Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Best of Charleston: A Few More Critics Picks

The insane clown decided not to use these
  critic's picks. But I stand behind them!
The Charleston City Paper's Best of Charleston issue just hit the stands, and it includes both the Reader's Picks (voted on by the general public) and Critics' Picks, where the staff writers get to have a little fun. As always, there's never enough space for all the good ideas, and some of my picks ended up on the cutting room floor. Here are a few of them:

Best Use of a Carrot
At the Grocery, Chef Kevin Johnson created the year’s most stunning salad: pristine carrots roasted in his big wood-fired oven and sprinkled with crumbled pistachios, dates, greek yogurt, and feta. Simple, flavorful, and downright beautiful. I don’t expect to need glasses any time soon.

Best Repurposed Serving Dish
Order the Edwards Surryano Ham from Husk Bar and fantastic folds of smoky aged pork will arrive on a long, thin, slightly curved piece of wood, one side charred a mysterious deep black. It’s a stave from a bourbon barrel, with four little feet created from the tops and bottoms of other staves. What better way to serve the ideal side dish for a dose of old brown water?

Best Biscuit Name That Never Was
When the McAllister’s chain came gunning for Robert Stehling and Hominy Grill for their “Big Nasty” biscuit, Stehling took it in stride. McAllister’s, it turns out, trademarked the name, which uses for sort of convoluted open-faced roast beef sandwich. Ever the democrat, Stehling held a renaming contest for his signature sausage-gravy-laden fried chicken biscuit. The most worthy nominee was clearly "Litigation Biscuit", but the non-confrontational Hominy rejected that in favor of the “Charleston Nasty.” It will always be the Litigation Biscuit to me.

Best Empire Expansion that Didn’t Happen
For months, a big banner hanging in front of the new Boulevard development teased us with the promise of a new Maverick Southern Kitchen venture coming to Mt. Pleasant. Maverick kept mum on the name and the style, and we watched in anticipation to see what kind of joint it might turn out to be. And it turned out to be . . . nothing at all. A change in ownership of the Boulevard added even more delays, the Maverick team finally deep sixed the project. Sigh.

Best Locavore Tippling News
2013 brought not one, not two, but three new distilleries to the Charleston Peninsula: Striped Pig, High Wire, and the Charleston Distillery. Already a tempting parade of locally-made spirits are hitting local bar menus, and the future looks bright for a distinctive Charleston style of drinking.

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