Joe Palma took the helm of High Cotton several months ago, but Maverick Southern Kitchens waited until he was settled and ready to redo the menu before introducing home to the media, which they did with a special luncheon earlier this week.
Palma got his start as a line cook for Frank Lee at Slightly North of Broad while studying economics and philosophy at the College of Charleston. After graduation, he worked at a bank for about three weeks, and bee-lined it back into the kitchen. For the next nine years, he pursued his cooking career in Washington D.C. and New York, and now he’s back in the Lowcountry.
Palma has taken the last three months to familiarize himself with Southern cuisine and has completely redone the High Cotton dinner menu. He talked about learning to adapt to South Carolina’s “micro-seasons.” For example, a recent menu had to be completely reimagined after three weeks because most of the ingredients were no longer available. As he puts it, “You learn to juke and jive with it.” Next, he will revamp the lunch menu, and then brunch. Although he assured us that signature dishes like the buttermilk-fried oysters will remain.
On Wednesday, High Cotton treated some local media types to a slew of new dishes. We started off with an amuse of black garlic BBQ cracker jacks. Pretty.
Next came scallops with sea beans, scallions, curry oil, and lime — an appetizer on the new menu.
Ricotta gnocchi with shaved baby artichokes, black cherry tomatoes, and lemon.
Murrell's Inlet grouper with saffron emulsion, mashed butter beans, and a zucchini mint pappardelle.
Stuffed rabbit loin with pimento cheese grits, grilled carrots, and pickled mustard jus
And for dessert, we had an olive oil gateau with blueberries, peaches, and lemon crema.
We'll reserve our thoughts and leave the criticism to Robert Moss, who also visited High Cotton this week (although he was incognito and did not attend the media luncheon). Check in next Wednesday for his full review.