I've spent a lot of time on Upper King Street in recent months, eating my way further and further north, visiting perennial favorites, working my way through bowls of bucatini, fighting the temptation to eat the last piping hot piece of fried chicken, and admiring the newly renovated spaces that were once blots on the landscape. But as I drove down the expanding path, I turned to a rundown part of town and that ended up being one of the best redirections in recent months. If that hadn't happened, I never would have stumbled upon Georgean's on Line Street.
When I first saw Georgean's, beams of light didn't shine down, nor did a church choir start singing in unison, though they should have. Instead, there was rain and flooding. And when it was all said and done, there was a splotch of curry dribbling down my chest. It wasn't the ideal situation, but as I sat in my car eating curry chicken out of a Styrofoam box, I decided that the most depressing part of the situation was the fact that I had just lost a few spoonfuls of flavor paradise in that splatter on my shirt. And so you are warned: the tail end of Line Street floods with the slightest bit of rain, but that shouldn't' stop you from going to Georgean's Caribbean Soul.
As chef and owner Tim Jackson will tell you, "We're bringing the flavors of the Caribbean to you with a little bit of Southern charm." Jackson, who spent some time working at Spago under Wolfgang Puck, also worked in the kitchen at Chicago's in Atlanta and Oak Steakhouse here in Charleston. His small little space on Line Street is named after his mother, who hails from Trinidad.
The menu at Georgean's is short and simple. There's chicken and fish of the curried, jerk, or fried variety, along with an array of sides. Boneless chicken breasts gets slathered in a wet-jerk marinade before hitting the flat top on high heat to get the perfect caramelization and char before being sliced for serving. The result: tender strips of chicken breast, hot and crisp, wafting cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg and more elements that Jackson won't disclose.
Jackson's co-owner is Deborah Grant, who adds some Southern twist to the mix. Her superb mac 'n' cheese is becoming a regular favorite, and her unpretentious blend of mashed cauliflower and sour cream is simply delicious.
Some may be bothered by the 20-30 minute wait for food. It's suggested that you call ahead with orders, but even then it's a real treat to walk in and chat it up with Jackson and Grant as they cook food to order. On multiple occasions cabbage was chopped and mixed with a hefty portion of Duke's mayo and seasoning to make a zesty coleslaw. On Fridays, the white fish of the day gets breaded and dropped in the fryer before being placed between two pieces of plain white bread with lettuce, tomato, and slaw ($9). It's the stellar fish sandwich served with sides like yams, lima beans and rice, or red rice.
Open since January, I'm not sure whether the curry or jerk takes the crown. Both options come in a bowl ($7/$8) or box ($10/$12). The curry starts with a mirepoix (chopped celery, onions, and carrots) and a stock that's augmented with curry powder and heavy cream. It's a mild curry that shows a lot of flavor with only a subtle heat, and it goes hand-in-hand with the cauliflower mash. Joining the two in holy matrimony is something you're going to want to experience more than once — it's a match like no other.
Though there are two tables on the sidewalk out front, Georgean's is primarily a carry out. On weekdays, they deliver orders and on Sundays they server supper for up to five people, which includes 12 pieces of fried chicken, mac 'n' cheese, lima beans, yams, and rice ($45). I've yet to try the cheeseburger and fries ($9), because that defeats the purpose of going with the Caribbean theme.
On occasion you'll be lucky to find a roti or oxtail on special, but we're hoping to see more. "We're looking to open a full-service restaurant in the near future," said Jackson. "I want to keep it in this area, as it's undisturbed. We'll have beer and wine by the glass paired with food. Artisan beer, that is. Anyone can do Budweiser — that's not what we'll be about." That's what I like to hear, but for now, I'll settle for a boxed meal to go, rain or shine.