Circa 1886 rolls out all-weather menu
Could an elevated egg-in-a-basket (aka toad-in-the-hole, one-eyed Jack, egg-in-a-hat, framed egg and gashouse egg) vault Circa 1886 to the top of the TripAdvisor list?
The Wentworth Mansion restaurant, which rates second with TripAdvisor reviewers, lagging behind Hall's Chophouse, recently rolled out a new all-weather menu, featuring the egg-in-a-basket with which Restaurant Week "diners fell in love," according to a press release.
Other Restaurant Week menu holdovers include pumpkin seed-granola encrusted pork tenderloin and a caramel banana cake.
Among the new dishes are a cardamom-braised lamb shank with celery root and flageolet mousseline (for when it's cold outside) and a sake-brined salmon (for when temperatures rise.)
Circa 1886 is also introducing a five-course tasting menu, priced at $75 or $115 with wine pairings.
For more information or reservations, go to the restaurant's website www.circa1886.com or call 853-7828.
Restaurants turn on documentaries
Time was, the only things a drinker could hope to learn while perched on a barstool were the details of a fellow patron's latest heartbreak and the bartender's preferred method of mixing martinis. But educational opportunities have lately picked up at a handful of Charleston establishments where the TVs are tuned to documentaries.
At Kanpai, chef Sean Park likes to play "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," the acclaimed film about an exacting 85-year-old sushi master. But other venues are using their Netflix accounts, which save them the trouble of purchasing cable or satellite service, to stray further from their menu themes.
The Granary, for example, recently treated diners to a screening of a movie seemingly about earth science (the sound's typically turned down, so viewers have to piece together their own conclusions about plate tectonics). A manager who selected "Pressure Cooker" as the follow-up film said the documentaries create a calmer ambiance than sporting events, and tend to stimulate conversation.
According to a counter staffer at Sunrise Bistro Express, lunch guests sometimes delay leaving to learn the fates of animals in the documentaries on the new cafe's big-screen TV: A crocodile film recently held a crowd captive.
On most days, though, the documentaries are significantly less intense; because the staffer is a gardening enthusiast, he really likes to watch movies about perma-culture.
It's a palm party
To celebrate a color "inspired by the luxurious fringe of green where land meets sea," Le Creuset is throwing a Palm party.
On Sunday, the Signature Store at 241 King St. will greet its latest shade of green with a blackened seafood chowder demonstration. The event, which runs from 2-3:30 p.m., will star Coast Bar & Grill executive banquet chef Kyle Kryske. Giveaways also are on the agenda.
For more, call 723-4191.
Barsa opens for lunch
Barsa's not just for night owls anymore. The tapas restaurant, which I recently enjoyed to the tune of three stars, this month adopted a noon-to-midnight schedule. And the hours stay the same every day, so it's easy to remember.
In good European fashion, there isn't a specific lunch menu. The same food is served from open to close, so you can (and should) get your pan-roasted red snapper at any hour.
For more information, go to www.barsacharleston.com. The restaurant is at 58 Line St.
Zero George open for dinner 5 nights a week
After an extended soft opening, Zero George Street Hotel is opening its restaurant for dinner five nights a week.
Zero Cafe + Bar will serve small plates from 5-11 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The menu, developed by Zero George's corporate chef and overseen by Middleton Place Restaurant alum Lucas Rhoad, includes chicken tacos, shrimp panzanella, crispy chickpeas and spiced chocolate budino. Prices range from $5-$14.
For more information, call 817-7900 or go to www.zerogeorge.com. Funny enough, Zero George is located at 0 George St.
New French restaurant in Mount Pleasant
The Snowmaggedon of 2010 set in motion a series of restaurant moves that culminated with Annie's Bistro opening in Mount Pleasant in the middle of last month's ice storm.
Mark Manly and Carole Robert in 2007 opened their French cafe in Middleburg, Va., but were forced to relocate three years later when a few feet of snowfall weakened the restaurant's roof. After three years in Bethseda, Md., "We were at that point where rents were about to go into the realm of not possible," Manly says. Last fall, he and his wife paid a scouting visit to the area where his grandparents retired in the 1970s.
"(Carole) said 'I can live anywhere,' " Manly says of the decision to reopen Annie's Bistro in Towne Centre.
The restaurant is only serving lunch, but Manly says dinner service will begin as soon as they obtain a liquor license. He estimates the process will take 10-14 days, although he's hoping the license arrives before Valentine's Day.
"We'll be French country for dinner," Manly promises. "I don't want to use words 'peasant food,' but we'll have stews. We try to source as locally as we can."
Robert, whose family owned restaurants in Paris, handles the bulk of the cooking, although she's now looking to hire a sous chef. The 42-seat restaurant is otherwise staffed by the couple's daughter and a pair of servers.
The lunch menu changes according to ingredient availability and Robert's whims, but soups, salads and sandwiches are constants. A recent lineup featured French onion soup, white bean sausage soup, grilled salmon salad, nicoise salad, and roast beef and brie on a baguette.
"We have the real Maille Dijon mustard and cornichon pickles," Manly says.
After Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema visited for his "First Bite" column, he wrote, "Egg salad set off with genuine Dijon mustard, capers and dill is prettily packaged with a chiffonade of greens between slices of a light baguette. Tuna salad with just a hint of a binder tastes, well, healthful." He liked the vinaigrette on his salad.
Annie's Bistro is at 1795 N. Highway 17, Unit 3. The restaurant is open every day from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Its website hasn't yet been updated with Mount Pleasant information, but there are old menus and blog posts at anniesbistrofrancais.wordpress.com.
Wine Awesomeness settles on Spring Street
Wine Awesomeness, the millennial-focused wine subscription club that opened its first small office above The Gin Joint, is bringing its online retail concept to a Spring Street storefront.
For the past two years, the outfit has sold its curated monthly wine packages, which arrive complete with tasting notes, recipes and suggestions for music pairings, via its website. The program has acquired subscribers in 40 states. (The Wine Awesomeness team also has stayed busy throwing parties and hawking a rose developed in partnership with Naomi Watts' brother, Ben Watts. But that's another story.)
"Now we're going to start playing around with bricks and mortar," says Logan Lee, Wine Awesomeness' CEO. "Our vision is the real world experience of what the website is like."
That means the bottle shop at 94 Spring St. won't be stocked with an overwhelming number of wines from which to choose. Instead, only a few dozen labels that have passed muster with "Chief Wine Geek" Brad Ball will be offered for sale. The store will emphasize the current month's selections, although Lee concedes "inventory will accumulate" from previous shipments.
Lee says Wine Awesomeness is planning to use the real world space to stage its version of wine classes, which feature wine in a "cool, fun, approachable way." COO Dale Slear is looking forward to hosting events in a courtyard alongside the shop.
"We can't wait to make it fabulous," he says.
The store is scheduled to open by April 1.
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