Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 6: Happy Birthday to me / McCrady's review

What a better way to spend your birthday than on vacation?  Well maybe with great food!  Let me back up a bit.

I had most of the morning to myself to walk the streets of Charleston and just soak up the sun, the charm, and the history.  Wes took the boys to the Children's Museum (which is fabulous if you're interested) and my mom went for a morning of pampering at Stella Nova.

I hopped around town with my 2 dimes trying to avoid getting a parking ticket.  The meter readers take their jobs seriously in Charleston and I didn't want to ruin my birthday with a ticket.  Somehow I only had 2 dimes to my name, so that meant a grand total of 14 minutes.  I escaped the ticket and eventually found a cheap garage to park in for a little while.  In the meantime, here's some of what I saw.

After a relaxing morning, we came back and I lounged by the pool for a bit.  My mom had snuck and gotten me a few gifts while we were there - 2 of which were from the boys.  And a super special present was a card my Grandmother had already had for me with money.  That was an emotional moment for sure.

Wes and I had been looking forward to our date night all week.  It just so happened it was also my birthday dinner.  I'm usually in favor of surprises but I opted to select our destination this time.  I had read a lot about McCrady's, Husk's sister restaurant, and settled in on that.  Thankfully, I chose well.

See, I was really on this vacation!
Having a good waitress or waiter can make all the difference in a meal.  We were lucky enough to get a girl who clearly loved her job and was passionate about both food and wine.  She not only told us her favorite items but described why they were her favorites and specifically how they were prepared.

McCrady's had just rolled out a new menu concept that week.  From what I understand, previously they had been solely a pre-fixe menu but as of the week they were there, they had a la carte items but were in pre-fixe portions.  This was to allow one to order as much as they wanted without committing to a preset number of courses.  It also allows you to try multiple dishes, since the portions are smaller.

Wes and I opted for 4 courses each, including dinner.  We both started with a super fresh Heirloom Tomato Salad.   This was a summer garden on a plate.  If you were to close your eyes, this dish would put you right in the middle of a big country garden, wind blowing in your hair, and the smell of fresh cut grass wafting in your nose.  I'm not sure how they triggered all of those senses but they took me there.  Fresh tomatoes, smoked corn, cucumber, jalapeno, and liquid nitrogen olive oil!  Yes, please.

We also both ordered the Butter Poached Lobster & Scallop.  Our waitress mentioned this was one of her favorites and we could easily see why.  I had to hold Wes' hands down to keep him from licking the bowl.  The 2 large pieces of lobster and 4 smaller pieces of scallop were atop a buttered popcorn puree and topped with a fried ball of parsnip puree.  I had to know how both were made.  The popcorn puree was made by seeping buttered popcorn in heavy cream and then pureed into a liquid - kernels and all!  The parsnips had been pureed (with more cream, I'm sure) and then rolled in panko crumbs and fried.  I could have eaten a plate of that.

We differed on our next course.  I had the housemade egg pasta with clams.  I'm a sucker for homemade pasta even though it only consists of 2 ingredients.  The pasta was good but the previous 2 courses made this one pale in comparison.

Wes ordered the Pan Fried Sweetbreads with rutabaga and mushrooms.  I'm not a fan of sweetbreads, so I passed on his offer to try them.  I did, however, sample the rutabaga and mushrooms - both were excellent.  I think that's the first time I've ever had rutabaga prepared in a savory way.  The mushrooms just melted in my mouth.

We couldn't pass up dessert and thank goodness we didn't!  Wes order the Candy Bar and I ordered the Oatmeal Cake.  Both came with housemade pretzel ice cream and both were sinfully delicious.  I appreciate that neither portion was tiny, as fancy desserts tend to be.  If I'm paying $8-$10 for dessert, I expect it to be more than 2 bites.  My waistline might not agree but my wallet speaks louder (:

Success!  I had a great birthday.  I enjoyed time with my family, had some alone time, got some gifts, and had a fantastic meal.  Let's do it again next year!!


  1. Yay for date night - you two looked so great!!

    We had thought about going to McCrady's but we went when Pierce was a baby with no one to watch him so that was definitely a no go!!

  2. Wow, that lobster dish sounds amazing! Glad you had such a great bday celebration :)

  3. Happy Belated Birthday! McCrady's sounds wonderful.

  4. Your meal sounds divine- An awesome birthday for sure. Love your blog!


  5. Thank you so much for emailing me the link to this - you're a fabulous food writer, by the way. McCrady's & Husk both keep coming up as places to check out, so I appreciate your review of the former here.

    Also, that birthday dress is adorable - well played!