Thursday, December 8, 2011

The MACINTOSH, Charleston, SC

MAC-OMG It Was Fabulous!

When it comes to “The MACINTOSH” I feel like we were late to the party.  A number of folks have mentioned that “you must try this place” so after running into our neighbors, Anne and Becky of Starfish Nonprofit Solutions a few times in the last few weeks and having them pose the question, “Have you been to Macintosh yet?” we decided to venture out on a rainy, cold evening and give it a try.

No strangers to the Charleston restaurant scene the Indigo Road Group (owners of Oak Steakhouse, O-Ku and Cocktail Club) landed on upper King with The MACINTOSH (no, this is not a typo), in late September and it looks like it’s a rousing success.

First, let’s clarify the name.  It’s not Macintosh, its The MACINTOSH. Why they’ve decided to shout it out at us with capital letters is beyond me, but… there is a story behind the name.

 If you’re looking for anything remotely related to an “apple” to link the restaurant to its name, don’t bother.  There aren’t any kitschy menu items or drinks associated with an apple, which I found to be refreshing. Although oddly enough the restaurant opened the day that Steve Jobs died (how eerie is that…) the reference to Macintosh comes from an alleyway that used to be a few blocks away. As our server described, “The owners wanted to keep a historical reference to the neighborhood, hence the name.”

Inside The Macintosh
Upon entering I was surprised how warm and inviting this shot-gun styled restaurant was.  Low lighting and a great “buzz” from the clientele instantly made us believe we had chosen the right place.

I don’t know what type of training the servers went through but I can say our server was incredible.  Not only could he describe in detail every menu item on the menu (which he almost did), but he was great at making suggestions along the way.

After his introductions we were served warm sourdough bread with soft, sweet butter. It was terrific.  I was a tad disappointed that the “ice water” first poured when we sat down was lacking any ice and was actually quite warm.  This was one of the only hiccup’s along the way.

Three of us chose appetizers. Although I personally would be happy if I never saw another “Pork Belly” reference on any menu in Charleston, my husband chose the Hot and Sour Pork Belly Soup.  As the soup was delivered it was poured over the Pork Belly, Kimchee, Shitake Mushroom, Bok Choy and Carolina Gold Rice Grits combo.  This was done to ensure that the items remained crisp.  What a great touch!  My husband now has a new favorite soup.
Pork Belly Soup

The Kurios Farms Bibb Lettuce was a beautiful bright green color and it mixed with a light combination of Tatsoi, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Pecans and a Guanciale (Unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowls or cheeks – who knew?) Vinaigrette. This was a hands down winner.
Kurios Farms Bibb Lettuce

I went on the edge a bit and ordered the Spicy Lamb Sausage.  I’m not a big lamb fan (the first flag I should have seen), but the server spoke so highly of it, that I had to give it a try.

The sausage was served with a Crispy Polenta that was crispy on the outside and soft and warm in the middle.  It was simply, terrific.  What appeared to me to be similar to a succotash – Field peas, San Marzano Tomatoes and Fennel was bursting with flavors and the peas were cooked just right.  The star of the show, the sausage was barely warm though and a tad gamey tasting.  
Spicy Lamb Sausage, Field Peas, San Marzano Tomatoes, Fennel
Our server stopped by to see how we liked our appetizers and said, “The aroma from this table is captivating.”  Who talks like that?  I felt like this guy was at times a walking Roget’s Thesaurus… I didn’t know what adjective or combination of adjectives he’d use next.  It was quite entertaining.

I asked to have the sausage warmed up and our server quickly obliged.  The sausage then went into “Sausage Purgatory” and I didn’t see it for quite some time.  Long enough that the other appetizers had been finished by the time I got the sausage back.  It was much better when it returned, but still not my cup of tea, and it too way too long to be reheated. Lesson learned.

Our entrees though, were beyond perfect. The Grilled Deckle was cooked perfectly and the Pole Beans, Greens, Oyster Mushrooms and Fingerling Potatoes were almost fought over. 

The highly recommended Harris Ranch Braised Short Rib was stellar.  The accompanying ragout of carrots, beets, onions, sunchokes and potato puree was something that my husband could not stop talking about.
7 oz. Grilled Deckle

Harris Ranch Braised Short Rib
Two of us ordered the appetizer size Housemade Ricotta Gnudi as our entree. Unlike Gnocchi, it’s stuffed with Ricotta cheese versus potato and the dish was velvety smooth.  The sampling of mushrooms, arugula, bacon and Pecorino that accompanied the dish was also to die for. 
Housemade Ricotta Gnudi

I would also add that we ordered the “Mac” Potatoes for the table to share. These were mashed potatoes mixed with two “aromatic” Italian cheeses.  They were interesting, but not great. There is really no need to supplement any entrĂ©e at The MACINTOSH, they are that good.
Mac Potatoes
Although I didn't think anyone had it in them, three desserts were ordered.  The server described each dish in detail and they ordered one of each – an Orange Scented Panna Cotta, A Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate and Carmel Tart and a Spiced Cake Wonder topped with Cinnamon Ice Cream.
Orange Scented Panna Cotta

Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate and Carmel Tart

Spiced Cake Wonder topped with Cinnamon Ice Cream
I rarely eat sweets but I could not resist tasting the Panna Cotta and Cake with Ice Cream. Both were incredible – light, not too sweet, incredibly flavorful, and above all, memorable.  I passed on the Dark Chocolate and Carmel Tart, but as it circled the table for sampling, everyone raved about it.

What a terrific new restaurant The MACINTOSH is.  And I don’t care how they spell the name; I am definitely coming back – and soon!!

We gave The MACINTOSH 5 out of a possible 5 plates.

The Macintosh  479 King St.  on Urbanspoon

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