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Trip Report Wild Olive restaurant visit - Charleston, SC (John's Island)

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On a very short trip to Kiawah Island over the holiday weekend, we finally made it to Wild Olive for dinner. Who went: me, my DH, my mother, good friends, our DS and his friend (teens). Our dinner was one of the best meals I have ever had, not just in Charleston. It's not often that every person wants everyone else to try their dinner because it is so good!

My mom and I each started with the salad special of the night: buttercrisp apple salad with a bit of greens, toasted walnuts and a gorgonzola vinaigrette: YUM. My DH had the Caesar: Terrific. The teens split an order of calamari: devoured so quickly I almost didn't get a taste. Terrific again. Calamari served with both marinara and aioli dipping sauces.

For the next course, my husband wanted to try one of the pasta dishes, but also wanted to try the pork chop so we ordered a half portion of 'Garganelli with milk braised pork ragu, caramelized onions, rosemary, parmesan' and our waiter recommended a side of 'Smashed fried potatoes with truffled aioli, scallion, parmesan.' I know...potatoes and pasta, but since we were all trying everything it didn't really matter to us. After tasting the potatoes, my friend started plotting ways to kidnap the chef to have an unlimited supply available. They are the most amazing combination of crunchy, creamy, rich, salty, cheesy goodness in a bowl! The pork sauce on the pasta was flavorful and complex. We had to fight off the maurading forks of the boys or they would have eaten all of the pasta...and the potatoes for that matter.

For entrees: my DH split the pork chop dinner with me. The veg was not green beans but an amazing side of brussels sprout leaves done crispy and brown and just salty enough along with a perfectly cooked chop and mashed potatoes. I know...more potatoes, but they were so different from the smashed, fried potatoes it didn't matter. My mother had the linguini with local shrimp - the shrimp so sweet and wonderful - my friend had the baked penne with eggplant (huge portion) and her DH had the braised short ribs. The penne was flavorful and substantial with the perfect amount of cheese. The short rib was succulent and rich. I really liked the risotto cake served alongside. The boys both had chicken parmesan (not listed on menu, but suggested to them by our waiter). They both loved it! Portions were huge and both had leftovers.

We splurged and got desserts to share: Tiramisu (I didn't try since I don't care for coffee): rave reviews from the rest of the table. My DS had the molten chocolate cake...I got one tiny bite before it was gone...lovely. My son's friend had the lemon panna cotta...he loved it and it too disappeared in a flash. The pinnacle was the chocolate and pistachio custard. Oh my!!! They prepare it in two layers and manage to make the custard layers slightly different textures in addition to the separate flavors, really enhancing the combination.

In all, a great experience. Wild Olive is a boisterous, fun restaurant. The food is prepared beautifully, seasoned well and not gimmicky. There seems to be a lot of attention to detail and pride in every dish coming out of the kitchen. We ate at the community table..also fun. On my next visit I will have to try the limoncello!

The rest of the trip report is pretty low key. We spent the better part of Saturday at the beach. On Sunday afternoon we visited the nature center on Kiawah and then wandered around Charleston followed by a night stroll on the beach after dinner in. Drove home on Monday and back to the grind.

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