Last summer I found myself at Husk Restaurant in Charleston for the first time. Mouth hanging open and eyes big as saucers I walked up the steps of the old two story house into Chef Sean Brock's Southern food mecca. I was giddy. Last Saturday we made the journey again and I was no less in awe.
It was our 15th anniversary dinner. When we arrived there were special menus on the table for us. The waitress greeted us with bubbly. Seriously?! It was awesome. I kind of emailed them ahead and to tell them it was our anniversary (not knowing they'd really care) and asked to seat us downstairs. I like to be in the bustle and sitting where I can watch the comings and goings of the kitchen.
We ordered two appetizers to start. Crispy "Kentuckyaki" Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Vinegar Marinated Cucumbers and Red Onion, Benne. The textures were amazing but it was a little bit too salty for me. And I love the salt. Again, apologies for my horrible pictures. I have yet to find a phone app that tickles my fancy.
We also got Fried Green Tomatoes with Tennessee Cheddar Pimento Cheese and Benton's Bacon Jam. By the time we nibbled on both of these for a while we were pretty dang full, but main courses were yet to come.
The waitress saw us sitting there with no food in front of us, and apparently thought we needed more to eat to tide us over until our main course came out. She brought us the Sea Island Red Pea Hummus with Pickled Ramps, Ambrose Farms Tomatoes, Geechie Boy Corn Cakes and Georgia Olive Oil. I loved it.
But we were increasingly feeling like we should not have ordered a main course at all. And who turns down free food? I swear it wasn't because they knew I blogged. If they did know, it wasn't because I told them. I seriously think this is just their deal there. They want to feed you and feed you WELL.
Before the hummus was even cleared she brought us out two bowls of Chilled English Pea Soup with Alaska Blue Crab, Meyer Lemon Yogurt, Tennessee Bacon Crumble and Preserved Egg Yolk. By far the coolest dish so far. The layering of flavors was amazing.
Then our main courses: Virginia Heritage Pork Chop from Adam Musick, Creamy Pit Beans with Smoky Tomatoes and Lacinato Kale. I could live on those beans alone for the rest of my life. They were heaven.
And North Carolina Flounder with Carolina Gold Rice Middlins', Wood Fired Fennel and English Peas, and Oyster Benne Cream.
Let me say right here that we are not morbidly gluttonous food hoarders I swear to you that the amount of food that crossed our table could have fed a party of 6 (at least) and if we had known that they were going to shower us with gifts of culinary greatness, we would have ordered way less to start with. I didn't even mention the rolls with toasted Benne seeds that landed on our table or the cornbread doused in bacon fat that we ordered. Mercy!
We barely touched our main courses, not for lack of loving every morsel we just had NO ROOM. It is a horrible, horrible thing to go to a restaurant this good and not have room for dessert. Like everything else, they knock it out of the park, but even looking at the dessert menu was causing us great discomfort. We packed enough of it to go that we had meals for the next night.
I swear you have to go this place for yourself. There's no way you'll be disappointed. Prepare yourself for it to take a while for the main course to come out, but the waitstaff are fully attentive and keep you well occupied, glasses filled and placated until the star of the show arrives. And if you're lucky, you'll have a Brock sighting. I met him the first time we went, but the Charleston Wine and Food Festival was going on while we were here this time, so he was otherwise occupied. Here's to a full tummy!