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Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

Guest Post by Caroline
The fun doesn’t stop when Chris leaves, but, sadly, Finley’s good behavior does.

In addition to visiting my favorite sister, the love of my life Finley, and the perfectly decent Christopher, one of my favorite things about Charleston is the amazing food!  There never seems to be enough time in the day, money in my wallet, and space in my stomach to visit all my favorites.  This weekend I was happily forced to add another favorite place to my list, Alluette’s Cafe. Upon entering the restaurant, I was instantly confused.  It appeared to be a small family restaurant and claimed to serve holistic, organic, soul food.  Needless to say I was skeptical, not only of whether combining something so healthy and something known for grease and fatback was possible but also of whether it could possibly taste good.  I became slightly reassured upon seeing the menu and quickly encountered one of my favorite problems: I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite item on the menu.  Everyone in the restaurant chimed in to try and help us decide; however, they all gave the same unhelpful comment that everything on the menu was superb.  After eating half my meal and half my sister’s, I now completely believe them.

We finally settled on our meal choices and ordered a glass of their famous tea, which is sweetened with pineapple juice and, quite possibly, magic.  Thankfully, there was a sign near our table warning us that good food takes time and at Alluette’s the food is amazing, so needless to say it took a while.  I can honestly say that I believe the chef pours her heart into every individual dish.  We were well entertained while we waited as some of the restaurant regulars sang a song for us and gave us a number of interesting facts. We learned 90% of her ingredients are grown or caught locally, no more than 15 miles away.

After finishing one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life and half a phenomenal shrimp salad sandwich, we sang our praises to the waiter and prepared to leave. On our way out Alluette herself came out to ask how our meal was.  She was as sweet as her tea and clearly cared about each and every customer.  The regulars were quick to inform us that Alluette is currently featured in Southern Living and will be featured in O Magazine this July.  I left Sue and Chris with the assignment to become regulars so we can still get a table when Alluettes becomes famous.

All in all I already craving another glass of pineapple sweet tea and plan on getting one my next time in town!

Editor’s Note: One of us (namely, me) STILL does not condone our golden monster drinking out of human fountains at White Point Gardens.  Another of us (namely, Suzanne) will be chastised appropriately and the last of us (Finley) will probably disregard everything as usual.  That is all.  –Chris

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Taco Boy

Although there seems to be a continuing debate amongst several groups of my friends elsewhere regarding the individual merits of faux-Mexican establishments Qdoba and Chipotle (Moe’s doesn’t qualify due to dinginess), the lack of such establishments in the vicinity have spared us having to weigh in on the subject.  We can, however, espouse to the greatness of our local faux-Mexican haven, Taco Boy.

Taco Boy sports two locations in the Charleston area:  the original on Center Street at Folly Beach and the grass-roofed ‘new’ business on Huger Street downtown who is striving to become a community leader in green practices through stormwater collection irrigation and on-site recycling, which we have regrettably never set foot in.  You know that you are in for a good experience when you arrive at the restaurant and are greeted by a huge mural of the Taco Boy, the scorned lovechild of the Hamburglar and Delta Burke in a sombrero.  As expected, the atmosphere is pretty rocking, aided by a strange decor motif of antique lighting fixtures and ancient tribal masks that line the walls.  It’s a fun enough place to visit even if the food was sub-par, but luckily, it is anything but.  It boasts very fresh ingredients and inventive salads within a fairly large menu in comparison to its more ubiquitous cousins.

Adults love Taco Boy but I’m pretty sure most kids will be disappointed and feeling deceived upon entering and realizing there is, in fact, no PlayPlace.  There are no guys made of shredded lettuce wearing Airwalks running around, no formless green blob of guacamole name Guacmus, and no El Chupacabra dressed up like a sadistic clown.  All they have is the Hamburglar’s kid to stare at them mockingly while they devour their healthy, vegetarian quesadilla.  They’ll think they are in some sort of alternate dimensional clone of that other place.

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Best pizza pie in Charleston?

Why, D’Allesandro’s, of course.

Despite the presence of Mellow Mushroom, Gilroy’s, Bella, and Andolini’s within a couple of blocks of the house, when it’s pizza time, a quick jaunt down St. Phillip Street to Elliotborough is in order.

The place feels gritty and organic, from the open kitchen area with boxes stacked high that you literally dine amongst if you get the back booth to the numerous fresh ingredients growing in pots by the window.  It feels like a product of the neighborhood, with artwork from nearby residents adorning the walls and a clientele ranging from college students to entrepreneurs whose choice to locate a new venture in this once near-blight area has resulted in an impressive neighborhood renaissance that has kept progressing even in these rotten economic times.

My favorite pie?  The barbeque chicken pizza.  The sauce has a smoky sweet flavor that blends nicely with the mammoth amount of jalapenos to create a joyfully spicy (read: its hot.  really hot.) experience.  As a testament to its taste prowess, Suzanne has shifted her disposition from the introductory “Barbeque sauce on a pizza?? We’re not getting that.  That’s just gross,” to now vehemently arguing with me in support of the pie when I want to order a different one.

The other gourmet pies are good, too.  But next time you go, get the barbeque chicken.  Trust me.

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After over a month and a half of non-stop weekend visits from friends, Suzanne’s sister Caroline had the honor of being our final guest for the foreseeable future, a fact that is both exciting and somewhat lamentable.  This weekend was a busy one.  It started off gloriously on Saturday morning with a bit of hilarity.  A man was attempting to ride a bike down Ashley Avenue in front of MUSC while carrying a 12-foot ladder.  What possessed him to even attempt this feat no one can be for certain.  We waited with bated breath for the inevitable tumble, which occurred probably 10 seconds after we first spotted the guy.  After falling face-first into asphalt and monkey-rolling a couple of times as the ladder bounced erratically on the ground next to him, the man ripped off his shirt and flexed his muscles in some sort of weird ‘I’m ok, but I want you to know I’m enraged’ way.  Convinced he wasn’t seriously injured, we sputtered down the road in hyperventilation.

We spent Saturday afternoon at James Island County Park, first attending a cookout and then making our way over to the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival.  I spent most of our time at the festival in a state of near salivation, as it was definitely a water-enthusiast’s dream.  Practically any form of water recreation not involving mechanical motion was on display and for a small price, you could try out the myriad of products all afternoon.  If it wasn’t for Finley’s frequent attempts to scream “Help! I’m hot!” by diving underneath the miniscule shade created by beached canoes, we might still be out there paddling away.

Following our return to the peninsula, we fought the crowds to take in the Blue Angels show over the harbor.  I actually wasn’t aware that the show was taking place this weekend until Friday, when three of the jets streaked over Cannon Park at an altitude of 100 feet, leaving me standing completely upright, gawking mouth agape while trembling.  The show was pretty spectacular, and the day as a whole would have been perfect had it not been for the sorry display of a lack of emotional fortitude by the host at Blind Tiger Pub.  After a whopping total of 3 parties of 3 people each converged on the restaurant at the same time, the host threw a conniption fit even though the situation was completely free of anything resembling stress, ordering everyone to ‘return to the front and start over one by one’.  This sadly wasn’t the first instance of this guy failing that we have witnessed.  Needless to say, we left and will probably not be patronizing the place for a while, which is a shame since we are frequent customers.

Our Sunday was spent in a fashion that is becoming a tradition when guests are in town:  lunch at Poe’s Tavern, a simple burger/chicken restaurant located on Sullivan’s Island themed after the famous author and poet who spent time serving his country at nearby Fort Moultrie, followed by an afternoon on the top deck at Red’s at Shem Creek.  From the deck, we were able to see Sunday’s Blue Angels show, a flock of pelicans emulating the jets (poorly), a performance by a family of dolphins, and a beast fight between Finley and a 7 week old Labrador retriever puppy that was observed by a woman in biker chaps who looked horrifyingly similar to the Cryptkeeper from Tales from the Crypt.  It was the first time Finley had employed her new fighting technique of ‘ram my butt into you until you just submit’ and probably the first time I looked at her as being ‘big’.  She’s growing so quickly.

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Smoky Oak Taproom

Smoky Oak Taproom, intersection of Dills Bluff and Camp, James Island

Last evening, hunger pangs for the most popular type of food from land of my birth became nearly unbearable, so Suzanne decided to treat me to a trip out Dills Bluff Road on James Island for some barbecue courtesy of Smoky Oak Taproom.

By treat me, I mean driving the long, arduous 2.5 mile trek like a crazed Shriner clown in a parade.

By treat me, I mean she forgot her wallet at home and I had to pay for dinner.

Nevertheless, Smoky Oak is probably my favorite place to grab some barbecue within a reasonable distance from both of our houses.

There isn’t really anything too remarkable about Smoky Oak Taproom.  Probably the most remarkable part about dining there is the sheer amazement that overcomes you when you finish your meal and realize the roof trusses haven’t caved in on top of you.  The building is quite the piece and I could go on an extended diatribe about how the entire parcel in general violates all sensibilities of quality site development (another time).   However, the barbecue is pretty delicious, the portions are massive, and the beer selection on tap is pretty robust.

Plus, check out these seats.  If these don’t entice you to visit, well, I don’t know what will.  It’s barbeque….Squanto-head-shaped-tail-light-of-a-classic-car style.

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Fat Hen Restaurant, John’s Island

For Suzanne’s inception into old ladydom, we decided to venture off the peninsula to have a nice dinner at the Fat Hen, a French-styled country kitchen along Maybank Highway on John’s Island.  We had been to this restaurant several times for brunch but it was our first trip for dinner.   It certainly did not disappoint.

Following a momentary lapse in driving acumen in which I somehow managed to maneuver the car perpendicular through three 90 degree parking spaces, a move that incited a dismayed driver in a minivan to mash the accelerator and throw gravel literally all over the parking lot while I was overcome with extreme embarrassment, we enjoyed one of the better dinners we have had in quite some time around here.

I’m not exactly a connoisseur of fried green tomatoes but the appetizer at Fat Hen is absurdly delicious.  We wanted to order fifteen additional plates of the thing.  Needless to say, the Skinny Chicken (as Suzanne’s father refers to it) is one of our favorite places in the Charleston area.  Just wish we could walk to it.

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