Friday, September 28, 2012

Lowcountry Bistro

I'm a little late getting this review out but better late than never!

Lowcountry Bistro is the new sister restaurant to the acclaimed fine-dining establishment, 82 Queen. Boasting a more laid back atmosphere and casual menu than their parent restaurant, LB brings the same quality food and service we expect from any place associated with 82 Queen. Located on the very busy Market Street, the Bistro is in the perfect location to attract the hoards of visiting tourists who are looking for a bite to eat during their excavation of the Market's manystores. .
My girlfriend Katie and her fiance John
My Fiance Matt and Me
So I went as part of a double brunch date with my bridesmaid Katie and her fiance John who were in town visiting. This was the perfect place to take them. Southern, charming, with a great view of the city on the  upstairs porch. We all ordered, Matt and I shared a small order of shrimp and grits, and steak sliders with a side of mac and cheese (it's never too early in the morning for mac and cheese in my opinion). Plus the waitress boasted this was the best mac in the city. This turned out to be completely false, it was overcooked and under-seasoned and I can make way better at home.

Our meal was averagely good for brunch, perhaps better than average but not really memorable. What I do remember is that we ordered the sliders and it came out with only two little sliders on the plate. I mean, come on people...have you EVER ordered sliders and gotten less than three? It's almost like the rule of sliders, there must be an odd number and three is just a perfect portion. Needless to say I felt a little slighted by the stingy portion, especially because they were so good.

The real star of the brunch was what Katie ordered. She made the wise choice of selecting their chicken and waffles. Not only did she get a massive portion of perfectly crispy salty chicken (a half chicken to be exact), but her waffle was spongy sweet potato waffle that was sweet and briny and soft, like some red headed step child of it's much more famous Belgian cousin. The whole thing came with the standard ball 'o butter on top, except this was not normal butter. oh no, my friends, this was pecan bacon butter. Yes....Pecan. Bacon. Butter. Have you ever heard three more beautiful words strung together at a brunch table? I think not. And this being a fancy chicken and waffles the syrup was stylish too. The syrup was a bourbon infused syrup, and you could taste just a hint of cinnamon. It was heavenly. Katie is a big fan of food and I had to give her serious accolades for ordering with a savant-like genius. This was by far the star of the brunch menu and should be a mandatory order for all tables during brunch. Maybe they could just automatically bring some over, like they do with dinner rolls or bread sticks. can dream.

All in all Lowcountry Bistro isn't somewhere I am jumping at the chance to return to. I would like to try their lunch and dinner to see how that fares but overall its a little overpriced (if I'm paying $12 for sliders I was three of them dammit!) and a bit inconsistant. If they can make all their dishes shine like the chicken and waffles did they would be a huge hit. If you are heading that way though, stop for a bloody mary and an order of chicken and waffles and you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Style

So as I go on in my culinary education I am starting to formulate philosophy of sorts. Most chefs have one, how they cook and why, what they like, what they don't etc. For example, there are a great number of chefs now-a-days that pray to the gods of molecular gastronomy. In lamens terms that is the art of turning perfectly good food into a science project. Not my style. In my opinion, there already have been a bunch of scientists behind the scenes poking and prodding our food before we even get to cook it so the less you can do to your food the better. I don't need a foam that tastes like sardines, or a gele of artichoke hearts, or even a peanut butter, I much prefer to let nature do most of my job for me. If you  have great ingredients, you've already won half the battle. Your job as a chef is to highlight what nature has given us, not to bastardize it. And with have my take on food.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Engagement Fiesta!

This week jump starts Charleston Restaurant Week, by far the most exciting time of year to be a food lover. With all this added excitement surrounding food, this past weekend was also labor day as well as my and Matt's engagement party. Perhaps not as famous as restaurant week, this party was definitely a underground dinner for the food wise elite. The food was catered entirely by my soon-to-be step-mother-in-law Lydia, who is perhaps the closest you can get to a Mexican caterer without actually being Mexican.

Let me tell you what this menu included before I spiral off into a diatribe consisting completely of foodie porn adjectives like "unctuous" and "decadent".

There were four (yes four!) courses of traditional Mexican street food typical of the Riviera Maya region of Mexico.

 shrimp and avocado salad shooters
 Steak and chicken fajita tacos
Pulled chicken and cheese enchiladas
Cochinitas Pibil
Assorted desserts (chocolate fudge, brownies, lemon bars, snickerdoodles, recess peanut butter cup cookies) courtesy of Mary Brindisi (Matt's mom)

Ok, so let's begin to break this down. The first course/appetizer was a huge hit! The shrimp was tossed with avocado, cucumber, red onion, tomato and cilantro with a hint of lime juice. The cold temperature and the freshness that comes along with the classic combo of lime and cilantro was the perfect way to jump start your palate for a night of eating. 

The steak and chicken fajitas were out of this world. Served as a buffet style taco bar there was a mountain of perfectly cooked steak that was just the right medium rare served with a grilled chicken and tri-colored pepper and onion saute. The buffet station was jam packed with four different salsas, crema mexicana, Oaxaca cheese and homemade guacamole. Leterally anything you could need to create the most delicious taco ever! Unfortunately the only thing wrong with this course was that several guests did not know that it was one of three more courses and ate too much! Not a bad problem to have.

Next up was the enchiladas, my overall favorite of the night. These enchiladas were better than the ones I had in Mexico! Lydia got the real deal tortillas from a Mexican market and even learned from the woman who owned the store how to make authentic enchilada sauce. The end result was mouth watering-ly good. The sweet unctuousness of the authentic corn tortilla  made all the other ingredients sing. The chicken was perfectly juicy and pulled to perfection, mixed with the cheese it was almost like a savory mousse. The sauce of course was divine, just the right mix of sweet and spicy. Overall, a stellar dish that I wish I had made. 

The last course was piece-de-resistance, chochinitas pibil. Basically a pork butt wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked with a blend of sauce and spice. It comes out at the most incredible shredded pork that is then slammed into a taco shell and devoured fiendishly. Served with pickled onions, I'm a huge fan. I mean, who doesn't like pork and pickled anything?

Overall, the party was a HUGE success in large part to my fabulous step-mother-in-law to be and the incredible food she made!!