Wednesday, December 8, 2010

EVO (North Charleston)

In the tune of "Old Christmas Tree," Oh EVO, oh EVO, how lovely are your PIZZAS! It wasn't until my third visit to EVO that I finally got a pizza. I don't know what I was thinking before, like maybe, "I'm on a diet and don't want to indulge in pizza." I was a fool. I had the Roasted Beets (hackeray farm’s oven roasted beets, wilted greens, mindoro blue cheese, bacon, toasted walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette). It was insanely good. Warm with sauteed spinach, chunks of cheese, with the crunch of walnuts makes this a meal, although it's featured as an appetizer.
Roasted Beets

Then I had the pizza (this was on the separate trip).  Pistachio Pesto 8"(pistachio pesto, goat cheese, crème fraîche, house mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano and sea salt). Let me just tell you...this is a goat cheese lovers heaven, would be wonderfully paired with red wine, so flavorful, and the crust....Ok, in describing the crust, chewy and thin, almost like sour dough. 
Pistachio Pesto
The bad: The pizza, in a few areas, were slightly more toasted than what I would have preferred. But I know some people who love that.
The good: Fresh ingredients and attention to detail makes a delicious pizza. Think about how good this pizza would be for breakfast, ok, actually, any time of the day. No wonder this place has been written about so many times!
The conclusion: You have not had pizza until you've had it at EVO. And it stands for Extra Virgin Oven. I can't stop thinking about that pizza. I'm serious. And then get the Sweet Teeth Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate. It's memorable.

Evo Wood-Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zia Taqueria (James Island)

I'm obsessed about this place to be absolutely honest with you. Living on the opposite side of town does not stop me from experiencing this marvelous place. Zia Taqueria is one of the best tex mex restaurants in Charleston. I would even venture to say it's one of more ethnic places to eat in Charleston. I can only tolerate the Southern influenced cuisines so much. All menu items are fantastic, but just to talk about two...
Carnitas Tortas (fresh baked telera bread, sliced open and toasted, layer of black beans, caramelized onions, crisp lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cilantro jalapeño spread, served with roasted corn on the cob).
Carnitas Tortas
Also, please please do NOT miss the Portabello Quesadillas.

I cannot boast enough of Chef Kevin Grant's passion in creating delicious, authentic food from fresh ingredients. The steps that he takes, the extra mile that he goes, can be tasted in his dishes. 
The bad: The drive I have to make, from my house, because I have a Zia craving. 
The good: Fresh, authentic ingredients make up perfection.  Could this place actually become habit forming, like an addiction? 
The conclusion: Yes, it is one of the best, authentic tex mex restaurants in Charleston. Have it for lunch, have it for dinner, go after the movie (next door is the Terrace). Oh, and don't forget the Palapa Mas! Thank you so much, Chef've made my mouth happy:) 

Zia Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Sprout (Mt. Pleasant)

Vegan-raw. Alive in my mouth! I have a full respect and appreciation for this stuff, believing that I would probably be healthier eating a raw vegan diet. The Sprout, in Mt. Pleasant, where Ecco Fitness is, is the only place that I know of in Charleston serving mostly raw vegan cuisine. The restaurant looks more like a grab and go type of place, with various shakes and pre-made meals. Well, how would you need to sit and wait for your meal, when it doesn't have to be cooked. I had The Sprout Burger (served on a sprouted Ezekiel bun with fresh greens, tomato, onion, and sprouts) with an addition of Raw Cashew Cheese)
I was big time hungry and doubted that I would be full after eating these vegetables. But I was so wrong! It was hardy and filling. And the vegetables made me feel so good...physically. Was it power of suggestion? But look at the colors in this burger! How could it NOT be good?
The bad: My body is addicted to junk right now. Yes, butters, oils, fries, beef, diet coke, and I feel toxic. So, my cravings at the time were not so raw-vegetable-ly.
The good: The service was wonderful! The people there were very knowledgeable and exceptionally friendly. The restaurant not only has food and shakes, it has detox programs. And, I honestly felt fantastic after eating the burger.
In Conclusion: Don't knock it until you try it. I would love to try more on their menu....and will do I detox. Thank you, Sprout! 

Sprout on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 18, 2010

FInz Bar and Grill (Mt. Pleasant)

It must have been some sort of garage, because once the door is up, you could enjoy eating outside.  Especially today, 73 degrees in Charleston, with a slight breeze. However, we stayed inside at Finz. It is a bar, with multiple televisions, 5 beers on tap, NFL on. I decided on the fish tacos with seared tuna.

The Bad: I got confused on the meal. It was tuna tacos with pico de gallo, and wasabi mayo (I think). Maybe it was a Japanese-mex type of thing. The tuna may have been slightly overcooked. The fries were short, small pieces, indicative of the bottom of the bag.
The Good: The bar and grill calls for a casual, laid back atmosphere, and very much like what Cheers (the television show) would have been like. I didn't expect fine dining, so the meal served me well. The wasabi sauce added good flavor to the tacos (so yes, I'm still confused). I do believe their seafood is fresh, the bartender said he brought the shrimp in from our coast...yesterday.
In Conclusion: Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came; you want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name. Overall, worth a try!

Finz on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wasabi (Daniel Island)

I love sashimi, raw and dipped in sauce. I can go for the occasional sushi too (rolls and/or anything made with vinegar rice). But tonight, I wanted to eat BIG at Wasabi on Daniel Island. So I ordered Buddha's Belly. Completely makes sense, right?
Buddha's Belly (Spicy Tuna, Snow Crab, Salmon, Yellowtail, White Fish, Avocado, Cucumber, Cream Cheese, Tempura Style, Eel Sauce)
I also had the Wasabi House Salad beforehand, just in case the Buddha's Belly didn't do it's job. Ok, enough with the fluff, let me review.
The Bad: This was the case that I thought I could order everything I wanted and place it into one roll. But I lost out on my preference of tasting fresh, raw, virgin fish....untouched by other flavors and textures (except soy sauce and wasabi of course). 
The Good: Buddha's Belly dish was good, don't get me wrong. But what I consider heaven in your mouth is their Toro Aburi (Blue Fin Tuna Marinated in Black Truffle - Soy Then Lightly Torched, and Garished with 24k Gold). Yes, honestly, it is a treat, will melt in your mouth. I will never forget it. Also, the ambiance at Wasabi is nice. The walls around the bar area were raised tonight, opening to outdoor seating, with live music. 
In Conclusion: For sushi/sashimi will really like this place. For california rolls people (without raw fish), you will like this place too.  And the ambiance just adds to the experience. 
Wasabi D.I. on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Caviar and Bananas (Peninsular Charleston)

What would it be like to be a College of Charleston student, and to use my "off campus meal plan card" at Caviar and Banana? Well, I would be fat. Fat and happy, and if my parents were paying for it, grateful.  So how would I describe this place? Uniquely able to please any palate, diverse, and specializing in all foods delicious. I actually read somewhere that you could have a meal there everyday for a few months and still have not experienced all they offer.
Just a portion of what they have

C&B Southwest breakfast wrap (black beans/ peppers/ onions/ mushrooms/ tomato/ spinach/ scrambled egg/ cheddar)
I knew I made the wrong choice at first bite, and I was disappointed. Only eating half the wrap, I walked up to the duck confit sandwich area, and asked if I could buy half the sandwich. No, she said. I walked gracefully back to my table, and ate the rest of the breakfast wrap.

The Bad: I blame this partially on me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for breakfast. I would have preferred more cheese, more spinach than 4 cooked leaves, maybe some roasted corn, and not the spongy textured egg.
The Good: From the breakfast today? Great coffee, good portion size of the wrap, fresh ingredients. From the actual restaurant? Products/foods/drinks to delight ANYONE. What a beautiful place!
In Conclusion: So, I really wanted something else, other than my breakfast wrap, and I should have followed my craving. And I could be very happy pulling a mattress into restaurant, and calling it home.
Caviar & Bananas on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 1, 2010

Laura Alberts Tasteful Options (Daniel Island)

Dear Laura Alberts, I don't know who you are, but you have a restaurant named after you, and you're one of my favorites.  I hope to meet you one day, and give my heart to you, or at least my stomach.  Ok, back to reality, this really is a good restaurant, specializing in craft beers, wines, lunches, dinners (on Wednesday evenings, with special events with beer or wine dinners), gifts, and even take home dinners that are different every week day. I am a repeat consumer, in fact, had lunch there and will return for a wine dinner tonight.
Herb Roasted Vegetable and Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich

This sandwich gives me the rare, momentary thought that I would be happy as a vegetarian (roasted squash, zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, pesto aioli, over grilled ciabatta). Not to mention, that I discovered my love for fried sweet potatoes at Laura Alberts.
The Bad: Closed during dinner hours, except on Wednesday.  The sweet potato fries today were somewhat crispier than normal. Some people like that. I would rather have them slightly crispy.
The Good: I would not be able to write the multitude of reasons for trying this place.  It is wonderful.  Honestly, everything I've had there has been great. If you're into beer, try their beer dinners. 
In Conclusion: Do yourself a favor, the pleasure would be all yours, if you discovered Laura Alberts. You might write her a love note too.

Laura Alberts Tasteful Options on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bistro 536 (Long Point Road)

Where are we going to eat after church? Let's try Bistro 536, there's a nice little description of it in the City Paper.  What do we have here? The place seems somewhat dimmed on a Sunday afternoon.  The menu has a plethora of dishes that sound good.  Tough choice.  How about you get one, I get something different, and we'll share.
Breaded Flounder with Grits and Creole Sauce

Breakfast Quesadilla (scrambled eggs, sharp cheddar, black beans, chipotle sour cream)

It's so obvious when food is made from fresh ingredients.  The fried flounder was mild with crispy batter, not too thin, and not too thick that it takes over the entire fish.  The grits and creole sauce went perfectly with the fish.  The sauce had a white wine component to it, which made it even more savory.  The quesadillas had a nice blend of scrambled eggs and cheese (soft) with the toasted tortilla.
The Bad: The setting is a little dark, but would be good for ambiance for dinner.
The Good: Home runs for both the dishes we ordered.  And also, cinnamon rolls pre-meal were so soft and warm, one really wasn't enough. Maybe I should put this in the bad section.
In Conclusion: Great food! And the menu for lunch and dinner look delicious! Could possibly become a honey hole.

Bistro 536 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baked (East Bay)

A staple after working out at Waterfront Park, Baked is a quaint cafe that makes coffee, cakes, tarts, quiches, muffins, cookies, teas, and probably more.  Tidbit: Their sweet and salt brownie was on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network.  So yes...I wanted to try it.
Ok, yum.  Although, I was not in the mood for brownies (for breakfast).  I also sampled my party's foods...cinnamon roll, some kind of chocolate brownie buns with frosting in between, and have had their quiche in the past.
The bad: This place is able to tempt you to eat unhealthy, but you can stick with quiche and coffee.  I also did not taste the salt in the brownie (maybe the batch issue).
The good:  I've not had a bad experience with what I've eaten at Baked.  The frosting they use is incredibly creamy.  The brownie is what a brownie should taste like, the epitome of brownie, all brownies should want to be this brownie.  Quiches are not too oily, but clean and pure, fresh.
The conclusion: A cool place to enjoy breakfast, coffee, friends, yourself, and SWEETS.
Baked on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

17 North (Mt. Pleasant)

I'm beginning to think that I'm into unpredictability, specifically the changing of the menu based on seasonal produce.  At 17 North Roadside Kitchen, it feels like you are eating what was just grown on the farm behind the house.  Oh, yeah, that's reality, actually. With one acre garden, on-site of the restaurant.
I did my usual, "what is your signature?"  She said, "boneless buttermilk chicken." So I complied.
She was right. The fried chicken is something to brag about, along with the gravy (not just any old gravy, but southwestern-like). To compliment, as predicted in a southern dish, greens and mashed potatoes. For the appetizer, I tried the gnocchi, with duck confit, spinach, and tomatoes.
The gnocchi was delicious and balanced (having the spinach and tomatoes add a refreshing element to the rich duck confit and gnocchi).  Also had a white chocolate blueberry cheesecake for dessert.
The bad: A little salty? I've added the question mark, because it might be me.  It's not you, it's me. Please contact me via email for details, if you care.
The good: Service was great.  Good wine list.  Vegetables (separate dish) were cooked perfectly.  Dessert was rich but not too sweet.  Fried chicken I will write home about.
In conclusion: Will make you reminisce about the farm, if you've ever lived on one. But you don't have to tend to the crops or feed the chickens.

17 North Roadside Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Glass Onion (Savannah Hwy)

The cashier described the cuisine as Southern-Romantic, with a contemporary flair. I would completely agree, and so would you, if you've had the cuisine at the Glass Onion. They change their menu often, so much so that they don't have a set menu. This place is definitely not boring. I had the pleasure of tasting the Crispy Berkshire Pork with Butterbean-Tomato Salad and Aioli.
Crispy Berkshire Pork
It was pulled pork, formed, and pan seared on the top and bottom.
Then, to follow, I had their "world famous bread pudding."  If it's "world famous" I've got to try it.
The bad: The pork was a wee bit salty, but the bed of butter bean tomato salad balanced it out well.
The good: Fresh local ingredients used, a real fountain drink, and the bread pudding was awesome!  Can I just talk about the bread pudding? It was as if as I was eating it, it was telling me that it loved me. Real comfort, soothing, hot, touched my soul. Yes, it's that great.
The conclusion: The Glass Onion is a wonderful place to go if you don't want the same ole stuff, and please save room for the bread pudding.  Agreed.....Southern romantic with a contemporary flair.

Glass Onion on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hall's Chophouse (King Street)

Gospel Brunch! There's nothing like jamming out to gospel music when eating. Makes for a delightful Sabbath day, as well as set Hall's Chophouse apart from other brunch venues. I had the Halls Chop Salad (peppers, cucumbers, black eyed peas, bacon, feta cheese, green peppercorn buttermilk dressing).
The main course was Crabcake Eggs Benedict (jumbo lump crab cakes, wilted arugula, roasted pepper-Creole hollandaise, pepper jack grits or potatoes).

Hall's Chop Salad

Crabcake Eggs Benedict

The bad: I couldn't find anything bad about this brunch. The courses that I had met expectations. Did not exceed, but still enjoyed the meal. 
The good: Service was fantastic, the bread was like a fried custard eggy thing (delicious), and of course, gospel music during the meal. 
In conclusion: Great place to take visitors to experience the brunch the southern way!
Halls Chophouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 29, 2010

FISH (King Street)

Surely it's harder to cook for a large party, as one would think. Not for Fish on King Street. In fact, did not, had not planned to review this meal, but it was so good, I can't control myself. As usual, I requested that the chef prepare what he/she preferred for me. They presented the Tomato & Mozzarella (housemade panko fried mozzarella, thai basil, sweet soy vinaigrette). If you love caprese salads, this is your personal heaven. Then I had the Bouillabaisse (sautéed | local fish, scallops, shrimp, clams, potatoes, bok choy, mushrooms, carrots, baguette, coconut lemongrass broth), which was not extraordinary, but still good. May have been overdone. And their desserts, I'm sorry I did not write the description down. One was a s'mores souffle type, the other was a chocolately orange zesty caramel drizzled thing. I want to meet the pastry chef!                                                   
The bad: Can't think of any. Other than the restaurant did turn into a hoppin' cool bar for the 20 somethings later in the evening. But that could be a good thing too.
The good: Going above and beyond with a large group. Exceptional actually.
In conclusion: Would definitely go back, again and again.
Fish on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Joey Bag of Donuts (Park West, Mt. Pleasant)

What an ingenious idea, but it's not new. It's a sort of a donut renaissance. You are bound to find a donut you like, having 65+ different toppings and fillings, and new ones daily. Joey Bag of Donuts doesn't only have donuts, but also Italian coffee, pizza, and stromboli. The owner, Joey, comes from generations of Italian entrapreneurs, and uses their family donut recipe. I had the joy of tasting a cream filled chocolate topped donut, their caramel macchiato, and their pepperoni stromboli.

My Lunch

Donuts in preparation to become a birthday cake.

I obviously couldn't eat it all, and took the lunch home, which I enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd day. 
The bad: Sipped the caramel macchiato after biting into the donut. My fault, the coffee was not sweet anymore. Also, wish it wasn't so far from where I lived (but maybe that's also good, so I won't be tempted).  
The good: Stromboli, even though filled with cheese, was not too oily. The coffee was rich and flavorful (better than Starbucks caramel macchiato, in my opinion). And the donut....hahaha. You need to try this.  
In conclusion: Parents, you can use Joey Bag of Donuts to bribe your kids, or YOURSELVES!

Joey Bag a Donuts on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

When I have the Five Guys Burgers and Fries experience, I think: consistent, hot, fries freshly fried, and burgers (my way).  They have fulfilled what Burger King tried to, the concept that we could "have it our way."  The menu is simple.  Burgers, fries, drinks, hot dogs, and a list of toppings free of charge to customize your burger.  That is their emphasis, and they do it excellently.
Sacks of Idaho potatoes for fries and complimentary peanuts while you wait for your order.
The bad: Always regret getting the "little" burger with one patty.
The good: Generous order of fries, scooped into a brown bag, overfilling a cup it's supposed to be in.
In conclusion: For a beef craving, Five Guys will satisfy.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 20, 2010

Amen Street (East Bay St.)

We truly are blessed to live on the coast where seafood are fresh and plentiful. However, in some cases, the seafood are still flown in from Ecuador, China, and frozen, then fried, grilled, and claimed to be fresh.  At Amen Street, you get the absolute freshest local seafood, as displayed in the Flash in the Pan Pirlau (shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams over lowcountry vegetable rice).
Flash in the Pan Pirlau
And, the most amazing fact about this dish is, it wouldn't have been one I chose.  But am so glad that I had it.  The rice....oh, the rice. Creamy and light, if that's possible.  I also had raw oysters from Virginia, having a soft yet crispy texture, not so slimy (as to what I usually think about with oysters).  Ok, I confess, I don't know much about oysters, or how to discern good from bad ones.  But they were good.
Virginia Oysters

Room for improvement: Hushpuppies were slightly overdone.  Also, the red velvet cake had lost it's moistness.  Red wine temperature was warm.
Applause for: Seafood! Fun atmosphere, and a neat after dinner treat with pepper and jalapeno infused vodka made in house. 
In conclusion: If a newbie to Charleston asks you where to get fresh seafood, you know what to tell them.

Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

U Cook! with Chef Bob Waggoner

Beef Carpaccio
No, I can't cook.  I can't even use the stove without having the fire alarm activated (usually).  But, for several moments, I stepped into a beautiful dream.  I was honored to be a guest cook on U Cook! with Chef Bob last week, and realized how easy and fun cooking can be.  He made it seem so simple, using the freshest ingredients from the farmer's market, and instructing the audience, and me, about food.  The entree me...was beef carpaccio, drizzled with a lemony vinaigrette, topped with slices of black olive, pink Himalayan salt, and roasted hazelnuts.  Not sure if I've ever made anything so beautiful in my life, and the savory, so right.  Cooking beside an award winning chef (and he has so many, I can't list them) can be at first daunting, but then freeing, escaping to a place where I'm the chef.  U Cook! with Chef Bob is available to Public Television affiliates across the nation, as well as world wide, as it's also produced and recorded in French.  Thank you, Chef Waggoner, for the privilege to learn from you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hubee D's (Savannah Hwy)

Mural at Hubee D's
Deelicious! Hubee D's Tenders & Wings (West Ashley)
Named after the owner's 1964 Studebaker, Hubee D's is the place to go for home cooked chicken.  The menu items originated from family recipes, and it certainly tastes it.  Don't believe that your only choices are chicken fried, their salad (the Goat Island Deelight Salad) was quite memorable (goat cheese, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, grilled tenders, and champagne vinaigrette).  The Crispy Tenders Basket boasted of flavorful tenders coated with a thin crispy fried batter, and the wings (I ordered Seriously Hot sauce) had a mesquite flavor with a kick, however, milder than I expected.  If you want something special, try their Fried Banana Pudding.

The Bad: I forgot to order extra fries!
The Good: You can taste the freshness of the ingredients, and freshness makes all the difference in the world
In conclusion: Deelicious!!! For real.

Fried Banana Pudding

Hubee D's Tenders and Wings on Urbanspoon