Restaurant review: Old Village Post House offers local, seasonal and dynamic Southern cooking
By Deidre Schipani | Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Old Village Post House
Cuisine: Lowcountry Southern
Category: Neighborhood Favorite; Night Out
Location: 101 Pitt St., Mount Pleasant
Hours: Dinner daily at 5:30 p.m., Sunday brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Happy Hour in Tavern Monday-Friday
Cost: Soups $4-$7, salads $6-$12, appetizers $8-$12, main courses $11-$28, sides $3-$4, brunch starters $5-$12, brunch entrees $8-$14. Tavern menu; Happy Hour specials; Daily Specials MP.
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Bar: Full-service bar; private-label liquors; signature cocktail menu
Other: Private dining in the Blue Room; the Pitt Street Room; bar, courtyard, tavern and dining room. Six guests rooms. Rewards card, newsletter, gift cards, luncheons for private groups; Facebook; www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com; oldvillageposthouse.com. Chef Forrest Parker will conduct demos at the Mount Pleasant farmers market fourth Tuesday of each month during market season.
‘It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” and when Nashville, Tenn., suffered historic flooding in May 2010, the trajectory was set for a Charleston homecoming for executive chef Forrest Parker of the Gaylord Opryland.
Parker is a graduate of the College of Charleston and cooked his way through school tendered by the competencies of then-chef Louis Osteen at Louis’s and then-chef Robert Carter of Peninsula Grill.
When Parker returned to the Lowcountry, Frank Lee, vice president for culinary development at Maverick Southern Kitchens, dispatched Parker to the kitchens of the Old Village Post House as chef de cuisine.
Culinary continuity has been maintained with the menu. Maverick classics remain: the signature crab cake ($14, $25), the house salad ($6), the Post House burger ($11, $8 during Happy Hour in the Tavern); the Old Village shrimp and grits ($12), and the crispy fried oyster ($12).
Specials speak to the season and reflect the cadence of a cook who knows that ingredients speak first.
The spring menu saw the first of the season’s squash blossoms ($10) plumped with a shrimp mousse nested on yellow squash slaw and painted with the intense sweetness of a red beet vinaigrette.
Tender spring onions were charred and their bitter bits contrasted with the sweetness of a French classic soubise, or creamy onion sauce, served with a coffee-rubbed tenderloin of beef ($25).
Tender mussels ($9) brined in tomatoes, garlic and capers were plumped in a white wine nage, or poaching liquid. Their generous portion could easily satisfy a small appetite.
Coastal grouper ($27) was pan-roasted and finished with a sweet corn custard, the twisted tendrils of the season’s first peas and the gentle finish of a citrus vinaigrette. Sweet, salty, smoky are flavor points taken from “Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet: A Culinary Journey through Southeast Asia,” one of Parker’s favorite books.
The menu steers to the sea, but meat lovers will find hanger steak ($21), burgers ($11) and filet ($25).
The ubiquitous eggs top the beef carpaccio ($12), the 21st-century’s beef tartar. It is gilded at the Post House with a truffle vinaigrette and toast points.
From country ham to pickled watermelon, sunchokes to butter beans, Parker punctuates his menu with a Charleston accent, sustained by local farmers and producers.
Our young server was well-informed about the menu, and on a busy Friday night it was clear that the neighborhood came to its dining room away from home: The Old Village Post House.
The decibels in the bar rise with the number of cocktails consumed, so ask for the main dining room if you prefer a quieter spot.
The weather was perfect for courtyard dining. Lights, strung like fireflies, brought gentle illumination to the outdoors. Take advantage before the cruel heat of summer descends.
This is a comfortable restaurant that resonates charm and welcome, not to mention humor as a wall painting of Rhett speaks to Scarlet: “Frankly (“franklee”) Scarlett, I’On does not have a dam.”
The Old Village Post House is a place where eating well and eating local find a common ground, and where dynamic Southern cooking awaits.