I've fallen head over heels for Charleston, South Carolina. I'm sure you're not the least bit surprised.
Brought the grand dame gourmand herself - Mama Vamp - and her fun-loving pal Christina in tow for a gal's weekend. From kicking up our heels at the Charleston Music Hall as The Mavericks ripped up the stage to footing it through the historic homes of East Battery with the Charleston Preservation Society, it was a fine time. And, as an ardent fan of Garden & Gun, I even convinced the ladies to join me as I checked out the magazine's first brick-and-mortar shop to inspect their curated selection of vintage flasks, among other Southern-made goods.
One place where convincing wasn't necessary: any place that offered up food and drink. Seriously. Chowing down and drinking up were priorities. And, I know from experience that if Mama Vamp is hungry or parched, woe is me if I don't pick somewhere up to snuff. Thankfully, Charleston offers up a slew of dining establishments and bars which are more than ready for those with exceptionally high standards.
Extraordinary is a more fitting name for one such spot, called The Ordinary. An old bank converted into a styling seafood restaurant, the place delivered on expertly-crafted Daiquiris that reminded me why they're a beloved classic cocktail, and a sumptuous raw bar that had me at "hello." Mama Vamp and Christina weren't brave enough to try the range of oysters on the menu, but they did gobble up some peel-and-eat shrimp with gusto. And, the kitchen's Jumbo Lump Crab Toast with Watermelon Radish and Lime was a winner, as was a special of fresh mackerel, served sashimi-style, punctuated with thin slices of Castelvetrano olives and bits of sweet orange supremes.
One of the other food and drink stops that drew raves was a funky, casual place called Leon's Oyster Shop. Recommended by my pal Max as a "must do" with Mama Vamp in mind, we knew that although the restaurant had "oyster" in the name that the kitchen brought some serious fried chicken. But, once told we'd have to wait at least a half-hour to get our hands on some bone-in bird, we opted for three Fried Chicken Sandwiches.
We weren't disappointed. This sandwich had it going on. The chicken was moist, crispy, flavorful, and altogether sublime. The roll was soft and buttery, and the vinegary slaw on top was the perfect companion to hold the whole thing together. And, yes, there were homemade pickles strewn atop for good measure.
Still, Leon's does have "oyster" in it's name, so we felt obliged to order a plate of Char-Grilled Oysters.
Yeah. After downing these beauties, I knew right quick why Leon put "oyster" in the name.
Expect to hear more from me on the subject of Charleston. And, I expect to return at some point too. Preferably soon.