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Last question about Charleston...

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The trip is next week. Most everything is planned out. Drive down Tuesday, stop at Wilber's for BBQ. Tuesday night reservation at McCrady's. Wednesday breakfast at Hominy Grill - if there's room for lunch, then Middleton Plantation. Wednesday dinner at The Ordinary. Thurs lunch (skipping breakfast) at SNOB, dinner at FIG. Depart Fri, hit McCabe's and Blackbeard's on the way back home.

At Hominy Grill, I'd like to indulge in my southern favorites - chicken biscuit and shrimp and grits. At The Ordinary - baked oysters with battarga, grouper head terrine, amberjack schnitzel, razor clams, etc. Interesting ingredients and/or interesting preparation. At SNOB - fried chicken livers, maverick shrimp & grits, fried chicken & watermelon salad, etc. Interesting take on southern cuisine. FIG - razor clams, chicken liver pate, clam and corn chowder, and fish stew. Interesting ingredients and/or interesting preparation.

The problem is that I don't find McCrady's/Husk to be all that interesting based on their menus. I have no desire to eat beef, pork or chicken. In a pinch, I'll eat lamb or duck. I also don't enjoy fish as much as shellfish. Overall, I'm not sure I need to do a Brock restaurant if I'm not feeling it. So what are the alternatives? My traveling buddy suggested Bowen Island Restaurant for some simple grilled oysters? That actually sounds like a good time. I was thinking MacIntosh because of their menu.

Can someone put me out of my misery - either tell me I have to visit a Brock joint or say Brock is way overrated and there's better food in SC.

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  1. I highly recommend MacIntosh. The meal I had there recently blew me away so much more so than McGrady's or Husk ever did. Don't get me wrong, there's lots to love about both, but MacIntosh was new and fresh and so well executed that it was a damn near perfect dining experience.

    I'm not sure they'll have local fresh oysters that early in September. If it's oysters you want though, and you want to keep it simple and light, hit up the bar at Pearlz for freshly shucked oysters from the east & west coasts. Pretty good prices and a nice variety.

    1. I have two questions for you:
      You mention Bowen Island as having Grilled Oysters
      I thought(never been) that they had only oysters that You have to shuck
      Does the Ordinary have a Happy Hour?
      We are going to Charleston soon
      Thanks

      2 Replies
      1. re: mustardgirl

        The oysters at Bowen's are small cluster oysters that are steamed and served on big cafeteria-style trays. Therefore you do a little of the "shucking" work yourself but they come out of the shell easily b/c they are steamed.

        I loved Bowen's but keep in mind it is a super rustic experience - plastic cups, limited menu, cheap beer, wine and liquor, unmemorable sides, order at the counter (and be there when they open or be prepared to wait in line), etc. pretty much the polar opposite of a Brock restaurant. Which may be fun! just know what you're going for - a laid-back beach experience!

        1. re: mustardgirl

          I meant roast oysters, as described by miss piggy.

          I have no idea whether The Ordinary has a happy hour.

        2. Would love to hear others' feedback on Middleton Place Restaurant. I didn't even realize it existed, but apparently it has quite a history that involves Edna Lewis.

          1. Going to Bowens Island for oysters. Bringing my shucking knife!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Worldwide Diner

              Be prepared for oyster clusters. We never ate clusters at home in NC, but that's about all you find around Charleston.

              Not saying hey are bad, but they certainly are not like eating good, fat singles from North River...or the holy grail of Chincoteague, VA.

            2. I just can't believe the local oysters will be available early in September.Bowen's is local oysters only.The fried shrimp are great, but Bowen's without oysters is like Vegas without...

              I'd call ahead for sure.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mollybelle

                Will call tomorrow.

                1. re: mollybelle

                  Makes sense. Just realized their trip is next week!

                  1. re: JayL

                    It starts today!

                2. Do not go to Bowens Island!

                  Do go to the Ordinary:
                  Lobster Roll, Oyster sliders, fish stew

                  McCradys:
                  Eat soup and apps at the bar. Do not miss dessert. The pastry chef is amazing.

                  Husk - bar for cheeseburger

                  Another option for dinner - . Two Boroughs Larder or Indaco (new place from Steve Palmer). Indaco is across the street from the MacIntosh. Have apps at MacIntosh and dinner at Indaco.

                  Lunch - Twenty Six Divine. Go and thank me later. Hidden gem. Stop by Christoph's Pastry (Society and King) for desserts

                  1. A bit of a debacle yesterday that ended decently. First I canceled our McCrady's reservation because I thought we were going to Bowen's Island. Then no one answered the phone at Bowen's Island all day, even after 5 p.m. So we went to Anson for roasted oysters, fried oysters, shrimp & grits, clams with "lambcetta", and fries. The oysters without all the garbage on top was delicious. I never did like cornmeal dusted fried oysters. The grits were creamy, smooth, and tasted great. The clam sauce was a little too salty.

                    After some beers at Craftsmen Kitchen and Taphouse, $3 for 8 oz pours is an awesome way to try many beers, we went to the MacIntosh. Wanted to go to The Grocery for bone marrow brûlée but it was too far to walk.

                    Had rabbit gnudi, deep fried sweetbread, and bone marrow bread pudding. That bread pudding tasted like butter. I only had a couple of small bites. The sweetbread was wonderful but the accompanying sauce was too salty. The gnudi was pretty good. Tried an interesting local beer that was sour and salty, Gose by Westbrook Brewry.

                    1. Hominy Grill was rather disappointing. The chicken in the biscuit was rather dry and the sausage gravy had green and red peppers which didn't do much for me. Even the biscuit was rather dry. The shrimp and grits were terrific though. The grits were chunkier than Anson but the shrimp were also bigger.

                      Didn't eat much at Middleton, a cup of crab soup and fried chicken liver. Nothing special.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                        I'm enjoying your real time updates. I predict you'll be happier tonight and tomorrow. I'm sorry you canceled McCrady's, but it sounds like you did OK. Did you go to Anson and Macintosh in the same evening? If you're ever at Macintosh again, be sure to order a salad...my favorite stuff there has been veggetation ;-)

                        Hominy Grill is dsappointing because of the ridiculous amount of press they have gotten. It's a good place, it's just hard not be disappointed in something so over hyped.

                        1. re: danna

                          We did Anson and MacIntosh last night. We're doing The Ordinary and will pop in The Grocery for bone marrow brûlée tonight.

                          1. re: danna

                            I was at Hominy Grill on Monday for lunch and it was, as usual, fantastic as a southern meat n' three place. I defy anyone to find locally-caught fish and southern sides prepared so perfectly while remaining straight-forward. The wreckfish entree I had was just amazing. I give a lot of credit to Mike Lata at FIG and Hominy Grill for popularizing what, 10 years ago, was considered "bycatch"/trash fish but is now put to good use (and in my opinion, tastes better than grouper, snapper, etc.). The she-crab soup was also off the hook (you could actually see the she-crab roe). I never quite understood why people go for Hominy as a breakfast/brunch place with they really shine in the farm- and sea-to-table category using traditional lowcountry recipes and high quality ingredients.

                            1. re: mikeh

                              It fits our schedule?

                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                I think mikeh was responding to Danna's comments regarding the quality of the experience at Hominy Grill, not responding to your request for itinerary assistance. Threads often go off in directions not requested, nor intended, by the OP.

                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                  10-4. Wasn't criticizing Worldwide Diner. Just reiterating that it's much better for a lunch/dinner place than breakfast. I wouldn't waste my time there for breakfast nor recommend that anyone does. It's just interesting how it's known much more for breakfast than lunch/dinner when it's a worthwhile destination for the latter in its own right, and not even so much for the former.

                                  When Anthony Bourdain went there for breakfast and then Jestine's for lunch, I was screaming at the TV that he had done screwed up.

                              2. re: mikeh

                                I am with you Mikeh we always push until lunch if we want hominy grill. I like it and it is worth it to me if I only get the tomato pudding! That said... I had the big nasty on my way to Orlando last week and it was perfect....but I only eat there if I actually confirm that chef stehling is on site.

                                1. re: LaLa

                                  My one complaint is that they were out of the chocolate pudding by 12:45 p.m. lunch service. My wife was heartbroken after traveling across the country and anticipating that as the dessert highlight of the trip. I got my sought-after buttermilk pie and her pecan pie was pretty amazing too, but there was still that disappointment.

                                  1. re: mikeh

                                    Lol...my husband feels the same about the chocolate pudding! I am always about the buttermilk pie too!

                                    1. re: LaLa

                                      Oooooh, Husk's buttermilk pie is to die for. Damn LaLa, why'd you have to mention buttermilk pie? Now I have a serious case of the wants. <sigh> ;)

                          2. The Ordinary was actually extraordinary. We started with two crudos/ceviches, octopus and lobster. The octopus is particularly amazing because it was very tender but not mushy. Those were followed by a dozen oysters. They had 5 varieties and we chose the plumpest for the "Moscow," which were topped with a little creme fraiche and caviar. Next were oysters bottarga and fried oysters with beef tartare. When I inquired where was the bottarga, I was told it was in the butter. Instead of oysters topped with bottarga, these had breadcrumbs on top. So we asked if they can give us half a dozen baked oysters with shaved bottarga on top, and they said ok. In the mean time we sucked down their oysters bottarga, and then the fried oysters which went really well with the beef tartare. The fried oysters were cornmeal dusted, which isn't my favorite but the tartare softened the texture for me. Next were clams meunière and bbq shrimps. I love clams and these were tasty if not plentiful. The shrimp was unexpected as they were served in a bowl with a sauce. I was expecting shrimp lathered with BBQ sauce. The shrimp also came in different sizes, from small to jumbo. The smaller ones actually had a bit more flavor. The only dish I wouldn't order again would be the shrimp. Finally we got our oysters bottarga, which was very salty because the oysters were briny and the bottarga added more salt. So it made sense that their concept had breadcrumbs, radish strips and bottarga melted in butter.

                            For dessert we went to The Grocery which was across the street. The bone marrow brûlée wasn't on the menu as a standalone dish, but they made it for us anyway. It was a pile of toasted bread, a pile of parsley and celery leaves, a small pile of salt, a small pile of black pepper, and a jar of bone marrow brûlée. I'm not sure what was in the brûlée but I would've preferred just straight up bone marrow.

                            1. This is the last installment, as I am home, sipping a beer.

                              Lunch Thursday was at SNOB. We had their clams (tasty, hard to screw up, and never get tired of them because there are so few of them in an order!!), confit duck leg salad - weird spice rub on the duck leg, heavy hints of cinnamon/nutmeg but devoid of salt, shrimp and grits - it was good but 3 in 3 days was too much (of the 3, Hominy Grill had the best), and reuben sandwich (pretty flavorless). Overall impression of SNOB is that it's overrated.

                              FIG, on the other hand, was as good as The Ordinary (but we preferred the seafood focused joint). Everything was good, chicken liver (pickled tomatoes were great with richness of the liver), beef tartare, clam "chowder", trotters, gnocchi bolognese, tomato tarte tatin, and a side of sauteed greens (kale). My doctor and I both prefer more seafood and less fatty foods.

                              McCabe's was a bargain. Various websites show their hours as opening at 10 but they actually open at 11. All you can eat was only $10, which included some pretty good sides, hush puppy, mac 'n cheese, rice, hash, greens, etc. Unfortunately I thought the pork tough and the chicken, while crispy, was bland without the skin (doctor's orders). Never made it to Blackbeard's.

                              Also got a speeding ticket in NC. I had cruise control on at 75 MPH but the cop said I was doing $80. The ticket had a fine of $30 and court costs of $188. At least I don't have to appear in person or hire a lawyer.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                Strange that McCabe's barbecue was tough...especially since they pull & chop it.

                                Was it in strands/short strands or was is more cubed in appearance?

                                1. re: JayL

                                  Long strands. I'm no BBQ expert and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express but I did watch several episodes of BBQ Pitmaster ;)

                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                    Even more strange for pullable pork to be considered tough.

                                    Strange indeed.

                                2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                  Glad you enjoyed FIG, sorry you didn't order seafood there too...that's what they do most beautifully. Were there not at least 3 fish dishes on the menu?

                                  1. re: danna

                                    There were. I was sharing everything with a friend and we tend to order more appetizers so we can try more stuff. There were several fish entrees that we didn't order.