Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Last Thursday our girls supper club was back in action at Rappahannock Oyster Bar! Our club took a bit of a hiatus through the holidays, but we’re back and with a new strategy: less stress on hosts and more trying all the new restaurants in the area.  We went to Pancito and Lefty in March and will be mixing in easy appetizer nights at home other months to keep it easy on everyone.  Plus it gives us a way to keep up with the growing list of new restaurants!

Photo: Open Table

Well, we made reservations at Rappahannock Oyster Bar which is in the Cigar Factory off East Bay for April’s night. I was really looking forward to seeing the space because I’ve only been to the Cedar Room over there.

First impressions as we walked in: well decorated, small actual dining room & large bar.  The bar itself was made of copper (swoon) with a live bar on one side that had fresh ice dropping out from the ceiling into the bar.  It was also huge and seats 40.

The bar area is definitely the focus point and the biggest space.  You walk through the dining area to get to the bar area and it had a few booths and maybe 6 other tables so smaller than I expected.

We sat down and started looking at the drink menu.  After trying Lauren’s cocktail, I ordered the same then we switched to rosé.  I started with the fish dip as an appetizer (basically the only appetizer I could eat considering my shellfish allergy) and it was delicious! I’m not sure I’ve ever had a fish dip before so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it was loaded with fish and the other flavors were a good complement to eat on crackers.

Other girls had oysters, chowder, the bread flight and caviar as appetizers.  We all passed around our plates to try everything (except me), but I did try the caviar!  This was the trout roe and came with a little spread and wafers.  I love the lil pop of flavor as you eat it.

You might be wondering what a shellfish allergy orders for dinner at an oyster company… Unfortunately my first choice did have shellfish in it, but they had the option of steak that isn’t listed on the menu – yay!

I thought it was cooked really well with a bit of char on the outside and enjoyed the style of potatoes too.  Plus the leftovers were great as sliders for lunch.

Other entrees included crab cakes, more oysters, and crabs.  Our table was a plethora of the sea!Overall we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a cute new spot!  I want to come back and sit at that bar next time… and order the steak again.

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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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Crave

It’s been 2 years since we closed on our house (craziness!!), and in those two years we have explored this part of Mount Pleasant a lot.  Seaside Farms is super close to us, and we eat at the different restaurants there a fair bit since they’re so convenient.

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails is one of these restaurants that I’ve eaten at more for just about any type of meal: brunch, lunch, girls night, date night, happy hour, etc.  They also have a food truck that comes to SPARC a bunch.  This is all building you up to understand how excited I was when Taylor asked if I wanted to go with him to their media dinner the other night.

We started the dinner at a big table on their patio, which was great because the weather had been beautiful that day.  After a bit of a late start, the group had drinks, got a tour of their food truck and were anxiously awaiting the first course: mac n’ cheese.

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Crave is known for their mac n’ cheese — it’s actually the winningest mac in America!  So the mac comes out, with three big plates of short rib, pulled pork and shrimp to put on top.  Short rib with the mac was easily my favorite combo.  I also ate wayyyyy too much considering it was only the first course.

Next up: brie bites.  These were basically huge fried brie balls with apple chips and a grape / pepper marmalade.  I split a plate with Connelly and we both went back for another half.

One thing to note is that with each course, we were receiving cocktails that paired well with them.  I started with some wine (#malbecmonday), then we received a habanero mojito with the mac, and prosecco drink with the brie.  It was gonna be one of those Mondays…
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For entree time, we moved inside.  They brought out 2 entrees: hanger steak and sea scallops. I can’t eat the scallops, but they looked and smelled good. That hanger steak though…. Okay, so there was hanger steak, sauteed spinach, bing cherries, and brie (and walnuts for those non-food allergy kids).  Getting a bite with all of that was awesome — so many textures!  This was my favorite course of the night, hands down.

The two cocktails for these courses were a tequila sangria, and rifle range rye.  The latter was surprisingly light and refreshing, which was kinda needed at this point in the night.  Also tequila in a sangria seems like a great idea, and was executed really well.

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As if we weren’t full already, there was one course left: dessert.  Dessert consisted of seared pears, walnuts (or not), bing cherries, cranberries, caramel and humboldt fog goat cheese.  Somehow they managed to put cheese in every dish, but the goat cheese totally tied the dessert all together.

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Crave even sent us some with some leftovers, and more mac!  Hunter was pumped about that… If you haven’t been to Crave, you definitely need to check it out.  And if you have, come with me to eat more mac, the hanger steak, and pears!  And their brunch..

Special thanks to Peter, Chef Landen, Anthony & Damon for a great start to my week!  I had to end with a pic of all the drinks i had by the time I left.  Despite my best efforts, I tried all the cocktails, but couldn’t finish all of them..

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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..

Leon’s Oyster Shop

I’m extremely late to the game, but I finally tried Leon’s Oyster Shop the other night!

We ended up at Leon’s after meeting Taylor at his new house on Saint Margaret.  I can’t even describe how beautiful this house is going to be when it’s done, and it’s right down the street from Lowndes Grove… ahhhhhhh.  Great find, T9 & Will!

So after checking out the house, we wanted to grab dinner somewhere close.  Although Taylor had been to Leon’s a few times already that week, we headed there so Hunter and I could finally try it.

leons02This is one of those places that when you walk in, you know you’re going to have a good meal.  Why?  Because if they spend so much attention to the smallest details like menu design, and eclectic decor, then you know the same about of thought goes into the menu and execution of dishes.

Needless to say, we walked in and I got a little giddy.  The place was beautiful, the food smelled good, and I knew several people who loved this place.  We were in for a great dinner..

Hunter got a half dozen raw oysters for an appetizer (it is an oyster shop after all), while Taylor and I snacked on the hush puppies.  The hush puppies even came out in a  tiny le creuset dish… They could have come out on a paper plate and they’d still be delicious, but what’d I tell ya about paying attention to the details?

leons01Since I can’t have oysters, I opted for the 2 piece fried chicken and brussels sprouts.  You know fried chicken is done right when the inside is still juicy, but there’s a perfect crispy outside, and this was cooked perfectly.  Taylor also had the two piece, and Hunter had fried chicken too, but it was on a sandwich and he basically gobbled it up.  They make fried chicken the right way, y’all.

leons03To me, the star of the night was the brussels sprouts — I’m seriously obsessed with all things brussels lately.  They were also fried, but had some red wine vinegar and little pieces of tomatoes (?) in there too, which just set it off.

Sadly I was way too full at this point to get some of the soft serve ice cream, but I will definitely be back for it… and 3 more dishes of those brussels sprouts… and more chicken.  Yeah, so you’ll see me eating here a lot.  Check it out if you haven’t yet!