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denisea Nov 26th, 2019 10:46 AM

Holy City Heaven. A pre-Thanksgiving food and wine fest

We arrived sunny, seventy degree weather in Charleston. We skipped going to the hotel and opted to go straight to Ellis Creek Fish Camp for lunch with a view. It was noon and seafood next to a creek with that marsh cordgrass (so signature Low Country to me), seemed like the best plan to me.

We got a seat outside overlooking the grass and ordered up some shrimp corndogs, grouper and shrimp po-boy. The view is beautiful and screams “Charleston!” to me. The food was excellent and I should state right up front that we eat what we want on vacation.

No thinking about how healthy the food is or how much weight we will gain if we have fried food or dessert. In our case, we had both regularly, and we don’t worry about it. We never say “ I shouldn’t have that” while on vacation. Our trips are predominantly focused on food with a lot of cocktails and wine thrown in. So, if vacation gluttony on our parts is disturbing to you, stop reading immediately. This report will stress you out. If you can handle all of our dietary infractions, then read on….

The story so far:

· Gorgeous weather – check

· Fried seafood – check

· Outdoor scenery – check

We really enjoyed this spot. It’s rustic, low key and just what we wanted for our welcome to Charleston lunch. From there we drove out to Folly Beach for a little while and enjoyed a walk on the pier there. I am blown away when I see how much this area has grown in the past 15 years or so.

We went on to our hotel just off Upper King street, checked in and got settled for a mini-vaca before Thanksgiving.

We planned to have a more casual dinner at the Husk bar because the bar food looked so good there on our last visit. The Husk bar is located in a small house next door to the main restaurant. We sat upstairs (which we loved) and settled in with their cheese crackers that they describe are like a gourmet Cheez-It. If you grew up in the South, you probably had cheese straws growing up like I did and that’s what these are –just cut into little crackers. Or, I would say “crack”-ers as they are addictive. A glass of Rose for me and an Old Fashioned for Mr Starbucks.

Dinner was a burger for me (and it has bacon mixed in the burger meat). Wings with an Asian flair for him. Both good but I would say the burger could have been a little juicier. It came with big thick fries that were tasty but led to an accident. Husk makes their own ketchup and apparently it is NOT Heinz thick. I hit the bottle and out gushed a ketchup ocean onto my plate. Literally, half the bottle ended up on my plate. Oops. Apparently, this happens all the time according to the server, but I suspect she was just trying to make me feel better about my accident. I felt about 3 years old every time I looked at my plate.

We made our way down King Street and re-familiarizing ourselves with the area. On our last trip, we missed Bourbon and Bubbles because we never checked out King Street to the right of our hotel. We decided that would be a good spot for a nightcap. Champagne for me and an Old Fashioned for him. The bar was nice but some how we were expecting maybe a more low key atmosphere. It was pretty loud and also draws a younger crowd. College of Charleston is right there, so the kids need a place to drink and spend their parents money. We were thinking more of a lounge vibe.

One nightcap and a short walk back to the hotel. We turned in after a great start to the trip and my FitBit’s approval as we completed about 14K for the day.

tomarkot Nov 26th, 2019 12:56 PM

Hi denise, I'm following your Charleston trip! Sounds great. Glad you have good weather. It's been quite a while since we've visited, so I'll be watching for your suggestions. We hope to visit on our way home from a two-week winter get-away to FL. Hope the remainder of your trip goes well!

tracilee Nov 26th, 2019 10:10 PM

Always love your trip reports, Denisea! My husband and I are headed to Savannah next weekend. We actually fly into Charleston but don’t plan to spend any time there as we’ve been there before. However your food choices might make me change my mind!!!

starrs Nov 27th, 2019 07:12 AM

I love your trip reports!

willowjane Nov 27th, 2019 11:53 AM

We love Charleston! In fact, we got married at the Pineapple fountain! Enjoying your trip report.

denisea Nov 27th, 2019 04:11 PM

Thanks everyone. Willowjane - great choice, such a pretty spot. Just about to post a bit more.

denisea Nov 27th, 2019 04:24 PM


Our days start the same way for most trips. I stay in bed a little longer than Mr Starbucks as I tend to wake around 3am and go back to sleep when it’s time to get up. He heads to Starbucks and waits for me to show up ready for a short run. We ran down to Waterfront Park . Did I mention that we had a second day of gorgeous weather? The fountain at Waterfront Park was going and the sun was just really coming up and making the water sparkle. We stopped by the Pineapple Fountain which is one of my favorite landmarks anywhere in the world. Charleston is a terrific city to explore on foot (although there are lots of bikes to rent and bike taxis to get around the town if you can’t or don’t want to walk). We run or walk because we know we will say no to no food while there. Another thing to love about Charleston is the wealth of great restaurants and bars. While it’s a small city, it is loaded with top notch restaurants and lots of craft cocktail spots. Nothing not to like!

We finish our run at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit on King Street for breakfast. Caution: we will do this every day. It’s just too good to pass up.

I got the BLT biscuit – bacon, lemon aioli, roasted tomatoes and arugula. Heaven on a biscuit. Chaz went with the smoked sausage biscuit with "permanent" slaw and spicy mustard mayo. They had a smaller cinnamon apple biscuit which we chose for “dessert”. All of it great and we aren’t alone as the line was out the door for others ready to put some South in their mouth!

I went to Drybar for a blowout while Chaz cleaned up at the hotel. They did a great job and it was a vacation treat to not have to blow out my very thick hair. We met up at the hotel and I got cleaned up for a day of shopping and browsing. I bought a few things in the shops that line King Street. It's fun to shop in person every now and then as I buy almost everything online these days. Something for everyone and we also did a lap at the market at Marion Square. Lots of good looking food choices but we had no room for any of the options at the market (because of our daily gorge at Callie's). We passed a couple outside a French bakery at the relatively new Hotel Bennett at a tiny table for two, sipping Champagne. Just a little Paris in Charleston. There were a lot of Christmas decorations up but the city wasn’t completely decked out yet and lots of pumpkins were in place for Thanksgiving. It's such a pretty city no matter when you go.

After lots of window shopping and walking, we made our way to 167 Raw only to find a 30-45 minute wait. Plan B, was down the street at Amen Street Raw bar. It was great to sit down and a big theme of he trip was how hard it was to get warmed up for our runs on the slate pavers. Not easy on your legs or back. Lunch was peel and eat shrimp and a cup of she crab soup for me. Very good seafood. Chaz got tuna tartare and tuna tacos and they were excellent. Two thumbs up for Amen Street. The other theme was commenting on how nice it was outside. We truly got perfect weather. No rain, not humid, sunny and a little cool at night. Perfect and we commented on it constantly! It’s nice to get great weather on a vacation.

More light shopping after lunch and finally back to the hotel to regroup for happy hour and dinner. Our hotel was the site for the Marine ball so there were lots of people around in dress uniforms, as we left to try out Prohibition. I love the Marine dress uniform...very sharp.

Somehow, even though Prohibition was right down the street from the hotel, we missed it on our last visit and we were not gonna let that happen this time.

It’s a pretty spot and quite large with patio in the back and two bars. The cocktails are terrific and we recommend it. Chaz got a rye Old Fashioned and I got a bourbon drink that was perfect for Fall with apple and thyme flavors. Two thumbs up for Prohibition. Off to dinner at Maison, also on King, but pretty far from where we were and no bike taxis were around so we Ubered to Maison.

I skipped an appetizer but Chaz had the mushroom tart which he pronounced excellent. The pastry was good but I hate mushrooms so I didn’t taste anything but the pastry. We chose a Chenin Blanc for our wine- delicious. I had their version of steak frites and Chaz got the monkfish chop. Both were excellent, as was the wine. I had to have the madeleines. This was a very good choice as they came out fresh from the oven. Hot, a little crisp outside...kinda like a pound cake cookie. A freshly baked madeleine is a very good thing. Great menu and service. There was light rain as the Uber picked us up to go back to the hotel. While my FitBit would not have approved of what I ate, we logged over 25K steps and our backs and legs were tired. Time for bed after another fun day..

denisea Nov 29th, 2019 07:48 AM


Up, meet at Starbucks, run to the waterfront and feel our age and our bodies starting to seriously betray us, soothe ourselves with a biscuit breakfast, marvel at how great the weather was (although much chillier this AM).

Chaz got the 3 mini-biscuit sampler with a cheese biscuit, a peppered bacon biscuit and a country ham biscuit. I got a full size biscuit with country ham (which is chopped up and crispy) and salt and pepper butter. Holy cow it was good!! How have I not thought of salt and pepper butter myself?? We were a bit later on Sunday and I should have gotten something smaller as we had brunch at Halls Chophouse.

Back to the hotel to clean up and dress for brunch. While there was live entertainment it wasn’t the gospel choir they usually have for brunch bit it was still good. They have a great brunch menu and I like the style of the restaurant. We decided to share a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. It was brunch, we kinda had to.

I got the steak sandwich with caramelized onions and bleu cheese. He got the steakhouse omelette. Mine came with truffle fries which I could not eat because of my breakfast biscuit. (my mistake but that biscuit was so good you can't call it a mistake, can you?). No dessert but we got a tip for a good local cocktail bar called Doar Brothers and that would pay off later. Brunch was terrific, as usual, and we have to go back for dinner some night. We love Halls.

We took some time off to watch some football and digest breakfast and brunch. We emerged later that afternoon (again to glorious weather) to browse a bit more at the shops on King and on the lookout for some ice cream. I wanted to try Holy Sticks for an ice cream bar (I follow them on Instagram). It was another perfect day to be outside and also perfect for an ice cream bar. We got there and IT. WAS. CLOSED. Oops - but who would think an ice cream place would be closed on Sunday? We found some gelato instead and it hit the spot. And then, it was cocktail hour and we headed over to Doar Brothers on Meeting Street.

It’s a small space but very well done inside. Navy walls and a pretty bar.

Chaz went with "Penicillin" ( scotch based drink) and I tried a Lion’s Tale (another Fall inspired bourbon drink with allspice). Great cocktails and nice bartenders. We also tried a sip of the seasonal punch which was excellent but I was afraid too potent for me. Chaz got a second round as we chatted with a local about nuclear energy (he was a nuclear engineer) and then another local who shared some of his favorite things to do in Charleston.

As always, Charleston is full of friendly locals and the Southerner in me loves that everyone speaks to you and is polite.

We said our goodbyes and made our way to our dinner reservation (Parcel 32) that we both wish we had cancelled. We weren’t really hungry (hmmm, wonder why?) and you already know how much we had to drink. We had confirmed the reservation the day before and showed up anyway. Nice spot with a small plates, large plates menu. We will have try it out another time.

We tried some of the hushpuppies with pimento cheese – thankfully they were small and they were tasty. We split a burger and some pumpkin soup, as we just weren’t up to a big, fine dining experience. The server was understanding and we skipped dessert and went to bed. Again, the FitBit was not told we ate but was happy with our 25K steps plus (our lower backs were not happy with the steps).

denisea Dec 1st, 2019 09:58 AM


Starbucks, run, biscuits, spectacular weather, clean up and off we went…ok we did stop at Glazed for a “dessert” donut. They have excellent donuts and lots of unique seasonal flavors. It across from Callie’s, and well, sometimes you need dessert at breakfast. And yes, now that I see all this in writing, it is a little horrifying to see how much we ate!

We did explore a different part of the waterfront at Fort Sumter park and got a glimpse of a massive freighter delivering Mercedes (where’s mine?). Great views of Patriots Point and the Ravenel bridge from this part of the waterfront.

Today was an outdoor day to visit Middleton Place. The property is beautiful and located on the Ashley River a short drive from downtown. Some early camellias were blooming and there was beautiful Fall foilage to see. We skipped the house tour as the original house was burned in the Civil War (I think). The azaleas here have got to be impressive when in bloom so we need to go back for that. There are tons of them throughout the property. It’s a great place to enjoy if you want to be outside. We did take the “Meet the Animals” tour and it was just the two of us so we met lots of animals….a sheep who was rejected by his mom and hand raised (named Little Guy). He is focused on food but really sweet and it’s amazing to feel the fluffy wool! He kept going to a door in the barn and butting it with his head (apparently he used to have access to this room and he knows food is in there). We met two pair of goats. The second pair were Kashmir goats named Laverne and Shirley who love raw pasta shells as a snack. We also met a dairy cow named Rose who has a tongue a mile long and wanted to lick my sweater and two young water buffalo who startled us by suddenly sticking her entire head through the fence opening-they have horns. Middleton Place was a working farm until the 1970s and the rest of the sheep graze in the areas that aren’t part of the gardens but they know when to head to the barns for their lunch!

We loved Middleton Place and enjoyed being outside. I do want to return during azalea season. We needed to walk after our big breakfast.

From there we headed to Shem Creek in Mt Pleasant for lunch at Tavern and Table. We had to have their pimento cheese with bacon jam. So good. We had a later dinner reservation so we had lunch late and decided to check out Waterfront Memorial Park in Mount Pleasant. Another good place to get a view of the Charleston peninsula and enjoy the great weather. It is right under the Ravenel Bridge and we probably should have run from the hotel, across the bridge to Mt Pleasant. One day…

It was time to head back to clean up for dinner and our last night. Where does the time go? We decided to try the rooftop bar at the Pavilion hotel at Market and East Bay Street. There is a small pool on the roof top and you get good views of the customs house and the Ravenel bridge. We got there just before dusk and found a table to admire the views. The drink menu is a bit more “pool” than bar but we just got a glass of wine and a beer. They have lots of propane heaters to stay warm but it wasn’t very cold even when the sun went down. The hotel (what we saw of it) is very pretty. I don’t know if I would want to be right on Market Street but the location is very convenient to lots of things a tourist would be interested in.

We had time before our 8:30pm dinner reservation at FIG. We headed back to Doar Bros for a second cocktail. The place was always pretty busy and we noticed at least 3 tables of people from Doar Bros at FIG later that night.

FIG was very good despite the fact that we were pretty tired by the time we got to our table. We went with by the glass wine options. I chose the ricotta gnocchi appetizer – terrific! Chaz got an Époisses and prosciutto tart – also excellent. Époisses is distinctive, so it was interesting to see it on a menu. It mas fist made by monks to have an animal smell and taste for days when they were not allowed to eat meat. It is not for the faint of heart!

Dinner was wreckfish with capers and collards for me (have never heard of wreckfish before but delicious); Chaz had a Provencal style fish stew and our server gave us a mustard butter roasted cabbage wedge side dish as a freebie something to try. It was excellent and I don’t really like cabbage. Chaz could not do dessert and I didn’t really have room but had been smelling chocolate all night. It was a drinking chocolate dessert that was wonderful. Great meal. I wish we could have gone there earlier in the trip and a bit earlier in the night. It’s tough to get a reservation but it’s a great spot.

We headed home for the last time. Yep, we stopped for a biscuit before heading out of town. It would be time to get down to Thanksgiving dinner preparations when we got home.

We both really love Charleston and it’s a pretty easy drive for us from Atlanta. It is such a walkable city. Friendly, loaded with great dining, architecture, and history. We do need to go in warmer weather to take advantage of the water activities! It’s nice to take a long weekend before a holiday…sometimes the holidays aren’t much of a vacation!

tomarkot Dec 2nd, 2019 02:01 PM

Hi Denisea, really enjoying your report about Charleston.! We're taking notes on your restaurants. Can't believe that some azaleas and camilias are still blooming. Lucky for you guys being relatively close to Charleston! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

denisea Dec 2nd, 2019 03:58 PM

Hi Tomarkot - Only a few azaleas (probably Encore azaleas that bloom 2-3/yr) were blooming. The camellias are "early" bloomers that bloom in the South around Christmas (there is a red variety naturally called "yuletide". We are lucky and Charleston is such a great food destination. There is a report from last year that has our spots from last trip, if you are interested.

tomarkot Dec 3rd, 2019 02:18 PM

Thanks, Denise. We'll check your previous report! Happy Holidays!

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