FIG (update), Charleston, 2/9/23

exterior – 232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

FIG opened in 2003 and this was our third visit, the last being in March 2017.  More plants are growing on the sign over the front door but you still enter into the bar area and then proceed to the big dining room.  The lights were lowered, white cloths covered the large tables, the ceiling dark, floors wood, and walls red with no music in the background.  We were privileged to be seated in one of the two red booths in back with really comfy seats.  The place was still very popular with tables being turned regularly even on a Thurs. night.  We were very happy to get to chat with Chef Jason Stanhope who was recovering from ankle surgery, but stopped by the table at the end of the meal as I requested getting an updated photo of him.  The place is named for “Food Is Good” rather than the fruit and it is well-named indeed.  When you have the chance I suggest you dine at this fine restaurant. Continue reading

Chez Nous (second visit), Charleston, 2/9/23


We were excited to return to Chez Nous but slightly dismayed to not see Chef Jill Mathias in the kitchen.  This visit we got to sit downstairs and enjoy the jazz music that plays in the background.  There is a second fireplace at the base of the stairs to the upper level and the tables are just as small down here.  There are also a few stools at the bar counter in front of some of the wines.  The decorations in the place are from a local antique store that one of the owners is also involved in.  Also found out that the doors to the bathrooms are original to the house.  The setup was the same as before, with 2 choices for each of the 3 courses and that really befuddled the neighboring table that wanted French onion soup or any soup (they eventually left).  We however were happy with the choices but this trip wanted the same things and split the dessert as we knew a heavy dinner was on the schedule.  The food didn’t dazzle me as much as the first visit but I would still plan to visit this place every chance I get because the food is that good and the concept is very refreshing to me. Continue reading

Wild Common, Charleston, 2/8/23

exterior – at Cannon Green, 103 Spring St., Charleston, SC., 29403

Wild Common promises “bold and inventive cuisine” in several dining spaces.  We chose the Chef’s Counter but there is also the indoor dining room or private courtyard.  The space is large and also accommodates a couple of event spaces, neither of which were in use nor was Chef Orlando Pagán in the kitchen.  You enter the plain building and go down a long hall, thinking you’ve entered the wrong space.  When you find the dining area there is also a marble bar that looks into the kitchen and a large changing digital painting that dominates the dining room.  Opening in the spring of 2019, you’ll find high ceilings and music in the background. They offer a tasting menu (with supplements) only and have optional wine pairings.  The pricing of the menu and supplements was off in that each supplement was as much or more than the whole menu – seemed odd.  We chose our own bottle and a cocktail from the bar to go with our tasting menu as printed. The menu had good portioning and very fast pacing.  Staff were all friendly and helpful. Continue reading

Chez Nous, Charleston, 2/8/23

building – 6 Payne Court, Charleston, SC., 29403

Chez Nous is a small place in an 1835  2-story home. Around 9 years ago Chef Jill Mathias started serving the cuisine of southern France, northern Italy and northern Spain for lunch and dinner 6 days a week.  She serves the same menu of 2 appetizers, 2 entreés and 2 desserts both times of day but changes the menu daily.  Chef writes the new menu by hand every day in a very stylized script, with the first line in the language of the area and the second in English.  The place just holds 36 guests inside and 20 on the outside patio.  Music is in the background, light streams through the many windows, upstairs a bench runs along the long wall with no pillows and tiny tables.  Upstairs wide plank old floors are opposite exposed ceiling rafters and the end of the room has a crumbling brick fireplace.  It all works to feel like you’ve jumped back in time to enjoy a meal in a friend’s home.  Don’t let anything stop you from getting to this place and eating some of her great food.  We were so impressed we made a reservation for the next day’s lunch while we sipped coffee. Continue reading

Chasing Sage, Charleston, 2/7/23

exterior – 267 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

Chasing Sage is a medium-sized place that tries to focus on locally grown produce and locally sourced meat and seafood.  They were scheduled to open in March 2020 but due to the pandemic instead sponsored a series of pop-up take-out meals.  They officially opened for dinner in June 2021.   The Chef, Walter Edward is a graduate of the CIA in Hyde Park, NY and then worked internationally before opening this place.  His wife, Cindy Edward runs a farm, that has been in her family and will now supply produce for the restaurant.  The space is long with a bar on one side, a long service table in the middle and small tables filling the rest of the space that ends with a window to the kitchen.  Faint music is in the background, the lights are fairly low, candles are on the tables, and the walls have decorations of wine bottles, books and such.  It’s a cozy feel but the food did not live up to my expectations.  The menu is a la carte but they offer a ‘let us pick for you’ option which we tried.  The pacing was varied as were the portions. Continue reading

Circa 1886, Charleston, 2/7 & 10/23

building – Wentworth Mansion, 149 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401

Circa 1886 is the restaurant in the carriage house of the historic Wentworth Mansion.  Guests of the mansion are entitled to one entrée of their choosing for breakfast, however they also serve dinner.  We were scheduled to have dinner there but let it go when an opening became available at another place we wanted to try – so many good places to eat in Charleston.  We did stay at the Wentworth so we had breakfast there twice but skipped the other 2 days due to planned lunches.  After passing through the lovely patio the door opens into the cozy bar room.  The main dining room is a small but elegant space with double clothed large tables, well spaced and a few large booths along one wall.  Service was great and friendly and the food was good.  The pastries were a real surprise, being house-made, probably by Ashley Cardona the pastry chef.  It would have been easy to fill up on them.  I suspect dinner there would be very nice. Continue reading

The Obstinate Daughter, Sullivans Island, SC., 2/7/23

exterior- 2063 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482

The Obstinate Daughter is named for the American victory in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776, where a British cartoonist illustrated the defenders of Charleston as “Miss Carolina Sulivan, one of the obstinate daughters of America”.  Their website describes the place as a ‘Lowcountry Food Fort.”  They have a wood-fired pizza oven as well as a raw bar and relationships with local fishermen and farms. It’s a large place on the second floor of frame house with a patio facing the street and a very small parking lot downstairs.  The eclectic menu has influences from Italian and Spanish cuisines and the interior is decorated with a nautical theme.  There were 2 main rooms, one with a bar and counter and the other with an open kitchen and an assortment of table types.  Music was in the background, lots of windows look to the outside and the staff was all super friendly and helpful.  The food was excellent. Continue reading

Vern’s, Charleston, 2/6/23

exterior – 41 Bogard St., Charleston, SC., 29403

Vern’s is a small corner place that opened in July 2022 by Daniel “Dano” and Bethany Heinze.  Dano previously worked as Chef de Cuisine at McGrady’s where Bethany managed the bar.  They also worked in Los Angeles at Animal and Jon & Vinny’s.  The restaurant is named for Dano’s grandfather who is featured on a postcard that’s presented with the bill.  Currently, they are open Thurs. to Monday for dinner and brunch on Sat and Sun.  Windows to the street are on 2 sides and the kitchen is through an open window behind the limited bar seating, which is first come-first served and serves only wine and beer, no liquor.  The bare wood tables are closely set and matched with a variety of chairs and wall benches and set with towel sized napkins.  The menu has various-sized dishes that are all meant to be shared.  In addition, there were a couple of specials on the chalkboard over the fireplace, one of which ran out and a line was drawn through while we were there.  The food was creative and delicious and the vibe was casual and welcoming. Go if you can. Continue reading

McCrady’s Restaurant, Charleston, 3/8/17


McCrady’s Restaurant is a tasting menu only, not to be confused with McCrady’s Tavern which operates in the former McCrady’s dining room space.  The tasting menu option opened late summer of 2016 and offers one seating for a couple dozen people.  Doors open just 5 minutes before the meal begins.  Reservations are pre-paid but wine pairings as well as a fair sized wine list of bottles are purchased when you arrive.  There are 2 rooms, the entry room has a couple tables where a larger group could be accommodated and the second room with a U shaped reclaimed walnut counter which ends in an open kitchen.  Below the counter are shelves for glasses, plates and drawers for linens and flatware.  Service moves quickly to change out needs and get everyone served in a similar time frame.   Continue reading

Le Farfalle, Charleston, 3/8/17

sign out front

Le Farfalle is a large place with a huge bar area and outdoor patio also.  They serve Italian food in a very southern city which is a challenge and novelty. The main dining area has good table separation with a combination of tables and booths, high ceilings and friendly, helpful service.  As an option to ordering bottles of wine they sell house wines by the carafe and half carafe. Overall the food is nice and very acceptable but not overwhelming. The options for dessert were really limited as the pastry chef did not come on duty till 2:00 so your only option for lunch is a cookie plate or a sweet potato “something” – neither of which was appealing. Continue reading

FIG, Charleston, 3/7/17


FIG is a reasonably large one room restaurant with an additional bar space.  It did have one large table in the bar area and bar seating for walk-ins.  The dining room has one wall lined with banquette seating and a couple booths in back but the rest is composed of nice sized tables that are well spaced. The lighting is low and linens are nice but the napkins a bit small to stay well on the lap. It was packed when we got there for dinner but by 10:00 the crowd had pretty much moved on.  They have remodeled since we were there a few years ago including new light fixtures and art. The chef is Jason Stanhope who won the 2015 James Beard Foundation Award as Best Chef in the Southeast.   Continue reading

Husk Restaurant, Charleston,3/7/17


Husk is in a large 2-story historic home with a semi open kitchen, although no dining tables are located directly by it.  It has been successful enough in the original Charleston location to now have clones in other cities.  They are big enough to have their own Pinot Noir made for the restaurant.  We were there for lunch and even though there were a number of empty tables and we had a reservation we had to wait to be seated, as did many judging by the number of people sitting amongst the beautiful flowers out front.  There is also seating on the second floor balcony. In the entry you will immediately notice the list of sources for all their foods and a large wood pile which feeds the smokers and grills. Continue reading