Limehouse Offers Reward For Photo of Newest Truck

limetomatoesLimehouse Produce latest promotion comes with a sizable prize package and an important safety warning: Don’t try to photograph the grower’s newest truck while you’re driving.

But assuming you’re well out of harm’s way, Limehouse is looking for snapshots of the newest addition to its fleet: A truck decorated with cartoon-style produce characters. Shutterbugs who submit a picture of the truck on its delivery route are eligible to win tickets to the Charleston Wine + Food Festival launch party; tickets to the Charleston Restaurant Association’s Taste of Charleston; Limehouse apparel and bags of vegetables.

Entries can be submitted via Limehouse’s Facebook page or Instagram account. One winner will be randomly chosen each week through Sept. 27.

Home Team Takes on Texas

htbrisketHome Team BBQ this weekend unveiled the fruits of owner Aaron Siegel and executive chef Taylor Garrigan’s recent study trip to Austin, Tex: Brisket, beautifully fatty, smoky and tender — if a cut below what the pair likely encountered in Hill Country.

The brisket I sampled at The Alley on Saturday night was the unfortunate victim of inexpert slicing, a problem all-too-common even in the Lone Star state, as my friend Daniel Vaughn’s recent Texas Monthly blog post attests.  As Vaughn, the magazine’s barbecue editor, points out, there are several ways to slice a brisket, but none of them involve slicing with the grain. A brisket sliced with the grain acquires an unappealing, stringy pull, and is tougher than brisket sliced against the grain.

“That’s one of the things we’re dealing with,” Siegel says of the extensive staff training required to produce a perfect brisket plate. “We’re schooling everyone on how to serve it.” Continue reading

Tides Folly Beach Marks End of Summer With AYCE Luau

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Tides Folly Beach wants to save mainlanders the hassle of a tropical island trip.

Tides Folly Beach is stocking the buffet with a number of popular Hawaiian meat dishes for its second annual end-of-summer luau.

Although the hotel didn’t spring for Spam, a $65 ticket to the Sept. 13 evening bash includes access to an open bar and an all-you-can-eat mess of huli huli chicken, loco moco mahi mahi – lapped by mango salsa instead of the traditional brown gravy – roasted pork and laulau, or steamed shrimp. Chief Kamu and his hula dancers will provide the entertainment.

The event also includes music from the Kristi Starr Duo; door prizes and a movie on the beach. Pre-purchased tickets are recommended, but not required: To buy, call 588-6464.

Restaurant Week Patrons Apt to Veer From Promotional Menus

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The prix-fixe price tag on Charleston Restaurant Week meals is undeniably a draw for eaters who want to cap their dinner spending at $30 or $40 a person (assuming they’re not drinking.) But local chefs say diners don’t always stick to the program once they’re seated for their three-course meal.

Restaurant Week patrons use the promotional-priced event to “check off restaurants (they) haven’t been to,” says Jeremiah Bacon, executive chef at The Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse. And given the opportunity to explore a menu they’ve never before experienced, they’re apt to stray from the melon salad and shrimp-and-grits on the preset Restaurant Week menu and choose dishes from the standard line-up.

According to Bacon, such behavior doesn’t occur as often in very ritzy restaurants: He estimates 80 to 85 percent of Restaurant Week guests at Oak follow through with their plans to order the $40 steak dinner.  At The Macintosh, though, “it’s fifty-fifty.”

Bacon says The Macintosh’s price point helps explain the discrepancy. The restaurant also deliberately exposes guests to its regular menu by bolding the Restaurant Week-eligible items instead of printing a separate Restaurant Week sheet.

“I think it works,” Bacon says.

Still, even when presented with a wide range of choices, Bacon says certain guests can’t find what they want. That’s because the announced event menu is subject to change if produce or proteins suddenly become unavailable. For Restaurant Weekers who like to plan out every order in advance, seasonality – taken to an extreme by the dozen or so restaurants which refuse to commit to a bill of fare before the week begins – is an aggravation.

“Once in a while, we’ll hear someone say ‘this isn’t the menu I saw online’,” Bacon says. “But we print the menu every day.”

Jestine’s Sweet Shop Still Open

jestinesAs of this weekend, Jestine’s Sweet Shop remained open, but it remains unclear why Jestine’s Kitchen closed without warning on Thursday, and whether the popular restaurant plans to re-open.

A Sweet Shop staffer refused to comment on the situation, but a man in the shop who identified himself as a friend of its employees said they’re as curious as the general public about what prompted the abrupt closure for unscheduled and unspecified renovations.

Although messages left on the restaurant’s voicemail and with the Sweet Shop for owner Dana Berlin Strange weren’t returned, rumors that the closure could be prolonged or permanent are swirling on social media. Continue reading

Cinebarre Expands Beverage Selection With Full Bar

cinebarreThis may count as second-run news, but for someone who’s previously lived in two other cities with a Cinebarre and never been able to enjoy a martini at the movies, it’s a big deal to discover the Mt. Pleasant location now offers liquor drinks.

The Asheville-based dinner-and-a-movie chain last month underscored the “bar” in Cinebarre by adding spirits to its beverage service. Previously, the theater served margaritas and other pseudo-mixed drinks made with wine.

The new cocktail menu features 16 drinks, priced at $9-$10, including a Charleston Tea made with sweet tea vodka and a Dark & Stormy finished with fresh lime. There’s also a line-up of “grown-up milkshakes” blended with vodka.

But Steve Jobs, the subject of the critically-derided biopic now playing on one of Cinebarre’s 11 screens, probably wouldn’t have ordered any of the above: He liked non-alcoholic grape juice.

Jestine’s Kitchen Closes For Unplanned Renovations

Jestine’s Kitchen is closed for unanticipated renovations, according to the restaurant’s outgoing voicemail message.

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“We are closed right now for renovations, thank you very much,” the speaker says. “I’m very sorry. It was out of my control.”

It’s unclear exactly when and why the restaurant suspended service, but tipster @KeeneDawg reports hearing Jestine’s “closed yesterday in the middle of the day.” (Lunch service apparently began as usual: I swung by the restaurant around noon yesterday to shoot a picture of the line for a Seattle food writer planning a Charleston trip and wondering if Jestine’s was worth a stop.) Continue reading

Big Billy’s Offering Cash for Best Burger

billburg2If your ideal burger is dressed with sardines and kimchi, you’re out of luck at Big Billy’s Burger Joint. But if you can combine the North Charleston restaurant’s existing patties and toppings to create the perfect sandwich, there may be $250 in it for you.

Big Billy’s this month started choosing a weekly winner in its “Build a Burger” contest, which runs through Sept. 6. The top finisher will receive a $250 prize and the priceless honor of having his or her creation added to the specials menu.

The dozens of ingredients available for burger construction include sliced mushrooms, ham, chow chow, queso and honey horseradish sauce. The second week’s winner garnished his burger with roasted red pepper, fried pickles, caramelized red onions and mac-n-cheese.

To play, ask a Big Billy’s server for an entry form.

Elliottborough Mini Bar Adds Morning Hours, Starring Toast

toastIf you haven’t had breakfast yet, there’s bread and a toaster at Elliottborough Mini Bar.

The young corner saloon added morning hours about a month ago, so I swung by yesterday on my way to work. I may have staked out the shop a mite too soon: There’s no tea yet, just quality pour-over coffee, but the bleary-eyed staffer said tea’s a planned addition.

On the food side, there’s a basket of $1 eggs and a toast bar with fixings. The $1.50 toast is a self-service set-up: Customers choose a slice of plain-Jane white, wheat or gluten-free bread, then garnish with butter, cream cheese, strawberry jam or peanut butter. Or with all of the above: Elliottborough isn’t a highly regimented kind of place.

It’s also not yet a very busy place: The staffer attributed his fatigue to the slow traffic that comes with locating in a newish neighborhood. Go keep him awake, folks: Elliottborough’s open from 7 a.m.-11 a.m.

Chopsticks House Succeeds as City’s Only Bubble Tea Outpost

bobamenuIt’s a reliably bad idea to go looking for an edible specialty of the last place you lived in your new hometown. Not only are the search results bound to be disheartening, but the whole endeavor’s unfairly dismissive of local culinary culture. At least that was my stance until Saturday, when I really wanted a coconut bubble tea.

Bubble, or boba, tea originated in late-1980s Taiwan, possibly when a teahouse staffer impulsively poured her tapioca pudding into her iced tea. Whether or not the story’s true, flavored tea with chewy tapioca balls is now slurped compulsively across East Asia and in North American cities with significant Asian populations. In Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, an entire subculture has sprung up around boba shops.

In downtown Charleston, though, there’s only one source for bubble tea: Chopsticks House, a quick-service Chinese restaurant which got into the boba biz about 18 months ago. Continue reading