The stars aligned this past weekend and Willy and I were able to escape to Charleston for a quick forty-eight hour getaway. Charleston is just a four hour drive from Asheville and is another sweet southern town that shares many of the same values of our own hometown. Similarities include: a movement to purchase goods from local artisans called Lowcountry Local First, active LGBTQ community support, an abundance of incredible local eateries, and tourists who flock in droves to the downtown area for shopping, sightseeing, and people watching.
The differences? About 10-15 degrees of humid August heat, and significantly more groups of five to twelve inebriated women sporting either similarly colored dresses or the same alcohol-related t-shirts, with one special lady wearing a veil, sash, or other indicator that she is indeed, the bachelorette being celebrated. Also, there are significantly more chain retail stores in downtown Charleston which Asheville, to our credit, and for the most part, have managed to keep downtown unchained.
We got to do some of our favorite things during this trip: we shopped, we toured, we swam, we napped, we drank, and we ate very, very well. Here’s more on that:
Upon our arrival, we returned to HoM, a restaurant we’d sampled four years ago during a food tour. At the time, we’d sampled something Willy has been eager to taste again for quite awhile. Unfortunately, when we ordered what we thought was the same thing, the dish no longer offered the bliss it once had. Regardless, the fries and tots were delish, and the BLT Bloody Mary provided the perfect ‘welcome.’
That night, we took a chance and wandered into The Ordinary. It was a restaurant I’d read up on after doing some research on one of my favorite Bravo-reality shows, which takes place in Charleston: Southern Charm. We’d heard that it’d be unlikely to get a table without a reservation, but, without having anything to lose, we gave it a shot. We got lucky and got a table outside in a sweet alleyway-turned-courtyard patio decorated with large plants and loads of, you guessed it: southern charm.
The oysters and cocktails were refreshing and flavorful, and the main meals were insane. I had the Crispy Hog Snapper (pictured left) and hubs had the Cornmeal Crusted Triggerfish (pictured right). By far, the best dining experience of the weekend. Five stars. All. The. Way.
Later that night, we checked out Prohibition. Curious to peek at the bourbon selection, Willy was not disappointed when he saw the fifteen or so available options, so we ponied up to the outside patio bar for a few before heading back to the hotel for the evening.
We again lucked out on Saturday night when we landed a last minute reservation at SNOB. I had done some online detective work and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a **gluten-free menu** (cue the celebratory music). We were seated at a great banquette table that provided a sweet perch to observe the dining room, the kitchen, and the upscale atmosphere. The Spicy Watermelon Margarita and Tuscan red wine were a lovely introduction to our dining experience, however, we were both slightly disappointed with our entrees. I’d ordered the BBQ Tuna, but when my plate arrived with only a small tuna steak and a few shrimp alongside about a quarter of a diced tomato, I was bummed. Veggies? A starch of any kind? Nada. Willy ordered the Shrimp and Grits but felt his was much more of a soupy gumbo than a traditional meal.
SNOB redeemed itself with its Pot De Creme. Sprinkled with chunks of sea salt atop a hardened layer dark chocolate, and consisting of a creamy chocolate mousse in the center, we devoured our shared pot with a quickness.
After dinner, we took our first bicycle-led carriage ride across town to The Republic, and then to The Macintosh. I enjoyed another spicy margarita there, the SS Pepper, and this version was one of the best I’ve ever had. Jalapeno bitters and blanco tequilla were topped with a foamy, salty layer and lime zest, which offered a complex and unique sipping experience.
Lastly, but definitely not leastly, we hit Poogan’s Porch for Sunday brunch on our way out of town. We sat upstairs, outside on The Porch, where the warm temperature and humidity were pushing the limits of our comfort, but once the food arrived, we couldn’t have cared less. I got the Lowcountry Omelette, which featured ham and peppers and instantly turned my into a pimento cheese fan (I had only tried it a few times before, but never *got it* until now). The home fries were seasoned to perfection and topped off a perfect southern breakfast.
All in all, it was another great Charleston trip for us, and we’ll definitely be back for more.