Eat This Tonight: butternut squash, venison, and mushrooms 

Autumnal Aroma

click to enlarge Cavatelli at Opal - JONATHAN BONCEK

Chef Patrick Owens of the Mt. Pleasant restaurants Langdon's and Opal has infused the best of autumn flavors into his new menus. The California-Mediterranean inspired cuisine at Opal is focusing on what's seasonal now like butternut squash, cranberries, and rutabaga. Try the steamed Breach Inlet clams with fennel sausage and spicy tomato broth or the crispy seared duck breast with rutabaga, pearl barley, and cranberry-grenache gastrique. The cavatelli for the new duck confit dish is housemade and comes with butternut squash, sage, and fonduta cheese.

At Langdon's, new additions include a smoked Moulard duck breast with caramelized granny smith apples, roasted brussels, and rosemary-sage brown butter. Chef Owens will also be serving Cervena venison with pan-roasted eggplant, carrot, butternut squash, and spinach. The dish is finished with a candied cippolini onions and Port-thyme reduction.

Over at the new Stars Rooftop & Grill Room, try the heirloom apple salad, where mixed greens are topped with blue cheese, hazelnuts, and in-house cider vinaigrette. Vegetarians will be happy with the line up of fall produce in the "Garden" section. For one, the Autumn Squash is served with red and golden quinoa, arugula, and a honey-red wine vinaigrette. Another from the "Garden" section of the menu is the mushrooms with autumn greens and goat feta, served with grilled bread and a truffle vinaigrette. Think mushroom bruschetta.

From the "Shore & Stream" section, the Appalachian trout is served whole with radishes, potatoes and a wood ember-roasted onion vinaigrette. The diver scallops come with rice, butternut squash, charred Brussels sprouts, and a bluegrass soy vinaigrette, a Kentucky barreled vinaigrette that's both smokey and sweet.

Out in West Ashley, Al Di La's new chef has plenty of fall dishes to offer. For primi, try the tagliatelle with duck confit, porcini mushrooms and truffle oil. For the main course, consider the seared duck breast, served with butternut squash, arugula, hazelnuts, and a fig-balsamic jus. The vegetarian menu features a butternut squash ravioli with pine nuts, brown butter and sage as well as a portabella pizzette with gorgonzola and creme fraiche. For dessert, savor the pumpkin custard or the tiramisu with toasted hazelnuts.

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