I ventured to Caviar and Bananas in search of a light cafe-style brunch that would be ideal for a regular hangout spot. Despite the high influx of college students the cafe had an impressively sophisticated vibe. The barista introduced me to their kombuchas on tap for the day one for “fire”, which had more ginger, and one for “water”, which had more fruit. Additionally, I ordered their sweet potato and egg hash which was a good portion size to not be over full, but still not be hungry until lunch. The hash was seasoned with cinnamon and other warm spices which made it have a autumn-like flavor. The eggs were poached to where they were runny, but not completely liquid on the inside.
In anticipation for my program her in Charleston to start, all the interns gathered at The Blind Tiger which is one of the oldest buildings in the city. We sat down and began to chat and I order the Palmetto Brewing Co. Amber Ale which was fantastic, the glasses were plastic but looked glass and made me mis-estimate the weight of my drink repeatedly. That’s neither here, nor there. I ordered the Caprese Sandwich because nothing makes me happier than a ton of tomatoes on mozzarella. The sandwich itself was fine, I thought it was salty but I’m over-sensitive to salt so I am biased. There was only one tomato on the entire sandwich and possibly no basil at all. It did have a wonderful creamy spread on the bread which I really enjoyed. The mozzarella was good and fairly thinly sliced. I would have appreciated more tomato, and when I go again I might ask for extra.
I was lucky enough to notice Inadco’s post about it being their fourth anniversary on their Instagram page. They were advertising a three course meal for $35. So I rallied my friends and made a reservation for the night. Upon arriving, I received a menu and the waitress explained how the night would work. I could pick an appetizer or a pizza, a pasta or an entree, and a dessert. I ordered the Mushroom Pizza,Gnocchi with Lump Crab, and Sweet Corn Panna Cotta. The pizza was hot out of the over upon arrival. It has been cooked in a stone oven, so it had the characteristic crunchy crust. The garlic flavor was phenomenal and the mushrooms gave it an interesting flavor. The gnocchi was handmade, soft, and almost creamy. Loads of crab was mixed in with a rich creamy sauce. The panna cotta reminded me of Mexican flan, without the caramel. Instead of caramel, there were blueberries that had been put in a syrup and shortbread crumbles. Over all, the meal was definitely worth the price. For my next visit I will probably settle for one of the pizzas because it was easily the bast pizza I have had since moving here.
I had heard from many people that the Vendue was a cool place to go for both their food and their drinks. What truly got my attention was the lobster roll. I had not been able to find a place with a good lobster roll since I left D.C. last summer! The restaurant does not take reservations, which makes me anxious about being able to get a table. Thankfully, I arrived fairly soon after they opened and was seated before others started to come in. The rooftop area is situated amongst other tall buildings preventing it from having the view of Pour Taproom and The Watch, but I was able to sit in such a way that I could look out at Waterfront Park. I, of course, ordered the lobster roll with a side of fries and asked for a basil strawberry lemonade to drink. The lobster roll was delectable. The meat was covered in a light dressing and had scallions throughout which provided a crunch to break up the texture. The roll was fresh and had been slightly toasted. Exactly what I was looking for in my lunch!
A friend was in town visiting and had brought her dog along. Naturally, I looked for a location we could hang out at with her furry friend. Poogan’s Porch was the obvious choice since it is known for the pup that used to sit on the porch. They were extremely friendly and set us up at a table on the back porch. They brought out biscuits with honey butter prior to our food. They were really good and homemade with a solid crust on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. I order Pimento and Cheese Fritters and She Crab Soup as my entree. The fritters were admittedly a little on the cool side, but still had a good flavor with the green tomato jelly they were served with. The soup was my first taste of the type and it reminded me of clam chowder, which since they’re basically the same thing it made a lot of sense. So over all the atmosphere was great, the food was just okay.
Pimento Cheese Fritters
She Crab Soup
By far the prettiest view I have enjoyed in Charleston so far! I counted ten, I repeat TEN steeples from my vantage point! A friend of mine recommended I try their fish tacos as my meal. They were impressively good, none of the store-bought tortillas and stale, wilted cabbage that you get from your typical restaurant joint. The tortillas were fresh, the fish was still warm and in big chunks. The cabbage was crisp and tossed in a creamy dressing with some red bell peppers that gave it a sweet and spicy crunch. I asked for sweet potato fries as my side. They were great! Crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside. The fries had just enough salt that they paired well with the ketchup, creating a salty-sweet melody. I also had a drink that I can’t remember the name of gin, grapefruit, and lavender were in it and I promise it was good.
Vegetable Benny, also known as my new favorite meal. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of this small cafe and the way it is a little off the beaten path from the hustle of King Street. My benny was a fresh english muffin, not toasted. At first I was unsure what I thought about the soft english muffin because I was so used to having my eggs Benedict assembled on what could only be described as flour-made hockey pucks. There was a hearty smear of goat cheese that provided a good deal of flavor to the dish, topped with steamed spinach, a fairly raw, but small enough to be tender, mushroom cap, a perfectly poached egg, and delicious herby Hollandaise sauce. The grits were not actually vegetarian, but thankfully neither am I. They had a large amount of flavor from chicken broth. I find it interesting that restaurants here do not use cream cheese in their grits. That was extremely common in Mississippi restaurants to give the grits a good mouth-feel and a smooth texture. The mimosas were what we call “Oxford style” in Mississippi. They consisted of a bottle of champagne with just enough orange juice to make them orange. The orange juice was fresh and had a good amount of pulp.
Today I ventured to the infamous white duck taco truck, excited to see what imaginative tacos they were dreaming up in the bright blue building with a white duck painted on the side. I was thrown off-balance when I saw that most of the tacos had a distinct not-mexican feel to them. Most of the tacos seemed be Thai or Japanese. Being all for trying new things, I ordered the Triple Salsa appetizer ($3.95) and the Bangkok Shrimp taco ($3.95). I also got a margarita to drink because I had been craving one for three days at this point. The margarita was good, a little too sweet, but it satisfied my craving. The salsa came out almost as soon as I took my seat. Of the three salsas there was the traditional red, a creamy, and a salsa verde. The red salsa was very fresh and just chunky enough to have a pleasing texture. It had a bit of a sweet flavor to it that I eventually decided was smoked paprika. The creamy salsa was my favorite by far! I took the leftovers I had of it home with me for later. Funnily enough, it reminded me of the creamy sauce that Taco Bell puts on their quesadillas. The salsa verde was a new beast that I can’t say I’ve encountered before so I don’t think I could reliably say if it was good or bad. I enjoyed it, but the salsa was extremely spicy. A slightly fizzy, vinegar flavor could be felt on my tongue, almost like the sensation of pop-rocks, but spicy, not sweet. The taco came out in a timely manner and was plated in an attractive way. I could see the battered fried shrimp along the bottom, topped with a chili aioli and sesame glaze. Marinated cucumbers provided a subtle crunch and a little greenery to the taco. The flavor was extremely unusual to me. Thai-cucumber-crunchy shrimp-corn tortillas was just not a combination I could get behind. Granted, the quality and appearance of everything deserved five stars. So, though I did not like the specific taco I got, I look forward to visiting again to try a new taco. Towards the end of my meal, I positively wanted something sweet to send me off. I got the Chocolate Pot de la Creme with Pistachio Crust and it was delicious! The chocolate had the sweet spicy notes that come from traditional Mexican chocolate dishes. Cinnamon, chili powder, and other spices combined to make a flavor I can best relate as Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. It was topped with homemade whipped cream and the pistachio crust provided a crunch to the dish.
I could not emphasize enough how I came across this place completely by accident. I was in search of a vaguely public, but not gross, restroom, and was considering venturing into a Hyatt on King Street. As I walked up a waiter from pour approached me and suggested I visit the rooftop bar. The “highest rooftop bar in all of Charleston” he boasted. So, of course, I responded “Do they have a restroom?” and stepped in the elevator. After I exited the elevator and made the manic dash to the restroom, I was witness to one of the coolest taproom layouts I had ever experienced. Spouts lined the wall offering everything from red wine, to cocktails, to beer, all available to be poured by oneself. I obviously looked overwhelmed and a friendly bartender approached me to explain the process. Imagine a gas station, but for drinks. The system at the time was not completely up and functioning, they had only been open two days, but she gave me a tutorial using her employee wristband. Eventually a band will be issued to everyone upon entry, it will have your own personal code, you walk to the drink you want, touch the screen, show you wrist, choose a size, and pour yourself a drink. I went for the beers. They keep about 50 on draft with IPAs, Belgian, Light, and Sour. The bartender let me sample her favorites from each category and I settled for a sour beer, Monks Cafe, by the brewery of the same name. The beer had the perfect acidic balance without being overwhelming. After pouring my beer, I went out to see the rooftop area, did my usual game of counting steeples (I could see six from this vantage point), and took some time to enjoy the city from a bird’s eye view.
This experience was a hidden gem that I am still surprised I discovered so quickly during my time in Charleston. I was riding in an Uber, and as usual I was chatting the drivers ear off about food. He mentioned R Kitchen and how it can be completely booked up for months. So, I, of course, immediately began looking into how the restaurant worked. So the low down is it is a kitchen, not a restaurant. It is a 16 top facility indoors with another larger outdoor area in the back. The kitchen has a number of chefs, which I understood are on some type of rotation, and occasional guest chefs. The chef designs a five course meal, which can be altered to fit certain dietary needs, such as vegetarianism, but essentially everyone who comes sits to the same meal. An overhead price is determined, my meal was $30, and the chef cooks the meal in front of you. I found this experience to be extremely unique, the closeness in which you see the chef working allows for banter and conversation to develop among you, the chef, and the others in attendance. Our chefs, whose names I do not remember, were easily the most accoladed individuals I have ever had cook for me. The head chef was trained in sushi preparation and placed second on an episode of Chopped. Her assistant chef was a corporate chef prior to working at R kitchen. The meal I ate consisted of a Taco Taco, Gordita, Ahi Tuna Lettuce Wrap, Summerjack, and a Flourless Chocolate Tart over Strawberry Whipped Cream with Bacon Gelato. Taco Taco was a play on words of sorts that I did not completely understand. I believe “taco” or “tako” might be a name for octopus in regards to sushi. Either way it was an octopus taco on a homemade corn tortilla with an angel hair slaw, and a traditional Spanish tomato-olive sauce. The Gordita was a thicker corn tortilla, somewhat like an english muffin, that was stuffed with pulled pork, Mexican style not barbecue style, and a red cabbage slaw. Ahi Tuna has to be one of my favorite fish. This was an exceptional dish. The lettuce wrap served as the base and held the rice, persimmon, green apple, brie mixture that set the fruity light flavor for the rest of the dish. The ahi tuna wash placed atop the rice and garnished with a sweet onion reduction. Summerjack was a new fish for me to experience, and it was superb. it was served on a corn, black bean, avocado, and salsa mixture. The dessert was perfect. It was fudgy and sweet, but not sugary. The gelato was creamy and the bacon fit in surprisingly well. At the end we had what the chefs called a “Manchego Moment” and we sat around relishing a bite of the quality cheese that was used to garnish some of the dishes.
Want to visit? Here’s the link- http://www.rutledgekitchen.com