The Bourdain Treatment
Remember last spring, when your intrepid foodies at the City Paper spent almost a week tracking the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain as he visited Charleston? Well, it ended in an interview with the famous chef/author at the Pavilion Bar and resulted in a piece about his visit to town and the upcoming season of his show, No Reservations. He spent the week filming various activities, including a trip out to Edisto with the Lee Brothers (Matt and Ted, that is) along with a Civil War reenactment, a fox hunt at Middleton Place, and a visit to Sweatman's BBQ, Hominy Grill, Gullah Grub, and St. Helena Island. It should be fascinating to see our rich cultural heritage given the Bourdain treatment. The episode airs Mon. Sept. 17 at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. —Stephanie Barna
Where'd Billy Go?
If you've eaten at Billy's Back Home in the last few months, you may have noticed a marked improvement in food quality, and now they've got a new name too. Linda Page (of the Thieves' Market) bought Billy's back in November of last year and she and her family took their time coming up with a new name. A couple weeks ago, a sign for Page's Okra Grill popped up, spurring us to call over there and find out what's up. According to Linda's brother Tony, who manages the joint, they're focusing on the same old Southern redneck food, but they're buying quality provisions and paying more attention to the preparations. His daughter Ashley is in charge of the kitchen. The 24-year-old cook made a name for herself when she was slinging hash over at Serena's Kitchen at Boone Hall Plantation. She ended up being featured in Southern Living and on the Food Network. Now she's got herself a new kitchen, where they grind Angus beef for their burgers and meatloaf and pay close attention to the quality of the produce they get. If you haven't been over there in a while, here's your excuse to stop by and check it out. Page's Okra Grill is located at 794 Coleman Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant. (843) 881-3333. —Stephanie Barna
Caruso at the Helm
JPaul'z, James Island's swankiest bar, has hired a new executive chef — Daniel Caruso — who's already revamped the menu. You'll still find sushi and tapas, but Caruso is putting his own creative twist on dishes like crispy red snapper with forbidden black rice, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and soy lime reduction. The new chef is also presenting a daily three-, four-, and five-course tasting menu that can be paired with wines. We missed a recent party that previewed the new menu, but we've heard nothing but good things about J'Paulz these days. Caruso seems to be a great score, having worked in the kitchens of some of the area's finest chefs, including Chris Brandt at the Sanctuary, Scott Crawford at Woodlands, and Brett McKee at Oak Steakhouse. —Stephanie Barna
Chef Sean Brock trotted out his own version of chicken noodle soup at a recent reception to introduce McCrady's new general manager André Guillet. The little party provided a glimpse into the new chef's table room, which sports a stunning Baccarat chandelier and rich dark wood paneling. High rollers who pony up for a night in this room won't be disappointed. Brock dished out the truffled broth himself, handing guests a little bottle of some sort of potato mixture, which, when squeezed into the hot broth, turned into spaghetti-like noodles. Cool. And tasty. Upstairs, the lines were long for dishes like lamb, grouper, beef tenderloin, and an amazing plate of heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella cheese. The evening was a fitting welcome to Charleston for a man so well-schooled in fine dining. Guillet comes to Charleston from Brasserie 81⁄2 in Manhattan. —Stephanie Barna