Heirloom Restaurant

Friday night we celebrated my birthday at Heirloom Restaurant in Palm.   It is a new farm to table restaurant located where Cab Frye’s Tavern used to be on Route 29.   I had heard good things about the restaurant and was eager to try it.  The farmer we have our CSA with provides the restaurant with quite a bit of their produce and they were the ones who recommended we stop by.  We don’t often go out for dinner, the hubby travels so much that when he is home, he prefers home cooked meals and goodness knows I like making the.

The restaurant has a list of drink specials with locally sourced, house made ingredients.   I had a lovely thyme infused cocktail and the hubby chose one of their micro brewed beers on tap.

It was definitely a treat for us to go out and enjoy a meal prepared by someone other than me!  We started with appetizers, I got the Mushroom Turnover – mushrooms in phyllo, served with a roasted garlic goat cheese and a small mixed salad on the side.  The presentation was so impressive and the turnover was delicious.  I LOVED the garlic goat cheese.  My only complaint was that the greens were not dressed, it is a small thing, but in the end details like that can make or break a dish.  I was happy with my choice, but it could have been just a bit better.

The hubby chose the Baby Kale and Pea Shoot Salad with a Poached Wild Fox Farm Egg on top.  He ate every single bite and said it was absolutely fantastic!

For our entrees, the hubby chose the Halibut and I had the NY Strip Steak.   They had run out of the starch option for the Halibut so they had to substitute the Sage Potato Latke for Jerusalem Artichokes.  I have no idea how the Sage Potato Latke is, but the Jerusalem Artichokes were amazing.  The plate presentation was just beautiful, the fish was stacked on top of the vegetables and surrounded by pickled kumquats.  The visual palate created by the white fish, deep green spinach, and yellow kumquats made it almost too pretty to eat.   Thankfully, we don’t have an issue with destroying artful presentations.

My dinner tasted amazing and my steak was perfectly, and I do mean perfectly, cooked.   It came with a side of deep purple carrots and a quick potato gratin.   I wasn’t as impressed with the plate presentation of my meal, but I was really happy with the taste.

The staff was very friendly and did everything they could to ensure a lovely night out for us.  The kitchen was a bit behind as they had a large party in the other room.  Our food took far too long to come to the table, but I am sure as they get a bit more experience working in that tight kitchen, things will improve.  All in all, I am glad we went, we had a lovely dinner at a local establishment, eating locally sourced food.   Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.   I am eager to give them another try on a night when they might not be as overwhelmed in the kitchen.

Restaurants in Charleston

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the restaurants in Charleston were using locally made products, meats, and produce.   There were quite a few farm to table places to eat in the city.   We tried to sample as many of the “Lowcountry” foods as possible.  We tend to split appetizers and entrée’s when we travel so we get to try more of the local favorites!

Sunday we had our first dinner at the Lowcountry Bistro .  We shared an appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese Grits and for dinner, we split the Chicken and Waffles entrée.   I love fried green tomatoes, my friend had never had them before.  She liked them, but it wasn’t something she was ever going to crave.   I was shocked that she did not care for the pimento cheese!  I am not entirely sure if it was the grits or the cheese she had an issue with but either way, I was happy to finish the plate.  Our dinner entrée was divine!  Crispy chicken on a sweet potato waffle topped with pecan butter and a luscious bourbon reduction syrup.   Heaven on a plate, sweet, salty, and crunchy….

Monday we went to Sullivan’s Island for dinner. We took the advice of one of the shopkeepers and had drinks and an appetizer at Salt before heading over to Poe’s for dinner. The heavy thunderstorms of the afternoon gave way to a gentle rain, it was so nice to sit outside on a covered rooftop bar and enjoy an appetizer and drink. At Salt we each had a lovely glass of cold, crisp, acidic white wine and shared a bowl of their smoky corn soup with a truffle drizzle.   It was so good! I know, honestly, what kind of people share a bowl of soup? We do…..

At Poe’s we shared an appetizer of tortilla chips with pico de gallo and guacamole and split one of their awesome house ground hamburgers. We went with the Gold Bug Plus burger with Sweet Pepper Goat Cheese and a side of fries. I am so glad we shared the burger, it was HUGE!

Tuesday for lunch we went to the Magnolia Restaurant , my friend had their Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad and I had the Fried Green Tomato BLT with Pimento Cheese.  It was nice, the food was good, not great, but the service was definitely lacking.   Our waiter bordered on rude and I felt that we were rushed through our lunch.  Perhaps they get busy later in the day and needed the table, but honestly, I am glad we went for lunch and didn’t waste our money on dinner.

Tuesday evening we had a drink at the Star Rooftop Bar because we heard it had a great view of the city. I wasn’t that impressed with the view, too many buildings in the way. Because we stopped there before dinner, the sun was up, therefore, there was barely any shade to be had. Our bartender was a nice young man but he made us the single worst martini’s I have ever had. I finished half of it and left the rest of my drink.

That night we were in the mood for some BBQ so we googled and found ourselves at Queology near the city market. They had some great reviews and had just been featured on the Food Network. The menu is a bit limited and the drink selection is slim but it was so delicious! I had the BBQ Pork Taco’s and my friend had their Pulled Pork Sandwich. It was exactly what we needed for dinner that night!

Wednesday we went to Eli’s Table for lunch and had the BEST chicken salad I have ever had in my life.  The chicken was all white meat and achingly tender.  It had just the right amount of mayo and a slight sweetness from the dried cranberries.  I had a scoop on a lovely green salad dressed in a light honey champagne vinaigrette while my friend choose the wrap with a side of kettle chips.   We were so hot from our walking tour, our poor waiter took one look at our faces and brought us two very large glasses of water, which he refilled before even taking our lunch order.   The service was impeccable and the food was wonderful.

Wednesday was our best food day of the entire trip.  The lunch at Eli’s was terrific and for dinner, we went to Fig.    We shared their appetizer of ricotta gnocchi in a grass-fed Bolognese sauce.  The dinner entrée’s didn’t appeal to either of us so we each followed up the appetizer with salads, she had their nine vegetable salad in a house made caesar dressing while I had the heirloom tomato salad.  I am now completely and totally craving garden tomatoes and mine are about a month away from being ripe.    It was the only time that week we had dessert, we split the chocolate espresso cake with homemade mint ice cream.   It was to die for!

Thursday after the beach we just wanted something quick and local.  Neither of us felt like driving into downtown and searching out a parking spot.   We googled restaurants close to our hotel and found a great little mexican place La Nortena.  We both had their combination plates – I had one an Al Pastor burritos and a barbacoa enchilada in salsa verde.  My friend had a pulled chicken taco on a homemade tortilla and a beef enchilada in a red sauce.   Our dinners came with a plate of pico de gallo, guacamole, mexican rice, refried beans, and sour cream.   We each had a margarita and had to roll ourselves our the door.  They gave you enough food to feed a family of four.   Our server was new, but the manager made sure everything was to our satisfaction.   It was a hole in the wall place with warm, friendly service and great food.   You can’t ask for anything better.

Friday we had lunch at Husk, it bills itself as a celebration of southern ingredients.   They have a new menu daily, for both lunch and dinner.   There is a chalkboard when you walk in that lists where all of the ingredients for the days dishes came from – all of the produce, cheese, meats, breads, you name it.  All of them were fresh and local.   We had tried to get reservations for dinner but they are booked for the next month.  I am so glad we were able to grab a table for lunch.   We each had their fried chicken BLT with Duke’s mayo, country bacon, fried boneless chicken thighs, ripe tomatoes, and bibb lettuce.  All served on a homemade roll with house made ketchup to dip the fries.   It was heaven at first bite.  It was hands down the most tender, flavorful chicken I have ever eaten.   The combination of the fried chicken with the smokey bacon, the sweetness of the tomato and the tender bite of the lettuce was out of this world.   We shared a bowl of grilled summer courgettes with wood fired sweet onions and heirloom tomatoes.  The squash was perfectly cooked, the onions and tomatoes were slightly smoky, and I loved that the herb was tarragon – it gave the dish a nice licorice bite.

Lunch had filled us so much that we weren’t interested in a big dinner.  We hit up the wine bar Bin 152 in the French Quarter Section of the city.   The staff was friendly and gave us fantastic recommendations on the wine, cheese, and charcuterie!  We each had two glasses on wine, one white, one red, and shared a plate of thinly sliced salami and a beautiful soft chevre style cheese made with cow, goat, and sheep’s milk.   Last year we ended our trip in Denver at a wine bar and while we didn’t plan it, we ended our trip this time the same way.  Our original plan was to have drinks and appetizers at the wine bar followed by a light dinner but we found the meat and cheese was exactly what we needed for dinner.

All in all, we had great meals in Charleston!  There were so many other places that were recommended to us that we just didn’t get to, I guess this means we have to go back again.


My week in Denver

So I just got home from a week in Denver, a little girl time with a wonderful friend who I haven’t seen in two and a half years.

The sites were awe inspiring……Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rock amphitheater, Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Boulder and their amazing Flat Iron Rocks.  Spending a week reconnecting with a friend surrounded by such spectacular sites, you couldn’t ask for a better week.

The Rocky Mountains still have snow!

The Rocky Mountains still have snow!

The totally unexpected and wonderful surprise was the food in Denver.   We ate wonderful meals at amazing restaurants.

We worked up quite an appetite walking the 16th Street Mall and stopped at Rialto Cafe for lunch, we sat at the bar, because the place was packed.  We ended up sitting next to the sales rep for Sam Adams Beer Company so we asked what his favorite place to eat dinner was.  He suggested Lola in the Highlands section of Denver. Great choice, it is a Mexican inspired restaurant with an open kitchen and a great staff.  We split the Lola Guacamole, prepared tableside, I had the Baked Poblano Relleno and my friend went with the Carne Asada.  If you are looking for truly authentic mexican, this isn’t the place for you, but if you want great food, inspired by Mexico, this is a great choice! http://www.loladenver.com

The next night we went back to the Highlands section again for dinner at Linger http://www.lingerdenver.com.  Linger bills itself as a farm to street restaurant with a spin on ethnic eats.   The plates are all designed to share, the waitress recommended 3-4 plates for a table of two.  We started with the carrot and lentil falafel.  They were served in a butter lettuce leaf with a lemon tahini yogurt sauce on the side.  The flavors were subtle and blended together beautifully, but my favorite part was the  house made zucchini pickle under the falafel, it was the perfect complement to the dish, gave you a dash of acid to balance the rest of the vegetables, herbs, and spices. Our second plate was the Sesame BBQ Taco’s – Kobe beef short ribs, slow cooked and tender, napa slaw, radish, avocado and lime, bold flavors that paired exquisitely together!  Our last course was the Popper Breakdown, an intriguing take on a deconstructed jalapeno popper.  The bottom of the dish contained breaded, deep-fried cheddar cheese curds, topped with roasted shishito peppers and a side of orange Habanero jam.  The curds were so yummy!  I liked that the peppers were not too hot, so you could add as much or as little heat as you desired with the jam.  The jam was a perfect balance of sweet and hot, the orange was such a wonderful foil for the Habanero.  I think I might try to make some at home, wish me luck!

We decided to try another farm to table restaurant the next night, The Kitchen, in downtown Denver. www.thekitchencommunity.com.  This was by far, our best meal of the week.  We split the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, the beets were warm and slightly melted the goat cheese over a lovely selection of greens.  The salad was dressed to perfection, you know when you go into some restaurants and they drown their greens in dressing?   Here they were lightly tossed and perfectly seasoned.   My friend went with the Wisdom Farm Chicken, a half chicken, tossed in harissa, cumin and yogurt and served over a salad of cous cous, cucumber, and almond.  The chicken was brined for several  hours and was the most moist, delicious chicken I have had in a long time.  I chose the House Made Tagliatelle in a Mushroom, Marjoram Cream Sauce.  The pasta was tossed with a delicate sauce, and served with a mound of freshly grated parmesan cheese in the center.  They topped the entire dish with fresh marjoram leaves.  It is hard to describe just how light the dish was, considering it was a cream sauce, a delightful meal on a hot summer night.

If you find yourself in Denver on a Monday night, try The Kitchen’s Community Night.  They serve a family style dinner at 7pm, $ 35.00 per person, not including beverages, tax, or tip, and 20% of the proceeds are donated to plant gardens in the Denver Public Schools.  You will be served a great meal, using the finest, freshest ingredients, and help to conquer childhood obesity in one fell swoop.  The more kids learn about food and nutrition, the better we will all  be as a society.

We ended our week at Cru, a wine bar, in the Lower Downtown section of Denver.  It has been a hot, hot, hot week and neither of us was really hungry for dinner but we both love a nice glass of wine and a great cheese plate.  Cru specializes in flights of wine, I choose the Spice Rack, Intense Reds with Hints of Earth and Spice.  My friend had the European Vacation, a delicious selection of Old World Wines.  We shared the Great American Cheese plate, three amazing selections of goat cheese.  Humboldt Fog, Vermont Creamery, and a Laura Chenel’s Chevre from Sonoma.  By far, our favorite was the Vermont Creamery, the texture was similar to a brie with a slightly tangy flavor from the goat’s milk.   http://www.cruawinebar.com

It was so nice to be so surprised by the food scene in Denver, I can’t wait to go back and see what other delights the city has to offer!