With humidity taking a backseat and the fall air coming in, I can't think of a better way to spend an evening than sipping stellar wine and noshing on great food with some fine people in a cozy environment. Ben Berryhill and Charlie Chance provided just that opportunity at Next Door in Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday night.
For the first time since opening, an eight-course wine and food tasting was made available for only $25 a person, or $40 a couple. Take a look at the menu and tell me that's not a steal.
While the sun was still gleaming, guests started rolling in to claim seats in the beautiful patio in front of the restaurant. The weather was mild and Charlie Chance had all hands on deck to assure an amazing evening.
A crisp prosecco was poured upon arrival and soon after came Deep Bay oysters out of Vancouver that were very clean, sweet, and not too briny.
As guests sucked down their oysters, wine glasses were replaced with a small cup of sweet Thai coconut soup. The creaminess of the coconut and the strong presence of ginger made for a delightful pairing with an acidic, earthy Pinot Gris. The soup was so good I found myself setting down the spoon and drinking straight from the cup.
Next we were served crispy shrimp and scallop spring rolls with sweet chili sauce, paired with sparkling wine. What a great presentation.
The pairing of the night came next. A stunning hand-crafted spinach and butternut squash ravioli was complemented with a lush, nutty, and buttery chardonnay. The ravioli was delicious, but a whole new array of flavors were brought out with the wine.
Though I was sad to see my empty plate, it wasn't long before I was staring down the pork cheek with creamy polenta and crispy leeks. The savory dish was paired with a lighter, vibrant Pinot Noir from Germany. A wine with a little more tannins would have gone well with the pork, but the minerality of the wine was complex and offered a completely different flavor profile for a pinot noir, which was refreshing.
At this point guests were chattering about what a great deal it was to have all this food and wine at such a small price. And to think, we still had two more courses to go.
The mini "smothered" burger came out open-face with onions, mushrooms, and 10-month aged white cheddar. Tender, juicy, and piquant. I can see myself eating the bigger version of this dish. It paired beautifully with a spicy malbec.
In the midst of all this food, a couple — Josh and Paisley — were celebrating their recent engagement. Nice party. Congrats.
The night was capped off with a 10-year port from Portugal paired with panna cotta with salted caramel and a silky Saint Nectaire Brie.
There's no question that the tasting was a huge success. It's worth noting that everything at the tasting is available on the full dinner menu, in larger portions of course. If you missed out, don't worry, there will be more events like this in the future. As the main menu changes, tastings will be offered. Will you be at the next wine paired dinner? I know I will be.
Bull Street Gourmet is moving to King Street, but they're keeping their original location — and their name. The gourmet corner store has earned a devoted following over the years thanks to well-crafted salads and sandwiches and a thoughtful wine selection.
The new location, right next to Berlin's in a former antique store, is bigger, brighter, and newer, but retains the heart of owner Justin Croxall's original eatery. It includes a market area stocked with local and organic goods ranging from fresh produce and bread from Normandy Farms to Seventh Generation paper products. There will also be gift items available from companies like Gullah Gourmet.
The wine selection has been greatly expanded, with close to 500 labels available ranging from the affordable to the bank-breaking. Croxall pulled out a few of his most prized bottles, kept under lock and key, that he assures us can't be found anywhere else in town, or anywhere else, for that matter. Priced up to $300, these are bottles you'll want to save for those super special occasions.
As for the food, you'll see a lot of familiar items on the menu, plus some new ones. The sandwich menu includes a Banh Mi, roast beef, Castro, and smoked duck club, and there are 10 items on the fresh salads menu, averaging around $8. Breakfast is still available too, with choices like a Croque Madame, duck confit hash, and build-your-own omelets. We're also told they'll be stocking prepared entrees, and they'll eventually offer delivery options. Derek Falta is serving as chef of the new location and the new catering program. Falta, a Johnson and Wales grad, most recently worked as executive chef at Barsa and also spent time at Chai’s and 39 Rue de Jean.
Bull Street Gourmet is an exciting addition to the sleepy Lower King neighborhood. Joining other young businesses like Heirloom Book Company, Sugar Snap Pea, and Bin 152, it's sure to kick things up a notch. They're opening officially on Mon. Aug. 15. They'll be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
From the P&C's website:
Vickery's Bar and Grill on Beaufain Street was robbed at gunpoint shortly after 2 a.m. Monday, Charleston police said.
The robbers put two employees into a walk-in cooler, a police report said.
The employees freed themselves after about 10 minutes and called police, the report said. The amount stolen during the robbery was not released by police.
Tonight, the Harbour Club downtown is hosting a big wine tasting, featuring 30 wines and light hors d'ouevres for $12.95.
Over in West Ashley, get a jump on your favorite non-holiday at Avondale Wine & Cheese's Uno de Mayo happy hour. Live music and bottomless sangrias ought to make it worth the $15 entry fee.
Tomorrow, in the morning, hit the Farmers Market, and then you can head out to Freshfields Village for the Make-A-Wish Wine Festival from 6-9 p.m. For $35, you can taste over 85 wines from around the world and nosh on Lowcountry cuisine by Charleston Eats while helping grant kids' wishes.
On Sunday, Fast & French throws its all-day anniversary bash at the City Gallery, as much an art event as a foodie one, and the Chef's Potluck takes over Middleton Place. At Fenwick Hall, you can get Inside the Chef's Kitchen at a Charleston Collegiate fund-raiser where Brett McKee, Donald Barickman, and Robert Carter will be pairing signature dishes with wines. On James Island, you can stop by the twice-monthly farmers market and craft fair at the Pour House from 11-3 p.m.
Up in Summerville, Farringdon Bistropub hosts a First Founders Brewery Dinner. For $40, you'll get five tapas-style courses and six specialty beers.
On Tuesday, La Fourchette brings in special guest Jean-Philippe Bourgeois of Bourgeois Family Selections for four-course dinner paired with five wines from the southern regions of France.
Coast will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo on the actual date with live music, South of the border brews, margaritas-a-plenty, and chef’s Latin-inspired feature plates befitting the evening’s theme.
And a heads up for hardcore oenophiles: Master Sommelier Robert Bath will be in town for a "Weekend of Wine" at Woodlands May 15-16. There's only enough room for 30 people, so if you're serious about wine, make your reservations now.
Sean Brock at McCrady's has set up a Twitter account. Want to follow him to NYC to see what happens at the Beard Awards on Monday? Go here.
Mike Lata's got one too.
They're already talking about where they're going to eat: "organizing our dining agenda while in NYC...so far, Le Bernardin, WD-50, Kampuchea...as well as Vetiver @ the Bowery Ballroom."