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Charleston

Report from Charleston (medium long)

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Report from Charleston (medium long)

Gary Bair | May 2, 2006 04:58 PM

Having eaten our way through Charleston last weekend, a posting of our great, and not so great, finds. First, the highlights: SNOB for lunch...maybe it was the fact that it was our first lunch, just off the plane that morning, and the fact that we could walk from our hotel, thus freeing us to have a glass of wine. We loved the casual elegance, the service, the fresh soft-shell crab on a nice salad (suggested by our server rather than a sandwich). Their version of strawberry short cake was to die for. A most splendid start to our long weekend. Other lunches were uneventful. Another highlight was Hominy Grille for breakfast on Saturday. We ate outside, and I felt like I was back in Key West (except there were no chickens). The service was great, as were the huevos rancheros and blueberry-strawberry pancakes. The coffee was good as was the orange juice. This is worth the trip. Two dinners of note: Al Di La, across the bridge in West Ashley is a touch of Italy in the Charleston burbs. And what a bargain...bread, olives, two pastas, fish, a bottle of wine, the best tiramisu ever, coffee, and under $85 for the two of us. The service was just the right touch of down home service and professionalism. Don't miss this place if you go to Charleston and have a car! The other dinner highlight was our last dinner of the trip at Peninsula Grille. Reminds me of Galatoire's in New Orleans. A bit more formal than SNOB, but not really stuffy. It seems like a place locals would go to once a week or so. Do they have personal waiters as at Galatoire's, I wonder? Again, fantastic soft shell crabs, which is one of my favorites anyway. The much ballayhooed coconut cake was very good, but hardly worth writing about by itself. One final bar highlight...you've got to check out Cypress on East Bay. A beautiful space, the bar looks down on the kitchen. If you like oysters, which we do, a must go. What could be better than champagne and a dozen oysters before dinner?

Now the misses and also rans. What is the deal with Poogan's Porch? Many hounds sang its praises, but our Sunday brunch was flat as a pancake. The coffee was weak, the grits seemed day-old, and the biscuits were not all that great either. My wife's eggs were cold too. I wish we had gone back to Hominy Grille! Dinner at Caroline's on Exchange Street was not so great either. This place does seem a bit full of itself, i.e., stuffy in a bad way. Way overpriced, and the food was OK but not great. Skip it. Market Pavilion Hotel's rooftop bar was kind of fun, if you like drinking next to a swimming pool. The views are nice, and our weather was great, so I guess it's worth the trip if you are in the neighborhood.

A couple of misses...we drove out to Bowen's Island for oysters, but they were not open for lunch. That is quite a place, and I was sorry we didn't see it in action. Our final breakfast was to be at the Bookstore Cafe, but they had just closed on King Street the week before. Will be reopening in mid-May in Mount Pleasant.

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