Contrary to popular opinion, I have not abandoned Ivy&Branch–instead, I’ve been savoring my time as a newlywed as Benjamin and I begin our “normal” lives together. It’s been a blissful few weeks, but I’m glad to be somewhat reentering a routine. I’m in the process of gathering new ideas for the blog, and there’s certainly plenty to discover here in Greenville! In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the excellent places Benjamin and I discovered on our honeymoon in Charleston, SC. While we’re not seasoned locals (or even cultured tourists), we did stumble across some phenomenal eateries and small businesses!
Wild Olive (John’s Island) – Fantastic Italian
After an afternoon touring the Charleston Tea Plantation (possibly our favorite tourist stop…a wonderful place to explore if you’re tea fanatics like us), we had a roaring appetite, and Wild Olive not only delighted us with wonderful food but a romantic, seaside cottage-like environment. We enjoyed some scrumptious charred octopus as a starter, followed by a grilled swordfish entree: both provided all the fresh seafood taste that could be desired. By far, however, the highlight of our meal was (of all things), the side dish: “smashed fried potatoes with truffled aioli, scallion, and Parmesan.” Both Benjamin and I can say this with total confidence: those potatoes were the most luxurious, close-your-eyes delectable potatoes we have ever tasted. SERIOUSLY–you have got to try them.
Cru Cafe – A Special Gift
This restaurant was particularly special to me because my Uncle Tom-Tom (who personally knows Cru Cafe’s owner) arranged for our lunch there and had us treated like royalty. Sitting down in Cru is like sitting down in someone’s house (not surprising, as the restaurant is actually a converted home). The environment is casual yet offers some truly exceptional food that you’d expect to find at a swanky bistro.
Before Benjamin and I had even ordered, the waitress brought out a platter of fried oysters (courtesy of my uncle), which we devoured in a matter of seconds. From there, I ordered the Asian-glazed salmon with a pear and pine nut salad, and Benjamin ordered their specialty burger–and if you’re thinking a burger is a low-brow item, you’d be totally wrong. Not only was this burger cooked to perfection, but was layered with maple-glazed pork belly, goat cheese, and sauteed mushrooms…and did I mention the truffle Parmesan fries that came with it??
We were more than delighted with our entrees, but as soon as the waitress took our plates away she told us to hang tight as a special dessert was on its way. A minute later and she came sweeping in with a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream–another surprise from my uncle, who knows I’m crazy about chocolate and raspberry together. I’m not saying I hogged that dessert…but it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Benjamin did not get many bites out of it. Uncle Tom–THANK YOU!
Blue Bicycle Books – For the Literary Soul
If you’ve been to Charleston and love books, you’ve probably managed to sniff out Blue Bicycle Books. Having a mutual affection for used book stores, Benjamin and I navigated our way to this bookish hideaway and were not disappointed. Browsing through the many shelves of books (used, rare, and local) was wonderfully relaxing, not to mention a great way to escape the Charleston heat that afternoon!
Circa 1886 – A Final Meal to Remember
During our last night in Charleston, Benjamin made reservations for a truly special restaurant–Circa 1886, a beautiful restaurant built into an old carriage house and acclaimed by multiple culinary magazines. We got dolled up for the occasion, and as soon as we pulled up to the restaurant I knew we were in for a treat.
As we perused the menu, we were brought multiple “teasers”–not quite appetizers, but small bites of food that were, arguably, my favorite part of the whole meal. We had warm rolls with orange-oil butter, a spoonful (literally) of herbed goat cheese with radish, and an espresso-cup of roasted vegetable soup with truffle oil (I could have eaten a bowlful of this and been more than satisfied).
We were both more than wowed by our entrees–I went with seafood, he went for the red meat, and we enjoyed stealing tastes of both. Not only was the taste exquisite, but the plating was just beautiful. We had ordered the peach souffle for dessert, but we were in no way expecting the masterpiece that was brought out. I’m not exaggerating when I say that souffle–with peach creme anglaise, crunchy streusel, and brown sugar ice cream–was probably the best dessert I’ve ever ordered. It was absolutely delectable…and the complementary champagne didn’t hurt, either!
Can’t Wait to Return!
All in all, we had the time of our lives in Charleston. It was Benjamin’s first time in the city, and I loved getting to experience it afresh through his eyes. My grandmother was incredibly generous to us and paid for our accommodations at the Lodge Alley Inn, which was only a block from the Waterfront Park and just down the street from the market. Needless to say, we stayed in a prime location and were able to enjoy just walking around the prettiest parts of the city. For myself, however, I think the food just might have been the highlight, and I’d love to return (soon!) to experience it all over again.