Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cesca, Charleston, SC


Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery
Tucked down a very quiet street (Faber), somewhat behind SNOB lies one of the newcomers to the Charleston restaurant scene, Cesca.  Although a bit out of the way, it’s convenient as there is a inexpensive parking garage about a half a block away.

Transformed from the former Buckaneer Pirate Theme restaurant, Cesca is quite pretty and the soft seating allows for a very comfortable dining experience.  This multi-level location is elegant but not stuffy.  I couldn’t help but think that the restaurant reminded me a lot of McCrady’s, also one of our favs.  Sure enough, after we dined at Cesca I looked at McCrady’s website.  Some of the pictures with their exposed brick walls were nearly identical to those at Cesca.  So yes, imitation is often the sincerest form of flattery. Not judging a book by its cover we looked forward to our meal as we began to peruse the menu.

We were with two other couples and one of our friends began to ask our server about wine suggestions.  She seemed very knowledgeable and before we knew it she was pouring samples of wine for him to taste.  He and another friend decided to split a bottle of wine and she scampered off to get it.  At this point you may be thinking, hmmm did she take any other drink orders?  The answer is no.

She returned with the bottle of wine opened it and poured it to our two friends.  Next she delivered a glass of white wine to another of our friends. My friend turned to me and asked why I wasn’t getting something to drink.  Simply put, she never asked me, or the two other patrons at the table if we wanted anything.  We then flagged her down and ordered something to drink.

The service attendant quickly arrived with some fresh, warm slices of bread for us to share. Ahhh delightful.

The menu at Cesca is extensive.  It offers Per La Tavola (small plates), flights of Artisanal cheeses, Crudo (seafood appetizers, i.e. Ahi Tuna), Antipasti (sic), Primi (pasta dishes) and Secondi (main meals0.  The variety is great and there are also nightly specials.  One of the evening’s nightly specials was one of my favs, Veal Milanese.
Beef Carpaccio

House made Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes, Local Basil

Hamachi with pickled chilies

Endive, Local Peach, Gorgonzola, Candied Walnuts

We ordered a few starters and they arrived quickly.  The Hamachi with pickled chilies and Beef Carpaccio received rave reviews.  The House made Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes, Local Basil with Olive Oil was also a win.  The Endive, Local Peach, Gorgonzola, Candied Walnuts, Lemon Vinaigrette had such potential!  The bitterness of the endive with the sweetness of the peaches and candied walnuts followed by the strong gorgonzola sounded delightful.  But alas, the peaches, though nicely grilled were far from ripe, the gorgonzola nonexistent and the candied walnuts missing altogether.  After we flagged down our server, (who was missing most of our meal), she brought a plate of walnuts.  It didn’t save the dish but it helped a bit.

And then we waited…  We all thought that the appetizers were timed just right as we discussed how long it was taking for our meals.  The restaurant had many tables but it was hardly full.  Well over 20 minutes later our meals arrived.  Everything looked great!  Let’s dig in.

One of our friends ordered the Gnocchi, Fresh Genovese Pesto, Parmigiano(sic) Reggiano and thought it was very good. He also thought he had been served a half portion as it was quite skimpy. The Orecchiette, Spicy Pork Sausage, Broccoli Rabe is a fairly common dish, but this one was delicious.  The Spinach Tagliatelle Bolognese, Ricotta Salata, Basil was ordered by two of our friends and it was also a win. 
Spinach Tagliatelle Bolognese

Orecchiette, Spicy Pork Sausage, Broccoli Rabe
Unfortunately the 14oz Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop, Seared Cauliflower, Pistachios and the Veal Milanese were not a add to the win column.  I almost ordered the pork chop as this is something that I can’t cook to save my life. I always over cook it. The cauliflower/pistachio combo was stellar, and then there was the pork chop not under a brick, but cooked like one.  Ordered medium it came out very well done, which was unfortunate.
Grilled Pork Chop

Veal Milanese
My veal was so disappointing.  Pounded wayyyyyyy too thin it was very tough and flavorless.  Why didn’t we say something, you ask?  A common theme throughout our meal is that our service was spotty at best.  Our server was very pleasant when we saw her, which was not frequently.  By the time we flagged her down everyone was done dining.

Open for only three months I would say that the restaurant deserves a try.  It’s a lovely, unpretentious and the food and service have the potential to be terrific. Not this particular night, but it can certainly get there. 

Cesca on Urbanspoon

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