Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Made a Thanksgiving dinner reservation yet?

Avoid the mess — eat out

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Don't want to mess with making Thanksgiving dinner? Best make a reservation ASAP - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Don't want to mess with making Thanksgiving dinner? Best make a reservation ASAP

Let's face it, as much as we love the trappings of Turkey Day, Great Aunt Glenda's scorn over our-less-than-perfect pumpkin pie sometimes makes us want to bypass the home cooked Thanksgiving meal and opt for a reservation. The good news: Charleston's restaurant realm offers a variety of options. The bad news: they are filling up fast. 

We called around to see who still has seats for Nov. 27 and suffice to say, you better get on the horn quick to nab a seat. (Note: this is not a comprehensive list, merely a survey of a handful of places.)

Magnolias is nearly at capacity with 700 people on the books. That said, if you're interested in the early bird special, they might still be able to squeeze in a small party around 11:30 a.m. Dinner is a la carte featuring Thanksgiving specials like brandied apple stuffed pork loin and pecan crusted salmon.

Over at Blossom, the story is a bit better. The restaurant has 200 people booked, but there is still availability. Blossom is also offering an a la carte menu with specials such as pan roasted grouper and, of course, slow roasted turkey, cornbread and housemade sausage stuffing.

You can pretty much forget Halls. The steakhouse is not only full but has a large waiting list. Halls will be open from 2-8 p.m. (with the bar open until 2 a.m. to drink away your relatives) and will offer the regular menu plus additions like slow roasted and Southern fried turkey, roasted rack of lamb, and slow roasted prime rib. 

The Drawing Room reports that they have 30 more seats available and will be offering a prix fixe dinner with options like St. Jude Farms oysters, roasted heirloom pumpkin soup, and sweet potato agnoletti from noon to 6:30 p.m. Dinner is $52 per person. Wine pairings are an additional $23.

Eli's Table tells us they'll begin accepting Open Table reservations soon, so there's plenty of time to get a seat there.

High Cotton is close to capacity with 490 diners reserved. Last year they served 520, so there's still a bit of room left. Dishes like Charleston cream of crab soup, Carolina duck breast, braised lamb steak, and apple spice cake will all be served from 1-7 p.m. High Cotton is offering an appetizer and main course for $49, and $54 to include dessert. 

Poogan's Porch says they can't take any additional large groups, but might be able to sneak in a few smaller tables. Poogan's Porch will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and will serve an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner.

Charleston Grill is down to just 9 p.m. reservations. Chef Michelle Weaver will serve up a variety of holiday dishes for $90 per person plus tax and 20 percent gratuity.

If you're doing a dinner for two, S.N.O.B. has a few remaining tables peppered throughout their Thanksgiving service from noon to 6 p.m.

For a more casual dinner, Social Restaurant + Wine Bar will open at 6 p.m. and serve a pizza-only menu until 10 p.m.The bar will be open until 2 a.m. Reservations are not required. 

For those looking for something off the Peninsula, The Ocean Room at Kiawah's Sanctuary Hotel will be serving an a la carte Thanksgiving Day menu from 4:30 to 10 p.m. and The Jasmine Room will have a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 8 p.m. Reservations are still available for both. 

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Holy sow, Charleston was the inspiration for the McRib

Too good to be true

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 4:10 PM

In what can only be described as a finger-licking gift from god, we've learned that the McRib was inspired by Charleston.

No really.

In a new video posted yesterday on McDonald's YouTube page, franchise historian Jessica Farrell explains that the creation of the pork patty smashed into a Play-Doh mold and shellacked in what appears to be the remnants of a yam-fed infant's nappy is the result of a trip to the Holy City.

In 1980 McDonald's Chef Rene traveled to our fair city, ate a mind-blowing plate of ribs, and immediately decided to bastardize the experience in perpetuity with the unholy mess that is the McRib.

And here we thought we were only good for a Conde Nast nom but oh no, we've inspired much worse than that.

Now if we can only get a Charleston Free McRib day on the books, all our culinary aspirations will have come true.

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First look at The Americano's menu

Torta time

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Last night, Mon. Nov. 3, The Americano quietly opened its doors at 819 Coleman Blvd. We've been tracking the progress of this Latin-inspired retro restaurant that Rarebit owner John Adamson described as, "a casual place, like The Rarebit. But instead of a 1960s racetrack look, I pictured a fictitious character from Cuba moving to Miami in the 1940s and opening a bar on the beach." 

And now we have the menu (note: large PDF file) for this '40s Florida fantasy. Tacos and tortas feature prominently in addition to a selection of appertivos like ceviche avellanas — local fish with lime, pickled red onion, and cilantro — as well as caramelized plantain soup, Cuban guacamole, and calamari sabroso, all $13 and under. 

For a hearty serving, Chef Edwin French has included a list of platos such as guava barbecue baby back ribs and pollo con mojo, which is a slow-roasted grilled half chicken with sweet plantains, black beans, and Cuban rice. But, what about the tacos? Well concerned taco eaters, for dinner two will cost you anywhere from $9.75 (pork, veggie, chicken) to $11 (steak). There's also an option for three tacos, but prepare to pull out up to $13 for those. 

The Americano has a long list of cocktails too, and with The Rarebit's Brent Sweatman having a hand in them, we're pretty confident, if anything, the drinks will be solid. Only one libation tops $10 — The Ultima Palabra with Holy City-liquor-of-the-moment mezcal, green chartruese, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. The Hibiscus Paloma sounds especially good once summer returns with a hibiscus-infused tequila, grapefruit soda, salt, lime juice, agave, and vanilla bitters. And while they didn't use the name Papa Doble, there is a Hemingway Daquiri. (Does Hemmy have a post-mortem copyright on that?)

The Americano is also serving brunch. But even with the Cuban inflected menu, Chef French has left room for buttermilk pancakes, albeit ones served with sweet plantains and rum pecan syrup, and the omnipresent shrimp and grits. Those dishes are tucked next to huevos con chorizo, empanadas, and arepas. All brunch platos are $10 or less. 

But as massive as The Americano menu appears, Adamson says this is a redacted version. "It's more limited than the original/eventual menu," he says. "We will be adding those items back to the menu as soon as we feel comfortable doing so."


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Monday, November 3, 2014

Mad River abruptly closes, corporate staying mum

The river has run dry

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Mad River Bar & Grille has unexpectedly closed - GOOGLE STREET VIEW
  • Google Street View
  • Mad River Bar & Grille has unexpectedly closed

Here’s a fun game: try getting a word out of the Mad River franchise. Perhaps you’ll do better than we did. In the last hour of phone calls to three locations within the restaurant chain (Baltimore, Chicago, and New York City) we’ve been hung up on twice and told by the NYC branch that the Charleston location of Mad River Bar & Grille isn’t connected to the brand — the organization’s website begs to differ.
A sign in the window confirms the closure - MIA MENDEZ
  • Mia Mendez
  • A sign in the window confirms the closure

All this was in response to Holy City Sinner’s Sunday blog post that the Market Street restaurant and bar abruptly closed this weekend. According to a follow up blog on, employees were notified via email on Sunday. The corporate office, which we finally got in touch with, has confirmed that the sign posted in the bar's window is true. The Charleston location is officially closed. We asked for the manager’s name as well as the name of the owner of the Mad River franchise, but were told that that information is confidential. What will replace the bar has yet to be announced. 

So there you go. No more drunken nights in a former church. Somewhere a stained glass window expert is quietly breathing a hallelujah. 

City Paper has since been given Mad River owner John Durkin's telephone number. We've left a voice message and hope to hear back soon. 

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Mt. Pleasant's Gullah Cuisine has Closed

So much for locally owned on Hwy. 17

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Gullah Cuisine on Hwy. 17 N. has closed - GOOGLE STREET VIEW
  • Google Street View
  • Gullah Cuisine on Hwy. 17 N. has closed

Charlotte Jenkins says her catering business will continue
  • Charlotte Jenkins says her catering business will continue
For 17 years Charlotte Jenkins cooked up traditional Gullah food from 1717 Hwy. 17 N. in Mt. Pleasant. Now those days are over. The chef's Gullah Cuisine restaurant has been shuttered, closing on Oct. 15.

We did a drive by this morning and all signs of the once busy restaurant and buffet have vanished with the exception of one lone two-top table.  

Jenkins confirms she was not able to meet the financial cost of the space. But, fried chicken and okra gumbo fans, take heart. The chef — who's won Charleston City Paper's Best Soul Food and Best Dirty Rice awards — says her catering company CJ's Catering Service is still in operation from an industrial kitchen. "I'll be doing catering and private chef stuff," Jenkins says. 

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