by Susan Lucas
Get Out! Recently I visited 82 Queen for a great dinner in one of the most beautiful outdoor settings in town. 82 has been a Charleston fine dining address for 30 years, but there’s nothing old about Chef Steven Lusby’s dishes. From She Crab Soup poured at the table to deconstructed Caramelized Banana Pudding, everything is fresh, Southern, as local as possible and strictly gourmet. GM Johnny Williams serves as sommelier and guide to the restaurant’s impressive wine list. I’ve seen the menu for their June 28 Basil Hayden Bourbon dinner and it should be sold out in about five minutes but call the restaurant to see if you can squeeze in. There’s a reason 82 Queen has endured as a prime hot spot for locals and visitors; they’re restaurant royalty.
Dining outdoors is dear to every Charlestonian heart, and there are other spots worth a mention. For balcony seating overlooking the City Market, there’s Lowcountry Bistro on South Market. Owned by 82 Queen’s Kishes and operated by their talented crew, LCB is a beautiful renovation to a very old building, and the menu is wonderful.
One of the few downtown restaurants that offers breakfast, lunch and an elegant dinner, Eli’s Table has a delightful garden just next door to the Gibbes. On a recent 2nd Sunday on King Street night Chef Eva Broyles, a lowcountry creative treasure, served us crostini with goat cheese and loquat jam crafted from a tree growing in the garden. Airline Chicken and perfectly cooked Wild Caught Salmon came after. A perfect ending to a perfect day spent outdoors.
Eli’s sister restaurant Tabbuli is a neat garden spot at the very end of North Market Street. The renovation is very impressive, funky and tropical, and the garlic and Cherry Pepper Calamari is really good. It’s easy to get stuck on tapas in a place that has so many good ones, but I hear their pizza is not to be missed.
Il Cortile Del Re and Leaf have been alfresco favorites forever. Both have equally charming interiors and legendary food. Fish has a tiny but lovely outdoor spot and the food, both at lunchtime and dinner, is quite tasty. Great pizza and craft beer anyone? Monza has a tiny patio out back, as does Mellow Mushroom. For Grandma’s Petron Margaritas and bigger-than-your-head burritos, Juanita Greenberg’s has outdoor tables.
Muse has one of the great eat-at-the-bar experiences in Charleston, which is not outdoors but does open up to a cozy patio. There’s also a wee balcony upstairs and their food is reliably creative and delicious.
2nd Sunday on King Street brings a lot more restaurant seating outdoors each month, year round. It’s rain or shine but by mayoral decree it never rains on 2nd Sunday.
Dad and grad month is here and you can walk off that fine meal you enjoyed outdoors in our fair city while you pick up gifts. Here are my tips: Campo Marzio has some neat Italian leather accessories and Le Creuset has his cooking needs covered. Go to Balzac/Good Coffee for some freshly roasted rainforest beans, Savannah Bee for single flower honey (did you know honeycomb is good for his allergies?), Christophe for chocolate—you know he loves that. If he’s a USC grad there’s no better shopping than Carolina on King. Croghan’s, Roberto Coin and Joint Venture have great cufflinks and watches. Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic have classy clothes for men, and both are right here on King Street. House of Sage has an excellent men’s clothing buyer (bet you didn’t know that!) that makes it worth checking in frequently. There are a couple of neat shaving lines at Cos Bar. Go to Reinert LePrince or Michael Mitchell galleries and pick up something spectacular for his office wall. Men aren’t so hard to buy for after all.
Thank you, Charles!