So maybe you've spent the past few months of "winter" in Charleston hibernating on your couch, stuffing yourself silly with the city's best cold weather treats because you can hide it all under that jacket anyways. But as Marion Square quickly fills up with Charleston Fashion Week white tents and scantily clad undergrads, it's pretty clear spring has sprung in Charleston and that means two things, bathing suits and fresh veggies. Fortunately with warm weather comes some of the Lowcountry's best local produce. From beets to radishes to bright carrots, veggies are stealing the spotlight on menus around the city, providing delicious and healthy new plates to shake you out of that winter slump.
The folks at Heart Woodfire Kitchen on James Island have worked closely with local farmers at Ambrose farms on Wadmalaw to incorporate fresh produce into nearly all of their dishes, including cocktails. Start off the evening with their refreshing Strawberry Limeade made with house infused strawberry rum, homemade strawberry simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a splash of soda water ($4). A field of chopped romaine and arugula served with asparagus, Chioggia beets, and pecans makes for a crisp appetizer or light entrée with your choice of homemade dressing ($5-$8). Grilled cobia from the Carolina waters is served with carrot butter as well as local fennel, radishes, and Chioggia beets, served with your choice of side ($17). Opt for the side of Ambrose Farm baby carrots and spinach with herb butter to accompany the carrot-glazed fish.
A fixture of Charleston's Italian scene, downtown's Trattoria Lucca is taking their Italian imported salumi and making it local with fresh accouterments like pickled radishes and Vidalia onions from Lowcountry farms. The extensive selection of Italian cured meats is offered in three sizes, all served with fresh bread (uno $9, piccolo $18, grande $24). Lucca is also offering a fish crudo, currently featuring black sea bass, served with a helping of local, pink breakfast radishes ($15).
Over in Mt. Pleasant at Bacco, chef Michael Scognamiglio has been serving up a striped bass special seared in a basil pesto using fresh, hydroponic serrata basil just in from Sweet Bay Farms in Huger ($19). He's also pairing local, grilled asparagus along side a grilled pork chop special ($17).
At Graze, they've been taking advantage of the spring's fresh pickings with their citrus-chili short rib tacos. A perfect choice for lunch or a dinner appetizer, the tacos are topped with a heaping of pickled radish salad using fresh, factory farm radishes, as well as a mango-cilantro relish and honey-chipotle crema ($9). Local beets add color to several appetizers, featured in the Graze salad with baby greens, carrot nests, and lemon vinaigrette ($6) as well as the Roasted Beet Salad with fried goat cheese, crème fraiche, and warm bacon vinaigrette ($9).