Charleston continues to experience a boom with restaurant openings. But the trend is focused on boutique-style restaurants that are smaller in size and scope. Several chefs are leaving larger scale restaurants to focus on opening something that is more true to their personalities and passions. We cannot wait to visit and get a taste of it all.
Here are some of those we recommend visiting to see what all the buzz is all about:
Brasserie Gigi: Restaurateur Hank Holliday is at it again as he continues his quest to elevate Market Street and the surrounding businesses. Along with Chef/partner Frank McMahon (of Hank’s Seafood) he's redeveloped their storefront space into a new concept—Brasserie Gigi. The restaurant's menu is filled with French inspired items including a variety of soups, a versatile raw bar, salads such as nicoise, lobster, and fried oyster, sandwiches and entrees like pork schnitzel, and shrimp Provençal. The space has also experienced a gorgeous makeover that reflects its French focus, with mirrors, leather banquettes, tiled floors, and a spacious bar.
Chez Nous: Chef Jill Mathias has been on our radar for years, and it was always surprising that she wasn’t more recognized more for her work at Carolina’s Restaurant. So we were very excited to hear she had left to open a place with her boyfriend Juan Cassalett and the owners of Bin 152. Chez Nous is hard to find and in a surprisingly small single house that dates back two hundred years. The restaurant seats 30 people inside and then has a few picnic style tables outdoors to accommodate overflow. Similar to Bin 152, there is a bar to perch up to that houses wines focused on southern France, northern Italy and northern Spain—all to match the food. The handwritten menus change daily, and are also posted to their Facebook page. Patrons can choose from two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts.
The Obstinate Daughter: Based on the design and decor alone, The Obstinate Daughter is off to a great start. Throw in a chef like Jacques Larson, and you've hit gold. Located on Sullivan’s Island, the restaurant is named for the rich Revolutionary War history of the island and is being touted as a “food fort." Breaking away from his strict Italian focused menus at the Wild Olive, Larson is serving more southern inspired cuisine. The beachside location boasts a menu that can change “hourly” based on what people catch and bring by. Plates include a Frogmore Chowder, Lowcountry Shrimp Roll, and Baked Clammer Dave’s Clams, as well as pastas and pizzas that show off Larson’s Italian roots. The space has a rustic, nautical feel with a backdrop overlooking the nearby beach houses and ocean.
The Park Café: Located a few blocks from Hampton Park, The Park Cafe exudes a classic neighborhood jaunt. With large, garage door style windows, the space is bright and lively, and even features a “plant wall” with a variety of lush ferns as the main backdrop to the space. Serving contemporary, continental fare, Chef John Amato’s menu is fresh and focused. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, and grab 'n go items. Some of the favorites include the avocado toast, the baked camembert tart, and the mushroom and walnut pate. The cafe is a great place to meet up with friends and the outdoor seating is an ideal way to enjoy the beautiful Charleston weather.
Hot on the Horizon:
Leon’s Oyster Shop: It looks like it is ALMOST open, and we cannot wait. Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink have been busy working on Leon’s Oyster Shop and we look forward to see what all of the buzz is all about. They have hired an outstanding chef—Ari Kolender (formerly at The Ordinary) and the menu is expected to feature fried chicken, fish, and a raw bar.
Palace Hotel: Not much is out there on the Palace Hotel. On their Facebook page, there are posts of gourmet hotdogs and we hope to get a taste soon.