don't really get having bar items that aren't available in the dining room, but I figure it's the restaurant's prerogative if they want to do that. I think Husk's sister restaurant McCrady's has a similar policy or used to at any rate.

                        My wife and I have been to Husk probably six or seven times, and while there have been a couple of disappointments, there is an excitement about the restaurant's philosophy and cooking that keeps us coming back. Their smoked and fried pig's ear flavored with teriyaki aged in bourbon casks was one of the best things I've tasted this year, hands down.

                        The response to the request for salt the original poster mentioned is definitely off-putting, but I wonder if there's not more behind this than meets the eye. I read that Husk sources its salt from deposits on an island off the coast of Louisiana via an exclusive arrangement with the Tabasco company which owns the island. All of which is to say they may not be willing to put the precious stuff in shakers for table use. If so, it would probably be a better alternative to make an exception to their "all-southern" rule and just provide ordinary table salt upon request. They could label it "non-southern salt" if it made them feel better! ;-)

                        I agree that Husk is probably dealing with being over-hyped right now. It's important to remember the restaurant is still not a year old. The couple of disappointments I've had there were not of the magnitude I suffered at FIG not so many years ago before FIG raised its game. The advantage of being a local I guess is you can stick with a place and watch it grow over the long run.

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                        McCrady's Restaurant
                        2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC 29401

                  2. re: Diane in Bexley

                    I don't think you should stress. If your daughter wants a burger,eat in the bar.

                    It really is a great place. But's it's hype central at this point. If you have realistic expectations you'll be fine.

                    Try Hank's for unique seafood-lots of choices and interesting fish dishes. If they have wreckfish, get it.

                    1. re: Sue in Mt P

                      I've been to Hank's and the food is fine, but we were very rushed there (in an extremely polite way) and felt they were trying very hard to turn tables. . On another note, we went to Muse theother night. It was quite unique and the food was very good. Also, we have been to Mercato several times. Its location screams, "tourist trap", but their prices are very reasonble, the food is very good. The veal I had was the tenderest I've ever encountered.

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                      Mercato
                      102 N. Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401