Small Spaces...Big Flavor
As we all know, real estate does not come cheap in Charleston, which is why there are quite a few pint-sized eateries. What they lack in seating space, they certainly make up for flavors. Here are our favorite tiny restaurants in town.
1. 167 Raw: I think the only complaint that people have about 167 Raw is that there is always a wait because the space is tiny...made even smaller when they had to remove their outside seating last year. [167 Raw fans can rejoice in the fact that the restaurant will be relocating to a larger space sometime next year] However, anyone that has been to 167 can agree that it is well worth the wait. The menu consists of raw bar offerings, tacos, a variety of sandwiches with seafood, a daily salad, ceviche and soup. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu as it is all incredible, I really love their lobster roll and tuna burger, but have to say their Scallop Po Boy is one of the best sandwiches I have ever had...ever. Rather than fried seafood like in a traditional po boy, the scallops are seared to perfection and topped with a tangy aioli (? I’ve never investigated the sauce enough because I devour my sandwich in like 3.2 seconds). Seriously if you live in or visit Charleston and have not been to 167, what are you doing with your life? Check out their specials via their Instagram @167_Raw
2. Chez Nous: I have heard a lot of praise about this place and did not try Chez Nous until last week, but can honestly say it is my favorite dining experience so far in 2018. In terms of both food and service, it’s probably at least top five in my lifetime…it is that good. Located in a renovated home behind another house, Chez Nous is definitely a little hidden and incredibly adorable. The menu changes daily and consists of just two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts every day, so it is probably not ideal for picky eaters. The day I went, the menu consisted of a spring salad with anchovy vinaigrette, pork belly and radicchio salad, veal scallopini, olive oil poached snapper, nutella crostata and salted caramel ice cream. While it’s evident that Chef has a lot of skill, I like that their dishes are very simple and really let the ingredients shine. Everything was incredible, but the dessert...was outstanding...like I have thought about nothing else for the last 48 hours and it is consuming my life amazing. The great thing about Chez Nous is that you will never have the same meal twice, so it’s ok to go regularly...or possibly even every day? Check out their daily menu via their Instagram @cheznouscharleston
3. The Shellmore: There’s more to The Shellmore than meets the eye. Located in the I’on neighborhood of Mount Pleasant the small wine bar + eatery features a menu of rotating dishes and oysters. The space itself is quite small but has a lot of character with these amazing tin tiles on the ceiling, and they also recently added a patio area. The Shellmore is open Tuesdays through Saturdays and offers happy hour even on Saturdays from 4 to 6 pm with a 5-dollar selection of wines (usually a red, white and rosé) and $1.50 oysters. If that’s not enough to get you excited, well you probably don’t live in Charleston. The chalkboard menu usually features two to three variations of oysters, a sampling of cheese and between six to eight dishes, usually including some variation of tartare. The eclectic menu featuring items such as marinated octopus, pâté and seafood chowder has even managed to get the thumbs up from Charleston’s Hannah Raskin. Personal favorites from the menu include their ragù and roasted octopus. Check out their daily menu via their Instagram @TheShellmore
4. Sorghum & Salt: Sorghum & Salt (or SoSa) took over the former spot of Two Boroughs Larder early last year and has really made eating your vegetables cool. The menu consists of mostly small plates with a strong focus on seasonal vegetables and local seafood. One thing to expect at SoSa is the unexpected - Chef Jackson is a master at taking common dishes such as bolognese and turning it on its head, for example his preparation of bolognese is currently made with shrimp. Chef Jackson is also a master of using unusual ingredients in innovative ways, like cooking noodles in green tea or using popped sorghum as a garnish. If you’re someone that likes to Instagram your food, SoSa is definitely the place for you, as all of his dishes are as stunning as they are delicious. One cannot talk about SoSa without talking about the Beet Crémeux dessert with pistachio and espresso. Honestly, the dish name leaves me scratching my head a little, what’s a crémeux? Why beets in dessert, have you heard of chocolate? But this dish is without a doubt one of the best desserts and probably bites in Charleston and will have you convinced that beets should be in everything. SoSa also does daily chef’s tastings which consists of 7 courses with optional wine pairings and allows the diner to oversee the action in the kitchen and learn about each dish from the chef himself. Check out new menu items via their Instagram @sorghumsalt
5. R Kitchen: Rutledge Kitchen or R Kitchen describes themselves as not a restaurant, but a kitchen. The concept is basically like visiting grandma’s house, if your grandma is a trained chef. R Kitchen does two seatings daily and serves a 5-course meal of the chefs choosing with the choice of adding red or white wine to your meal. One thing to note is that it is incredibly affordable at just 35 dollars per person for all five courses (wine is additional). Dining at R Kitchen is more than just a meal, it's really an experience as the chef explains his dishes and jokes with diners. Chef and owner Ross Webb doesn’t limit himself to a specific type of cuisine and does a little bit of everything from a classic meat and potatoes to more ethnically inspired cuisine like a lamb and feta meatball with basil oil. This dining experience is again not for picky eaters as all diners get the same 5 courses with no option to choose, however they can accommodate food allergies with simple ingredient swaps if you notify them ahead of time. Check out what they are cooking via their Instagram @RutledgeKitchen