Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back to the Charleston Trip: Magnolia's

While researching potential spots for my trip, I initially added Magnolia’s to my list of must-visit restaurants due to the multiple grits dishes on the menu and because it is owned my the same folks who own Cypress, my favorite restaurant, not only in Charleston, but in all of South Carolina.

Located at the site of the city’s original customs house, Magnolia’s strives to serve traditional “down south” dishes with a contemporary “uptown” presentation – a commitment well kept. Everything from the décor of the restaurant to the service is impeccably upscale and within minutes of stepping foot into the restaurant, I knew I’d made a good decision.

We started with a round of mimosas and mint juleps. The mint julep was by far the best one I’ve had since my friend’s Derby party in Atlanta in 2002. Five years without a good mint julep seems like forever – so I made sure we stayed long enough for me to have two.

While I wanted to order almost everything on the menu, we did a fairly good job of sticking to the task at hand – testing out grits. We passed on the Spicy Shrimp and Sausage over Grits because they were served with Tasso gravy, which I’d already had three times that day. But we ordered the remaining grits dishes including the Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer and the Shellfish over Grits entrée.

(sidenote: when we were waiting for our food, a table of five tourists were discussing the menu next to us. One of them asked what grits were. Another responded, “Have you ever eaten Cream of Wheat – you know the stuff they eat up north? Well, grits are like that.” I almost fell out of my chair!)

Fried Green Tomatoes
Originally uploaded by weezienyc.

The Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer, served over white cheddar and caramelized onion grits, country ham, and tomato chutney was impressive. The combination of the tangy tomato with subtle sweetness of the grits was one of the best I’ve experienced in my year of food "research.” This would be a perfect brunch dish, served with mimosas and mint julep spritzers (I don’t think ladies drink real mint juleps before 3 PM).

Seafood Grits at Magnolia's
Originally uploaded by weezienyc.

The Shellfish over Grits - sautéed shrimp, sea scallops, and lobster over creamy white grits with a lobster butter sauce and fried spinach was also delicious. It was creamy without being too rich and contained a generous amount of lobster and scallops. This is a recipe that I doubt I could recreate on my own as there were some flavors I just couldn't identify.

Magnolia’s Executive chef Don Drake has earned his place on my list of top five best chefs. The meal was amazing and I’d be delighted if the owners let me share a recipe or two with you in my book.


bkhuna said...

“Have you ever eaten Cream of Wheat – you know the stuff they eat up north? Well, grits are like that."

Tourist, GD tourists, why do they go everywhere that I go?

Magnolia's has been bumped up a few notches on my places to eat in Charleston because of this excellent article.


mamasaid said...

This is where I'm eating on my next trip to Charleston. Those fried green tomatoes look AMAZING!

shelbinator said...

Well shoot, I wish I had seen this before I went down to Charleston last week.

Anonymous said...

Just returned today from Charleston and finished our visit at Magnolia's with the shellfish and grits and fried green tomatoes,crab and bacon sandwich so delightful Iam hoping to fined the recipe. Ann in CA.