Charleston Trip Report, 4/13-4/17
We had an amazing trip to CHS! The eating definitely rivaled our trips to NOLA and Barcelona -- it was that good. Before I begin, I should note that we made reservations at Husk, FIG, and Tristan about a month & a half in advance.
Amen Street for late lunch
Dz gulf oysters & 1/2 bull bays
Drank: cucumber infusions (Hendricks)
Comments: Oysters were incredibly fresh and served with a nice vinegar, cocktail sauce & horseradish. The calamari was a bit of a revelation! Thick long pieces of squid lightly battered, and served with this fresh corn salsa. So yummy! Cocktails were refreshing and somewhat cheap at $6 per.
Husk for dinner
Chilled Strawberry Soup w/blue crab
Pecan smoked ribs
Catfish w/stewed tomatoes, kale & beans
Wagyu beef w/mushrooms, spinach & confit potatoes
Drank: Aged Manhattans & a copperhead (absinthe, bitters, citrus)
Comments: The service was surprisingly poor here. The server was brusque and didn't explain much. Something happened with the printer, so we didn't get our pecan rib app until the entrees came out. They did comp us the ribs, at least. The strawberry soup was exciting & memorable. The ribs were delectable. The catfish was delicious, but the stewed tomatoes were my favorite part of the dish. The wagyu beef left my SO somewhat unimpressed and he didn't care for the vinegary marinade on the mushroom & spinach. The strawberry shortcake was yummy but pretty standard and I found the serving dish (a cast-iron pot) kind of strange. Overall a great meal, but it was dragged down by the service.
Tristan for late brunch
Foie gras torchon w/housemade brioche
Buttermilk custard w/truffle popcorn, candied peanuts & pickled blueberries
Crab carbonara x2
Comments: Tristan was the big surprise! I booked it because I wanted a nice relaxing jazz brunch. The service was the best of the whole trip. The baked goods were so good we ate through two baskets and took leftovers back to the hotel for an afternoon snack. The unlimited Mimosas for $10 were a great deal too (fresh squeezed orange juice). Torchon was excellent. Custard was very texturally interesting, though I could’ve done w/out the popcorn and just had more pickled blueberries & peanuts. The crab carbonara was luxurious and a very generous portion.
S.N.O.B. for dinner
NOTE: We’d tried to go to Cru Café for dinner that night, but apparently they’re closed on Sunday nights?! We were surprised to find it shuttered. We tried to go back there for lunch on our last day but had to give up because of an hour & a half long wait. Moral – if you want to eat at Cru Café, be prepared to wait & check the hours first.
Braised Oxtail & gnocchi
Stuffed quail w/buttermilk fried quail legs & greens
Duck breast w/honey thyme reduction & Carolina gold rice pilaf
Wholly Cow vanilla ice cream
Drank: Quattro Mani (white wine)
Comments: The place was packed and we had no reservation, but we managed to be seated within 5 minutes (party of two). Good service but not exceptional (everyone seemed a bit harried). The braised oxtail was decent, but the gnocchi was a bit rubbery. My Bibb salad was refreshing and there seemed to be some nice local microgreens in the mix. My stuffed quail had a nice crispy skin, but the stuffing was a bit wet. The favorite part of my dish were the fried quail legs – yum! The duck breast was also good, but not outstanding. We had a very decent meal here, but felt that is was a trifle overpriced for what we got. A highlight was a simple bowl of Wholly Cow vanilla ice cream that we split at the end.
Closed for Business for lunch
Pork slap sandwich – country ham on top of a porkchop
Cobb salad with fried chicken
Drank: local beer flight for him, Son of A Peach on draft for her
Comments: We just randomly walked in here for a late lunch after our boat tour. I’m so glad we did! We had an excellent beer-y lunch. The onion rings were INSANELY good after a boat ride – thin cut and freshly battered & fried. I didn’t get to try his pork slap sandwich because he ate it so fast, but the French fries that came with were also the perfect texture and seasoned well (they had a great person working the fryer that afternoon). My Cobb salad was huge!! The plate was 6 inches wide and filled to capacity with fresh veggies. I gotta admit that the best part were the chicken bites. They were like better Chick-Fil-A nuggets. This place has a ton of beers on tap, so definitely stop by if you appreciate a cold brew. I thoroughly enjoyed my Son of a Peach and I’m more of a whiskey-drinker.
Fig for dinner
Coddled Farm Egg w/stone crab & chive
Ricotta gnocchi w/lamb Bolognese & shaved parm
Grilled swordfish w/eggplant caponata
Rapini for shared side veg
Drank: 3 different cocktails and they were so amazing/effective I forgot to write them down
Comments: As it happened, we saved the best for last. Our meal at Fig was hands-down the best. First course (the coddled farm egg) was so incredibly delicious that I didn’t think anything could top it. And then, the most amazingly light & flavorful gnocchi I’ve ever had followed. The egg was served in a small creuset pot. The texture was so silken; the crab and seafood flavors were perfectly married. It vaguely reminded me of chawan mushi I had in Japan, if that chawan mushi was made richer by the best buttery/creamy binding. The gnocchi was a revelation and the lamb Bolognese was perfectly rich and tasty (it’s making my mouth water writing about it now). The tart rapini was the ideal accompaniment to the rich gnocchi dish. He got the swordfish and once again I only got a bite of his eggplant caponata. He was very pleased as well. We wanted to take this restaurant home with us to Brooklyn.
When we go back, I want to eat here:
Dave’s Carryout for fried seafood – recommended to us by our pedicabber & it has great Yelp reviews
Grocery – great reviews and local rep
Carolina’s – recommended by our walking tour guide, seems to be a good local spot
…and a trip to Mount Pleasant!
That's my kind of vacay! Thank you for reviewing them all so thoroughly. It's so helpful when making recs for others.
FIG is my hands-down favorite as well. SO glad you liked it. Put Anson on your list for next time. When you decide to come to Mt P, let me know.
re: Sue in Mt P
Yes, thanks for the reviews. It helps so much when one gives the details.
Sue, I'm going to Mt. P this weekend. Where would you recommend for dinner and a breakfast? I've been to the Old Village Post House several times, and to the Wreck, and have had several breakfasts at Charleston's. Would love to know what else I should try.
If you haven't been to Atlanticville, you might want to try it. It's one of my all time favorites.
Red Drum and it's sister, Next Door are both great. Red Drum has great brunch and a nice outdoor patio.
Basil is a popular Thai restaurant and right across from it is Opal. I haven't been to Opal yet, but my friends really like it.
Let us know what you pick!
re: Sue in Mt P
Thanks for reminding me about Red Drum. I meant to go there last time, but our hours didn't mesh with the restaurant's. I will plan on going this time. I won't do Basil, because they have a location in Charlotte, so I can eat their food here. I might consider Opal, though.
Any breakfast recommendations? It has to be a true breakfast (early), not a brunch, as I have an event to go to mid-morning. The meals I have available on this trip are two dinners and two breakfasts.
re: Sue in Mt P
I'll echo the others' thanks for those details. Sound's like a great trip.
Isn't FIG amazing? I find it interesting that the media is falling all over themselves about Husk, when FIG is close by and so quietly divine.
I have got to try Tristan. I keep passing it up because of it's location,but clearly it is NOT a tourist place.
My sister lives in Mt Pleasant - need to visit her more! I received the 'Tasting Table' email blast yesterday and it featured a restaurant in Charleston I have not heard of before - Two Boroughs Larder - (the email featured a recipe from there - Roasted Cauliflower' cooked like a steak. It looked really tempting. Has anyone been or heard anything?
Two Boroughs is a great little restaurant/bar/grocery (really a restaurant and bar, you can get some organic meat,etc there too)--very casual but very 'hip kitchen-feel'. It's next door to Dave's Carryout, and the two cannot be so different, but they both fit the neighborhood.
I just bought a house a block away so I'll be excited to be a regular at those two places!