Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dinnertime In Charleston

Just like I said in my post about the lunches we enjoyed in Charleston, it was hard to find a bad place to have dinner and luckily, we didn't! Everywhere we ate was very good and I would highly recommend. Again, reservations are basically necessary.

The first night it was cold and raining, so my mom and I chose to have dinner at the restaurant right next to our hotel, 82 Queen. I do have to say that the bill was on the higher end and we were a little nervous that every meal was going to come to $100, but they didn't. The restaurant is upstairs from the bar area, and you have to walk outside for a few seconds to get up there. It seemed a little iffy in the rain, but I guess they're used to these types of setups with so many restaurants being set up in former homes. It's what gives them charm!
The ambiance was intimate and quiet. You can enjoy a celebratory meal or a nice night out with friends and family here.

She crab soup is "the thing" in Charleston and 82 Queen is said to have the best, so my mom got a cup as an appetizer and loved it. I was so excited about the local seven salad- okra, carrots, corn, beans, heirloom tomatoes, radishes, greens, hushpuppy croutons and herb dressing. Smallest salad I have ever been served and in my opinion it wasn't worth $10. It was good, but I wouldn't suggest ordering it.
My mom was on a grits kick when we were down there since we don't really have them up in Jersey, so for her first dinner the BBQ shrimp and grits was an obvious choice. It had "southern comfort barbeque sauce," smoked bacon, scallions, and cheddar cheese. It was a good size portion, but maybe not for $27. This restaurant was just a bit on the pricey side.
I got the special catch of the day: pan seared snapper with carrot, spinach, cauliflower citrus, and pistachio. The funny thing is that it literally said "carrot" on the menu and that's what you got.. one carrot. The dish was really good and was totally worth it. The side portion wasn't very filling, but it was a large piece of fish for $28.

I met my friend, Lauren, for dinner on Tuesday night at her other favorite restaurant (Cru Cafe was the first), Blossom. Blossom is a sister restaurant of Magnolias and Cyprus. I can definitely see why this is a favorite of hers and it made it so much better since I got to see her! Lauren doesn't really come home much, even during the summer, so it was crazy when we realized we hadn't seen each other since New Years Eve 2012-2013. 

The front section when you first walk in. The restaurant has so much more seating behind where I took the picture from.

Reunited! We used to be inseparable
I didn't want to be obnoxious by taking pictures of everyone's food since I was more wrapped up in enjoying the time with my friend, so I just have a picture of my meal. My mom got a caesar salad to start (they're her thing) and the small plate cast iron scallops and grits (I told you that she loves grits)- white cheddar grits, creamy charred corn, leeks, bacon lardons, and beer mustard beurre blanc. The portion size was actually perfect for one person as an entree.
Lauren got the vegetarian meatballs with a parsnip puree, tomato and roasted garlic. It came with two (or three?) larger sized meatballs and this was also a perfect entree for one person. She got the sautéed spinach on the side and couldn't even finish it all.
I got the oven roasted salmon with Mepkin Abbey mushrooms, sautéed zucchini, and tomato broth with a side of sautéed spinach as well. Salmon is one of my new favorites as I've mentioned in other posts, and this dish was so good. I love everything it came with, too, so that was an added bonus!
Blossom restored our faith in normal priced restaurants, too. Coming from NYC, I always get told that food is so expensive somewhere and then when I get there I'm pleasantly surprised at how cheap it is because a $25 pasta dish that comes with no meat is the norm for me. After hearing nothing about Charleston prices we just assumed it would be average, but after 82 Queen we got a little nervous. For the salad, 2 small plates, 1 entree, and 2 sides, the bill came to about $95 with tip. Not bad at all!

The last meal my mom and I enjoyed might have been one of the best. High Cotton is always one of the first places people tell you to go, but for brunch. Brunch is such a big thing down there, according to concierge Neil, that they do it on Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately we weren't there over the weekend, so we decided to try it for dinner. Originally we had reservations at Hanks, but at this point we'd about had it with seafood. High Cotton had so much seating in multiple rooms. The decor was great and it was very intimate, but not too romantic. It was quieter when we went around 9 pm, but since there are so many tables it's probably safe to assume that when it's full it's loud. 

Mommy & I about to enjoy our last meal out in Charleston.
I started with the Ambrose Farms kale minestrone with olive oil & garlic croutons. I'm not much of a soup person, but I love soups where I can drain the broth off of the spoon and have something of substance. When I saw kale I knew I had to at least try it, but I ended up finishing it because it was so good!
My mom got the braised short rib cavatelli and couldn't even finish it because they give you so much. The description says "roasted parsnip cream, braising jus reduction, charred lemon parsley salad." I know.. you're probably drooling now. You should be.
Aside from fish I'm not much of a meat person (I know.. meat isn't fish. It is in my book). I loved that they had tofu on the menu and everything it came with was amazing. There were 2 huge blocks of pan seared cashew crusted tofu over sautéed spinach, eggplant caponata, ratatouille vinaigrette, and topped with baby watercress. I can't even begin to describe how delicious the eggplant caponata was. And I hate olive, which are usually in caponata, but not this one! The spinach was amazing and the chopped veggies (I guess those would be the ratatouille?) were a great addition. But seriously, the eggplant.. oh my. I dream about it.
High Cotton was a great way to end the trip, so I'm glad we chose to go there and got reservations. Even though people will tell you that you have to go there for brunch, I really recommend dinner in addition! 

Eating in Charleston was truly an awesome experience and there are so many more places I'd love to try when I go, but it will be difficult because I fell in love with some dishes I had on my trip. Don't stress over checking Yelp reviews or anything because as I've stated a million times, good luck finding under-par food. It's safe to say that when a tofu dish blows you out of the water, there's not much worry to be had when choosing a restaurant if they're all consistent. The biggest concern you should have is getting reservations. 

Every Charleston restaurant I went to used OpenTable and I have to app, so it was super convenient! It took about a minute to make reservations and then I could easily import all of the information into my calendar. If you're living in the 21st century and have a smartphone and live in an area with a lot of restaurants, make an OpenTable account and download the app. You can accumulate points, too! So worth it.

If you're going to Charleston- happy eating! If you aren't planning on going just book your trip now. You'll love it! Three or four days is the perfect amount of time to spend in this gorgeous, tiny, quirky, quaint city.


Beverly Schmidt said...

Nice post Trish! My mouth is watering and now I want to visit Charleston (The eggplant caponata dish looks AMAZING!!!!

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