Eat This Tonight: the Spoleto edition 

Prix-fixe menus, early bird specials, and a signature drink

Like everything else, Eat This Tonight is going with a Spoleto theme this week in honor of the opening day of the 17-day festival. Downtown restaurants understand the opportunity afforded them by the massive numbers Spoleto draws to the peninsula, and they've adjusted their menus and hours accordingly. After all, nothing gets you ready for a meal at a fine-dining establishment like a trip to the ballet, or vice versa.

Chef Michelle Weaver at Charleston Grill is offering a three-course menu for $39 for all patrons seated before 6 p.m. or after 9 p.m. Patrons can choose between Thai beef salad, frisee and crispy pork belly salad, Charleston Grill crabcake, and Fudge Farms pulled pork for their appetizer. Entrée choices include seared flounder and crab succotash with corn and peas, Okeechobee catfish and fried oysters, palmetto squab breast over grits, and prime beef tenderloin with Charleston Grill baked potatoes. The Grill is also serving up classic crème brulee for dessert or a selection of housemade ice creams and sorbets.

McCrady's chef Sean Brock has already been offering a similar deal with his three-course market menu for $39, highlighting local produce, Sun.-Thurs. nights. The first course features either an heirloom lettuce salad with rilettes, scallions, and mustard vinaigrette or local oyster and shrimp stew with grits, bacon, and peperonata. The two main course options are red snapper with red peas, onion soubise, and celery-fennel salad or duo of beef with polenta, turnips, and Swiss chard. Dessert is either North Carolina heirloom apples, oatmeal-cider cake with custard and bourbon ice cream, or Johns Island pecan cake with sorghum and roasted banana ice cream. McCrady's will also be hosting the Jazz Artists of Charleston Jazz Series throughout the festival with shows at 7 and 10 p.m., but only the bar menu will be available for the late show.

For one dollar less, you can try out the Halls Chophouse Piccolo Spoleto menu, also featuring three courses. Chef Matthew Niesner's $38 special, which is available from 4:45 p.m.-6:30 p.m., offers a choice of she crab soup, a half chop salad, or mixed simple greens for appetizers. The entrée selections are petite filet with asparagus and mashed potatoes, salmon with broccolini and mashed potatoes, quail with pepperjack grits and sour collard greens, and seared scallops with roasted tomato and vegetable risotto. For dessert, choose between the praline basket with lime curd and fresh berries or Chef Matthew's choice dessert.

Finally, somebody's answering the call for a Spoleto-themed drink. After all, Wimbledon has Pimm's, the Kentucky Derby has mint juleps, and Mardi Gras has the Hurricane. Now, Spoleto has "Il Spoletano" from Peninsula Grill and Chef Robert Carter. The cocktail features 1 ½ oz. of Carolina Peach Puree and 3 oz. of Ruggeri Presecco. Peninsula is also opening a half hour early at 5:00 throughout Spoleto.

Circa 1886 is expanding their hours as well, opening at 5 and seating until 10 during the festival. Additionally, they'll be open this Sunday.

So get out there with your Spoleto guide and tickets in hand, grab some good local cuisine, and enjoy the shows.



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