On the last night of any vacation, I always like to go out for a special dinner. I think it’s a really nice way to cap off a trip, and helps stave off those inevitable end-of-vacay blues. So I was absolutely thrilled that on my last night in Charleston, we were treated to dinner at the Charleston Grill. This gorgeous restaurant is located inside the Belmond Charleston Place, and the meal we had there was practically perfect from start to finish.
Since we were a large group, we split up between two tables. Our table of six was paralyzed with indecision from the second we opened the menu. We had to try the Charleston Grill Crab Cake, one of Chef Weaver’s signature dishes. But what about the lamb and the Thai fish and everything else on this expansive menu? Luckily general manager Mickey Bakst came to our rescue, offering us a personalized tasting menu based on the dishes that interested us the most.
First up? New Brunswick oysters served with red onion, pickled beet, and caviar topped with a raspberry vinaigrette, which we enjoyed with a glass of champagne. I’m not a huge fan of raw oysters, but these were a bright and refreshing way to start the meal.
(Atrocious photo, delicious food)
Next came the Maroma Aguachile, another simply prepared yet lovely dish — a piece of ahi tuna topped with avocado, radish, and cilantro. It was paired with a new-to-me wine, an Albariño from Lagar de Cervera. I won’t pretend to know anything about wine, but I do know that this bright, slightly acidic wine played perfectly with the fresh fish.
We continued with the seafood theme, and next tried Chef Weaver’s famous crab cakes. These cakes, held together by the magic of Chef’s cooking, were…refreshing? Yeah, I didn’t know that crab cakes could be refreshing either. But they contained virtually no breading, and were drizzled with a tomato dill vinaigrette that brightened the whole dish.
Our next course was the only miss of the night for me, and I’ll preface it by saying I’m not a huge fan of either mushrooms or grits. This was Creamed Chanterelles, another of Charleston Grill’s signature dishes. It was served with shrimp and ham over grits, but I found the grits to be rather bland. That said, I still managed to choke it down. (For research!)
The real star of this course for me was the wine pairing. We tried a white Burgundy that, had I done a blind taste test, I would have guessed was a red wine. Perhaps this says more about my sommelier skills and less about the wine itself, but it was every bit as full-bodied as any of my favorite reds.
Our fifth course (almost there!) was a tender lamb chop served with a mint chimichurri sauce. For this course, we got to choose our own adventure with the wine: a newer California red, or a funkier French Bordeaux. I went the Bordeaux route without a second thought.
The final course of the night was hands-down my favorite of the night. For dessert, Mickey suggested we try the foie gras, served with crepes, blackberry preserve, and a port reduction.
We were instructed to take a bite of the foie gras with a sip of our dessert wine, and let the whole thing meld in our mouths. Oh.my.God. It was salty-sweet perfection, and is not to be missed if you’re dining at the Charleston Grill. To put it in perspective: one of my fellow dining companions is a vegetarian who set aside her lifestyle choice to indulge in this dish.
I couldn’t resist asking where their foie gras comes from, and wasn’t the least bit surprised to learn it came from the Hudson Valley. Mickey gave me a little history lesson about how Michael Ginor brought foie gras to the Hudson Valley in the late 80s, and really put it on the map for Americans. He also claimed that this helped put the HV on the culinary map, which might be a little true but I’m going to say the Culinary Institute of America had something to do with that as well.
This meal was nothing short of spectacular from start to finish, and we even got a chance to meet Chef Weaver as we were finishing up.
If you’re in Charleston and want to go out for a special meal (we even witnessed a marriage proposal during dinner!), look no further than the Charleston Grill.
The Charleston Grill generously provided us with dinner, but all opinions presented here are my own.