The Woodlands, Cafe Medley, Lombardi's, J'Paulz, Chef Brett Maynard 

A La Carte

BIG DIAMONDS
AAA announced its 2009 diamonds last week, and there weren't too many surprises for Charleston restaurants. The Woodlands in Summerville remains the state's only five diamond rated restaurant, and they maintained their five-diamond lodging status as well. The other five-diamond hotels in the area are The Sanctuary at Kiawah and the Wentworth Mansion, both of which garnered four diamonds for their restaurants, The Ocean Room and Circa 1886 respectively. The four-diamond restaurants welcomed Six Tables in Mt. Pleasant to the fold, which also includes Langdon's, Tristan, Sienna, Peninsula Grill, Charleston Grill, Cypress, Grill 225, McCrady's, and Palmetto Café. Planters Inn, a four diamond recipient, hosted an awards dinner reception for the local honorees with food from Peninsula Grill, Hank's Seafood Restaurant, and Mercato. For a complete list of all AAA-rated properties get a copy of AAA's TourBooks, which is distributed free to members nationwide and is available on newsstands. —Stephanie Barna

CAFE MEDLEY TAKES THE GOLD
A new gourmet shop has opened on Sullivan's Island at 2213 Middle St. Cafe Medley, owned and operated by Michelle Harris, the wife of Atlanticville's manager Drew Harris, dishes out breakfast pastries, quiches, coffee and espresso, deep-dish sweet potato pies, chocolate pecan pies, and gourmet ice cream. Harris also offers a respectable wine selection for islanders with a make-your-own mixed wine case deal that saves you 10 percent off the top. Their winter hours are Tues.-Fri., 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sun. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and are closed Mondays. —Mark Glenn

NEW BRUNCH OPTION ON James island
The recently-opened Lombardi's Italian Restaurant on James Island (read review, p. 59) has just added weekend brunch to its ever-expanding lineup. This will be good news for folks desperate at the thought of losing Mimi's very popular brunch when that beloved café closes in December. At Lombardi's, the flavors are decidedly Italian with a make-your-own-fritatta menu and chef's specialties like almond-crusted French toast, a ribeye cantina special, and poached eggs with capicola on a toasted English muffin. They also have plans to open a patio to accommodate the crowds. They are located at 979 Harbor View Road. (843) 795-3133. —Stephanie Barna

ON THE WATERFRONT
Paul Farell, the dude known as "Snappy" who co-owns the popular tapas bar J'Paulz on James Island, will be opening a new banquet hall at the empty Crab House/Landry's Seafood waterfront building across from California Dreaming on Ripley Point. It's a much-needed venue as Charleston, despite being surrounded on three sides by water, has a dearth of waterfront options. The goal is to have the space finished in the early part of December and ready to host private parties, functions, and weddings. They'll also be opening up for Sunday brunch every week. Stay tuned for more details. — Mark Glenn

SAD NEWS
Chef Brett Maynard died in a car crash last Saturday night. His wife, Jill, was driving the car and suffered injuries that she is expected to fully recover from, according to The Post and Courier's report. Maynard spent years at the helm of Fulton Five's kitchen and he and Jill ran their own restaurant, Twizt, on James Island, which closed earlier this year. Most recently, he was working at 39 Rue de Jean. Jill has been the general manager of High Cotton for many years and both were much beloved in the local F&B world. Our thoughts are with their friends and family during this sad time. —Stephanie Barna

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