We went to Opal recently after being told there was a 1:15 wait at Basil across the street on a Tuesday night. Fine by me, as I had wanted to try Owens' latest venture anyway. We had a brief wait as walk-ins, but were soon (sort of) seated after a less-than-urgent busing of an empty table by the languorous male manager on duty. The space and the menu were impressive.
I had the housemade mozzarella appetizer and the tagliatelle described in the review in the C&P. Both were outstanding (unlike the ubiquitous susieg, I found the pasta dish to have plenty of flavor, and the portion was enough me, a male over 6' and 200lbs). My wife had the scallops, which were also very good. Despite being happy with my dinner, I still got a little bit of diner's remorse when I saw a plated version of that day's special of wreckfish...looked wonderful and was a huge portion/filet.
My only complaints were the lackadaisical manager and an earnest waitress who, unfortunately, had a profoundly funky smell to her, like she had not washed her uniform in days. Back of the house, great job. Front of the house, a few issues to "clean up" before this place is a true star. We will return.
When was the last time you had a crinkle cut French fry? No, seriously. This is just one of the many surprises that we stumbled upon at the Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream & Sandwich Café in Mt. Pleasant this past weekend.
With limited time for lunch we turned into the parking lot of this restaurant and I have to say that overall, I was pleasantly surprised. Although I’ve driven by it several times, I had ventured inside. In the area since 1972 it’s been voted the place for the “Best Ice Cream” by many publications for several years.
Take a step back in time when you enter and are quickly greeted by a few high school kids working as servers. A long counter welcomes you and to your right there is an ice cream oasis of 36 flavors! We couldn’t decide if we wanted ice cream as our entrée, but we knew it was in our future.
For a small sandwich café the menu is extensive. There are 24+ sandwiches, many choices of burgers and hot dogs, salads, soups and ice cream treats. There is also a “specials” section that pairs an item with various things on the menu. This is where we made our selections for lunch.
My husband ordered the “World Famous BLT” that claimed to be made with 10 slices of bacon. It was also to be served with a large scoop of potato salad, two scoops of ice cream and a fountain beverage. I chose a cheeseburger served with fries and a fountain beverage. Both items were $7.89 and we felt like we got a bargain.
Although the café was busy our lunch was served in six minutes. My burger and the BLT were both a large portion and served very hot. Within a few minutes of tasting our lunch the crinkle cut French fries arrived. As I began to watch other patrons receive their meals they were served in the same fashion. Once things are ready – out they come.
I thought about this for a minute and wondered if it would be better if everything was delivered at once. That would have meant that something had to “wait” for the fries to be cooked and honestly, the fries were out in a blink of an eye and almost too hot to eat. I concluded that it’s a service system that’s not broken and doesn’t need fixing.
My burger was not a “gourmet” burger by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good and actually too large to finish. The same held true for the fries that we ended up splitting. The potato salad was something I would not recommend. If I’m not mistaken the salad was very similar to the processed variety that you would find in the deli of a grocery store. Hardly memorable.
The BLT got rave reviews. Served on white toast (how else would you order it?), the bacon was crisp, tasty and more than abundant. It reminded me of something my dad would have made for me when I ran home for lunch in grammar school. Nothing fancy, just good. And then it was time for dessert.
There’s something about an ice cream shop that brings out the little kid in everyone. When it was time to order the ice cream that was included in my husband’s meal the manager (who was clearing our plates) said, “Just go up to the counter and pick what you want.” With wide eyes my husband studied the varieties and slowly, but surely landed on one scoop of southern peach and one of blueberry cheesecake. We took these to go and I had to just about arm wrestle him for a taste.
All in our bill for lunch was just under $17.00 before leaving a tip. We definitely felt like we go a lot for our money and are looking forward to returning – especially for the ice cream. It was easy to see why it’s been voted the “best” for so many years.
There’s a New Hombre in Town…
I have to say that Zia Taqueria has been perhaps my favorite Mexican restaurant in the Low Country. But knock me down and call me Shorty, there is a New Hombre in Town.
Taco Mamacita recently opened on “restaurant row”, aka Middle Street, on Sullivan’s Island. Although there are two Mamacita locations in Tennessee, this is the first location to come to the Low Country. The owners, College of Charleston grads, fell in love with the area and proudly brought their restaurant here. We welcome them with open arms and nacho chips!
We went to Taco Mamacita for lunch after a golf/museum outing with our favorite relatives who were visiting. I usually don’t have high expectations for a new restaurant that’s only been open a couple of weeks, let alone visiting at an off peak time, but I am happy to say it was simply, terrific.
We were met by a very friendly hostess who quickly sat us in an oversized and very comfortable booth. One of our crew had to take a conference call so we slowed down our lunch order and started with the Appetizer Sampler. Tortilla chips, guacamole, queso and red salsa quickly arrived on an oversized (think deep dish pizza), pan. This was awesome.
The bad part was that it was the kind of appetizer that you keep eating even though you know lunch in on the horizon. Is that really bad? Thankfully the conference call ended and we placed our lunch order.
I have to say that the staff is tremendous. Anyone that passed our table was either refilling our drinks or asking if we needed anything else. A quick 15 minutes after ordering our lunch arrived.
Three of the items arrived promptly and then there was the case of the missing Sloppy Nachos. Three servers stood by our table and deliberated where the Sloppy Nachos were. It appeared that they were served to the table next to us by mistake so our server quickly snatched them back. It was almost comical as we watched our servers hunt for the elusive Nachos.
The Sloppy Nachos were topped with spiced ground beef, jalapenos, Jack cheese, sour cream and tomatoes were more than enough for the table to share even though they were ordered as a lunch item.
The Shrimp Po’Boy BLT (there is a selection of 13 tacos to choose from), was delightful. Creole fried shrimp, spicy remoulade sauce, iceberg lettuce, pepperoncini peppers, crispy bacon, pico de gallo and jalapeno lime mayo topped a warm flour tortilla. We chose the Mexican Sweet corn as a side and this dish was a winner.
My husband ordered two tacos and was quick to devour both of them. The Caribbean Jerk taco had roasted Caribbean jerk chicken, cabbage, mango salsa, refried beans, jerk sauce and peach aioli. I was fortunate to have a bite, and it had a wonderful slow heat to it, and I had taco envy.
The Memphis taco was filled with slow braised pork, diced white onion, chopped dill pickle, jalapeno cole slaw, dry rib seasoning and BBQ sauce – a winner from start to finish.
I found it interesting to see how many unique ingredients go into each and every taco. At $3.99 for each taco (with a side) this is a good deal.
And then there was my lunch… I don’t know how I do it, but I always end up ordering the wrong thing. Let it be said that I did want to order the quesadilla, but thought I should order the Peruvian Chicken since it was a signature dish and was advertised as the “best chicken you’d ever tasted” but sadly this was not the case.
My chicken was very dry and lacked flavor. I mean zero flavors whatsoever. Nada. I thought that the side dishes that I ordered would be my saving grace, but they were subpar. The green chili rice sounded great, but was bland and cold. The black bean and corn side dish also lacked flavor. So while the rest of the table were in taco/nacho heaven, I was in chicken purgatory.
The pluses at this restaurant far surpassed my dry, flavorless chicken and I would definitely recommend it. The staff is wonderful and the restaurant has a great energy to it and I am certain it is going to be a force (aka Nacho), to be reckoned with on Middle Street.
Great happy hour with great sushi and cocktails.
In a blink of an eye it seems new restaurants are cropping up all over the area. Opal Restaurant and Bar is one of the newcomers and it deserves its’ just due.
We went to Opal when they were open just three weeks and I must admit I was impressed. Although I found the dining area to lack warmth and energy in its décor, the entryway is just spectacular. If Chef Patrick Owens and the Opal Dining Group wanted a “wow” factor when you enter, they hit the mark without question.
We made reservations and I wondered if we actually needed to. After all, it was a new restaurant in Seaside Farms shopping center and not too widely publicized. Thankfully we had the reservations after all. When we arrived there was already a 45 minute wait for tables and it was only 6:30 p.m.!
We were quickly seated and our server immediately approached the table. He was intimately familiar with the menu and told us that he also worked at Langdon’s, which is this restaurant’s sister concept. A recent local article about Opal stated that the “menu changed daily”. I thought this was an aggressive approach to a new restaurant opening. It was the same plan that Sean Brock had with Husk and when we dined there during the first few weeks our entrees took over an hour to hit the table. I hoped that we would not experience the same thing at Opal.
As we looked over the menus it appeared I had a different menu that the other three folks at our table. The server quickly explained that I had “last night’s menu” and replaced it with the correct one. But get this… The “changing menu” only had one item changed. The fish entrée that was on the menu was switched from flounder to mahi mahi. Hmmm… interesting.
We started with 3 appetizers. It’s unusual for us to order dinner and appetizers, but things looked very interesting. The Heirloom Tomato, Basil, Purple Onion and Valdeon received rave reviews. The tomatoes were incredibly fresh and tasted as if they were picked that afternoon. The Salad of Local Herbs and Lettuces with Fresh Ricotta and Tomatoes was scooped up in a New York minute - again, a fan favorite.
My Spicy Local Shrimp Bruschetta with Chiles and Garlic could have been a meal in of itself. Two very large toasted slices of crispy crusted bread were topped with heavenly, perfectly cooked, spicy shrimp. Reluctantly I shared it. But when I go back to Opal this appetizer is definitely on my repeat list.
Our entrees were perfectly timed and served piping hot. Two diners ordered the Sweet Bay Acres Crispy Chicken Breast with Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes, Fennel, Prosciutto and Vincotto. The gents thought this dish was superb and I had a hard time bartering for a taste. The Seared Diver Scallops, Brunoise of Local Zucchini, Tomato, Corn, Israeli Couscous and Brown Butter was a big win. Usually someone that eats half of her entrée and takes home the other half finished this - hands down!
When ordering my entrée of house made Tagliatelle with Pork Sausage, Broccolini and Marjoram our server told me that it was not a “large portion” (pasta prices ranged from $15 - $17), and he was right. My dish was the smallest of the entrees and unfortunately the most disappointing. The pasta was a bit mushy, which I could tolerate, but the dish overall was bland and lacked flavor.
I would say though that like Langdon’s this restaurant is a bit pricey. We were interested in the Charcuterie & Cheese but one small sampling was $5.00 and it went up to $41.00 when the offer was increased to 12. We saw this delivered to another table and based on the portion sizes it seemed overpriced. I can’t speak to the flavor because it looked great, just expensive.
Despite my pasta snafu we still managed to leave the restaurant very full and plan to return. I was very impressed that despite only being opened three weeks the restaurant ran like a well-oiled machine.
My wife and I went to Dublin Down this past Saturday and were pleasantly surprised by the food and the service as well as the authetic pub atmosphere. Its been a long time since we were greeted as early and often as we were from various members of the staff that night...on the way out, we were stopped by one of the owners who said "thank you so much for stopping here tonight...we really appreciate your business"...there was no doubt that he meant what he said. Hopefully, this one will be around for awhile.
Two words: pollo ranchero. This is a real meal. I can never order anything else at Santi's. Moist and savory 1/4 chicken comprised of traditional dark meat dripping in spicy ranchero sauce and accompanied by rice, guac salad and those delicious refries. Try it, you'll like it.
Better than average pizza, pricey beer ... Not five stars but a good four on their better days.
I've been to all three O'Brion's, and have enjoyed my experience each time. They have a great beer selection, attentive staff, and great food. Awesome place to watch the game!
Enjoyed the live music, food and beer. Dog friendly place with very friendly staff, we will certainly be back.
been there twice for dinner and once for drinks, friendly staff and cool atmosphere. The tables have got to go, they are horrible and the fried rice has been cold everytime i've eaten there but other than that I really enjoyed the place. It's great to have it up on spring street and I will certainly be back for more. As far as the pricing goes, it's not as cheap as advertised but i still got out of there under $25 for a dinner for two so i'm not complaining.
Had dinner there tonight. I called ahead for reservations but got the machine... undeterred we walked up around 8:30 and got a seat immediately. The decor is very classic, old-city European. The lighting is candelight-toned and just made the place feel good. Yes it is dim, but I had no problem discerning the menu or any parts of my meal... but different strokes and all that.
The service was very attentive throughout the meal, from the host/greeter to our server Abby to the expediter. We never felt ignored but also not smothered. The wine list looked thorough, but I didn't really peruse it, opting instead for a single-barrel bourbon to go with my octopus appetizer. The complimentary foccacia came with a dash of very fragrant olive oil on our bread plates, but most of it was dedicated to the arrabiata sauce on the octopi.
That dish was done perfectly. I loved it... the texture, flavor, and presentation all hit the high notes. If you don't like many-legged invertebrates, it probably wouldn't be worth it, but if you do you might appreciate how difficult it is to cook them and maintain a tender feel. Yum and double-yum.
Our server was quite patient with our request to order entrees after we'd gotten into the appetizer. We had the artichoke ravioli (in a cream sauce that was pretty much a guaranteed winner) and asparagus soup. The meal was consistently delicious and well-presented, with the different textures in both dishes presenting clearly but harmoniously. The temperatures for everything was ideal, right down to the water, so clearly a better experience for us than some.
We had a nice long chat with Abby after dinner and it was nice to get more than the "schmooze until they tip" level of interaction. The bill was very reasonable, and would have been more so had I resisted the temptation for a big ol' glass of Kentucky's finest. Definitely a quality addition to Upper King, and a place that I will recommend to my friends.
I've been about 5-6 times and have always had a good experience. You aren't paying $2 "for the glasses", you are paying extra for the advanced technology and the fact that you are watching it in 3D is worth the small amount extra to support all the extra work that was put into making it. Let's not be ridiculous. The place is always clean (even the bathrooms), and the staff has been friendly. I like it =D
I have eaten at Zocalo five(5) times and am really looking forward to going back. I love the menu, the food and the prices. I live at Folly and would drive 30 minutes to eat at Zocalo before I would go 2 minutes to Taco Boy. There simply is no comparison. I have read reviews by those who feel the prices are too high. Now I do not know about the alcohol drinks, because I do not drink, but I find the amount of food you get for the money almost unbelievable. Zocalo is an asset to Park Circle. See you soon!!
Been there twice in the last two weeks, first with a big group for a business occasion, went back this week with a friend because the first visit was so good. Seems they've changed their menu, it's smaller, but I think they're focusing more on quality than on quantity of items. Both times, the service was really good - the wait staff was attentive & knowledgeable, but not in your face. Sometimes with a big group it's not as great as when you're with a smaller party, but they were good & really welcoming. They were even willing to change a few things, & all the food came out quickly. With the big group, had a bunch of appetizers, all of them were really good, especially the edamame & spinach dip. They have some great sushi, some of the best we've had, some were kind of spicy, excellent. With my friend, we shared some of the small plates, the tuna was a bit overdone, but the hanger steak was delicious, also more sushi.
We also had a few of their specialty drinks, the Thai Basil Lemonade is great - pretty creative. AND, the outdoor patio is awesome - this place will be on our list of favorite restaurants.
Had dinner on Friday with my fiance. Loved the interior and the very reasonably priced wine list. We had 5-6 of the tapas and the chicken and chorizo paella. The only slight disappointment was the patatas bravas, which were basically french fries with a blank sauce. However, the rest of the food items we ordered were delicious. This is the first tapas place I've gone to in Charleston that actually serves true Spanish tapas, not just anything in a small plate size. We will definitely be back!
My fiance and I have eaten at Zocalo several times and love it! The presentation is great, food's even better - the salad with jicama, pickled onions, and avacado is wonderful, as are the other dishes we've tried. I'm so glad to have an authentic Mexican place in the neighborhood, and look forward to summer margaritas on the patio with live Latin music!
Best lunch on DI, hands down. Reasonably priced considering the portion size (I took half of my huge $13 sandwich home!) They always have some rare beer on tap.
Definitely the burgers are awesome! I ordered two, one for there, one to take home (the yank, the hot shit) and both were awesome and juicy. I like mine pretty rare, and it was cooked wonderfully. However, another member of our party ordered a medium rare and it came out lookin fresh outta the grinder. They took it back graciously though and fixed him a new burger. I was impressed by the beer selection, though I admittably don't know much about that...It was loud and busy and the waitstaff was only okay, but it's a burger and bar joint - i expect that sort of environment. The hostess was a little flighty, and the to-go burger was plainly forgotten about - but they got it straight to me. I would def go back, and rank it as the best burger place I've tried yet in the area, though the service could use a slightly happier personality.
I've eaten at Zocalo three times since the soft opening and in general I'm impressed both with how together they were at the opening and how they've improved on any initial qualms I had. The addition of Steve Davidson (sp?) in the kitchen is noticeable. The interior decor is very adult and terrific for an evening out with friends. The patio, Like JoshL725 pointed out, is going to be awesome this summer! I look forward to them adding more in the non-meat realm but it is already pretty damn good.
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