Circa 1886 Introduces Menu Suitable for Warm or Cold Weather

Could an elevated egg-in-a-basket (aka toad-in-the-hole; one-eyed Jack; egg-in-a-hat; framed egg and gashouse egg) vault Circa 1886 to the top of the TripAdvisor list?

The Wentworth Mansion restaurant – which currently rates second with TripAdvisor reviewers, lagging behind Hall’s Chophouse – last week rolled out a new all-weather menu, featuring the egg-in-a-basket with which Restaurant Week “diners fell in love,” according to a press release.

Other Restaurant Week menu holdovers include pumpkin seed-granola encrusted pork tenderloin and a caramel banana cake. Among the new dishes are a cardamom-braised lamb shank with celery root and flageolet mousseline (for when it’s cold outside) and a sake-brined salmon (for when temperatures rise.) Continue reading

Charleston Restaurant Week Adds More Lunchtime Options

codaCharleston Restaurant Week’s Fall 2013 lunch initiative was so successful that sponsor Greater Charleston Restaurant Association (GCRA) is repeating the program, with 13 restaurants scheduled to serve midday meals during this month’s edition of the popular dining event.

Butcher & Bee, making its Charleston Restaurant Week debut, is one of the restaurants offering lunch: Its sample three-course menu, priced at $30 for two people, includes matzoh ball soup; kale slaw and grilled cheese.

Other first-timers among the 142 restaurants serving up prix-fixe menus from Jan. 8-Jan. 19 include The Lot; Indaco; Coda del Pesce and McCrady’s, where diners will have their pick of dishes such as beef tartare; snapper with Carolina Gold rice polenta; aged duck and savarin oat cake for $40.

Reservations are highly recommended. For a complete list of restaurants and featured menus, visit GCRA’s website.

Where to Eat Out on Thanksgiving

steveajohnson

Steve A Johnson

As your thoughts turn from candy corn to cranberry sauce, you may very well decide you don’t want to fuss with fixing Thanksgiving dinner this year. Fortunately, Charleston restaurants are happy to help.

Here, a list of restaurants staying open for the holiday. Remember, reservations are essential; prix fixe prices don’t include drinks, tax or gratuity; and servers deserve to be tipped handsomely for giving up the day with their families. Happy Thanksgiving!

82 Queen

82 Queen, 723-7591

Hours: 12 noon-8 p.m.

Price: Entrees, $31-$39

Service style: A la carte

Sample menu items: Crispy parmesan oysters; sweet tea-grilled pork chop

Turkey description: Roast turkey paired with Southern potatoes, haricot verts, giblet gravy, cranberry chutney

Complete holiday menu: http://www.82queen.com/thanksgiving/

Blossom

171 E. Bay St., 722-9200

Hours: 11 .am.-9 p.m.

Price: Entrees, $24-$32

Service style: A la carte

Sample menu items: Pickled shrimp; pan-roasted grouper; pumpkin cheesecake

Turkey description: Slow-roasted turkey with cornbead and housemade sausage stuffing, slow-cooked green beans, whipped potatoes, cranberry relish, giblet gravy

Complete holiday menu: http://www.magnolias-blossom-cypress.com/blossom.asp?id=118213&action=detail&catID=20407&parentID=20406 Continue reading

What’s a Spring Fish Doing on a Fall Menu?

halibut2The fall menu at Circa 1886 is crammed with dishes that most diners would immediately recognize as autumnal – the entrée list includes duck breast with a mustard demi-glace, pork chop with Brussels sprouts and quail accompanied by rabbit sausage and pumpkin gnocchi – but the outlier of the bunch is halibut, which is generally recognized as a harbinger of spring.

In the Pacific Northwest, which this year has harvested nearly 19 million pounds of halibut, the opening of the commercial season is greeted with the same relief many Southerners feel when the first ramps blossom. Although the season runs for nine months, fishermen pining for a paycheck can catch 10-20 percent of the annual allowable catch in the season’s first few weeks.

This year, halibut season opened on Mar. 23; it closes on Nov. 7. Continue reading

Restaurant Week Patrons Apt to Veer From Promotional Menus

avlxyz

avlxyz

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.”