In the comments to my last post, Paul gently chided me about the fact that, in a post about our visit to Charleston that I didn’t talk about the food. Sorry! It was one of the most important things we did that weekend, but frankly I had been planning to write more than one post about our weekend, and one of them – this one, in fact – would be to talk about the food.
Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale
Our visit to this place was rather a fluke, as the day we arrived it was pouring rain, the town was full of people attending the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, which we knew was happening but had no idea it was such a big deal. It’s a big deal.
Anyway, the bellman at our hotel told us that we needed to go to a place called Bubba Slyes Deli, located right around the corner on King Street. So off we went, only to find that Bubba had called it quits just the day before and the place is now closed. Practically next door to Bubba’s is a place called Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale, which sounded like an impossibly interesting name. They didn’t have a wait, so we went in. Overall it was decent faux southwestern food, but it hit the spot and the beer was cold, so mission accomplished.
Hall’s Chop House
This was the real reason we ventured to Charleston in the first place. Long-time food & wine buddy Stefan Stanton, formerly a manager at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte – our favorite hometown restaurant – is now a full-time surfer dude and occasional waiter at Hall’s Chop House, reputed to be one of Charleston’s top restaurants. And what a place! It was partly due to the anticipation of seeing Stefan again (it had been a year since he left Dressler’s), but from the moment we walked in the door, the people at Hall’s – including it seemed most of the Hall family – made a point of welcoming us, introducing themselves and basically making us feel like the most important people who had ever showed up at their place for dinner. And what a nice feeling after too many less-than-enthusiastic chain restaurant experiences.
The service from everyone from the bartender to the bus boys – and most especially our waiter – was superb. Stefan introduced us to their sommelier, who recommended a couple of excellent wines, making it easy to choose from their enormous and outstanding selection. Hall’s specialty is dry-aged beef, and while I have had it before, I have never had dry-aged beef like THAT before! It is fairly rare to find a restaurant that dry-ages their own beef, knows how to pick it and – most importantly – knows how to cook it. I had a dry-aged Ribeye that was easily the best restaurant steak I’ve ever had. Kathy had a filet that she could have cut with her fork, and it was delicious. And the dessert – let’s just say that you can’t go wrong with any of the desserts!
Stefan is clearly loving life, and it was great to connect with him and experience Hall’s. He seems right at home there, and I swear that if I could find a way to marry into the family he might just have a job for life! Overall, Kathy & I agree that our dinner there was probably the best restaurant experience ever. We don’t have the resume for that to mean very much, but we’ve been around enough to know what’s good, and Hall’s Chop House is beyond good. It was truly fabulous.
Caviar & Bananas
Another unlikely-sounding place, this is officially a gourmet market and café, and is located just a little out of the way from the tourist traffic, near the College of Charleston. We went there for a late breakfast on Sunday, which explains why I don’t write about my Sunday lunch – we didn’t have any! Their signature dessert – which I did not have but should have – is Caviar & Bananas. It’s described on their menu as “Bruleed Bananas, Sweet Tapioca, Local Honey, Brown Sugar, Marscapone & Almond Tuile. Yummy!
Recommended by our buddy Jon Dressler, we visited Basil, a Thai restaurant just up King Street from Hall’s, for dinner on Sunday night. Believe it or not, neither Kathy nor I had ever eaten Thai food before. So, trusting Dressler, we went. It was great! I know that I am probably very inaccurate to say that it is a lot like Chinese, but I thought it was a lot like Chinese, with some different spices and flavors. The wait – even on a Sunday night – was over an hour, which we passed across the street in the bar at The MacIntosh, which looks like a nice restaurant itself. Next time!
There is a Basil restaurant in Charlotte, also. We’re going to have to ‘give Thai another try.’ We really did like it!
Practically next door to Caviar & Bananas on George Street, is this Monday-Friday, breakfast-lunch only place called Jack’s Café. It’s nothing fancy, but Jack himself has been running the grill for nearly 40 years. Good, fast diner food, served with a smile at a reasonable price, it’s sometimes just the ticket. The cheeseburgers are supposed to be excellent, so we’ll probably need to go back for lunch. Next time!
So there are the highlights of our Tour de Food in Charleston. Every person who goes as their favorite places, and we now have a few more of our own. The next time we go, we’ll definitely make room for a return visit to Hall’s. And some day (Paul) I’ll get to Hyman Seafood! 🙂