Aqua Terrace, Pearlz, Bret McKee, FIG, Guerrilla Pizza 

A La Carte: Charleston's cuisine news source

Aqua Views

Hey kids, there's a new rooftop bar in town. The Charleston Marriott has added a dash of class to Lockwood Drive along with a promise to "heighten your senses" at the new Aqua Terrace. On the third floor lobby roof, you can lounge around in comfy chairs and enjoy cocktails made from fresh fruits and juices while the sun sets over the Ashley River and nearby firepits roast the early-spring evening chill from the air. The latest stage in a successful reinvention of the former Riverview Hotel, Aqua Terrace promises to be a unique respite from the often boisterous crowds which can make rooftops further south such an adventure. —Josh Eboch

Pearlz Numero Dos

It's officially official — Pearlz is opening a new place in West Ashley, but we may never know when exactly it will open (well, until it actually does, of course). General Manager Tim Klinefelter at the downtown location doesn't have a lot of info about the opening date and says it normally takes twice as long as expected to get a restaurant open. The good news is the new place seems worth the wait. It's taking over the old Uni Bar space in West Ashley and is going to look very similar to the downtown Pearlz (that is, super-cool and swanky), but it will not be an exact twin. Initially, the "Pearlz No. 2," to use Tim's nomenclature, will just be open for dinner, but they plan to make it a lunch spot as well — something the downtown location can't do because of limited kitchen space. Downtowners have already made a favorite out of the Pearlz on East Bay, voting it Best Oysters and Best Raw Bar in last week's Best of Charleston survey. West Ashleyans should start counting their lucky pearls for scoring such a find. —Meaghan Strickland

The Legendary Brett McKee

After barely losing out as Best Chef in this year's Best of Charleston readers' poll, Oak Steakhouse's Brett McKee was able to lick his wounds and lap up a pretty big accolade: the 2008 Culinary Legend Award at the Charleston Food + Wine Festival. Brett was lauded for his "culinary innovation, firecracker personality, and inspiring work in the Charleston community." The busy chef spends a good amount of time volunteering for charitable dinners — three to four a week, according to his PR firm. He most definitely has avid fans in this town. (We should know. We referred to the Brooklyn native as a "carpetbagger" in a writeup a few years back and had angry phone calls, visits, and letters from his supporters. The man definitely incites the passion and loyalty of his friends and patrons.) In other award news, his steakhouse was recognized as Best Steak in our readers' poll again this year. Congrats to Brett. —Stephanie Barna

Thoughts on FIG and F+W

The reports from this year's Charleston Food + Wine Festival appeared overwhelmingly positive. In their third year, organizers seemed to have ironed out all the wrinkles. Of course, the tent city they erected in Marion Square (which hung around for more than a week) was so massive it could have held a small army of Huns. Because we were preparing our annual Best of Charleston issue, we didn't get to attend any events except for the Dine Around dinner at FIG on Friday night — a memorable meal to say the least. Read about Chef Mike Lata's magical over-easy ravioli course at and weigh in with your own experiences. What memorable morsel did you get to eat? —Stephanie Barna

Guerrilla Cuisine Gets Mellow

jimihatt and Andy Allen are the men of La Mancha. As part of a guest chef program at Mellow Mushroom, the Guerrilla Cuisine organizers created a new pizza at the Mellow that you should try right away. The ingredients: green tomatillo salsa base, manchego cheese, Petit Basque cheese, serrano ham, toasted pine nuts, and baby rocket tossed with Spanish olive oil. It comes as a 10-inch and is delicious. Mellow Mushroom owner Michael Shem-Tov will be showcasing a different chef's creation each month — the Guerrilla Cuisine creation will be featured for the month of March, so you better get over there and try it while you can. In the coming months, look for pizzas from John Zucker of Cru Cafe, Mathew Niessner of Blend, and our own food critic Jeff Allen. —Stephanie Barna


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