I had the great pleasure of visiting Charleston last weekend and thought I would write up my impressions of the city's eateries. I was first and foremost delighted at the presence of fried oysters on every single menu (it took some willpower for me not to get them every time.) I am from NYC, so my thoughts are from that perspective.
When I first arrived, I wandered around the center of downtown after parking and happened upon a place called Sweetwaters, which is apparently only open for breakfast and lunch. I had a very nice serving of shrimp and grits, which my (Southern) dining companion told me was served in an atypical way. To me, it looked and tasted like shrimp pudding. It came with a delicious biscuit. Diet Coke was served in a massive tumbler and refilled free of charge.
For dinner, we headed to the highly recommended SNOB. Stupid name for a restaurant, but great place. We did not have reservations but were graciously seated at a nice banquette. Wines by the glass were inexpensive (6-7) and appealing. I had a lovely Riesling. We started with very good salads - one with pear and one with something else I can't recall. For mains, I had a fantastic special of triggerfish. I do not know what a triggerfish looks like, but I know that its flesh is dense and white and that, as cooked by SNOB, it tastes great. My companion had a wonderful duck entree. Both were served in notably generous portions. Dessert was a cheese plate; the chef tossed on an additional cheese (the always-welcome Humboldt Fog)
The next day was plantation day. I'd pack a picnic; we got so hungry that we ended up eating at a Bi-Lo. Funnily enough, the food at the Bi-Lo was pretty good; I loaded up a tray of fried chicken, collard greens and red rice, plus a Diet Coke, for something like seven dollars. And the Bi-Lo had seating and bathrooms. So not a bad choice, actually. Dinner that night was at Blossoms, which I found resoundingly average. I can't remember much of what I had; a boring salad (though topped with redeeming fried oysters) and a pizza with barbecued chicken on it that was just eh.
The next day brought lunch at Magnolia. This was very good. I had an appetizer of shrimp gumbo (which was deliciously infiltrated by oysters) and a Caesar salad, which proved to be a very fine light lunch. Dinner was at tourist haven Jestine's. I enjoyed the corn fritters, which tasted like a ball of canned corn, except good. I had the fried chicken (gigantic portion) which was good, as was the collard greens. My companion tried a special of tomato pie, which tasted like pizza. Late night hunger brought us to Meritage, a sort of tapas place, which had mediocre food and was ear-splittingly loud, even for a relatively young person like myself.
All in all I was happy with my dining and other experiences in Charleston. the only thing that surprised me is that there is apparently not one cybercafe in all of downtown Charleston. I could not check my email once. bizarre.