Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lowcountry Cuisine and Highend Martinis

Trip date: May 2019

It's exciting for a PNW'er like me to go to the south! Of course there is the history, the architecture, the charming accents, but what's really exciting is to get a chance to eat real southern food! Forest and I did a pretty good job of tasting and sipping around town.

On my first night in Charleston, we took an Uber to the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood and had dinner and drinks at Tavern & Table. From the docks you can see the fleets of shrimp boats but we couldn't find any outside seating with a real view of the docks.

We started at the patio bar with a round of martinis made with local gin, and then moved inside for dinner. Everything on the menu sounded great but unfortunately most things were just ok. The pimento cheese with bacon jam was awesome though, and the restaurant was nice enough to package up the the leftovers which I had the next day as a snack!

Before heading home, we stopped at The Gin Joint in the French Quarter. They've got lots of interesting gins, and a great cocktail menu. We both liked the cute little bar quite a bit.
Everyone mentions Rodney Scott BBQ, so we were happy that it was just down the street from our Airbnb. We went for lunch one day and I was looking forward to ribs and sides. But the ribs were tough and my sides of slaw and potato salad were both a sad shade of taupe. Not very appetizing. It was disappointing. But, we did pass these guys delivering a whole hog, and that is something I don't see most days!
That evening we had a lovely dinner at Husk. Reservations here can be tough to get, so plan ahead if it's on your list! We arrived early and started with a drink on their outside patio. The drink menu had some nice bottled options as well as a few interesting punches. Very relaxing.
We were then showed upstairs to our table in the dining room in the historic house. It was a much larger space than I imagined. Dinner was great, I really enjoyed getting to try some very hyper-local products, and things that have been brought back from near extinction, like the bene seeds on the delish dinner rolls.
I'd come back here for fried chicken on the patio (not available in the restaurant) as we saw some folks with it and it looked great!

We finished our evening with cocktails at the new-ish Doar Bros. What a great find this bar is! Excellent cocktails, super fun staff, gorgeous room. We got a little spoiled by the bartender Alex, who was making mini martinis and giving us samples of cocktails. I'd absolutely recommend going here!
One afternoon we stopped into The Dewberry Hotel, to have a refreshing beverage in their lobby bar, aptly named The Living Room.

The mid century-modern lobby offers great drinks, including the namesake Dewberry Daiquiri which uses pineapple rum and sherry, made at the chic 4-seat bar. The french fries were also awesome!

Upstairs, the hotel's rooftop bar  Citrus Club offers a similar menu but a more luxe vibe. Seating is offered inside or out, the outside spots come with incredible views.

Our favorite meal of our trip was lunch at Leon's. It's in an old auto garage and is super fun and casual, with a lot of regulars. Always a good sign. We got a bunch of things to share, including the fried chicken, broiled oysters, black eyed pea salad, scalloped potatoes, shrimp roll, and rosé champagne!
The shrimp roll blew us both away! Leon's is a do-not-miss IMHO.

I also had fried chicken at Jestine's Kitchen for lunch. It was very good, and the service and ambiance are very old school southern. I didn't love my slaw side but that is a personal preference on style (theirs is vinegar based).
We'd seen the local Hat Trick gin around town so decided to visit the High Wire Distillery and taste some of their other products. It's a cool space, and you can order a cocktail before you start your tour. Win.
Just like Husk's concept of using indigenous products, High Wire is using local grains and corn in their spirits. Their Jimmy Red bourbon is probably the most unique, using the rare Jimmy Red corn.
Our favorite product was the rum agricole, unfortunately they are completely sold out!

On our last night we decided to do a little cocktail crawl. Shocker, I know!

First stop, the Barbados inspired Cane Rhum Bar. We had some very good rum drinks here and also some really good food; beef empanadas and chicken coconut curry. A lot of people don't realize that a lot of food in the region originated from both the Gullahs from West Africa and Barbados, which Charleston was a colony of!
 A short Uber away, we stopped into Proof which had been recommended by many. The space was very cool and the cocktail list looked interesting. The bartender was so much more interested in talking to his industry buddy at the bar though, he could hardly be bothered to glance our way.
No cocktail is good enough to put up with rude service, so we were one and done. And I would never recommend this bar. There was no one else even it there!

We walked down King Street to our next recommended stop, Prohibition, but immediately upon entering decided it wasn't what we were in the mood for. There was a line-dance lesson going on and the place was packed with drunk tourists. Nothing against line-dancing or being drunk!

We double backed down the street and went into The Belmont which we had noticed earlier. Their slogan is "a fine place to drink" and I couldn't agree more! Pretty tin ceilings, dapperly-dressed bartenders, a great martini. We loved it.

Last stop of the night was at the newly opened Dalila's, which is just off of King Street on Spring. It's a little gembox of a bar, with a Caribbean vibe to their drink menu and some IG worthy wallpaper. They also make a great martini!

Cheers Charleston, you showed us a great time! 

All Charleston photos here

Previous post from this trip:
Charleston Charms

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