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Charleston Fine Dining (values?)

c
cstiv Aug 29, 2011 02:44 PM

My wife and I are going on a 3 day babymoon in November to Charleston (we had our first child in June). We are staying at the Anchorage Inn downtown. I've read most of the recent posts so I am somewhat familiar with the restaurants that are popular on this board. My initial plan was McCrady's the first night, Amen St or Pearlz the second night, and Charleston Grill for our last night. I'm obviously going to spend a lot of money between dinner 1 and dinner 3. I was looking at the menu at High Cotton and they seem to have a little better pricing than Charleston Grill and they also have live jazz, so I was thinking about swapping those two. So I'm wondering what you guys think are the best values in Charleston fine dining. I'm not necessarily looking for cheap prices or big portions, but apples to apples what are best values? Also, we were looking for seafood / raw bar for one night and I narrowed it down to Amen St or Pearlz. Any other suggestions for that dinner. I've read some recs for Fleet Landing, but some other comments describing it as mediocre or lackluster. Is it really mediocre or is it just not novel or nouveau? In other words, does it do simple seafood dishes well? We are looking for fun places with good atmospheres, and live music is a plus. Thanks!

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

Charleston Grill
224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar
186 Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401

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  1. m
    megabytes Aug 29, 2011 04:49 PM

    Been to both. While HC is good, it is not in the same league as Charleston Grill. In fact I just booked our group there for our 11th annual October vacation.

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    Charleston Grill
    224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

    1. Jeff C. Aug 29, 2011 05:50 PM

      FIG!

      1. Sue in Mt P Aug 29, 2011 06:13 PM

        I Love FIG. It's really special.

        I would probably choose High Cotton over Charleston Grill, but I haven't been to the latter in a couple of years. megabytes is right. It's a different experience.

        Fleet's is best known for the view, which is great. If you want fabulous food and great service, go to FIG.

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        Charleston Grill
        224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sue in Mt P
          c
          cstiv Aug 29, 2011 07:06 PM

          So which dinner should I take out? I wanted to go to high cotton bc I read that it had live jazz and it had a good menu. Should I go to fig instead of mccrady's? I like their 3 course menu for $45

          1. re: cstiv
            u
            uptown jimmy Aug 30, 2011 05:53 AM

            Charleston Grill has a lovely jazz trio several nights a week. It's a wonderful experience to eat there. I would go.

            FIG is overrated.

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            Charleston Grill
            224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

            1. re: uptown jimmy
              Jeff C. Aug 30, 2011 06:04 AM

              Was at FIG week before last while visiting Charleston. It was one of the top three dining experiences of my life, one of those dinners where you eat a course and think,"there's no way they could top that"...and then they do. We started with exemplary cocktails. Wife had the Marfa Daisy, with tequila and grapefruit bitters. I had the special of the day, which was the smoothiest bourbon-based cocktail I've ever had. Next came the coddled egg, which was cloudlike in texture but full of rich briny crab goodness. The we had the Tomato Tarte Tatin with a pillow-like goat cheese. (I don't know where Chef Lata gets his produce, but I've never had tomatoes like these anywhere.) For an entree we shared a grouper preparation nestled on a bed of what I can only describe as a kind of southern take on ratatouille. (Tomatoes, eggplant, hen-of-the-wood mushrooms, vidalia onion.) FIG's use of produce, in particular, goes way beyond anything else I've had in Charleston. We finished off with coffee and a sorghum sticky toffee cake with malt ice cream your momma would make every Christmas...if your momma were a creative and culinary genius. An exemplary meal, start to finish. Best service of the trip, too. (Ask for Johanna, pronounced with a "Y.")

        2. p
          PeterB Aug 29, 2011 06:16 PM

          Amen St. and Pearlz are both good choices for a casual seafood dinner. Nearby on East Bay Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) has awesome food and is a great choice. I've also really come to like Cafe Cru. For true fine dining Peninsula Grill is a memorable experience. I haven't eaten at Fleet landing but the chatter I've heard is that you go there for the water view more than the food.

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          Slightly North of Broad
          192 East Bay St., Charleston, SC 29401

          Peninsula Grill
          112 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401

          1 Reply
          1. re: PeterB
            m
            mollybelle Aug 29, 2011 09:49 PM

            As much as I love Pearlz,Amen Street definitely is a better fit with the other venues and a good value.

            I probably shouldn't speak on High Cotton,since I've only been to the Greenville location.Up here HC has become the "go to" business dinner spot.Maybe thats the problem,it makes me feel like I'm at work.For me HC is very reliable,(the Greenville location),but lacks a sense of place,you could completely miss its Charleston roots.

            We will be down in a couple of weeks and we plan on hitting Fleet Landing apon rolling into town,another place I haven't been.The bar has been raised so high downtown that I can't imagine a place surviving on a view alone.

            When do we get local oysters back?Will it be by late Sept?

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            Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar
            186 Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401

          2. c
            cstiv Aug 31, 2011 01:18 PM

            So I made my reservations; McCrady's on Thursday night, Amen St on Friday, and High Cotton on Saturday. It was a hard choice because FIG sounded pretty good, but I guess that will give me a reason to come back. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will try to remember to post a report 2.5 months from now when I go.

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

            3 Replies
            1. re: cstiv
              Sue in Mt P Aug 31, 2011 03:59 PM

              I think you'll enjoy all three. Looking forward to your reports.

              mollybelle, you're right about the bar in town being so high! But any place right on the water like that attracts tons of people, especially now that the cruise ship leaves from the dock right next to it.

              The oysters will be in when the water gets colder. I'll keep you posted.

              1. re: Sue in Mt P
                m
                mollybelle Aug 31, 2011 07:07 PM

                Geeze,

                I keep forgetting about that cruiseship thing.Our friends that live/work in town mumble obscenities under their breath when the subject comes up.

                I was at a CYC race a year or so ago and we sailed right past Fleet and it looked like fun so I had it on my list for drinks and apps,Maybe I'll walk in there in dead winter to check it out.

                When fall comes I remember to send the daughter back to town with an empty cooler to hit Crosby's or Stella Maris for the local oysters to bring back to her old dad in Easley.

                Please keep me posted!

                1. re: mollybelle
                  Sue in Mt P Sep 1, 2011 02:32 PM

                  I will. As soon as I hear the Sullivans Fire Department has scheduled a roast, I'll post it on here.

                  Fleet is fine and fun, but don't expect FIG food there. OK, that was alliterate.

            2. c
              cstiv Oct 24, 2011 01:44 PM

              So my trip is rapidly approaching (Nov 10-13), and after revisiting my dining selections (McCrady's, Amen St, High Cotton), I'm having some second thoughts. The first thing is that FIG seems to have almost universally good reviews. I cross-referenced the feedback on this site with Yelp and there were some things in there about McCrady's and Amen St that were making me reconsider. Specifically, indifferent service (both places), poor execution (Amen St), oversalted, over-priced, and under-portioned (McCrady's). So my new plan is to go to Pearlz our first night. We get in at 4:30 and I read a lot about what a great happy hour they have, so I thought that would be a good fit for the first night since we will be looking for something to do around 5. My wife and I are in our early 30s and like a lively bar scene so it sounded up our alley. Also, we have two other somewhat expensive dinners in FIG and High Cotton, so I'm looking for some relief for my wallet. I'm probably overthinking this, as there seem to be a lot of good options to fit into a 3 day weekend. We are going to need lunch on Friday, and I think we will get brunch on Sunday (our flight is at 4), so any suggestions you have are very much appreciated. Thanks.

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

              5 Replies
              1. re: cstiv
                Jeff C. Oct 24, 2011 02:25 PM

                You will love FIG. Mike Lata is the most creative chef on the peninsula, IMO.

                1. re: cstiv
                  m
                  mollybelle Oct 24, 2011 04:43 PM

                  Go to Dave's Carry Out on Friday for lunch!

                  1. re: cstiv
                    b
                    By the Sea Oct 26, 2011 07:39 AM

                    Good choice opting for FIG! And yes Fleet landing is strictly for drinks and view.

                    Suggestions for lunch on Friday: If you are in the market area there is Cru Cafe just two blocks off of Market St. Everyone I take there always loves the food and atmosphere. You can eat on the porch if it's warm enough. Suggest calling ahead for reservations as it's very popular with locals and isn't that big so it can get filled up fast. Caviar and Bananas has a place in the enclosed part of the city market and also a location on George St, just off King in case you are on King Street taking in some retail therapy. It's set up like a in eat gourmet grocery and the food is quite good. You might also try Sermets at the corner of King and Wentworth. Some of the recent YELP reviews have not been kind to Sermets but imho the food is quite good for lunch and I love the artsy atmosphere.
                    You're coming at a beautiful time of year...enjoy!

                    1. re: cstiv
                      danna Oct 27, 2011 07:26 AM

                      I absolutely think you're doing the right thing to include FIG.

                      I have been to neither Charleston's branch of High Cotton (because I don't like the one in Greenville) nor McCrady's since the new heralded chef took over. So I obviously shouldn't opine....but I'm in a hurry to try McCrady's. To me Husk showed signs of brilliance but didn't quite come together....things I read make me think McCrady's may get more attention to the actual food vs. the "southern - grown" concept. OK...truth is...i just want your review ;-)

                      Anyhow, check out the current (cartoon issue) New Yorker. Long article about Sean Brock and his obsession with heirloom seeds and other food. Warning...there's a picture of a piglet that may ruin bacon for me for years to come. Soft hearted carnivores should avoid.

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

                      1. re: danna
                        w
                        wreckers00 Nov 10, 2011 09:56 PM

                        Hope this gets to you in time.

                        Here's my point: eat at McCrady's. I have no doubt this was better than many Michelin-starred meals I've had before. It's delicious and creative and not over salted or really underportioned for the $ value (although I'm used to NYC prices)

                        I'd also try Husk for lunch or brunch if you get a chance. It's just very very good southern food.

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

                    2. t
                      tbonef Nov 8, 2011 10:23 AM

                      Here's another option for a great Happy Hour- Carolina's. it is an upscale historic restaraunt with a great $5 menu for happy hour and deals on all wine. It is next to Charleston Beer Exchange if you want to pick up something interesting for your hotel room later. I like the bar and the scene at both Pearlz and Amen but wouldn't sit at a table for a full meal at either.
                      Skip Fleet Landing. Music and scene at both Charleston Grill and High Cotton are nice and old school. You may consider saving a bit and bellying up to the High Cotton Bar for their Happy Hour Bar Menu and enjoy the Music and Discounted Drinks. They also have some tables in the bar area to enjoy these specials.
                      As far as my favorite raw bar experience it would have to be Hanks. You get what you pay for when it comes to raw seafood I believe.
                      Fig is a good choice but allow time.
                      Have you considered Husk? A table might be difficult but the bar next door is VERY cool. McGrady's Chef Brock is chef here. All local regional food sourcing and modern but not stuffy.

                      One final word of caution- skip the oyster shooter if you go to Pearlz.. Cheap warm vodka wreck the oyster. It made a couple of must do lists and I gave it a try. I regret that decision deeply ( hours of bad taste memories!).
                      ENJOY!

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                      Charleston Grill
                      224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

                      Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar
                      186 Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401

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