Once I came through my hip replacement surgery, my husband thought a little vacation would be good for us. With that in mind, he planned a trip to Charleston, SC from September 9th through 12th. As the hurricane season up until this point seemed quiet, he thought this would be a good time.
We had been to Charleston twice before and loved it. There are many lovely boutique hotels and larger hotels where to stay but we returned once again to the Francis Marion Hotel. It sits on the corner of Calhoun and King Street, which is at the top of the King Street shopping district.
Needless to say, we arrived on the Sunday just as hurricane Florence warnings went into effect. As we were only in town until Wednesday, we felt comfortable knowing we would depart before the Florence would arrive.
Our first night in Charleston brought us to a restaurant written up in Southern Living Magazine called Prohibition. Prohibition is located at 547 King Street, in an area that is starting to be considered the nightlife and dining district. The area certainly has changed in the five years since our last visit.
Prohibition is a wood paneled dining room with high top tables and chairs. There is an outdoor patio out back, however, with the heat and humidity, my husband and I choose to remain in the air conditioning. The back wall of the bar had the largest and most extensive selection of spirits that I ever seen! My husband enjoys a glass, or two, of bourbon while dining and Prohibition had well over 60 brands from which to choose. My husband went with Elijah Craig SMB ($12). If I were a cocktail drinking gal, I might have given bourbon thyme 10 Granny Smith infused Jim Beam straight bourbon, lemon, aperol, thyme, honey and orange bitters ($10) a try. How about bacon maple old fashion 11 bacon infused bourbon, maple syrup, Angostura, Scappys orange, citrus zest ($11)?
Moving on to something along with our drinks, my husband and shared warm burrata that sat on top of charred eggplant, roasted peppers, caramelized dates and onion, pine nuts and okra seed oil ($13). The appetizer was delicious. Most of the time when we’ve had burrata in our local restaurant, it’s been served at room temperature. The blend of vegetables, dates and pine nuts was like a caponata. It was delicious and different.
For entrees my husband went with sorghum-glazed Ashley Farms duck breast ($30) that came with City Roots turnips, duck leg confit, picked collard greens verjus. The duck was plated on a platter and the accompaniments were served as a cassoulet in a small crock. It was indulgent and delectable. I went with the catch of the day which was grouper served with squash noodles, puttanesca, clams, tomato broth and a piece of sourdough bread to soak up the tasty broth. It was a tantalizing dish. Prohibition serves a five course tasting menu on Friday and Saturday nights for $65, which seems quite reasonable considering the quality of food that Chef Greg Garrison delivers from his kitchen. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for dessert on this evening.
It’s now Monday morning and I had a list of breakfast spots that I wanted to try. Callie’s Little Hot Biscuit has two locations, one on King Street the other at City Market. We had difficulty locating either location. The one on King Street was a small storefront and the other was tucked into City Market in the enclosed area. Despite saying the City Market one opened at 8 am, we couldn’t gain access to the inside of the market. Another place I wanted to try was Café Framboise, which was closed on Monday’s.
After walking around town Monday morning and visiting the King St shopping district, Gibbs Museum and the spectacular homes in the historic district ‘South of Broad’ we had lunch at Eli’s Table. What a delightful restaurant. My husband started off with a watermelon gazpacho soup that was refreshing and a bit spicy. He enjoyed it so much that I began a search of web for a recipe. I had the Roast Beet Salad with red, golden, and candied striped beets, basil oil, basil ricotta, seasoned arugula with the addition of grilled chicken, yum! My husband had Grilled Chicken Salad over mixed greens, sun-dried cranberries, pecans, Gorgonzola, and red wine vinaigrette ($12).
When we returned to the hotel to get ready for dinner and found that we’re now under a Mandatory Evacuation. I reached out to our airline and they didn’t start offering travel waivers for changing flights. The airline suggested checking their app, which I did frequently. However, in the meantime it was off to dinner at Husk. Noted chef, Sean Brock, left Husk this summer, but the quality of the meal remains outstanding. I started off with Normandy* sourdough, heirloom tomatoes, Duke’s Mayo, everything bagel spice, garden herbs, aged cheese ($12). Wow, what an appetizer. It was an open face tomato sandwich, but nothing like I make at home. Perhaps it was the tang of the Duke’s Mayo, or the chewy crust of the delicious sourdough bread, but it was outstanding. My husband had arugula, SC peaches, Owl’s Nest Plantation summer berries, spiced VA peanut, house made ricotta ($12). It was a tasty salad with seasonal fruit rounding out the sweetness matched against the peppery arugula and tang of the ricotta.
For dinner my husband chose the Atlantic Grouper, NC Heirloom tomatoes, field pea salad, sweet peppers, cucumber, and goat’s milk feta ($32). As we are in the south I went with the honey glazed NC chicken, Lowland Farms heirloom potatoes, charred eggplant, blackberries, plum jus ($30). The chicken was moist and tender with just enough honey for a bit of sweetness. I was just a little disappointed with the portion size of the chicken breast, but perhaps it was me trying wanting just a bit more of this flavorful dish. To accompany our entrees we had a side order of A Skillet of Real Cornbread, Brenton’s Bacon Crumble ($8). It was moist with a delicious crusty bottom from the bacon fat that coated the pan. Let also say when we were here five years ago, the restaurant actually drizzled the bacon fat onto the cornbread. Our server said that they have revamped some of the menu items to be healthier, this being one of them. Despite the changes, we devoured the cornbread in no time.
My husband and I did have a bit of room left to share a dessert. We had brown sugar peach cake, champagne sorbet, pecan praline ($9). It was delightful. The champagne sorbet was refreshing and the pecan praline was heavenly. I wish I ordered my own dessert.
Dinner at Husk was wonderful. The service, food and hospitality were fantastic. Now that dinner was done, we discovered that our airline had issued a travel waiver and our attempt to evacuate Charleston went into overdrive.
Once we got back to the hotel, my attempt to find a flight out Tuesday morning was fruitless less. I couldn’t get a flight into any New York, Philadelphia or Washington DC area airport. We could have waited until Wednesday morning for our scheduled flight, however, we weren’t sure if the airport would still be open, and since the east bound side of Route 26, the major highway in and out of the city, would be closed if we were able to secure a ride our driver would not have been able to return to the city. We utilized the hotel concierge to help us locate a hotel room at the airport, but one hotel wasn’t sure if they would remain open and another didn’t pick up the phone. We decided to take matters into our own hands and I contacted American Express Travel to help us secure a rental car to drive from Charleston back to New Jersey.
We scheduled a cab ride to the Charleston Airport for 7:30 am Tuesday morning, arrived at the airport around 8:00 am and departed for New Jersey at 8:30 am. The authorities had already started road closures into Charleston and to area beaches. We headed out on Route 26 West in order to pick up Route 95 North. After traveling on Route 26 for approximately an hour, for some unknown reason, the entrance to Route 95 North was closed to traffic. We continued our drive on Route 26 and using Google Maps and some luck, found an alternate route to pick up Route 95 North. Our adventure home concluded a little after 11:30 pm Tuesday night after driving 15 hours and 15 minutes. It was a short vacation, but eating at Prohibition and Husk made it worth the effort.
I would also like to mention that prior to my husband booking our flight, I made dinner reservations through Open Table. I wanted to make sure we would be able to have dinner at these wonderful restaurants. I also belong to iDine. You earn either 5 or 10% back for eating at one of the restaurants on iDine’s list. You simply link either your debt or credit card, review the restaurant via an email they send you and receive a credit on your linked card.
Side Note: During our ride home, we made quick stops for food and bathroom break. We realized over the years driving down to visit family on the Outer Banks, that McDonald’s offer quick and consistent quality no matter the location. Once we got to Maryland, we stopped at Maryland House on Route 95 North where we visited the Wendy’s counter and had an apple pecan salad with pomegranate vinaigrette made by Marzetti® Simply Dressed®. What a great salad with a delicious dressing. I wonder if they bottle it for retail sale.
*Unfortunately, the web link to Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery is no longer working. Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery, 19 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401 or 32 Windermere Boulevard, Charleston, SC 29047.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.