Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar: We Heard Such Good Things Around Charleston...

We Heard Such Good Things Around Charleston...

For those of you that like to “skim” while you’re reading, I will cut to the chase. This was not our best of dining experiences in the Low Country.

I had read a great article in Southern Living Magazine about Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar about 18 months ago, but never had the chance to go there. We had made plans with friends of ours to have dinner this weekend, but they cancelled and we decided to forge on. Big mistake.

Upon our arrival we were cordially seated by the hostess at a table near a rear door. The table that we were seated at was sticky and throughout our meal a constant parade of fruit flies/gnats flew by our table, not the best of atmospheres…

The restaurant itself is very simple – a shot-gun style interior with a few jazz posters doting the brick walls. I got the feeling that they were trying to emulate the feel of a New Orleans-style restaurant, but other than the posters and a few menu items, the message wasn’t that clear.

As we looked at the menu I started with one of the restaurant’s specialty cocktails, a peach bellini topped with a float of Myers Dark Rum. This sounded interesting and it was delightful. The serving however was very small and not worth the money.

Our salads were by far the best part of our meal. I can say that my beet salad with blue cheese and walnuts was delightful. The light, sweet beets accompanied by a blue cheese with a strong bite and lightly flavored walnuts were terrific.

My husband’s heirloom tomato salad with hearts of palm and goat cheese was very attractive, but the tomatoes could have been riper and the salad needed more than the one small piece of goat cheese that was served. Can a brother get some goat cheese for goodness sake?

I don’t know what I was thinking when I placed my entrée order. I have been working in Boston lately, also home to great seafood. During my time there I have enjoyed occasionally splurging on fried seafood, especially during the summer months. Amen Street also seemed like the perfect place to splurge. So it was the fried seafood platter for me. My husband ordered the lobster and shrimp risotto, which was my second choice and from the menu description, looked enticing.

Our entrees were served shortly after our salads were cleared. The pace of our meal and our service overall, was quite good. We looked forward to the “wins” continuing with our meal.

No LeBron James here though…

The Risotto was chock-full of seafood, but the sweet onions used in the preparation were so overpowering that you could barely taste the fresh seafood. It was billed as a mixture of seafood, herbs and parmesan, but no seasonings or cheese could be tasted. The fact that it was incredibly gummy did not help the dish.

My seafood dish looked terrific, but it was also not as expected. The oysters were cold, the hushpuppies dry, tepid and the “Napa Slaw” was a small pile of lettuce. I sent some of the items back to be redone. I will say that the fresh creamed corn and shrimp were very good.

As is usually the case, by the time my oysters and hush puppies returned my husband was done with his meal and he waited for me to eat. I really dislike the “installment plan” of eating a dinner together.

Easily the size of golf balls the newly delivered hush puppies were over cooked, dry and flavorless. Is there supposed to be a specific hush puppy flavor? I don’t know, but whatever it is, it was missing.

The oysters, though very hot were unbelievably watery and also lacked flavor. So much for my splurge.

As we paid our bill with tip it was $85.00. This was for a cocktail, sparkling water, salads and entrees. I thought it was quite steep for what we received.

Amen to the fact that we won’t be returning.

Check out more from Dining Around Charleston here.