Chef Switch at Riso Noodle House

soupThere is still an “Authentic Chinese Menu” at Riso Noodle House, but the dishes are now being prepared by a Vietnamese chef.

The West Ashley restaurant — which I had hailed for its second menu, featuring tripe noodle soup; soybean pork feet and steamed beef balls – last month hired a new chef after owner Patty Ho’s partner had to leave the kitchen permanently because of damage to his hand.

Ho described the injury as related to repetitive motion. “The pain was getting worse,” Ho says, adding that he had delayed surgery. Continue reading

Cainhoy Cookin’ Depot Brings Southern Cooking to Wando

chxdonutWhen Nathaniel Chamblin was nine years old, his father opened The Icehouse Café, then a small bar in a suburb of Washington D.C. Within a few years, it was one of the city’s top restaurants, branching into California cuisine long before its competitors and pouring microbrews by 1987.

Chamblin is planning to get off to a similarly modest start with Cainhoy Cookin’ Depot, opening next month in Wando. And while he doesn’t have any immediate plans to overtake the city’s leading restaurants, he says, “I have mad respect for all of the talent we have in town. But I wouldn’t mind going toe-to-toe with some of these chefs in an Iron Chef format, and they know it.”

Now 43, Chamblin has been involved in restaurants since he was a boy. After his family in 1991 sold The Icehouse Café, he gravitated toward restaurant consulting, moving to Charleston in 1997. He helped open Bull & Finch and Zinc Bistro, but didn’t spend much time in the kitchen: Cainhoy Cookin’ Depot is Chamblin’s first full-time chef job in 20 years. Continue reading

Holy City Hospitality Snubs OpenTable

Diners interested in checking out the pair of new restaurants from Holy City Hospitality won’t have any luck securing a reservation through OpenTable: Vincent Chicco’s and Michael’s on the Alley are among the first upscale restaurants on the peninsula to handle their table assignments exclusively through a Yelp subsidiary.

Yelp last summer announced the purchase of SeatMe, an iPad-based system launched in 2011. Unlike OpenTable, SeatMe charges a flat $99 monthly fee instead of $1-$2.50 per cover.

“OpenTable is very expensive, and there is a fee for each reservation made,” explains assistant general manager Whitney Standish, who’s an unqualified fan of the service. “SeatMe works just as well and is super easy to navigate.” Continue reading

Bollywood Cafe Folds Before its First Birthday

bolly2Sad news from Rivers Avenue: According to a tweet from @CharlestonFood, Bollywood Café has closed.

The Indian restaurant’s website is out of service, and its voice mailbox is full, suggesting the “for lease” sign in the window does signal the end of the breakaway buffet.

Owners of Bombay Restaurant last summer opened Bollywood in a former Wendy’s after a landlord dispute ended their tenure 400 feet up the street. Another operating group took over the Bombay name and venue. Continue reading

Crave to Take Over Space Vacated by Rosebank Farms Cafe

crave3Four months after reopening its location damaged by an electrical fire, Crave International Foods and Catering is on the cusp of opening a second Johns Island restaurant.

“We’re hoping to do it by May,” owner Michael Petrillo says, speaking from the former Rosebank Farms Café space he’s planning to renovate.

Rosebank Farms Café closed earlier this month. Although owner Julie Limehouse didn’t return messages, Sidi Limehouse speculated she was exhausted by more than two decades in the restaurant business.

“She was just tired,” he says. “She just wanted to do something else. You know, restaurants are a tough business. Business has fallen off; there’s a lot of competition here now.” Continue reading

What to Expect from Ristorante LIDI (With Pictures)

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All photos provided by King Street Marketing Group

Ristorante LIDI, a family-oriented Italian restaurant on Daniel Island, has scheduled its grand opening for Mar. 7.

The dinner menu runs long on Italian-American classics such as Caesar salad, grilled sausage, fried calamari, chicken parmesan, veal picatta, lasagna and linguine with clam sauce (LIDI stands for Little Italy, Daniel Island.) The standard menu is supplemented by a lengthy selection of salads, meat entrees and pastas plated family-style, including a $24 serving of cacio e pepe, which ardent fans of the dish might have trouble sharing.

Main dishes meant for a single eater are priced between $13 and $26. Continue reading

Restaurateurs Plan More Small Plates for Upper King

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Ben Russell-Schlesinger and Robert Young

The first-time restaurateurs behind the project at the corner of Morris and King yesterday revealed the concept they’ve thus far been reluctant to discuss.

“What we’re looking to do is take really great stuff and our chef’s reputation and serve it in a small-plates atmosphere,” Robert Young, a 32-year old former server (Charleston Grill, 39 Rue De Jean) said after receiving permission from his partner, Ben Russell-Schlesinger, to “let the cat out of the bag.”

“It’s shareable and social,” Young continued, adding he anticipates customers hopping from the restaurant (the name is still a secret) to other restaurants on Upper King. Continue reading

Twenty Six Divine Goes Over to the Dark Side For Dinner

darkside2Laser lights have long been paired with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but “Money” is very rarely matched with sweet potato risotto and a glass of Pinot Noir.

Twenty Six Divine‘s Dark Side of the Moon dinner, featuring seven courses served as the album plays, is so unusual that Googling “Dark Side of the Moon dinner” pulls up just one reference to a similar event: Apparently the Portland branch of Marijuana Anonymous had the same idea.

“We just really like music and food a lot, so we thought it would be fun,” Jenn Parezo says. Continue reading

When in Darlington, Eat at Jewel’s

jewelplateOne of my best friends from high school married a man with land in Darlington, a backstory which made no difference to me until I learned I’d be in the area this week around lunchtime. Although they’ve landed back in our Michigan hometown, I frantically appealed to my friend and her husband for eating help.

“I guess there is a burger place called Joe’s something,” she texted back.

No offense to Joe’s, but I’ve since learned the correct answer to the inevitable “where should I eat in Darlington?” question is Jewel’s Deluxe, an upstanding meat-and-three on the town square. Continue reading

Tropical Kitchen Express Speeds Up Service

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Tropical Kitchen Express

Nobody ever seems to quibble with the quality of Tropical Kitchen Express’ pernil, mofongo or chicken fricassee. The time it takes the Goose Creek restaurant to prepare its dishes, though, was a longstanding complaint from the lunch crowd.

Earlier this month, Tropical Kitchen strengthened its claim to the “Express” modifier by installing a steam table. The move drew more than 100 ‘likes’ on Facebook. “About time,” Julie Vasquez wrote on the restaurant’s wall. “I hate waiting.” (Proving her point, she added, “I can’t wait to eat there again.”)

Owner Evelyn Irizarry says fans of her Puerto Rican cooking aren’t restricted to the premade dishes, which recently included roast pork, cubed pork, yellow rice and white rice. “We still have a la carta,” she says. “But, for lunch, we can serve them faster.”

Tropical Kitchen Express at 104 Saint James Avenue is open from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. every day but Sunday. For more information, call 553-7557.