Saturday, February 14, 2015

Charleston Chew-ing

They say that Charleston is famous for some pretty amazing restaurants, and we couldn't agree more. Months ago, my father booked us dinner reservations at some of the city's best places, including the classic Magnolia's (185 East Bay Street) and the modern locavore newcomer Husk (76 Queen Street).

We chose Magnolia's for Valentine's dinner on Saturday night. A local fan favorite for low country fine dining, we were excited to get some south in our mouth.

When we booked, we thought a 5PM reservation would have allowed us to dine without it being crowded, but apparently Charlestonians dine very early (well, compared to Manhattanites who favor 8PM). By the time we arrived, the entire restaurant was full as if they were seated at 3PM.

We were seated right away and they gave us a banquette table with a great view of the entire restaurant. The best part was that the restaurant had booster seats and crayons to keep me occupied while my parents had a cocktail and reviewed the menu.

The menu looked great, full of delicious southern classics, but we had to limit ourselves to just two appetizers and two entrees. So we went with the Fried Green Tomatoes white cheddar & caramelized onion grits, country ham, tomato chutney and the Pan Seared Sea Scallops sweet corn hoe cakes, sautéed spinach, brandied apple-bacon cream sauce. They were both delicious, but our favorite were the scallops. We love scallops. Only wish there were more!

For our main course, my mother went with their signature Shellfish over Grits sautéed shrimp, sea scallops, & lobster, creamy white grits, lobster butter sauce, fried spinach. She loved the savory flavor of the grits after they soaked up the flavor from the shellfish.

My father was torn, but he asked our server for his recommendation and went with Parmesan Crusted Flounder jasmine rice & creek shrimp pirloo, sweet corn, tomato, & asparagus salad, lump crab, citrus beurre blanc. Despite what my father read on TripAdvisor, his flounder came out super juicy and fell apart like it was just caught that morning. It was perfectly paired with the zesty sauce, though my father would have preferred other vegetables on the side.

I was looking for something simpler, so my father ordered me the Chicken & Dumplings with peas and carrots. Truth be told, I was too busy playing with the pepper shaker to really eat, but we took this home and I ate all of it later on that night.

We had eaten so much that we were almost too full for dessert. But given I love sweets, my father ordered us their Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée white chocolate mocha biscotti. However, this item was pretty standard and didn't really warrant a photograph.

If we could go back again, we'd definitely try some of the great items we didn't get to order, including the Down South Egg Roll collard greens, chicken, tasso ham, red pepper purée, spicy mustard sauce, peach chutney or the Pan Fried Chicken Livers caramelized onions, country ham, Madeira sauce.

Overall, we had a wonderful dinner and no one seemed to mind dining with an adorable three year old toddler - even on Valentine's Day. In fact, when we were leaving around 6:30PM, we saw a few other tables with some kids. I love fine dining outside NYC for this exact reason. Well done, Magnolia's!

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