Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 3: Husk

One minor detail I left out about Day 2 was our dinner.  We ate at one of the only restaurants on Isle of Palms, The Boathouse.  While it was tasty and the service was good, it was over-priced and under proportioned.  We paid more there and got less food than any other stop on our travels.  It satisfied our appetites but would not be a place I'd rush back to.  I will mention that their "award-winning" greens were actually award worthy.  We tried multiple iterations on our trip and these remained at the top of our list.

The highlight of the night was Colin and his manners.  We had reservations at 5:45 but we got there early, hoping they could go ahead and seat us.  Even though the restaurant had numerous empty tables, we were given a pager and told we'd have to wait until our allotted time.  Oddly enough, many other patrons (without reservations) were seated right away.  We found this to be a very odd practice but it allowed Colin the chance to show his Southern charm.

Totally unprompted, he took it upon himself to be the door greeter for the numerous guests as they entered the restaurant.  He held the door for what seemed like 30 minutes, watching each guest as the entered.  Interestingly enough, the majority of compliments and comments came from the male species.  I guess women are just used to chivalry but the men thought it was something special.  He loved his duties and wanted to repeat them at each restaurant we went to.

On to our much anticipated visit to Husk.  A brief background on Husk for those of you that might not be aware.  Husk is the newest offering James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock of McCrady's.  It's one of the many to jump on the "farm to table" approach sweeping the culinary world as of late.  Husk attempts to take traditional Lowcountry fare and jazz them up, if you will, with a modern flare.  To say we were looking forward to this meal would be an understatement!  My Charleston friend asked how we managed to get reservations and I laughed because she obviously had forgotten my anal ways of planning months in advance!

One point worth mentioning, I specifically asked if the restaurant was kid-friendly and I received a resounding, "yes" but upon arrival, we quickly found out differently.  Lucky for us, Colin is a great eater and was able to make a meal off of our dinners and a few extra side dishes because there was no kids menu, nor was the staff willing to create anything different than what was on the menu.  I realize they are certainly not hurting for business and don't need my marketing strategies but in my opinion, it would behoove them to at least try to be a little more accommodating.  After all, Charleston is a touristy spot that many families visit year round.   

That one little nuance aside, the meal was most enjoyable.  Both the exterior and the interior of the restaurant exuded Southern charm.  With a double-decker front porch, inviting chairs and rockers, and a huge shade tree, we felt right at home (yeah, if only our house looked like this!).

The inside was much of the same, old fireplaces, reclaimed hardwood floors, and what appeared to be stone ground grits with gourd stems as table decorations.  There was even a sprouting sweet potato in a vase as decoration.  That one confused Colin a bit.

The meal started with fresh baked rolls topped with benne seeds and served with bacon fat butter!  Yes, you read that right, they use 1/2 butter and 1/2 bacon grease to make the spread.  My mom passed, I had to try it but quickly passed, and Wes, of course, loved it (loving all things bacon).

Perhaps the highlight of Wes' dinner was the watermelon soup.  Not one to typically order soup or anything fruity, I was quite shocked with his selection.  The soup was garnished with a crab salad of sorts and while that was tasty in it's own right, the soup was exceptional.  The sweetness was subtle, but still present in the background.  In the foreground was the taste of the garden.  Somehow they had pureed all the summertime goodness and poured it into a soup.  Imagine a gazpacho soup of sorts with a hint of sweetness.  The crab actually took a backseat to the soup.

My first course was a nod to my late grandmother, a beet salad.  Granny loved her beets and ate them almost daily.  In an effort to repeat her longevity, I've decided beets might be the secret weapon.  The salad was topped with bleu cheese crumbles, roasted peanuts, and a country ham vinaigrette.  The country ham really only manifested itself in the saltiness of the dressing - not in a bad way though.  The combination was reminiscent of wilted salad, if you're familiar with that.  It was both tasty and large enough that I was able to share with Colin.

Our second courses came promptly after that.  All 3 of our dinners were impressive but I was glad I had ordered what I did, the Cornmeal Dusted NC Catfish.  It was served atop a bed of corn and field peas and topped with smoked or charred okra.  The fish was perfectly cooked and seasoned but the highlight was the corn and pea succotash underneath.  I could have eaten my weight in it.  I'm sure it was laced with cream and buttery goodness but one probably shouldn't be counting calories in a restaurant of this caliber.

My mom ordered the Red Snapper with Creamy Heirloom Squash and Zucchini, finished with a Citrus Butter.  The skin was left on the snapper, giving it a crispy, crunchy texture.  I happen to love fish prepared this way, assuming it's prepared correctly and this one was.  The vegetable medley underneath was also tasty but again, that citrus butter made it shine.  Oh butter, I love you.

Wes kindly ordered the Wood Fired Chicken with Butter Beans and Benton's Braised Greens, so that he and Colin could share.  Colin could not get enough of the chicken, much to Wes' dismay.  Wes spent most of the meal trying to figure out how they were able to infuse such a smoky taste into the meat.  It wasn't a traditional smoky taste, which added to his confusion.  The greens were good but The Boathouse tops my list of greens.

For dessert, my mom and I opted to go to Kaminsky's (a disappointment in the end), while Wes and Colin decided to split a dessert at Husk.  I can't remember the fancy name but it was basically chocolate and peanut butter mousse with chocolate cookie crumbles.  Wes may have gotten 5 bites before Colin inhaled the rest.  Colin later told me that he loves mousse now, however I'm pretty sure he thought it was moose.

Husk is doing things right.  The one thing about Charleston is that the chefs are always trying to one up each other.  That means we benefit as consumers.  Charleston is definitely a foodie town.  A town that I love because of it!


  1. Pierce is generally good out but I don't know how he would be without some kid friendly fare! I think some fancy restaurants think that it will reflect poorly on them to have a kids menu but not serve similar dishes but in smaller sizes for the smaller people? Really - I am NOT spending more than $10 on Pierce's meals! More about why your dessert wasn't great ... and did you get the famed coconut cake while you were in town?

  2. Looks like such a great trip, everything in your pictures are gorgeous!

  3. Hi, coming to visit your blog from Annie's Eats! I love that your little boy held the door open for guests at the Husk restaurant. How sweet! We actually tried eating there but the wait was too long. :( We stayed in the villas on Kiawah Island. That whole area is just so beautiful. I love going there! BTW, you have a beautiful family. ;)

  4. Husk is an amazing venue! Chef Sean Brock is a very down-to-earth guy that puts modern spins on traditional ingredients. And BTW, those weren't gourd stems in the table was Chopee Okra, a heirloom variety grown chiefly in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Glad you enjoyed the visit!