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Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Weekend of Food in Charleston

If you want good food, you should book the next flight to Charleston, South Carolina. My whole time there, I saw only a handful of fast food restaurant and everything else was locally owned restaurants. Most of the restaurants feature local seafood, but you can find just about anything. Below are reviews for one restaurant I visited each day.

Day One:
Dinner: Pearlz Oyster Bar
Pearlz is a small, old restaurant in downtown Charleston that offers a wide variety of seafood. To start, I had a cup of New England clam chowder that was creamy and filled with clams and thick cut potatoes, possibly the best clam chowder I’ve ever eaten. The restaurant features about 8 different types of fresh fish that change each day. I chose grilled swordfish for my main dish which came with grilled asparagus and red rice. The fish was thick and tender; however I found the rice to be a bit overpowering and spicy. When eaten with the fish or asparagus, it was really the only thing I tasted. Overall, I would recommend Pearlz if you like seafood as you can find most types of fish and other sea foods on the menu.

Pearlz Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Day Two:
Dinner: Joe Pasta
Situated on the corner of one of the main roads through downtown Charleston, Joe Pasta is a rare Italian restaurant in the seafood-dominant city. I ordered baked penne
which was penne pasta baked with a creamy marina sauce and a blend of various cheeses. Personally, I thought it lacked flavor and I was tired of it about halfway through. The sauce had little flavor and the pasta was covered in baked cheese, which I ended up scraping off to the side because I was eating more cheese than pasta with each bite. It’s not like the food was inedible, but I have had much better pasta at other places.

Joe Pasta on Urbanspoon

Day Three:
Breakfast: Toast
Toast isn’t hard to locate like many other restaurants in downtown Charleston because of the constant swarm of people waiting outside. It’s one of, if not the, most popular breakfast restaurants in downtown yet it only has two small dining rooms. I got there around 10 and they said it would be about a 30 minute wait. An hour and half later we were seated for breakfast. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a morning person, so I was angry at the world for having to wait an hour and a half to eat breakfast when it was only supposed to be 30 minutes. I ordered the traditional French
toast breakfast which came with two slices of thick French toast and several pieces of bacon. I also ordered a side of scrambled eggs because I figured this would probably be my breakfast and lunch since it was already 11:30. The food came out fairly quickly but I’m not going to lie, there wasn’t really anything special about it even though Toast has been recommended by the NY Times and has rave reviews online. My breakfast was good and extremely filling, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think it was worth such a long wait. The staff, however, was extremely courteous and let us know how many people were ahead of us and took our drink orders while we waited. I would recommend Toast if there is little to no wait and you’re looking for a quick, good breakfast.

Toast on Urbanspoon

Day Four:
Dinner: Hyman’s Seafood
Like Toast, there is swarm of people outside Hyman’s at most hours of the day. After 5:30, you can expect at least an hour’s wait. Unlike Toast, Hyman’s is actually worth the wait. It’s rated the best seafood restaurant in the southeast and there are two floors of dining rooms after dining rooms to accommodate the crowds each night. One unique feature of the restaurant are the metal plaques
fastened to each table that tell you what celebrities ate at the table you ate at. Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, and The Beach Boys were among those that ate at the table I did as well as Jasmine Guy, James Brown, and David Lee Roth. There are a slew of celebrities who have eaten here and are featured on the walls of the restaurant including Oprah, AC/DC, Michael Phelps, and Sandra Bullock. Half the fun is just seeing what celebrities ate at the table you did. To start, I ordered two appetizers—calamari and crab dip (there are coupons galore for the crab dip which gets you it for free). The calamari was tender and not the least bit chewy and as an added bonus was only $5. The dip was refreshing and had a bit of a tangy flavor to it. My sister and I decided to split the shrimp dinner. You can choose how you want each dish cooked—fried, broiled, steamed, etc—but the restaurant recommends fried, so we chose fried shrimp. With each meal you receive hush puppies, coleslaw, and an additional side of your choice ensuring you will definitely not go hungry. The shrimp was crispy and didn’t taste oily or over-fried like some foods that are fried can. I'm not sure the food would taste as good if it weren't fried as that seems to be their specialty and they even hint that other preparations won't taste like anything on the menu, but I could be wrong. As long as you like seafood, you are guaranteed to find something you will like. They feature about 10 fresh fish that change daily as well as four pages of different entrees. Go before 5:30 to avoid the wait and you won’t leave the least bit hungry.

Hyman's on Urbanspoon

Erin with Restaurants

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