McCrady’s is my Best NEW Southern Food Pick– and man, do I mean off the charts, mind-blowing great food from outer space meets El Bulli with a howdy-dee-do to Low Country Cooking.
No wonder this restaurant has received numerous awards for: Best new restaurant in 2006, Best Chef, Best Downtown restaurant, Best Wine list, Best Cotton Candy (Just kidding-but after tasting Chef Sean Brock’s Country Ham Cotton Candy creation, which was simultaneously hot, fluffy, salty, sweet and smoky- I’d sure as hell vote for it!)
The original McCrady’s Tavern was built in 1778 as a four-story Georgian house where many famous leaders would meet to discuss politics over a drink.
A few years later, a Longroom was added on for theatrical performances and events–the most famous one being a dinner party thrown for George Washington. No wonder McCrad’s is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks. So, how I can select McCrady’s as my Best New Southern food Choice? I can explain:
1. Chef Sean has only been cooking there a year. Brock graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, worked at the Peninsula Grill for seven years, then moved to Nashville to become executive chef at the Capitol Grille in Nashville, before moving back to Charleston last year. So HE is new.
2. And his cuisine, which utilizes such diverse ingredients and methods as: methylcellulose capsules encasing veggie purees, hydrocolloids, liquid nitrogen pellets of Planters Punch, and freeze-dried fois gras powder, is about as NEW as it gets.
Furthermore, after dining on southern cuisine for the last 4 days, my favorite meal had been the lunch we had at McCrady’s, the third day. Yet my mom and sis were completely shocked when I chose to eat my final dinner here. (One of my cardinal culinary travel rules is NEVER TO GO TO THE SAME RESTAURANT TWICE DURING THE SAME TRIP!) Yet, I was so intrigued by Sean’s creativity, I wanted, no NEEDED, to explore his food further. So without further ado, I’d like to present my finals night dinner:
Mustard, Gherkin, Crispy Bread
Brut Rose, Nicolas Feullatte, n/v
Spiced Hawaiian Tuna
Seaweed, Radish, Kasu Broth
Chardonnay Costa De Oro, Santa Maria Valley, 2005
Cauliflower, Mango, Vadouvan, Leeks
Viognier, William Roan, Northern Coast, 2005
Seared Foie Gras “Bacon”
Apple Butter, French Toast, Blis Maple
Sauternes, Chateau Halliet, 2005
Niman Ranch Beef
Carrot Confit, Caramelized Fennel, Black Truffle
Cabernet Sauvignon, Jocelyn, Napa Valley, 2003
Peanut Butter Cake
Popcorn Ice Cream, Salted Caramel
Malt Ice Cream, Marshmallow Fluff
$75 $40 Wine Flight $15 Dessert Flight
Yes, there were a few misses, such as my sister’s Crab and Lobster Salad that came buried under a “coconut blanket” that tasted and felt way too polyester for my liking, and I was very sad that there was no imaginative cotton candy offering. But overall, it was a totally incredible dining experience, particularly when you find out that such ingenious, high caliber food is being prepared by a Chef who’s only 28 years old! I decided to interview this culinary genius in-the-making, so stay tuned.
A: 2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC 29401.