A Culinary Stroll through Charleston, South Carolina

Slightly North of Broad bar

Slightly North of Broad bar

We arrived late on a Friday evening. Lucky for us, dining after 9 pm meant no waiting for a table. For our first dinner we chose SNOB – Slightly North Of Broad. We were seated in the back of the dining room with a nice view into the kitchen and were able to watch chefs at work. We started out with a Cheese Plate that included nuts, fruit and bread. It was the highlight of my meal, really good cheeses from Wisconsin, Virginia and elsewhere. The various other bites on the plate really helped balance it out as well.
I ordered a bowl of the daily soup, Tomato Split Pea, and was pleased with the first bite, but then overpowered by onion. My partner got the Trout special and I’m pretty sure I ate more than my fair share of it – very tasty and served with an excellent corn and risotto mash and a few grilled shrimp and squash slices. A basket of bread and cornbread accompanied the meal and we ate it all. Overall the food was good, but the service was quite slow and this would probably not be in my top picks during a return weekend visit.
Outside Jestine's Kitchen

Outside Jestine’s Kitchen

Saturday morning after visiting the city market we walked a few blocks up Meeting Street to Jestine’s Kitchen hoping the line wouldn’t be too long when we arrived. The cool rainy weather was likely why it wasn’t yet packed. In a very short time I had a plate of fried Flounder special with fried okra and mashed potatoes sitting in front of me. Across the table was Crab Cake Blue Plate Special with okra gumbo and mac & cheese. Each bite tasted great and warmed us right up. Don’t miss the fried okra!
Homemade sweet pickles accompanied the meal, my partner ate them all. Jestine’s is a favorite of mine and a local favorite. The prices are reasonable and its good down home cooking – though of course with lots of tempting fried options it’s not really super healthy. This is one of the must-trys, though and they have a dessert shop right next door. I’ve heard the Coca Cola cake is a force to reckon with.
Saturday dinner was a bit of a battle. We didn’t plan ahead enough and without reservations our options at our top choices were limited to a long wait or eating in the bar. For appetizers we grabbed a high top at Blossom. I ordered She Crab Soup, which turned out to be an oniony trap. (I have a slight onion allergy)… P got Buttermilk Fried Calamari, which was tasty, though a bit greasy. Our server was great, but I wish we’d skipped it.
Magnolias bread

Magnolias bread

After 9pm we scored a table at sister restaurant Magnolias. Not feeling so great after the onion soup, I just ordered a small Wadmalaw Field Greens salad and side of Green Beans. P picked the Fresh, Local, & Vegetarian plate, which turned out to be phenomenal. We couldn’t stuff the medley of corn, beans, mashed potatoes, spinach, fried green tomatoes and ? (other veggies) into our faces fast enough. Wow – if you are a vegetarian who appreciates flavor this plate is a must try. It is the “Chef’s selection of the season’s finest vegetables in an Uptown/Down South presentation”.
With wine, beer and the complimentary fresh bread we were unable to accommodate dessert. Our server was exemplary and the couple next to us obviously enjoyed their man too, as they had several interesting conversations with him. We would definitely go back for the vegetarian plate!
Sunday morning for brunch we trekked out to Hominy Grill on Rutledge Avenue figuring there would be quite a wait when we arrived. There was. The sun was out so waiting 45 minutes wasn’t so bad. Previously I had had and greatly disliked the “Nasty Biscuit” sandwich so this time I opted for something a bit more traditional, Country Breakfast – scrambled eggs, grits, fresh ground sausage and toast. This was a much better choice. I would order it again. P got a Grilled Vegetable Omelette with home fries, biscuit and jam. It was a hit and I stole a few potatoes.
Our server was attentive and they really do hustle and bustle about. It’s good food, a light and welcoming atmosphere, but fairly noisy and not very relaxing. This is a solid breakfast place, but the wait and noise may not make it a perfect spot to hit on your relaxing vacation.
Outside Poogan's Porch

Outside Poogan’s Porch

Smart enough to make a reservation for our final dinner, we headed to Poogan’s Porch on Queen Street. This was the most memorable meal of the trip for me. All of the staff were really on point and made us feel very welcome. Our server had a great sense of humor and the food was excellent.
Crab Cakes with fried okra for a starter, double thumbs up. I’m pretty sure it looked like we licked the plate clean. Next it was time for Buttermilk Fried Chicken to make an appearance so P got that with mashed potatoes and slaw. I had Sweet Tea Glazed Salmon with asparagus and lemon mint risotto. I thoroughly enjoyed each bite of my food and his potatoes (he thought they were a bit buttery, but yum, yum, yum). The pairing of the fish with the risotto was really perfect – my compliments to the chef, and the fish was cooked expertly.
Since it wouldn’t be fair to leave the low country without having dessert, we split the peanut butter pie. It was served cold and reminded me of very velvety ice cream, but it was some kind of mousse. I apologize for the photo of an empty plate, but the pie was too good and gone before it could be photographed. Our neighbors heard us raving as we ate it and ordered the same. I would definitely go back to Poogan’s and can see why they’ve become “one of Charleston’s oldest independent culinary establishments”.
brunch dessert - Stars Restaurant - Rooftop and Grill Room

brunch dessert – Stars Restaurant – Rooftop and Grill Room

That sums up our 48 hour culinary journey through Charleston. I’d like to point out a relaxing coffee shop we stopped by twice, Bakehouse Charleston on Bay Street. They have reasonably priced beverages and a few small food items and offer both indoor and outdoor seating. To really relax, try a craft beer while you soak up the afternoon sun.
Inside Bakehouse Charleston

Inside Bakehouse Charleston

For those readers unable to try the true low country flavors in Charleston, check out these local Manhattan Southern flavors: Hibachi Hut and Bourbon and Baker.

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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