Disclaimer: I tried to eat at every restaurant in the city and failed miserably, dining only at a handful of top-rate eateries. I'm sure there are other fabulous finds out there. In fact, I'm volunteering to go back and find them. Today.
Our first stop was The Governor's House Inn, our home-away-from-home for the weekend. We arrived just in time for "afternoon tea," which in Charleston translates to "wine, cheese, chocolate, and other assorted goodies," with apologies to Britain, I'm sure! The Inn, a fabulous bed & breakfast, also offered a delicious morning meal that got us up and going early each day. One morning it was a cornbread-based sausage casserole, the next it was a spinach quiche. Both arrived with a heaping bowl of fresh fruit, sweet zucchini bread, and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, all served under the softly whirling fans on the back porch. Heaven!
For dinner, we followed sound advice and tried Magnolias, a delicious find just off the waterfront. The ambiance is classic Southern elegance: casual white tablecloth, if you will. To start, we sampled fried green tomatoes served atop grits with thin slices of ham and a tomato chutney on top and a delicious seared scallop platter. The food was excellent, but the sauces were to die for. If I hadn't worried about wasting the scallop sauce, I would've bathed in it. For our mains, we enjoyed a pimiento cheese-stuffed steak (which inspired the menu for our rehearsal dinner. Yum!) and Parmesan-crusted flounder with a crab-and-cucumber salad on top. Just to prove we could, we ordered dessert: a delicious cream cheese brownie. The presentation, sauces, and flavor at Magnolias was top-notch, and earned it a "definitely going back" status in our book!
On Saturday, we sampled another top-notch find: High Cotton, where we (thankfully!) ate less but enjoyed ourselves just as much. The atmosphere felt like an old country club dining room, one where you've been a member for years. I loved my crab cake and creamed peas (which offered more bacon than greens, yum!) and my husband loved his prime rib and chilled watermelon soup
For dessert, we made our way over to Baked, a little pastry-and-coffee shop across the street from High Cotton for their Grasshopper Cake. Oh. My. God. These generously-sized treats, while perfectly sized for sharing, are too good to share! My husband loved it so much that he went back and got the cookbook, which I've been reading ever since!
Sunday we stopped at Hominy Grill on the way out of town. The wait was short, the food was amazing, and the atmosphere top-notch. We dined among locals and students from the local colleges and loved every minute of it. I couldn't sell Brian on the GuinNess Float, but we did enjoy a lamb gyro and a "big nasty biscuit," topped with fried chicken and homemade sausage gravy. Watch out, Chick-fil-A! The big nasty is coming to get you!
Sure, we saw more in Charleston than the interior of restaurants (need I mention the rooftop bars at the Vendue Inn and the Market Pavilion Hotel?), but these culinary feasts will always come to mind when I think of this beautiful city. Next time, we're definitely going to try out a few more stops, and maybe one more Grasshopper at Baked...