To Nosh & Imbibe
48 Hours in Charleston, SC
A few weekends ago I was able to escape a frigid January weekend in Greenport, NY and head somewhere only slightly warmer, Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston boasts a population of 130,000 people. There are no world-famous buildings here. No infamous boulevards. But tourism attracts at least 7.2 million visitors a year! After visiting Charleston, it is clear to see why a weekend getaway here is rejuvenating.
The occasion: simply to nosh & imbibe elsewhere. Luckily my job in the wine industry has led me to many small cities and towns around the world, mostly wine regions, where eating and drinking is just what you do. And I must admit, a majority of my most memorable meals have been enjoyed within the limits of these smaller metropolises. Today, it seems the farther you travel from the ‘proclaimed epicenters of hospitality’, there is a purely natural understanding of hospitality. That warm fuzzy feeling much of the hospitality industry seems to have become disconnect from- remains strong & intact here in Charleston. Here, hospitality is not dead.
Before I take you on my 48 Hour Charleston exploration, please keep in mind that this is not a review, but a short guide to eating & drinking my way through a city. I am mentioning all the below because I believe they would be a welcome addition to any Charleston retreat.
1pm: Arrival at Planter’s Inn
The Planter’s Inn oozes old school southern charm. The Inn was founded in 1803. Since then, many proprietors & natural disasters have transformed the property into its current iteration. Throughout time, it was imperative that the original architecture of the building be preserved. Although I cannot confirm, Our Uber driver Earl, informed us that the Planter’s Inn serves the best coconut cake there is to be enjoyed. I don’t know Earl very well, but he seemed trustworthy. Get the coconut cake.
2pm: Bags dropped now off to Leon’s Oyster Shop for lunch.
Leon’s is a massive industrial style room flanked by two outdoor spaces. A string of loosely hung multicolored holiday lights are delicately draped over the enormous wooden beams running across the ceiling above the bar. Specialty cocktails and wines glass glistened at every table, and the room sounds of pleasant chatter and the humming of a well-oiled machine. The Champagne list is small & exceptional. If I was down to drink a bottle of wine at 2:30pm, Savart Bulle de Rosé would have been the bottle of choice.
Although I didn’t spring for the bottle, I did enjoy two glasses of Aubry.
Drinks: Two glasses of Aubry Champagne, Michelada & Michter’s Rye neat
Food: Hush Puppies, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Grilled Whole Fish with chimichurri, charred lemon. I can only speak to the whole fish; just do it.
Since New York had been below freezing for many days in a row, we took the opportunity to savor the high 40-degree weather accompanied by the sun. We walked EVERYWHERE.
4pm: coffee at Clerk’s Coffee Co. in the Emeline Hotel
Clerk’s Coffee Company at the Emeline Hotel is the perfect way to warm up. If you are in need of a good cup of coffee & a nice place to sit, swing by here. The Emeline Hotel is dripping in luxe fabrics and textural pillows, with luxe gold trim spattered about and welcome accents of dark wood patterns. People watch and relax.
And even after coffee…
I hate to admit it, but we took a nap.
8:15pm: Dinner at Malagón Tapería
Malagón is small. There was not an empty seat in the house. The cuisine is authentic & the wine list ALL SPANISH.
Drink: Two glass of Manzanilla Sherry, a bottle of Lopez de Heredia Rosado 2011
Food: A selection of charcuterie and cheese, pork belly, grilled trumpet mushrooms (which tasted of glorious pork fat), grilled octopus & to be frank, the rest is escaping me. Their menu is not listed online to jog my memory, neither is their wine list. In all honestly, when I am so invested in a meal that I forgot to write down what I was eating, it’s a good thing. But trust me. Go here. Make a reservation.
After heading out around 10:15pm, we sauntered over to Proof for a night cap. Many glasses of Braulio later, it was bedtime.
On your trip to Charleston, take into consideration that MANY of your ‘bucket list’ destinations may be closed on Sunday. Here is where I made a rookie mistake. I misread the hours of Raw 167. To my sad Sunday morning dismay, I realized they are in fact not open on Sunday. If I had caught this, we would have eaten at Raw 167 on Saturday and Leon’s for lunch Sunday. Do with this information what you will.
After a coffee from Clerk’s, we walked some more. The sun was shining, and it was a blissful fifty degrees as we causally strolled through the Historic Market, Battery Park and ogled at the stoic historic properties close to the waterfront. Which after about twelve thousand steps led us to lunch.
Lunch 2pm: Butcher & Bee
Farm fresh good lunch/brunch spot.
Food: Homemade cinnamon bun, avocado toast with a fried egg, & grilled Chickpea Cesar.
Drinks: I stuck with tea while my boyfriend indulged in a local Gose and some Diplomatico Rum neat.
After lunch, we walked over to a spot several reliable wine geeks assured me was a must. Graft.
Graft holds a style of liquor license that does not exist in New York, on & off premise sales abilities. On Sunday, Dough Boys pizza truck is parked out front to accompany the small selection of charcuterie and cheese Graft has to offer. Feeling full after lunch, we decided against gluttony, but we did enjoy two glasses of Champagne in this spacious minimalistic environment. Spots like this make me wish this license existed in New York State. A space like this gives you the ability to tie wine and conversation together in a welcoming environment. Could you imagine a trip to your local wine shop where you can buy your wine, then sit and drink it with some snacks, and talk to the sommelier about what your drinking!? I think this concept is pretty damn great.
Go to Graft, bring a group & you could do some serious damage.
We took another long walk, up the Second State Coffee. Always more coffee please.
After coffee, we landed at Last Saint for some pre-dinner cocktails, a new addition to the cocktail scene in Charleston. The bar is staffed with the likes of those connected to Belmont, Bar George & Attaboy. Great atmosphere, unpretentious vibe, delicious drinks.
Dinner 7pm: Charleston Grill
We finished our tour at one of Charleston’s old school classics, the Charleston Grill. We ate at the bar. Drank Laval by the glass and a bottle of Domaine Cecile Tremblay ‘Tres Girard’ Morey-Saint-Denis 2014. Not only that, but they had a vertical of this wine, and if you know about Cecile Tremblay, you know how few and far between these wines are. Dinner was delightful and the wines list is stacked with gems. Laval Champagne by the glass…enough said.
And that was that. Our 5:30am alarm Monday was a bit early for my liking, but we were back in New York by 9:30am & I was back at One Kourt Studio by 2:30pm. Re-entry settles in.
Charleston, thank you for your genuine hospitality.
I look forward to my next trip here & you should too.
Below is a list of hotels & restaurants we were unable to visit on this trip but come highly recommended by a few other wine & food professionals I trust inherently.
Other Highly Recommend Hotel
Hotel Zero George
- 167 Raw
- Fig (like the Gramercy Tavern of Charleston)
- Husk’s Bourbon & Country Ham Bar
-Doar’s Bar (cocktails)
The Gin Joint (cocktails)
As I stated, this is not a review, simply places we went and enjoyed. I look forward to my next trip to Charleston