Chef Michael Perez's Cannon Green menu needs time to mature 

A Little Green

click to enlarge Cannon Green's scallops are served on creamy celery root puree

Jonathan Boncek

Cannon Green's scallops are served on creamy celery root puree

Walking into Cannon Green is like arriving at a perpetual garden party. With its moss-like chair cushions and charming country house facade, the bright, airy space is evocative of both a stage set and a putting green. The restaurant is undeniably beautiful, filled with reclaimed heart pine table tops and a veritable forest of potted plants.

Factoring in the piano, eyeglasses, and The Sistine Chapel, uova de raviolo may be Italy's greatest contribution to mankind. This is not lost on Cannon Green, where former chef Amalia Scatena offered a duck egg-filled version. Clearly aware of a good thing when he sees it, successor Michael Perez continues to feature a raviolo ($15) on his mostly-revamped menu. The dish is still made with spinach, ricotta, and brown butter, and topped with microgreens and garlic chips. Now filled with a perfectly cooked Storey farm chicken egg yolk, it continues to offer elegant precision. If only a full plate of them wouldn't cost as much as my monthly electric bill.

On a similar note, the octopus ($14) is beautifully prepared. Served with four small heirloom potatoes, roasted asparagus, and some charred spring onions, the octopus itself is tender and well-seasoned. Paired with three black dots of creamy aioli nero, it turns out squid ink has a flavor vaguely reminiscent of blueberries.

Location Details Cannon Green
Cannon Green
103 Spring St
Downtown
Charleston, SC
843-817-7311
Tues.-Sat., 5:30-10 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Mediterranean

The red snapper ceviche ($14) is awkwardly plated, stuffed into a semi-inaccessible Weck glass jar and accompanied by an inadequate portion of salt-festooned crackers. Relocated onto the plate, the ceviche looks like an afterthought, the ragged cuts of fish resembling leftover scraps. Sloppy appearance aside, the traditionally prepared ceviche is decidedly fresh and tart, with the unexpected addition of fresh mint amplifying the clean brightness.

Perhaps in homage to the restaurant's name, there are verdant green notes throughout the offerings, including those on the cocktail menu. For instance, the Smoke Show ($14) — a spicy, sultry drink made with Dewars and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur — arrives with two thin slices of jalapeño resting atop the single giant ice cube. Likewise, the spicy marg! ($11) looks to the power of the exclamation point to tell it like it is. Decidedly fiery, with a chipotle pepper powder rim and more jalapeño floaters, it's a perfectly fine cocktail, but alas, it's no Smoke Show.

The Thai-style pork ribs ($12) will not be filling anyone up anytime soon. More like bone-in pork chops in execution, the two, small, peanut-dusted ribs are extremely difficult to eat with any semblance of grace. Give in and pick yours up. It's all about your incisors now. Accompanied by a mound of mache lettuce and three thin slices of radish, the overall flavors of the dish are on-point, there just isn't much of it to go around.

Cannon Green's service is friendly and knowledgeable, with plenty of staff on hand to keep things moving. Despite the high ceilings and open space, you can still hear the Lumineers playing quietly overhead and the overall din remained low even as the restaurant filled.

click to enlarge The cabbage steak is a quartered cabbage head on top of roasted morel and Blue Foot mushrooms - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • The cabbage steak is a quartered cabbage head on top of roasted morel and Blue Foot mushrooms

The cabbage "steak" ($19) is a head-scratcher. Has the vegan populace demanded equal rights to meat-based terminology? Or is anything now considered a "steak" if you roast it? Perhaps it's an effort to make 17 cents worth of cabbage feel worthy of an Andrew Jackson?

Regardless of the reasons, the quartered cabbage head sits proudly brown and roasted amongst the voluptuous morel and Blue Foot mushrooms. Surrounded by a smooth and powerfully smoky onion puree, the cabbage itself is still quite undercooked at the core, yet the umami flavors of the superlative mushrooms elevate what might otherwise have been an unremarkable dish.

On the other hand, when prepared correctly, there may be nothing more sublime than scallops ($29). The three bivalves arrive beautifully seared, yet tender like buttah atop a light, creamy celery root puree. Although quite pretty, the accompanying peeled orange segments don't add much beyond color, and the centerpiece — a thick slice of roasted fennel root — was disagreeably raw.

With small portions and a high cost of admission, some of Cannon Green's dishes are arguably undeserving of their price tag. Still, there are some superlative offerings on the menu that are more than worthy of the splurge. Go for the tranquil, garden-like setting and stay for the egg yolk-filled pasta. As Oscar Wilde once noted, moderation is a fatal thing, and nothing succeeds like excess.

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