Friday, April 1, 2011

Anson, Charleston, SC

Awesome On Anson...
It might sound corny, but “Awesome on Anson” is the only way that I can describe this restaurant. 

Many people have told me that this was a great place to eat, but I have to admit I was more than surprised at how good it was. Tucked away just shy of the Historical Market district Anson is one of Charleston’s true hidden gems.

Bar At Anson
We landed there without reservations on a rainy night and were quickly seated. The restaurant is casually elegant, welcoming and has a menu with a variety of both low country favorites and traditional fare.  Our server was outstanding throughout our dining experience and quickly attended to our every need. A native Charlestonian she was very knowledgeable about the menu and the items that we asked about.  She immediately brought us hot, sliced bread with soft, whipped butter. I was to find out that my husband’s pet peeve is cold, hard butter served with fresh, warm bread.  After all these years… who knew? Both were excellent.

I did ask her, “Before we fall in love with an item on the menu, are there any specials?”  She did mention one, but it didn’t interest us. We then ordered our first course.

The Crispy Risotto Cake with Serrano ham, a few grilled shrimp and a delicate cream sauce was something that I had never seen before, yet alone thought of cooking.  We were to find that the Chef is not only talented, but very creative.
Crispy Risotto Cake

The Crispy Risotto Cake had a tasty crisp shell but was light and airy inside, something that you wouldn’t expect for a risotto, yet alone a fried one… to die for.

My salad – The Fried Oysters & Bibb Lettuce was tossed with a subtle dressing and the oysters were lightly battered and served piping hot. This alone could have been dinner.
Fried Oyster & Bibb Lettuce Salad

 As we ordered our dinner I decided for something on the lighter side.  When I ordered the Pan Steamed Mussels our server said, “I think we’re out of them, but I’ll check.”  Back to the menu I went. Upon her return we found out that they did in fact have them that night. Yeah!

My husband then ordered the Braised Beef Short Ribs, something that he’d decided upon after briefly scanning the menu.  “We’re out of those tonight,” our server lamented.   She mentioned that “because of Lent we sell out of those quickly on Thursday and Friday nights.”  This made me smile.  As a kid, “Lent” to me was filled with Friday fish fry’s, tuna, salmon and whatever fish dish my mom could create for what seemed to be an unending period of time. Maybe this season was treated differently in the south???

So after feeling like we were in a Seinfeld episode we asked her if there was anything else that they didn’t have so we had a fighting chance to order dinner.  She said that everything else was available.

Pan Steamed Mussels
After a wait that seemed a tad lengthy, but in every way worth it, our entrees were delivered.  I did land on the Pan Steamed Mussels that were served with crisp French fries.  The mussels were tossed in a light broth of garlic, jalapenos, white wine and parsley.  The French fries that accompanied them were crisp, hot and well seasoned.  Although actually somewhat full from our appetizers it was a type of meal that you couldn’t stop eating.

The Double Cut Fried Pork Chop was all that and a bag of chips!  It was nicely breaded and had a great flavor, but the stars of the plate were without question, the side dishes.
Fried Pork hop Double Cut, Mac & Cheese, Collards

There are many restaurants that are leaping on the Mac ‘n Cheese train. Flavors are added, toppings too. But to me, Mac ‘n Cheese takes me back to when my mom made it years ago.  She was a tiny Polish woman who kept things simple and added four basic ingredients – shredded cheddar cheese, milk, butter and elbow macaroni.  When I’m sick this is the dish that I ask for.  It’s sheer comfort food at its best and “smoked gouda”, “lobster” and/or bacon is not needed.  The Mac ‘n Cheese served here mirrors my mom’s and could be the best I’ve tasted since she made it so many years ago.

Not to be out done, Mac ‘n Cheese’s companion was Collard Greens, but not just any collard greens. These had a nice bit of spice to them (red pepper flakes we were told) and were incredibly flavorful.  I found myself trying to distract my husband so that I could steal some from him.

As I wrote this I tried to think what restaurant in Charleston we liked more.  It’s right up there to us as one of the best of the best. I actually had to use my Roget’s Thesaurus to find enough adjectives to describe our visit.  In looking up the word “perfect”, I saw many suggestions, but “flawless” fit the bill perfectly.

Anson on Urbanspoon


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