July 29, 2013

Charleston, Part Two: The Ordinary and More

Continuing on with some more food pics from our quick visit to Charleston a couple of weekends ago. We had an excellent meal Saturday night at Mike Lata's newest restaurant, The Ordinary.

Set in a refurbished old bank building, The Ordinary feels huge inside, due in part to the two story high ceilings and oversized windows that throw a lot of light around the large space. I didn't take any pics of the room inside, but my buddy EatItAtlanta did, so see here to get a feel. The Ordinary's menu is a celebration of coastal Carolina food, with nods to the northeast coast of the U.S. as well.
I said in my post on McCrady's that the lamb belly there was the best thing I ate all weekend. Well, the crispy oyster dish with beef tartare pictured above is the other best thing I ate all weekend. The mix of hot, crispy, salty oyster with cool, richness of the raw beef was a near perfect taste and texture experience. Pretty to look at as well.
Standish shore oysters from Duxbury, MA. Awesome.
Smoked trout pate with American caviar.
Our server recommended the mussels, and to be honest, it was probably one of the last things on my mind when I looked at the menu. However, it was a really strong dish, memorable due to the intensely rich, garlic and wine broth. Great with that crusty bread. If I lived in the area, I could see myself eating often at The Ordinary. Should mention also that The Ordinary charges a very reasonable $15 corkage as long as the wine you bring in is not on their list.
The Ordinary on Urbanspoon
We also had lunch during the trip at Two Boroughs Larder. Two Boroughs Larder feels like it would be at home in Decatur. Slightly hippie (in all the best ways), the restaurant serves seasonal local cuisine with well-thought out list of wines and beers. There are also specialty pantry items and tableware on the shelves around the space.
Everything on the always-changing menu sounded great, but I settled on the pork neck sandwich with farro, pickled red onion, heirloom tomato, greens. Served hot with pork jus. Not much to not love in that sandwich.
Daily bowl 'o noodles. It was pouring rain that day, and we arrived soaking wet, so despite the fact that is was Charleston in July, the ramen bowl hit the spot. Benne seeds really adding to the smoky-sesame flavor of the broth.
On the way out of town we stopped at Hominy Grill for brunch.
Low country omelet with Carolina red rice and shrimp gravy. Was good, but just that, and it was time to get of town anyway. We sure ate well in Charleston; I'm already looking forward to my next visit.

July 22, 2013

Charleston, Part One: Husk & McCrady's

I spent a few rainy days in Charleston recently eating and drinking a good bit around town. We had solid meals at every stop. sA few more posts are forthcoming, but I'm starting, for no particular reason, with meals at Husk and McCrady's, two restaurants under the tutelage of James Beard-award winning chef Sean Brock.
Set in a refurbished 18th century Victorian-style home with wrap around rocking-chair porches, walking up to Husk feels as if one is arriving for Sunday dinner at a friend's house (albeit, a friend with a big house). Brock's mission at Husk is fairly simple: low country ingredients (all menu items and products are sourced in the south), prepared thoughtfully in a casual and homey environment on Queen Street in Charleston.
Picture above: The purveyor board hangs on the wall just inside the front door at Husk. A testament to the commitment to source products from local farmers, ranchers, and producers.
Bread service at Husk: Warm rolls topped with the ubiquitous-in-Charleston-benne seeds accompanied by honey butter infused with pork fat. Yes, fat and carbs be damned, you want to eat this bread and butter.
A starter of crostini with pimento cheese, Benton's bacon, and house pickles.
Cross-section of the Husk cheeseburger with 10% Benton's bacon in the grind.
Baked Geechie Boy grits with Mepkin Abbey Oyster mushrooms and cheddar cheese. Decadent, and nap-inducing. Didn't take a picture, but we also had a tasty, seasonal Bibb salad with marinated heirloom tomatoes, Husk ricotta and buttermilk dressing.

Though everything we ate in Charleston was excellent, our best dining experience was undoubtedly at Brock's flagship restaurant McCrady's. Set in a building constructed in the late 1700s that was originally named McCrady's Tavern (yes, one President George Washington ate in this very space centuries ago), there's a provincial seriousness to eating at McCrady's. One can't help but feel some of the history of the room. The numerous wait staff were never too far afoot, ensuring a well-executed dining experience. 
It's dark in McCrady's, so it's tough to take good pictures. I brought my DSLR along, but I just didn't want to be that guy, snapping pics in this setting. I did manage to take some inconspicuous phone pictures.Some pics of the various dishes throughout the course of the night. There was much more, but here's a taste:
 The fish courses: Black Bass w/ shrimp, grilled okra, tomatoes, squash and roasted garlic butter and grouper with roasted Edisto potatoes, carrots, fennel, and whey (below):
From the meat course picture below is duo of lamb (belly and chop), baby leeks, kolhrabi and peach mostardo. The shredded lamb belly (under the veggies) being one the single greatest things I've tasted recently. Incredible. I'm still salivating thinking about it.The chop was barely cooked and delicious. 

And the duo of Berkshire pork with butterbean chow chow, red onions and chanterelles.
A nice touch during the dessert course below, which rounded out an exemplary meal at McCrady's. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.

Husk on Urbanspoon

July 17, 2013

Recent Bites: General Muir, Paper Plane

Stopped by The General Muir for lunch last week. Didn't take many great pics, but the food was tasty.
The deviled eggs. Pretty traditional, I know, but damn, they are tasty. I also had their reuben, which was very good. Friends had the piled-high pastrami which had a nice peppery exterior. I want to eat that again.I hear dinner is quite good at GM as well now.
Also paid another visit to Paper Plane, the coolest watering hole in Decatur, which is an accomplishment in our little town that is now chock full of cool watering holes. The foreign affairs above was referred to by my table mates as the old-man drink of the night. Smelled like a library, and an old suitcase, but in a comforting sort of way. It was a tasty concoction of Alma Reposado Tequila, Rare Wine Company's “New York” Madeira, Amaro Montenegro, and Cherry Heering.
Smoked chicken with pate and brussels sprout hash. Great smoke in the chicken. Could have used a crispier skin, but kudos for the great smoky flavor and juicy interior.
Smoked banana ice cream on warm chocolate cake. Yum.

Paper Plane on Urbanspoon

July 13, 2013

Bocca Lupo

Seems I keep coming up with excuses as to why I am too busy to post on this blog thingy anymore. Chief among those reasons is that blogging is so 2008. That, and I have actually been busy with things that are probably more important than taking pictures of things I eat and drink. I did meet up with a couple of friends at Bocca Lupo in Inman Park the other night. The food was excellent; some really tasty handmade pasta and thoughtful dishes here. If I lived in the neighborhood, I'd be there often.
Prosciutto with house ricotta and pineapple mostardo.
The dish of the night for me. Octopus and mortadella skewers over fava bean salad. A special dish. As good a treatment of octopus as I've had in a while. We had to have two orders. I want more.
Black spaghetti, calabrese sausage, scallions. Solid.
Garganelli, white ragu, field peas, green garlic. Excellent.
Bucatini with smoked bacon, red onion, pomodora sauce. Classic.
We brought some good wines, too. Like this 1994 Vina Bosconia from Lopez de Heredia, a Spanish producer of classic Riojas that are beautiful wines that age gracefully. And, fyi...very reasonable $15 corkage at Bocca Lupo.

BoccaLupo on Urbanspoon

July 1, 2013

Not Yet Dead: Recent Eats and Drinks

Seeing as how it's been two plus weeks since I added anything to this blog, I figured I'd write something so that I don't totally forget how this thing works. Truth is, not sure why I do it anymore, but I can't quite let it go. And June was the busiest month in my recent memory, and unfortunately, not much of that busy-ness had anything to do with food and drinks.
Been digging into craft beers a good bit this summer. Have enjoyed the beers from Westbrook Brewing in Mount Pleasant, SC. Good stuff. Available around town. The White Thai, Westbrook's take on a Belgian witbeir, is spiked with ginger and lemongrass and is an excellent beer for hot summer days.
Six Point Brewing from Brooklyn. Good stuff. They make a ton of different styles of beer. Sweet Action and Resin pictured above are two of the core lineup. The Resin is real hoppy if you like that style, and 9% alcohol here, so it doesn't take much.
Wine from Thierry Puzelat and Peirrot Bonhomme. I like their wines. Le Telquel is a natural Gamay wine; it's edgy, and tastes like grapes. And dirt. In a good way. Le Telquel translates to "as it is." So, there you go.
I've also rediscovered a love of Leon's lately. Several stops in the past two months and all have been stellar. While Leon's has always nailed their cocktail program and craft beer selections, the revamped seasonal menu is as strong as ever. The new charcuterie offering, which changes often, has been on point each visit.
I also paid another visit to Hola Mexican Cantina recently. Hola is on the square directly across the street from Leon's. My first visit at Hola was really not memorable. Just misses all around. Last week, my second visit was better. The menu has been revamped, with some new items and the food we ordered showed glimpses of Mexican flavors and depth hat was missing from our visit. The short rib enchiladas pictured above were earthy and succulent, and the fried fish tacos showed promise. As do the margaritas and specialty cocktails from the bar. I'll go back.