R Kitchen

Like I mentioned earlier, we went to R Kitchen for dinner the Friday night of Meg’s bachelorette weekend in Charleston.  The meal was so incredible that I felt like I needed to post about it, and one sentence in her weekend recap wouldn’t be sufficient.

First of all, you’d never guess that R Kitchen is this restaurant that is booked for dinner months in advance by the looks of it from the outside.  It looks like a plain ole Charleston house on Rutledge Ave, across from Fuel. Oh, looks can be deceiving…

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via Charleston Eater

Since it’s a small place, they only have 16 seats in the restaurant and will have 3 seatings for dinner each night. Yup, only 48 people eat there a night.  Katie made our reservation after we went there on the culinary tour, knowing Meg would love a new place, and we wanted to try their dinner.  Every night they serve a different 5 course menu and it’s influenced by the local ingredients they source from the area, and and diner allergies (*raises hand*).

Everyone meets on their back patio, then they take you to your table, making sure everyone is comfortable where they are.  We had the exact number to sit at their bar area, which has the perfect view of their kitchen, and we enjoyed talking to the chefs during the meal.

Okay, onto the food… Our first course was a black bean soup.  The beans had been simmering in some spices so it had more of a kick than I anticipated, but I cleaned my bowl.  A nice start to ease into the next 4 courses..

Course #2: Lentil salad with avocado and tomato.  I’m sure right now my mom is reading this thinking no way Kelley ate that and liked it.  Guys, I’m growing up — I eat lentils.  This was unlike any dish I’d had before, and I probably would have never ordered it off a menu, but I really liked it.  The perfect bite included the lentils, some avocado, and running that through the tomato sauce.  Clean plate #2.

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Course three was a basil pesto gnocchi with mussels.  The words pesto and mussels are red flags for my allergies, but they don’t use tree nuts in their pesto (yay!), and Lauren and I had some local veggies on top of our gnocchi instead of the mussels.  Food allergy win.

Does anyone not like gnocchi when it’s cooked perfectly? This dish was my favorite of the night.  You have the gnocchi, with a kinda creamy sauce, and veggies on top.. ahhh. Filling, but not heavy, which is good considering that we had 2 courses left.  Also, I heard the mussels were delicious too.

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Course #4: Stuffed chicken with mushrooms.  I believe there was some rice and maybe a vegetable in the stuffed part of the chicken?  Whatever it was was good!  The chicken skin was a little bit crispy, then you had the broth, stuffing and chicken with other textures and tastes.  Clean plate #4, sense a theme?

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The last course of the night was a lamb meatloaf, that I forgot to get a picture of.  Preface: I didn’t grow up on meatloaf, so it always kinda scares me for some reason.  The lamb meatloaf was really tasty and eased my meatloaf fears, but the sauce they had with it was too hot for me.  Water and more meatloaf sans sauce cleared the spice!

I’m almost nervous to write about this place and talk about how much we all enjoyed the meal because it’s already hard to get a reservation… but it really is worth making a reservation early.  I’ve already told Hunter I’m picking a random night and we’re doing date night there.

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Oh and the good news? They’re opening a spot in West Ashley, so there will be 2 spots to get your grub on at.  Cheers to another great local restaurant!

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Charleston Culinary Tour

It’s no secret that I love to eat, so you can imagine my excitement that I was going on a food tour in Charleston after being sick for a week.  Brittney, Catherine, Katie, and I decided to be tourists in our own city last Saturday and went on the ‘Savor the Flavors of Charleston’ tour by Charleston Culinary Tours.

Going in, we had no idea what to expect.  We met at Hom at 3pm and went to the large reserved table with 12 others ready to eat.  Our tour guide kicked it off, and we all introduced ourselves.  Not too surprising, we were the only locals on the tour, but the rest were from all over the country, enjoying a weekend in the lowcountry.

Okay, to the food!  We started out with fried calamari, on top of a sun dried tomato goat cheese, and balsamic drizzled on top.  This was served family style, so we shared with a couple from Charlotte.

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Next up was the dixie flatbread with pimento cheese, pork confit, caramelized onions, bacon and arugula.  The flatbread was probably my favorite of our dishes at Hom because all of the ingredients on their own are good, but together — ahhhhh.

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Since I was the food allergy kid in the group, I got a special beet salad with goat cheese and root beer rosemary dressing.  I think this was the second time I’ve ever had beets (I know, I know), but wow this was good!  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this salad, and I’ll be coming back to Hom just for it.

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The last course at Hom was a fried chicken BLT with honey and herb ranch mayo.  So a few courses in and I think we all were starting to realize that we better loosen the belts… we were just getting started.

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We left Hom and walked down Cannon Street to R Kitchen on Rutledge.  It was such a gorgeous day, and the walk was really nice.  We stopped a few times here and there while the guide pointed out architecture, talked about various points in history, and upper King Street.

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R Kitchen came out with all three of the next courses at once for us to try, and their sous chef walked us through them.  From the right, there was a sweet tea brined pork chop with mushroom gravy, tomato & andouille sausage soup, and quinoa & veggies for the food allergy kid, but sweet potato asian noodles for the rest.

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While the pork chop was really good, I think the soup was my favorite here.  None of us had ever eaten at R Kitchen before, and we were definitely impressed by the quality of the food.  They call it a chef’s playhouse, and several guest chefs come and cook with their ever-changing fresh, local ingredients.

I had no idea how small the space was though!  It sits 16, and they will serve 3 dinners each night, joking that they “get it right by the last seating.”  On the way out, we walked through the front of the house and saw the chefs prepping for dinner that night — looks like won tons were on the menu!

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We went right next door, and headed to Lana next.  Lana started with a curry and coconut soup.  This is something I’d never order on my own, so am really glad that they served it to us because I enjoyed all the flavors!  Maybe I should broaden my tastes a little bit…

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The next course was a short rib risotto with bread crumbs.  Oh goodness, this was good.  On a normal night, I could probably eat a whole bowl of it, but 8 courses in, I was having a hard time finishing it.  I was seriously so stuffed leaving Lana, and looking forward to the walk back to King Street.

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We walked back down Cannon Street, to Coming, to Morris, then King Street and made a few more stops on the way back.  I will say that our guide knew her stuff, and even though we were locals, went to Cofc, and knew a good bit of local history, we learned a few things, especially about the Coming Street Cemetery.

The last stop was dessert at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream!  They came out to SPARC when they first moved to Charleston, but I hadn’t been to their King Street place yet because it was so busy every time I went by.  Jenny’s can be a scary place if you have a tree nut allergy since so many of their crazy flavors have some kind of nut in them, but I settled on peanut butter & chocolate chip, and the employee got me a scoop from the back to make sure it wasn’t contaminated.  It’s the little things 🙂

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Overall experience: Amazing.  We came into the tour not knowing what to expect, and I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if there’d be enough food.  I left incredibly stuffed, and enjoyed all the 9 courses we ate, plus it was a great way to try some new places!

The 4 of us want to set up plans to get dinner at R Kitchen soon with all of our friends, and I want to try the Farmer’s Market tour, or mixology tour next! Who’s in?

5 Church

A few Saturdays ago, a few of us girls got together to celebrate Katie’s birthday and try a new restaurant – the perfect combination.  5 Church is a new restaurant that opened on the corner of Market and East Bay streets in downtown Charleston.  If you went to Cofc, or visited, you might remember it as the space where Mad River was.  Yup, that place has been transformed into a classy restaurant. Weird.

I had heard good things about the menu from other friends beforehand, so I was pretty pumped to have dinner there.  Susie made sure we had our own space, so we were set up off the main dining space, in the smaller one on the left.  I feel like the waiter was in for a handful with the 12 of us..

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Since we were the first ones there, we checked out the drink menu and talked to the waiter.  I ordered a malbec, and Michelle went with the Viper, a fancy cucumber water with tequila, which became the favorite of the night.

Once everyone got there and we had all decided on something to eat, we ordered.  Brittney and I split the tuna tartare (sans nuts) for an appetizer, and it was delicious.  One of the sauces on the outside that you scoopped the tuna through had quite a kick, so I only had a little of that.

Since I may have had a snack before dinner, I ordered a mixed cheese & charcuterie board for my main course.  The chef asked which meats and cheeses I wanted, so I got a wide variety.  I made an assortment of little sandwiches with all of the toppings, and there was so much food that I was the last to finish my plate!

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The other plates looked just as delicious as mine.  I think I’ll get the lamb burger next time I’m back 🙂5 church_01
After 5 Church, we headed to The Spectator‘s bar try out another new spot in the area.  The seating areas were so sophisticated — lots of velvets, gold accents, and big leather chairs.  It was a great place to relax with a drink, especially if I was a guest.  I will definitely be back to both places soon..

Indaco Brunch

The first time I went to Indaco was almost 2 years ago, and sadly I had never gone back, although I loved my meal.  I’ll blame this on the influx of new restaurants, and also my habit of sticking with the familiar when I can’t decide…

Anyways, Lauren set up a brunch there last Sunday and I was excited to go back for a different meal.  They set up the 5 of us at one of the hightop tables toward the back, near the kitchen and immediately offered drinks.  Why yes I’ll have the bottomless mimosas on this about-to-be-rainy Sunday.

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The brunch menu had an assortment of dishes, and we ended up getting a variety.  Catherine and Jim each got different breakfast pizzas, Lauren got some sort of dish with potatoes as the base, and I forgot what TJ had (oops).

I ended up with the breakfast sandwich, because I love breakfast sandwiches.  This was like a bigger, fancier version of what I make at home and had arugula, 2 eggs, pork belly, some aioli and a cheese I can’t pronounce.  I was pretty happy about the two eggs since I had 2 runny yolks to dip my bites in, and that pork belly…. yum.

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We all cleaned our plates, then just enjoyed the company (and our mimosas) before finally leaving and checking out the new West Elm down the street.  Now that Indaco is at the top of my mind, I’ll be back again soon, for brunch or dinner!

Accent on Wine

Last week a few girls from SPARC and I decided we needed to have a little wine and cheese happy hour after work.  Accent on Wine already has a place in Summerville, and so the new spot in the cute Park Circle neighborhood is their second location.  A few of the girls had been to the Summerville location before, so we knew we’d enjoy it (plus who doesn’t love a good wine & cheese girls night?).

The shop is both a restaurant and a retail store, so there are cases of wine everywhere, which will make you thirsty when you walk in.  Once everyone was there we ordered a bottle of rose.  Bottles are way cheaper than just ordering by the glass, so if you can agree on something, definitely do it!

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Next step was picking out 5 cheeses to go on our “advanced cheese board.”  We ended up with a mix: red dragon cheddar, Yancy’s fancy smoked double cream cheddar, cranberry with cinnamon goat cheese, Idiazabal sheep’s cheese, and the classic brie.  5 girls, 5 cheeses… as you can imagine even with the amount of food on the board these went pretty quick over some reality tv show talk.

Two hours later, we finally headed home after planning to do this as frequently as possible.  All of our checks were under $20, which seemed unbelievable for the rose and cheese we consumed.

Will I be back? Yes.  The service was a balance of present, but not hovering that you want when you’re chatting with friends.  The cheese was great (granted I didn’t love them all, but I tried new ones), and I want to try the cheese & meat boards next time.  Who’s in?