Austin’s Food & Drink Calls it Quits

austins2Austin’s Food & Drink, which this summer took over the Spring Street storefront previously occupied by Black Bean Co., this weekend closed up shop.

A note taped to the front door didn’t explain the reasons behind the closure, nor did owner Debby New provide additional information on Austin’s Facebook page, but the restaurant was often eerily quiet for much of its near-daily 9 a.m.-8 p.m. schedule. Extending hours on Friday and Saturday nights, adding Sunday brunch and serving beer and wine didn’t seem to help cultivate the crowds: A staffer was at least once stationed on the sidewalk to ask passersby whether they’d tried Austin’s. Continue reading

Savannah Food & Wine Festival Announces Schedule

Fuel’s Alex McMahan, who yesterday failed to follow in his father’s footsteps with a Taste of Charleston waiters’ race victory, may not have to wait an entire year to avenge the loss: There’s another waiters’ race on the schedule for the first-ever Savannah Food & Wine Festival.

But for prospective attendees who don’t have any interest in maneuvering an obstacle course while grasping a serving tray, the Nov. 11-17 festival also features plenty of less-energetic events, including wine dinners, tastings and cooking demonstrations. Chefs scheduled to participate include Hugh Acheson, Chris Hastings, Steven Satterfield, Anthony Lamas and Kent Rathbun.

According to a release, the event is “poised to set the bar high.”

Ticket prices vary by session; the complete schedule is posted here.

Dispatch From Greenville: Chefs Wrestle With Gator

Shoshanah

Shoshanah

Since moving to gator country, I’ve been curious as to why the animal’s meat is almost exclusively served fried. Although the stray stewed, grilled or braised alligator dish will occasionally appear on a restaurant menu – New Orleans’ Mandina’s has reportedly subjected gator to its meunière treatment – most alligator available for ordering takes the form of a crispy nugget.

“It’s one of the tougher white meats,” explains Damion Norton, chef of Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen in Greenville. “I think it tastes better fried.” Continue reading

LWV Hosts Discussion of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan’s fans spent the summer reading his latest release, Cooked, but the League of Women Voters’ local chapter is hoping they’ll again reach for his classic, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in preparation for an upcoming event.

The League on Oct. 17 is hosting a discussion of the book, which probes the political and philosophical dimensions of eating, following a tour of Grow Food Carolina at 990 Morrison Drive. Lisa Turansky, director of sustainable agriculture for the Coastal Conservation League, will lead the conversation.

The event begins at 6 p.m. There’s no charge for the tour or discussion, but dinner costs $12; Attendees can register and choose their wrap or salad on the League’s website.

Holly Herrick Explains Cream Puffs and Eclairs in Latest Cookbook

Charleston cookbook author Holly Herrick is planning a number of local appearances to promote her new book, Cream Puffs & Eclairs, the second volume in The French Cook series.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, Herrick will be stationed at The Peanut Shop, 92 N. Market St., for a book signing from 1p.m.-4 p.m.  And on Sunday, Nov. 24., Herrick’s teaching a choux pastry class at Southern Season’s cooking school (although if you’d prefer to catch Herrick sooner, she’s leading a mother sauces class this Sunday at 2 p.m. The session costs $40.)

Herrick’s book will be released tomorrow.

Dispatch From Greenville: New Culinary Tour Spotlights South

After three years of offering culinary tours, Greenville History Tours owner John Nolan is introducing a food-themed walking program with a pronounced Southern accent.

“There’s nothing like it in the Carolinas,” he promises.

The newly-announced two-hour tour will feature samples of lowcountry cooking, New Orleans cuisine and barbecue from High Cotton, Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen and Smoke on the Water. Continue reading

Dispatch from Greenville: Putting Every State on the Wine List

sipThe wine list at Sip, Greenville’s impressive new rooftop lounge, would be intimidating under the best of the circumstances: The dozens and dozens of wines offered by the glass are identified only by varietal and place of origin, giving little guidance to the drinker who just wants something floral and light. But the situation’s nearly untenable on the weekend nights, when the attractive patio fills with revelers – most of whom are drinking beer and liquor.

The most common wine order during the hours when the service staff can’t talk guests through their choices is “just give me a Riesling,” High Street Hospitality beverage director Chad Musick admits.

During its first summer, the six-month old bar sold 20,000 glasses of wine. But Musick says he plans to tweak the list just as soon as the opening craziness subsides: His list of edits includes ramping up the domestic selection.

Sip now serves a single wine from North Carolina and no wines from Virginia. Continue reading

Surfers Healing Fundraiser in Folly

Surfers Healing, a foundation which promotes treating autistic children by putting them on the front end of a surfboard, is hosting a fundraising breakfast this weekend in Folly Beach.

At The Grill and Island Bar’s “Feed Yourself, Nourish a Soul”, which runs from 9 a.m.-12 noon on Saturday, $10 will buy a breakfast plate. Non-alcoholic drinks are included, but the bar’s also offering $2 mimosas and a $4 bloody Mary bar.

For more information, call 633-0143.

Charleston Chefs Get VIP Treatment at Greenville’s Euphoria

The Grocery

The Grocery’s oyster-based contribution to Taste of the South.

Greenville this weekend hosted the eighth edition of Euphoria, the song-and-food festival founded by Edwin McCain and the restaurateur behind Soby’s. While I couldn’t stay for the entirety of the event (Taste of Charleston beckoned!), it didn’t take more than a few hours to appreciate the city’s enormous civic pride, which seems to extend equally to its restaurants and rubberized sidewalks.

But with stiff competition in both directions on I-26, Greenville may still be a few years away from unseating either Asheville or Charleston as a culinary destination. Continue reading

Casual Mediterranean Chain Zoës Kitchen Comes to Mt. Pleasant

img42After opening 94 locations, most of them in the Southeast, Zoës Kitchen is opening its first South Carolina store in Mt. Pleasant.

Zoës Kitchen at 1242 Belk Drive is hoping to pique anticipation for its Oct. 10 debut with a Facebook contest in which 500 free meals will be awarded. The contest gets underway today, and runs through opening day.

The Zoës chain started in Birmingham, Ala., where Zoë Cassimus in 1995 opened a casual lunch counter emphasizing fresh ingredients and Greek flavors. The current menu includes salads, pita sandwiches and kebabs. Zoës also offers takeaway prepared meals sized for four eaters and side dishes packed in pints. Box lunches and party trays are available through the restaurant’s catering division.

Beer and wine will also be sold at the Mt. Pleasant store, which has indoor seating for 76 people and a patio which seats 50. The restaurant plans to open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.