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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Breathe in this cute café, wine and beer shop in Cross Lanes

Plus, there's a bright new coffee house next to Sumthin' Good Soul Food in South Charleston.

Red wine and Coq au Vin soup at Breathe Wine & Culture Co.
Red wine and Coq au Vin soup at Breathe Wine & Culture Co.

The only thing better than finding a new local restaurant to visit is when you discover it’s pretty darn good, too.

The Great Turkey sandwich
The Great Turkey sandwich

That’s my assessment of Breathe Wine & Culture Co. in Cross Lanes, a new-to-me boutique wine and beer shop with a lovely little café tucked inside.

There are only a few tables scattered about, but don’t let the shop’s limited size fool you.

In addition to an impressive selection of quality wines and a crazy variety of craft beers for sale, a modest menu and cooler offer a nice selection of soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods and heartier fare to enjoy on-site or grab to-go.

Lasagna and garlic bread from Breathe
Lasagna and garlic bread from Breathe

You can start with a charcuterie platter of meats, cheeses, veggies, fruit and breads, or one loaded with Mediterranean hummus, fresh veggies, beets, feta and pita.

You may want to try daily soups, pasta dishes and chicken, tuna or egg salads, or dig into a larger garden or grilled chicken cobb salad with lettuce, cucumber, boiled egg, red onion, bacon and bleu cheese.

If sammies are your jam, try the made-to-order gouda and white cheddar grilled cheese; a Caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic glaze on grilled sourdough; or a hot club with ham, turkey, bacon and cheddar.

Chicken tikka masala from Breathe
Chicken tikka masala from Breathe

A proud supporter of nearby small businesses, Breathe also partners with other local spots like Bake My Day to help fill a dessert case with goodies like cookies, cheesecakes, pastries, macarons and other sweet treats.

On my first visit to Breathe, I was immediately taken by the ambiance of the place (it’s kind of like a smaller version of The Wine Shop at Capitol Market) and the friendliness of its staff.

Wanting a hot grilled sandwich to shake the chill off a cold winter day, I tried The Great Turkey with turkey, provolone, bacon, lettuce and tomato on grilled bread. It was a tad dry for my taste, but nothing that a little extra mayo couldn’t fix.

Macarons from Bake My Day at Breathe
Macarons from Bake My Day at Breathe

Still, it showed enough promise to lure me back the next day to try the featured soup of the day, which was inspired by a classic Coq au Vin. That complex French dish of chicken braised with red wine, lardons and mushrooms seemed pretty ambitious to replicate in a soup, but Breathe’s take on it was solid, as was the side of potato salad I sampled with it.

I’m also excited to return for other rotating specials like lasagna with garlic bread, rich beef stew, zingy chicken tikka masala, and Creole pasta with shrimp, andouille sausage and tomatoes.

If you’re looking for some nice wine or beer – or a charming little spot to grab a bite to eat in or take away – this place in Cross Lanes is a breath of fresh air.

  • IF YOU GO: Breathe Wine & Culture Co. at 5155 Washington St. W in Cross Lanes is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. For more information, call 304-823-4577 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

New Coffee Shop in South Charleston

A new coffee shop has opened in South Charleston offering a variety of coffees, teas, bubble milks and light bites, plus local art for sale.

Cocoa Coffee House in South Charleston
Cocoa Coffee House in South Charleston

In addition to drinks, the brightly colored Cocoa Coffee House next to Sumthin’ Good Soul Food on MacCorkle Ave. SW in South Charleston serves a small selection of bagels, croissants, oatmeal and sandwiches as well.

I’ll be adding this to my hit list, for sure.

  • IF YOU GO: Cocoa Coffee House at 4845 MacCorkle Ave. SW in South Charleston is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays (except for being closed on Tuesday) and from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, check out or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

• • •

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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