July 20, 2007 by seanbrock
48 Hour Cheat Sheet: Charleston, SC
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© Courtesy McCrady’s Restaurant
1) McCrady’s Restaurant
2 Unity Alley; 843-577-0025 or mccradysrestaurant.com.
Sean Brock, the young chef who took over the kitchen at McCrady’s last year, has brought some of the experimental techniques associated with molecular gastronomy to this stalwart Charleston restaurant: He cooks many of his dishes sous-vide and uses ingredients like methylcellulose. The handsome, clubby space, with leather banquettes, exposed beams and a mahogany bar, reflects the restaurant’s past life as an 18th-century tavern.
2) La Fourchette
432 King St.; 843-722-6261.
The pommes frites at La Fourchette are locally famous—they’re fried twice in duck fat, after all—but fans of traditional bistro cooking will find many other noteworthy items on the menu, including a fine cassoulet that arrives at the table in the earthenware casserole dish in which it’s cooked.
14 N. Market St.; 843-577-0090 or cordavi.com.
Cordavi’s Corey Elliott and David Szlam are at the fore of Charleston’s new culinary vanguard, which is looking to expand this city’s dining scene beyond the grits-and-gravy mainstays. The pair are arguably less cutting-edge than Sean Brock of McCrady’s but still exciting, preparing dishes like asparagus soup with bacon froth.
4) Social Restaurant + Wine Bar
188 E. Bay St.; 843-577-5665 or socialwinebar.com.
After working at some of New York City’s most noteworthy restaurants (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Aquavit), Charleston native Brad Ball returned home and opened Social this past February, which specializes in wood-fired pizzas and modern American main dishes. A certified sommelier, Ball also offers an extensive and well-edited selection of wines, more than 50 of which are available by the glass.
© Peter Frank Edwards
5) Fleet Landing Restaurant
186 Concord St.; 843-722-8100 or fleetlanding.net.
Situated in what was once a Navy debarkation point, this maritime-themed restaurant decorated with orange life preservers is Tradd and Weesie Newton’s much-anticipated follow-up to McCrady’s. Their gently priced menu celebrates the local catch—superb barbecued oysters or low-country shrimp boil with smoky sausage and okra. The best tables can be found outside, on the wraparound deck overlooking Charleston Harbor.
© Courtesy Sienna Restaurant
6) Sienna Restaurant
901 Island Park Dr., Daniel Island; 843-881-8820 or siennadining.com.
Gorgonzola gelato on warm treviso salad and yellowtail crudo with Meyer lemon aren’t typical nonna recipes. But Ken Vedrinski, who operates this trattoria on Daniel Island, still credits his Italian grandmother for inspiring terrific modern Italian dishes like these—all worth the 15-mile drive from downtown Charleston.
Hominy Grill © Peter Frank Edwards
7) Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Ave.; 843-937-0930 or hominygrill.com.
Following the example of his mentor, famed Southern cook Bill Neal, Robert Stehling remains loyal to low-country cooking traditions yet finds a way to add his own imprimatur using the best local ingredients. The results are unpretentious, creative and delicious: sautéed chicken livers in gravy flavored with country ham; grits served with scallions, mushrooms, and local shrimp.
8) EVO Pizzeria
1075 E. Montague; 843-225-1796 or evopizza.com.
Last March, a wildly popular mobile pizza operation that makes the rounds among local farmers’ markets expanded to add a proper restaurant in North Charleston’s Park Circle neighborhood. Owners Matt McIntosh and Ricky Hacker continue to produce exceptional pies: Toppings consist of locally grown vegetables and homemade mozzarella and sausage on signature crusts that have been perfectly charred on their quick trip inside the 700-degree wood-fired oven.
102 N. Market St.; 843-722-6393 or mercatocharleston.com.
Jacques Larson learned to cook sophisticated low-country food during his six-year tenure at Hank Holliday’s Peninsula Grill. But when he was tapped to open Mercato, he went straight to the source to refine his Italian cooking skills: Italy, not to mention Mario Batali’s Lupa and Otto in New York City. Larson’s slightly tweaked standards—carbonara with house-cured pancetta, Sicilian fregola stew stocked with local shrimp—ensure that even locals who come for the scene stay for the food.
10) The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene
106 Haddrell St., Mount Pleasant; 843-884-0052 or wreckrc.com.
When Hominy Grill’s chef-owner Robert Stehling wants to feast on local seafood, he heads to this signless shack—built on the site of a shipwrecked trawler, 10 minutes outside Charleston in Mount Pleasant—for fried oysters, she-crab soup and boiled shrimp. (They also offer London broil, but it comes with this unsettling disclaimer: “This is a seafood house claiming no expertise in the preparation of red meat… No returns!!!!!!!!”)