Low Country Dining Shouldn't Mean Low Flavor Dining. The Rice Market is a place that you want to see be successful. A beautiful renovation, a great location, and local restauranteurs all could be a recipe for tremendous success. Not so much on the night we were there.
First, let me say that the restaurant is beautiful – elegant, yet warm, and very pretty. They have also added an expansive patio area, which in the spring, I would imagine, could be a lot of fun.
We found the staff on shift that evening attentive and very personable. One of the waitresses was even kind enough to open the door and welcome us in. The restaurant however, was very slow so we chose to sit at the bar versus at a table in the empty dining room.
Shawn our bartender was delightful. As you know one of my pet peeves is when a server doesn't introduce themselves. Shawn went beyond the intro and inquired as to whom we were, how long we've lived here, etc. He was very engaging. And now on to the menu…
We started with the Lettuce Wraps that featured basil and cilantro diced chicken, rice noodle crisps, cashews, carrots and a lime peanut sauce. Unfortunately, this was not a winner. The portion was small, the chicken was dry and the sauce was very bland. A flavor profile that we would come to see in all of our food that evening.
Although the menu is not small, it still feels limited. I asked Shawn what he liked on the menu. One of the things that he suggested was the Bacon Wrapped Wood Grilled Crispy Pork Tenderloin. It sound very interesting but it was served with marinated cucumbers. I asked Shawn if I could substitute something else for the cucumbers. To my amazement he said that, “The kitchen was getting used to the menu, and no substitutions were allowed.” Counting the two of us there were 10 people in the restaurant – how tough could this be?
Another suggestion was the Rice Market Fried Chicken served with Hoppin’ John, Seasonal Vegetables and Red Eye Gravy. Shawn explained that the Red Eye Gravy was made with veal stock, coffee, tomatoes and spices. I asked Shawn what Hoppin’ John was and he struggled with an answer. Luckily, there was a manager perched at the end of the bar doing paperwork. When Shawn tried to ask him what was in Hoppin’ John the manager mumbled “black eyed peas” and walked away. At a time when there were so few customers, you would think he’d want to win some of us over.
We also ordered the Wood Grilled Moroccan BBQ Lamb Chops with Moroccan style rice, and house made Harrisa (a hot chilli paste typically found in North African cooking). We waited anxiously for our dishes to arrive.
Not surprisingly our meals were served by a food runner in no time. They were hot and looked great. You know, another one of my pet peeves is when the food served is not hot. Hot food served fast usually wins me over.
However, this was some of the blandest meals I’ve eaten in a while. Shawn mentioned that he was taking suggestions for the chef, etc., and before I could even say anything, he said, “We have been getting a lot of comments that things are bland.” Even the Red Eye Gravy tasted bland. Zero, I mean zero flavor.
As for the lamb chops..... They served 3 , 2 of which were fine both in size and the temperature. But the third little chop was about the size of a quarter and way over done. I mean beyond well done. Getting three of the same size chops shouldn't be that hard either.
One of the owners has been quoted as saying that the design of the restaurant was important and, “We want people to go to the space for the space.” I get that, and the restaurant looks and feels great. Now how about going to the space for the food, which as of right now, is a big disappointment. For more of our reviews see http://diningaroundcharleston.com
Admittedly this review may be a tad bit on the long side. There is just so much to say about Husk, that try as I might to make it manageable, it may not be. There, you’ve been warned.
We were excited to be having dinner at Husk with friends. One of our favorite restaurants in the city is McCrady’s where Sean Brock is also the chef. I was thrilled to see as reported by the Post and Courier that opening night was like a well-oiled machine, as there are usually a few speed bumps with a new restaurant opening.
Our reservations were for a Monday night. You would think that a Monday would not be that busy, but it certainly was. Nestled between the restaurants 82 Queen and Poogan’s Porch lies Husk. It is a beautiful conversion of a 19th century home with a “freestanding” bar in an adjacent building – also breathtaking.
After many ooh’s and ah’s (by us) we were met by a group of hostesses and quickly seated in a quiet room upstairs. The room had about 8-9 tables. The décor was also simple, yet extremely well done. There was no background music playing when we arrived, but that came on a little later and added to the atmosphere.
Our waitress, Kaitlyn, would prove to be the highlight of the night. She was personable, attentive, suggestive, and extremely well trained. She mentioned that she had one week of “sit down” training and then another week of “Friends and family” and local chefs for dinner as practice. When we asked how business was she stated that they have been sold out every night. No surprise here, this had to be the hottest game in town.
When reviewed the drink menu we were surprised to see wines categorized by minerals, i.e. “granite”, etc. It was very confusing. There beverage list also was a listing of classic Southern cocktails, also interesting, but not that inviting.
Kaitlyn was very helpful with the wine selections and when I went to order a Stoli Cosmopolitan (I know, passé), the Husk standard of “If it’s doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming in the door.” came into play. Kaitlyn explained that since they could not get a “southern produced” cranberry juice they do not serve it. She quickly enticed me with a classic southern cocktail, a “clover club”. Unfortunately her description was much better than the taste. It was also served in an old fashioned champagne glass. A different spin, but I found myself thinking that the drink was very small, like a Dixie riddle cup.
I would also mention that they were out of sparkling water and the soda water served with lime was rather flat. But hey, they’re busy, these are just small details.
Hot, fresh baked rolls topped with honey, a little salt and local benne seeds arrived right after the beverages did. They arrived in a small burlap bag (next to the Pork Rinds in the photo above) that we thought had to have something to do with grains, seeds, rice, but it didn’t. Kaitlyn explained that they are old coin bags from a local bank. I still don't understand how they fit with the rest of the themes, but they were definitely a conversation piece. Also served with some “flair” as the top was removed, was some orange butter. I thought the gentleman who delivered it said “honey butter”, but it was actually pork butter. Yes, you heard me correctly. Made from pork lard, homemade mustard, ketchup and hot sauce combo, certainly an acquired taste. Personally it reminded me of bacon grease and did not care for it. We all thought this was not a value add.
Our appetizers, HUSKpuppies and Fried Pork Rinds took 25 minutes to arrive. I thought “Ut-oh, no one else around us is eating either.” – Usually a sign of a kitchen in trouble. Both of the dishes were hot and flavorful, the puppies served with an interesting spicy dip. But I thought that they might have been a tad over cooked (the HUSKpuppies, that is).
Tick tock, tick tock, time went on. Forty minutes, yes, forty, after the delivery of our appetizers our dinners arrived. During the time we were waiting Kaitlyn made some idle chit-chat and then did the “missing (wo)man formation” and we didn’t see her. We didn’t blame her though, it appeared that Husk’s kitchen had stumbled, and we were right.
I also want to add that as we are waiting the table next to us is delivered what appears to be HUSKpuppies, only theirs are this wonderful light golden brown, and very appealing. I asked Kaitlyn what they were and she confirmed that our suspicion was right - we were served very overcooked, but tasty puppies. I had puppy-envy.
When our meal was delivered it was a big disappointment on many fronts. First, none of the items were hot. I mean zero, zilch, Zippo. I’m ok waiting a long time for a meal, but after the waiting, I want it to be great. The Duo of VA Lamb, Stew of Anson Mills Farro, Tomato and Courgettes with Green Tomato Jam appeared to be the most flavorful. The Wood Fired Keegan Filion Chicken, Potato Gratin and Bok Choy, Sage-Lemon Jus was served in a unique skillet, but as it was delivered it was tipped in some way that everything was pushed to one side and the details of the presentation were completely lost.
The Hagood Mills Cornmeal Dusted Triggerfish, Potato Puree, Red Mustard Glaze and LA Citrus Glaze was nicely cooked but the glaze was a very odd, shocking green overpowering sauce that took away from the meal.
The TN Foie Gras and Sausage Stuffed Quail with Cornbread Puree and Sea Island Red Peas, Apple Jus was not good. The quail was overcooked and the peas undercooked. I thought about sending it back, but knew it would be an eternity before we got it. The side of SC Lady Peas, Butter Bean and Tomato Succotash that we ordered for the table was undercooked and ice cold.
Kaitlyn checked back and we said things were ok. She apologized for the kitchen’s delay. We later would overhear her at the table next to us upon introducing herself that “Things had gone so smoothly every night, except tonight.” A gentleman (a manager?) stopped by our table and asked if our dinners were “to our liking”. None of us responded and he turned and walked away. Talk about a missed opportunity.
If the kitchen is going down in flames at a new opening, I get that. I’ve personally been involved in well over 100 restaurant openings and things often don’t go as planned. But I would have expected a much better meal service. If our meals aren’t great, heck, we’ve waited about an hour as it is, start them over and get it right. Let us leave with, “It took some time to get dinner, but boy, was it terrific.”
We passed on dessert and asked for our check. Kaitlyn explained that our drinks were being comp'ed because of our long wait. Comping two glasses of wine, a cocktail and a glass of soda just didn’t do much to make up for the long wait.
On the drive home we of course, talked about our experience. We said we would give Husk another try, but maybe after the first of the year when they’ve gotten their sea legs. Our review certainly won’t hurt them as people always want to give the hottest spots a try. Upon leaving at 8:30ish, there was a 90 minute wait – on a Monday night!! Poogan’s Porch and 82 Queen remained almost empty with parts of the restaurants darkened. For more on ths post visit us at http://diningaroundcharleston.com
I think the best pizza around is La Pizzeria in Mt Pleasant, but if I'm desperate I don't consider Andolini's to be as terrible as some make it out to be. I've never had GREAT pizza in the south but look at what this place is up against-- Papa Johns, Dominos, etc... Relatively speaking, it's not THAT bad.
I love all of the "I-lived-in-New-York-for-a-few-years-so-I'm-an-authority" comments on this site. A lot of people have-- just because you did doesn't you automatically have good taste.
@ Jaxx-- It's Bleecker Street. With a "c." Do you pronounce Houston St. as "Hewston St." too?
This was OK because the food was bland. The tomato pesto soup tasted like crushed tomatoes, with very little flavor, yet still fresh. The risotto was not true to it's Italian roots, just tasted like firm rice with cream sauce and a few chopped veggies. I will say that the scallops were cooked just right, but the remainder of the dish was bland. On a good note, the atmosphere was nice and they had a great little trio playing.
Being the green and conservationist person that I am, I cannot support this restaurant. Everything is disposable. And for somewhere that charges an obscene amount for their food, I think that they can afford the water to wash dishes.
The setting otherwise is very pleasant, and I do like the fact that the food is local. That being said, it's definitely not the best in town. If you want delicious seafood with the sustainability and atmosphere, I suggest somewhere else. If all you want is tradition--go here.
OK, I know I'm going against the grain here because Sean Brock is so well-regarded, but I found Husk to be a challenge. The menu is heavy on pork, and if you like pork in its many forms you'll do fine. But I went with a friend and her husband and she doesn't eat pork so she was restricted to only one dish on the menu - a fish dish that was beautifully prepared and very tasty.
We were seated upstairs in an absolutely beautiful room. However, because the kitchen is downstairs, the wait staff has to carry your food up the main stairs with guests coming up (and back down) to be seated. It slows the service a little.
Also, the only bar in the restaurant itself is a service bar, so if you want anything other than the 4 types of vodka available at the service bar (which my friend's husband wanted), you have to wait till the server gets it from the full bar located in a separate building next door. It's a little strange...
On the bright side, if you are looking for a cool sports bar without having to go to far, then this is a great place to go. They have many tvs set up inside and out. As far as anything else goes, the food is terrible...they must rely on liquor and beer sales to stay open. Some of the staff and very friendly and like to have fun, but others are just kind of stupid and are only there to try and make a buck. If you are able to be there on a day when the owners are not drunk, then they are pretty nice guys and will do anything for their patrons, unfortunately, they are drunk about 90% of the time they are there. I will still go to have some drinks and watch some games, but I do not go there because I like DIG.
I would love to give Cork 5 stars for their food. However, due to the poor service I have to give them 3. Every time we have eaten there for lunch the service has been terrible. The servers are very friendly when they actually serve you. I know that restaurants can sometimes be short-handed, but 3 out of 3 times for lunch the service has been ridiculously slow. I really want to love Cork because their food is outstanding. I just wish that they would get it together as far as the service goes...
Sake House by Tanger:
3 out of 5 stars.
Rice was good.
Steak was very good.
Ginger sauce was good.
Chef was good with interaction and did well.
Cost – I would guess this is about 5 – 6 dollars more pricey than average.
Service was below average. Only got one refill and our bill had to be split afterwards from the group we were with.
Portions were smaller than average place. I normally do not eat all of my meal but I finished this one. I normally don’t eat half… yet I finished.
Vegetables were not as good as they should have been.
The food was well prepared and was tasty. The soup was your average onion soup that tastes about the same anywhere you go. The salad was fresh tasting and not overpowered by the ginger dressing put on there. For the sauces there were two, the seafood “white” sauce and the ginger sauce. The ginger sauce was above average, but the white sauce tastes like everywhere else.
For the main entrees I got a hibachi salmon and my wife got the shrimp. Others at the table got filet minion and chicken. The chef came out and was friendly and interacted well. We had a good time with him and joked around. The rice was good and it was finished quickly. It had eggs in it, some places do this and other don’t. I think the rice was slightly above average but there was not as much of it. The shrimp appetizer was very tasty and was also done quickly. For the vegetables they were actually one of the last things we received and this is unusual for most hibachi style places. I felt the vegetables were below average and they didn’t seem to be done well. As for the salmon and the steak it was also good. The salmon was average, but the filet was above average and very tender.
The cost for myself and wife was over $40 with no alcohol.
Overall, I would say Caliente is mediocre. The food is good, but I would not say outstanding. On the 2 occasions that we visited, the parking lot was full, but only about 1/2 the restaurant was filled. There were way too many people working (or not working--I guess waiting for customers). The prices for food are reasonable, but the drinks are way overpriced. The Margarita was good, but too small for $8, especially since it's made with wine. Caliente will have to work very hard to make the location work. The chef seems to be very nice and open to suggestions. I would recommend lowering the prices, offering affordable drinks and a few outstanding signature dishes and Caliente will be a hit!!
How can rue de jean be so good and coast consistently mediocre??? Great place for drinks, but I've never had an entree I really liked here.
The hotel room was spacious, air worked great. The biggest downfall was no free internet and a fire alarm at 2:45am. We had to evacuate. It went off another 2 times. Made for a long night. I would have liked an indoor pool too. But was happy with the location. The parking lot had been expanded, which was good.
We had the early bird dinner and was satisfied. However it was not gourmet. If you are wanting an average meal, but good come here. The atmosphere was great for kids.
Great chicken wings.. The beer is cold... The ribs are delicious..
Went this weekend to Guy's. Was seated shortly after arrival. Very nice, attentive waiter, young and inexperienced, but very helpful. After waiting an hour for dinner, the food arrived and was excellent. Extremely large portions of crab legs and all the seafood was very fresh. The pricing needs to be adjusted if they expect long term commitment from the Mt Pleasant community.
We will be back for another chance - but they really need to iron out these issues.
We stopped in Saturday night for dinner and a few drinks. I agree the drinks were pricey, even for the high quality choices. I had the pork slap and it was very good as was the interesting pickle slaw that I had with it. The duck pot pie was good, but tasted more of mushroom than duck. It was a pleasant experience overall, but not what I would call outstanding.
Three stars is a kind rating. We were told this place was the best in Summerville. Well, if this is the best, I will cook every meal for as long as we live here. I give them three stars b/c they tried, I hope, to make it a nice restaurant. Frankly, the food just really isn't that great. Where we are from, eating is an event. This restaurant might make it a year back home.
Great pizza. Amazing ingredients. Pistachio Pesto the best for sure (add arugula and sausage). The chocolates and candy bars from Sweeteeth are to die for. I wouldn't waste my time or money on the appetizers. Soup is nice though. My biggest complaint about EVO is in the beverage department.
First off, there is not a single beer less than $5. The beer selection is great, but who can afford to have more than one. Many of the beers are worth the price (Ommegang, Dogfish head), but many are not. Allagash White and Brooklyn Lager (while delicious) should not cost $5. And don't get me started on New Belgium. No way in hell will I pay $5 for anything they brew. Last beverage complaint would be that they do not serve coffee!?? If you have wonderful chocolates the least you could offer is coffee. Coffee drinks are the easiest way to make a profit on a non-alcoholic beverage.
I think EVO is a great restaurant that would benefit from a fresh look at pricing.
Good flatbreads and burgers. Brunch is another issue. They have great food but cannot pour a mimosa for anything (we asked for better pours on three separate occasions and they just can't get it right.) It is all OJ with a splash of cheap Cook's "champagne." For us, brunch is about the mimosas, so we will go elsewhere until they get it right.
blinding fluorescent lighting, average service, odd breakfast menu with no fresh fruit or typical fare. average food
Powered by Foundation
© Copyright 2016,
Charleston City Paper