File Under: Sometimes things go exactly as planned.
Many people have asked us if we’ve eaten at McCrady’s restaurant in Charleston, and we hadn’t. Everyone remarked that it was very good, so we decided to give it a try. And considering it is still restaurant week here in Charleston, we thought, “What do we have to lose?”
I rarely look at a restaurant’s website prior to having a meal there other than to scan the menu. Since I have been writing about the restaurant’s we’ve been going to of late, this is particularly true. I did notice that the Chef at McCrady’s, Sean Brock had won the prestigious James Beard Award (said to be like an Oscar of the food world), for the 2010 Best Chef of The Southeast and was intrigued.
We had early reservations (this place was booked solid!), with another couple (our friends from Carolina Coastal Properties from our earlier blog). Located down a small alleyway, McCrady’s is also on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks. We were quickly greeted and immediately sat. Unlike my prior pet peeves of being squished into a small table we were given a terrific corner table that could have easily sat six or more, which was very nice. I also had a bird’s eye view of the restaurant itself (photo above), also a plus.
The four of us decided to order from the “3 for $30.00” menu that is a feature of Charleston Restaurant Week. Unlike servers in other restaurants that we’ve visited during restaurant week, the gentleman that waited on us embraced the menu and was nothing but professional.
There were two selections for appetizers – A beet salad with goat cheese, watercress and almonds, and Carolina shrimp and grits. The nice thing about the menu selections is that you are told exactly where the items come from locally. “Beets from Owl’s Nest Plantation”, “Bev Eggleston’s Pork…” a very nice touch.
Shrimp & Grits
Fresh bread (not made on premise, but delivered by a local bakery), and beverages were promptly delivered to our table. The appetizers quickly followed. What we would come to find out is that this restaurant is a well oiled machine. Besides the servers on staff there are what appear to be busboys, food runners and the strong presence of a floor manager ensuring that things are going as planned. He made no less than three stops to our table while we were there. It was like watching a ballet.
Although those of us at the table felt like the beets were very salty, the salad was very good and the Shrimp and grits were perfect. The salty flavor of the beets would be the only hiccup of the evening.
The main course selections, Grouper, Baby Squash, Zucchini, NC Blue Crab, and Nasturtium (I had to look the meaning of this up today…It’s a flower.) Jus and Beef Duo with Johns Island Carrots and Mepkin Abby Mushrooms did not disappoint. Both were perfect. The beef was ender and flavorful, and the fish was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Again, the service continued to be professional and noninvasive through this course too.
The desserts, Buttermilk-Chess Pie (“Not cheese”, as the waiter pointed out, but a classic buttermilk custard pie), with Lemon-Poppy Seed Ice Cream and Blueberries or South Carolina Peach Cobbler with Crumb Topping and Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream were something that you read about. Perfect temperatures, beautiful presentations, and they were superb.
As the meal came to a close I asked the waiter what he thought about Charleston Restaurant Week. He said that it was nice being busy during the week. Each night had clearly been like a Friday or Saturday and they were “not used to being that busy” and smiled. It was nice to see that many others are partaking in the Restaurant Week celebration.
This is the 18th restaurant that I’ve written about. This was the first restaurant that I would rate with 5 plates – without a question the best meal that we’ve ever had here in Charleston.
I went back to the website to read more about McCrady’s this morning. Their website states the following: “McCrady’s represents the best of the amalgam that is new Southern fine dining, concomitantly serving as a canvas for postmodern gastronomy.”
Having said that you have two options, 1) Grab your dictionary, or 2) Know that McCrady’s food, décor and service is more than worth your while to visit.
You guessed it, we gave McCrady's the full 5 plates out of 5! Our first 5 plate dining experience.....so far.....