“Husk”, Great Dining in Charleston, SC

Husk Restaurant, Charleston, SC
Husk Restaurant
76 Queen Street
Charleston, SC 29401
 

 

While visiting my family in Columbia, South Carolina, we decided to take a one night field trip to Charleston.  Knowing that I was going there, my brother recommended the restaurant Husk, which won 2011 Best New Restaurant in America from Bon Appetit magazine and 2011 Best New Restaurant in the South from Southern Living magazine.  The restaurant is the creation of award winning Chef Sean Brock and owned and operated by the Neighborhood Dining Group (NDG).

Husk Restaurant, Charleston, SC

Husk Restaurant, Charleston, SC

What makes this restaurant unique is how it brands itself on using fresh, local ingredients to create extraordinary southern inspired recipes.  With a menu that is updated daily depending upon the local ingredients available, this centrally located Charleston restaurant provides an ever changing, casual culinary experience.

 

Servers Picking up the Culinary Delights from the Kitchen

Servers Picking up the Culinary Delights from the Kitchen

We made reservations for lunch and what a lunch it was!  I love to eat, especially fresh, flavorful, balanced creations that are part experience and part sustenance.  The menu for the day had numerous delightful gems as shown below.  Asking our server for recommendations, she advised us on the burger, shrimp and grits and the heritage pork.  In addition to the food, Husk had an extensive wine, beer and soda list as well.  Unfortunately they were out of the North Carolina Cheerwine, so I had to settle on Abita Root Beer instead.   Bring on the glutenous feast of southern culinary delight!

The Lunch Menu from July 21st, 2014.  The following sides were not included in the scan above: - Carolina Gold Rice with Sea Island Red Peas, Smoky Tomatoes - Grilled Courgettes with Tropea Onions and Sweet Cord

The Lunch Menu from July 21st, 2014.
The following sides were not included in the scan above:
– Carolina Gold Rice with Sea Island Red Peas, Smoky Tomatoes
– Grilled Courgettes with Tropea Onions and Sweet Cord

Abita Root Beer

Abita Root Beer

 

Grilled House Made Cheddar Summer Sausage with House Made Pickles and Mustard

Grilled House Made Cheddar Summer Sausage with House Made Pickles and Mustard

The sausage had an amazing smoked flavor from the grill.  The cheddar was subtle, but added just the little bit extra to the smoked sausage.  The pickles, mustard and toasted bread really rounded out the appetizer by diversifying the taste and texture.

Shrimp and Geechie Boy Grits, Smoky Tomatoes and Charred Onion, Sweet Peas and Surry Sausage

Shrimp and Geechie Boy Grits, Smoky Tomatoes and Charred Onion, Sweet Peas and Surry Sausage

Absolutely amazing.  Wow did those ingredients just fit together perfectly, creating amazing convolution of texture and taste again.  The gravy wasn’t too heavy, with minor flavor so you can still taste all of the other ingredients in this bowl of foodie heaven.

The Husk Cheeseburger with Fried Potato Wedges – Photo Courtesy of www.huskrestaurant.com

Not sure what sauce is on this, but it was really an amazing burger.

Fried Chicken Po'Boy with Kentucky Black Pepper Bacon, Home Made Pickles and Red Onion, Spicy Mayo (which was pretty spicy)

Fried Chicken Po’Boy with Kentucky Black Pepper Bacon, Home Made Pickles and Red Onion, Spicy Mayo (which was pretty spicy)

The chicken was good, but nothing special.  However, the bacon, what a great enhancement to this typically boring sandwich.  The mayo was rather spicy, but really good compliment to the meats.

Virginia Heritage Pork with Fried Cabbage, Smoky Butterbeans and Sea Island Red Peas, Pot Likker.  The pork was slow cooked for 12+ hours, pulled apart and then wrapped around the stomach and cooked again.  A slow cooked fatty goodness!

Virginia Heritage Pork with Fried Cabbage, Smoky Butterbeans and Sea Island Red Peas, Pot Likker.

The pork was slow cooked for 12+ hours, pulled apart and then wrapped around the stomach and cooked again. A slow cooked fatty goodness!  Really tasty and again, another great example of the quiet dance of textures and taste among the ingredients.

A side of a Skillet of Cornbread with Allan Benton's Tennessee Bacon

A side of a Skillet of Cornbread with Allan Benton’s Tennessee Bacon

Located off of Queen Street in downtown Charleston, Husk resides in an old Victorian house.  Supporting both floors for seating, the restaurant can support a decent amount of diners.  If you didn’t make a reservation and you do have to wait, the rocking benches on the porch are really clever and make waiting for a table a bit more enjoyable.

Outside Husk on Queen Street

Outside Husk on Queen Street

 

The paper menu printed each day each meal

The paper menu printed each day each meal

Some of the decorations located on the lower floor dining room

Some of the decorations located on the lower floor dining room

 

The dining room on the lower floor of Husk

The dining room on the lower floor of Husk

 

Neal’s Ratings:

  • Atmosphere = A   (Well decorated, decent size, clean, bright, and a parking garage across the street.  The bathroom on the lower floor is a single unisex bathroom, so could be an issue if more than one person needs to use it)
  • Service =  A-
  • Food = A+    (really amazing shrimp and grits, the pork was fatty heaven, the burger had some magical sauce on it that was to die for, but the corn bread was a little dry though)

Mobile Barbeque in the Miami Wynwood Art District

Ribs cooking on the grill

It isn’t everyday that you find good barbeque parked on a side street in an empty part of town.  But on this beautiful Sunday, we stumbled upon proprietor and grill master, Mark Gibson’s BBQ-2-Go mobile barbeque establishment in Miami Florida’s well known Wynwood Art District southeast of I-95 and I-195.

We had been driving around Wynwood for a couple hours , taking pictures of the amazingly colorful and artistic graffiti, when we turned down NW 2nd Avenue and saw a black cage of a trailer that was transmitting smoke infused with sweet carnivorous barbeque smells.  Having already eaten a few hours earlier, eating again wasn’t terribly high on our to-do list.  But, how can you pass up a barbeque stand that you fortuitously stumbled upon in the most unexpected of places?!

So, we pulled over and parked next to The Beetles ‘Abby Road’ mural across the street from Mark’s BBQ-2-Go stand.  We walked up and Mark was socializing with a lovely lady he knew sitting out front under the thoughtful canvas overhang.  After introducing himself, we got right to the ever important discussion about what smokey meaty morsels he has ready to eat.  Mark responded with “I have chicken, pork and ribs shortly.”

Portrait of the BBQ-2-Go proprietor and grill master, Mark Gibson.

The scrumptious meats on the barbeque pit.

Possessing an affinity for pulled pork sandwiches, we elected for pork.  Mark removed a large meaty morsel from under the foil and began chopping it up with his cleaver from the Dexter television show.  He then proceeded to give us a paper bowl, opened the bun up and dumped his surgically chopped pork on top.  We were then faced with the crossroads of selecting which of Mark’s homemade barbeque sauces to complement this pork sandwich.  Posing this quandary to Mark, he quickly responded with “Have the Gangsta Gold.”  Yes, that is correct, Gangsta Gold.  What a fantastic name and tasty mustard based sauce.  It had a sweet, tangy and mild mustard taste to it.

Pulled pork barbeque sandwich covered in “gangsta gold” barbeque sauce.

The seasoned and sauced up ribs cooking on the grill.

Really fantastic.  The pork was tender, not too dry.  Really well done.  Unfortunately we didn’t try any of his other barbeque creations, but the sample that we did have was very well done.  So, if you see a smoking mobile barbeque stand around Miami, Florida and you aren’t vegetarian, stop by and try it out.

After visiting Mark Gibson’s BBQ-2-Go mobile stand, my nephew indulged in the pulled pork sandwich with its “gangsta gold” sauce.

Neal’s Ratings:

  • Atmosphere = A+   (outside, shady tarp, convenient location)
  • Service =  A+    (lively personality who has pride in his food)
  • Food = A    (only tried the pork and sauce, but both were great)

Rosine’s – Anaheim, CA, United States

The grilled lamb chops with pomegranate and vegetable reduction

This little gem of a restaurant is located off the beaten track in Anaheim, California.  Not really close to Disney or the Honda Center where the Anaheim Ducks play, one wouldn’t typically detour to the Yorba Linda, California area.  I on the other hand am here several times a year as that’s where our office is.  Rosine’s Mediterranean Cafe is a must stop on each trip.

Rosine’s Mediterranean Cafe
721 S Weir Canyon Rd
Suite 125
Anaheim, CA 92808
(714) 283-5141

Opened in 1995 by home trained chef Rosine Najarian, this restaurant specializes in her Syrian and Lebanese influenced home cooked food.  A splendid menu of broad, bold and rich items.  Ah the garlic, rosemary, thyme, pepper and spices!  A true party in your mouth for sure.  And then there’s the wine selection, a wide array of unique wines from around the world including the owner’s homeland of Lebanon.

Rosine’s Restaurant

Alright so let’s discuss the atmosphere, service and food….

The atmosphere is simple and quaint. A recent expansion into the building next door offers a good amount of seating and options for hosting functions.  With an open kitchen and most of the seating nearby, it provides an intimate environment for diners at this family run establishment.  It is located in a strip mall next to a Subway, with limited parking out front, but near unlimited parking behind the strip mall as it shares the parking lot with a grocery store and other stores and restaurants.  Walking in this dim lit restaurant, you are welcomed by one of their servers dressed in black where you’ll be sat at one of the small wood tables.  Usually there isn’t much of a wait, if any at all.  Typically most of the people waiting in the entrance are awaiting their to-go pickup orders.  They have a small stage in the dining area for someone to play some music.   Although that may add to the atmosphere of this culinary escape, I do enjoy the quite mood of the place when dining and having a glass of wine.

Inside Rosine’s Restaurant

Whether you eat in or order take out, the service is prompt and friendly.  They are happy to have you relax and enjoy your meal, wine or desert.  So the service is really good.  Maybe it’s because I eat alone usually, but when I go I really love their Muhammara, aka ‘Walnut Caviar’.  So I always order a side of it.  It’s happened a few times where one server will bring me the starter portion of it, which is a lot of food.  I’m not sure if it’s a nonchalant up sale or not since it’s a few bucks more, so just specify you want the side portion if you order that or any of the other yummy sides.  Still always good service though as they keep the glasses full and are timely in bringing the check.

The menu is very diverse and unique, with menu options that really do transport you to the Mediterranean.  Beginning with the starters, they have a wide selection of cold and hot starters that can suite any taste bud.  But if you aren’t alone, check out one of their cold and hot mezzeh’s for a good sample of their middle eastern tapas starters.  You have the Chilled Mezzeh containing hummus (chickpea dip, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil), tabbouleh (diced parsley salad, chopped tomato, green onion, bulgur, lemon dressing), baba ghannouj (fire-roasted eggplant dip with extra virgin olive oil), muhammara (walnuts, hot pepper paste, pomegranate molasses – my favorite), and sarma (stuffed rolled grape leaves, herbed rice, toasted onion) for $14.90.  Or the Hot Mezzeh  containing cheese böreg, meat böreg, kebbeh, and falafel for $16.90.  You also get pita bread to start, which is good, but it’s right out of the bag so nothing special.  You can see their famous rotisserie chickens in the window when you walk into the restaurant (half for $12.50).  Their chicken is very good, not too dry on the inside and full of seasonings on the outside from their proprietary rub.  Other menu items I really enjoy are the kababs, which you can get for chicken, lamb or beef.  Sometimes they can be a little overcooked though, which is easy to do when cooking kababs or if they sit too long under the heat lamp before serving, but still flavorful and divine with some garlic sauce on them.  I usually order either falafals or one of their two lamb menu options like the Grilled Lamb Chops with pomegranate and vegetable reduction or the Lamb Shank with juice of red wine, garlic rosemary.  Both for $23.95.  They are very good, with the shank as my favorite.  The chops tend to be medium-well by the time I get them, so a tad overcooked from how I like them, but still very good with their complex lamb rub.  Their ratatouille is very flavorful as well, so that makes a hearty, but extremely satisfying side.  They tend to put on the side of each plate a few slices of their pickled turnips, which strong bitter, sour taste but nicely contradicts the other flavors on the plate.  Combine any of the above hearty stomach fillers with a side of their garlic sauce, you’ve got a happy belly for sure.

The grilled lamb chops with pomegranate and vegetable reduction

The sides of muhammara (aka walnut caviar) on the left and their garlic sauce on the right

Neal’s Ratings:

  • Atmosphere = B    (local, in strip mall, lots of parking, stage for a band?)  Note:  Updated on 12/30/2012 because of increased seating.
  • Service =  B+    (quick, friendly unnecessary up-sale)
  • Food = A-    (good menu, tasty food, garlic sauce, bought pita bread and little overcooked food sometimes)

 

Note:  This article was updated on 12/30/2012