I know it has been open for some time, but tonight was my first experience (of what I'm sure will be many) at the Fat Hen.
Choosing restaurants for my family can be difficult. My parents don't like "loud" restaurants. My dad doesn't like pasta, ethnic cuisine, or small plates, and could care less about a wine list. My sister has eaten at a greater variety of restaurants throughout the country and world than I could dream of trying. However, in this case, I accomplished the unthinkable - a dinner where every person left with a smile on his face.
Tonight's dinner may be one of the best meals I've had in Charleston in the last four years. For the first course, the table enjoyed fried green tomatoes, BBQ scallops, seared tuna, and crab soup. No one shared a bite of their appetizer, so I can only guess they were as fantastic as mine. The crab soup had large pieces of crab and a creaminess that managed to be luxurious without being overly heavy.
The menu offers a wide range of entrees to choose from, as well as a few specials. We selected the lamb shank, the escolar (a special for the evening), the grouper, and the short rib. Each dish was fantastic, right down to the last butter bean. As for mine, I'll only say this - Earlier today, I stated in a survey that the short rib at Al di La was my favorite dish. If only I had waited until after dinner, as that dish is trumped by the short rib at Fat Hen. My plate was cleaner than my dad's in the end!
Unfortunately, we were too full to attempt a dessert for each person - so we shared a lemon tart, which was a nice end to the evening. However, given a bigger stomach, I'll be coming back for the chocolate bread pudding.
The service was great. Our waitress was well versed in the menu and obviously passionate about the food. The only blemish was in the delivery of drinks. One member of the party asked for a second glass of wine at arrival of the entrees but did not receive it until she was nearly finished with the course. Also, water glasses were only refilled once throughout the meal. We would have liked to see the runners offering refills on drinks more often. Otherwise, the timing of food was perfect. The atmosphere was lively and warm, and we had time to enjoy a leisurely dinner, without feeling as if we were being rushed or waiting for anything.
I'll have to give it another try (we'll be trying it for lunch when my other sister comes down for Christmas), but if the next meal measures up to this one, Fat Hen will become a new member of my Top Five list!