Having been in Charleston in April, I could not get enough. So here I was a few weeks later, back in Charleston 2021 dining around some more. If you missed part one of this report, head to [Charleston 2021 Dining Out]
The Darling Oyster Bar
I really tried to get into this place in April, on my first go-around in researching the Charleston 2021 dining scene. This time I booked ahead and was able to snag a bar seat at 5:30. I love early dining, and so did a lot of other people who were there ahead of me. It was my first night back, and I was so delighted to have chosen this spot to re-connect with Charleston again. It is beyond quaint, and has down-to-earth, yet totally upscale dishes to savor. This is the kind of place you could go to every night. That is, if you can get in! (see photo at the top of this post) There were a bunch of people waiting to get in as I left at 7:15, so do think ahead. Perhaps the Monday night was a factor, since most restaurants in Charleston are closed on Monday and even Tuesday. Photo above, Point Judith oysters (super elegant, and creamy) and Pink Moon oysters, also good and on the large side. Right, the oyster bar, which welcomes walk-ins.
Server Cole, once a epidemiology major was influential in choosing items on the more healthy end of the spectrum. Right, the blue crab cakes were so fine… extremely light, some of the best I have ever had. Served with herb salad, chow chow, and old bay aioli.
I’ve been on a sparkling rosé kick, and this one was fantastic. Tasting notes: Rich with aromas of wild fruit and red currant. The palate opens with gentle spicy notes and a classic Pinot Noir red-fruit profile. A bright stream of bubbles provides pleasant lift and finesse. Right, turquoise banquettes reminiscent of an earlier age, which all of upper King St imbues. See photos from Charleston King Street Sights post.
Seared Diver Scallops with fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, corn, arugula, tomato-dill vinaigrette. Right, another part of the restaurant features dark walls and a more intimate mood.
The Darling Oyster Bar, 513 King St (corner Morris St), Charleston
I very much wanted to check out any rooftops in Charleston, owing to the fact that most buildings are limited to 4-stories, so any rooftop makes you feel like you are on top of the world… Charleston-style. Élevé is a combination of rooftop and sexy dining room. I opted for the air-conditioned space, I am afraid to say, and enjoyed a meal indoors this night. The menu is very approachable, and casual, but nicely done. I noticed in Charleston there were large groups of people celebrating, this one all women dressed in white. I was wondering what they were gathered for. Lots of places seemingly can accommodate tables of ten or more.
Scene: the bar which I am sure will be full at a later time. Right, the calamari was superb, light with a soft texture and hot to the touch.
The rooftop area consisted of lounge areas with some fire pits. Right, the Kale Caesar Salad with addition of salmon (staple restaurant order for me). The kale was super fresh and light. Fantastic salad overall.
Élevé at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, 55 Wentworth St (at Meeting St), Charleston
At 82 Queen, I finally got to experience pure Southern 1800s architecture and vibe. As much as I love the new and cutting edge, this restaurant gets back to Charleston’s roots and thoroughly honors them. This spot was the one that pooled together cuisines of the African, French, Caribbean and Anglo-Saxon tastes which represent the early inhabitants. So when the biscuits arrive on the table, I knew that I had come to the right place to experience true “Lowcountry Cuisine.”
82 Queen is situated south of Broad St, an area which houses the oldest and most charming homes. The restaurant took over three of these 1866 buildings which surround a lush central garden. Since it had rained hard all day, the garden happened to be closed that night. Above, the garden seen through the back of the bar. Right, more sparkling rosé.
I kept hearing about She Crab soup, and made sure to try it here, since theirs has been awarded over and over. It was lovely, rich, and a nice portion to start off the meal.
The restaurant is divided into eleven separate dining rooms, each a cozy, nostalgic trip. Right, I thought this would be the place to try a meat dish. Grilled French-Cut Pork Chop is served with roasted sweet potatoes, collard greens, and topped with bourbon-maple glazed granny smith apples. Excellent.
82 Queen, 82 Queen Street (betw King/Meeting St), Charleston
Muse Restaurant & Wine Bar
Laid back, and a little quirky, this is one of the few restaurants in Charleston I noticed whose menu leaned Italian. The restaurant takes over a small brownstone-type house, with a different look in each small room, similar to 82 Queen. But here they added a bit of Roman flair, as seen in the photo above. Right, the Sea Bass is a whole filet, deboned, butterflied and flash fried. Served over cauliflower puree and caponata.
We sat out on a little porch, that holds only a table for two. Above, a nice outdoor area in the front of the building is the view from, right, our private dining perch.
Funky, relaxing, with almost a hippie vibe, a corner table with lots of pillows. Right, Scallops are served atop asparagus and pea parmesan risotto, pancetta and onion gastrique, topped with basil
Muse Restaurant & Wine Bar, 82 Society Street (betw King/Meeting St), Charleston
I stayed at the Hotel Bennett, which has a primo location, just at the bottom of upper King Street happenings, and just north of the downtown, more traditional scene. The hotel was grand, and gracious, though new it totally fits into the Charleston vibe. There were many places to lounge about including the lobby bar, Gabrielle, which was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I did take advantage of this lovely accommodation. The servers in the morning were especially nice and accommodating. It was a joy to breakfast and work on my laptop in a beautiful setting.
At Gabrielle bar area. While waiting for my glass of wine, I could not resist taking a photo of myself reflected in the ceiling’s mirror. Right, as you enter the hotel from the street there is a round room with cushy banquettes. Great spot to meet up with your cronies.
I popped into to check out the rooftop bar during the day, which I am sure is a hotspot later on.
The rooms at the hotel were nicely appointed with a bathroom you don’t want to leave. It featured an ample and luxurious shower. My room had a wall which opened up to the bathroom, with giant soaking tub, for those interested in a massive soak experience. The staff could not be nicer and more friendly.
Hotel Bennett, 404 King Street (above Marion Square), Charleston