Restaurant openings aren't as robust as they used to be, but optimistic entrepreneurs are rolling the dice and opening new places across town. We think you should make a point of trying them out. We called around to some new kids on the block to find out what signature dish they'd recommend for a first-time diner. Here's a roundup.
Big Gun Burger Shop on Calhoun Street combines several Southern staples for one of their favorites, the Southern hospitality burger. They start with a grilled in-house ground beef patty and pile on homemade fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, bacon, and a vegetable chow-chow, which is a relish of pickled green tomatoes, red bell peppers, and jalapeños. "It's Southern, but it's more upscale," chef Michael Mears says.
The Macintosh on King Street opened on Thursday night, right across the street from Chai's. Chef Jeremiah Bacon says the braised Blue Chip Farms rabbit starter ($12) captures the "rustic elegance" of the new restaurant. It's a very rich dish, he says. The North Carolina rabbit is braised in a stock with caramelized shallots to give it sweetness. Fresh cherry tomatoes add some acidity.
Just a few blocks away on Coming Street sits Two Boroughs Larder. Chef Josh Keeler recommends the Keegan Filion pork ($26), which uses three different parts of the pig. They make a torchon of the head, the ears are fried, and the belly is roasted until its crispy. "We try to use as much of the animal as possible, including the ears and heads," Keeler says. The pork is served with a side of housemade mustard, roasted okra, and morgan beans, which are cooked in a smoke stock to give them a hickory-smoked flavor. "It's a pretty Southern dish, but we try to put our own spin on it."
The HoMwrecker ($9.50) is the obvious favorite at HoM, which just opened next door to Midtown Bar & Grill on King Street. It's been a staple item on the menu since the idea for the restaurant was first conceived, Shay McDonald says. Brisket, chuck, and short rib are blended into a patty, topped with smoked bacon, a sunny-side-up egg, horseradish wasabi, and green tomato chutney. "It's packed full of flavor," he says. "We just want to put as much as we can between two buns."
For a more upscale experience, check out Opal, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Mt. Pleasant. Owner Patrick Owens recommends the agnolotti, which is basically a Mediterranean-style ravioli, stuffed with mushrooms, parmesan and ricotta, sautéed in spinach and truffled butter, and served with pine nuts and fresh parmesan. You could also opt to create-your-own charcuterie and cheese board. From comte and valdeon to coppa and mortadella. We recommend going big and getting all 16 items for $57. That and a bottle of wine, and you should be good.