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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

My favorite menus and dishes for Charleston Restaurant Week

Although I’m usually reviewing a restaurant after tasting its food, my big reveal of menus for this year’s Charleston Restaurant Week over the weekend now gives me an opportunity to highlight the dishes and menus I’m most excited to try in a few weeks.


Dijon dill-crusted salmon with potato souffle from 1010 Bridge
Dijon dill-crusted salmon with potato souffle from 1010 Bridge






As you probably already know, 16 participating local restaurants will offer special three-course menus from Jan. 30 through Feb. 3, giving guests the chance to choose their own appetizer, entrée and dessert for one set price ranging from $24-$48.


Established by Buzz Foods to help boost business during what is typically a slow time in the restaurant industry, Charleston Restaurant Week is celebrating its 10th year offering this tasty culinary celebration to local diners.


Many restaurants will book up quickly now that menus are released, so guests are encouraged to make reservations as quickly as possible. Here are the ones I may be calling first!


Pre-Restaurant Week Awards


  • Most Exciting Menu: I must admit, I’m most intrigued by the unexpected Southern-Asian-Italian fusion menu from – are you ready for this? – Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill. Brisket sushi with crispy rice and Asian citrus slaw. A sesame-ginger wedge salad with crispy wontons. Sticky Chinese 5 spice-braised short ribs with housemade fried rice and purple cabbage. Pork belly creamy Parmesan risotto. I am so here (or there) for it.

  • Most Creative Ingredients: The winter salad at 1010 Bridge Restaurant comes with a cacophony of fresh vegetables, including “sweet potato hair” and “beet dust.” I’d expect nothing less from James Beard finalist Chef Paul Smith.

  • Most Mouthwatering Description: The Lookout wins with whoever whipped up these tasty teases: Veal Marsala medallions pounded, floured and pan-fried over Parmesan risotto with candied Brussels sprouts and shitake-bacon Marsala sauce; and a 10-oz. French pork chop grilled with bourbon butter and served over roasted red potatoes with candied Brussels sprouts and brown sugar apple chutney. Man, those sound good.

  • Best Restaurant Partnership: Fernbank Public House is teaming up with the local Mohawk Cheesecake food truck to offer cheesecake with a choice of berry compote or salted caramel drizzle. Although I haven’t tried Mohawk yet, owner/baker Justin Cavender has been telling me he’s making some “next level stuff” I really need to try. Here’s my chance.

  • Biggest Unknown: I don’t know how good their food is yet, but newcomer The Volstead Room looks promising with items like bleu cheese fritters, lumpia spring rolls, pork belly sliders and gochujang chicken thigh with mango slaw.

  • Best Appetizers: Soho’s at Capitol Market sold me on their baked Alouette brie in a cast-iron skillet topped with cherries, praline hazelnuts and hot honey with toasted ciabatta bread; plus the butterflied baked jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab. Sam’s is in the hunt as well thanks to Parmesan-encrusted potatoes with crispy pork belly, crème fraiche and cilantro; plus a lobster bisque with jumbo lump crab meat, infused olive oil and buttered crouton.

  • Best Entrees: Also featured on the restaurant’s regular menu, 1010 Bridge’s Dijon dill-glazed salmon with potato soufflé and citrus beurre blanc is phenomenal. Black Sheep’s Mexican BBQ taco platter featuring smoked brisket and Texas hot links with a choice of hatch chile mac-and-cheese, braised kale, street corn potato salad and burnt-end baked beans sounds like a winner. And those aforementioned sticky Chinese short ribs from Dem 2? Yes, please!

  • Best Desserts: Bridge Road Bistro’s flourless chocolate torte with espresso whipped cream is a sweet treat right up my alley. The Volstead’s maple ricotta mousse with candied pecans is, too. And if done well, the simple lemon berry cream mascarpone from Bricks & Barrels sounds divine.

  • Best Overall Menu – Runners Up: I’ve already praised Dem 2, which is definitely in my top three. I’m also adding Soho’s for following up the apps above with a cider-brined bone-in pork chop with rosemary roasted potatoes and broccolini; three-cheese manicotti topped with fresh lobster and lobster cream sauce; vanilla bean brulee with crispy oat crust; and a two-layer strawberry cake with cream cheese filling, dark chocolate ganache and fresh whipped cream.

  • Best Overall Menu – Winner: For my money, from the first course to the last, Ristorante Abruzzi is serving up the best overall menu this year – and you know Chef Chase Collier will deliver on quality. That’s why I’ve listed Abruzzi first below, followed by the rest alphabetically.

And while I’m especially looking forward to the standouts I just highlighted, I truly wish I had the time – and constitution – to enjoy all 16 Charleston Restaurant Week menus. Well done, folks.


Charleston Restaurant Week Menus


Appetizers

  • Winter panzanella salad with baby lettuce, roasted butternut squash, red onion, croutons, dried cranberries, shaved Parmesan and maple balsamic

  • Hernshaw Farms mushroom arancini with alfredo and basil pesto

Entrees

  • Braised short rib and ricotta-stuffed ravioli with San Marzano tomato and short rib Bolognese, gremolata and shaved Parmesan

  • Pesto-crusted rainbow trout with Parmesan risotto, charred broccolini and Romesco sauce

Desserts

  • Crostata di Fragola Italian strawberry cobbler with Ellen’s vanilla ice cream and strawberry caviar

  • Chocolate panna cotta with espresso syrup and vanilla bean Chantilly


Appetizers

  • Tuscan white bean and sausage soup

  • Winter salad with carrots, radish, dried currants, sweet potato hair and beet dust with pomegranate vinaigrette

Entrees

  • Dijon dill-glazed salmon with potato soufflé, local vegetable medley and citrus beurre blanc

  • Cast iron-seared skirt steak with herb and garlic smashed potatoes, winter vegetables and red wine jus

Desserts

  • Pumpkin cheesecake with carrot cake crust

  • Chocolate silk pie with brown butter graham crust and salted caramel


Appetizers

  • Side Greek salad

  • Side specialty salad

Entrees

  • Pastitsio (Greek lasagna) and garlic toast with choice of Greek potatoes or dolmathes (grape-leaf rolls)

  • Greek-style cod served on a bed of rice with choice of Greek potatoes or dolmathes; Greek-stuffed peppers

Dessert

  • Baklava cheesecake


Appetizers

  • House salad with citrus vinaigrette dressing

  • Charred Brussels sprouts

Entrees

  • Glazed salmon bowl with Thai peanut sauce

  • Beef bistek bowl with choice of rice or noodles

Desserts

  • Creme brulee cheesecake

  • Salted caramel chocolate brownie


Appetizers

  • Smoked artichoke dip with toasted naan

  • Smoked dry-rub tajin wings with maple “unranch” sauce

Entrees

  • Mexican BBQ taco platter featuring smoked brisket and Texas hot links with tortillas and choice of two sides (hatch chile mac-and-cheese, braised kale, street corn potato salad, burnt-end baked beans

  • Mexican BBQ taco platter featuring smoked pork ribs and Texas hot links with tortillas and two sides

Desserts

  • Homemade blackberry cobbler

  • Banana custard parfait


Appetizers

  • Caesar salad

  • Loaded potato

Entrees

  • Black-and-bleu 4 oz. fillet topped with Cabernet demi-glaze with mashed potatoes and vegetable medley

  • Blackened swordfish topped with mango salsa with garlic-Parmesan rice and grilled asparagus

Desserts

  • Lemon berry cream mascarpone

  • Churros


Appetizers

  • Mandarin orange salad with spring mix, sliced mandarins, dried cranberries, almonds and ginger-soy dressing

  • Roasted red pepper bisque with chive creme fraiche

Entrees

  • Smoked airline chicken with sweet cornbread, collard greens and Alabama white BBQ sauce

  • Beef tenderloin medallions with whipped Yukon Gold potatoes, bone marrow butter and sautéed asparagus

  • Miso-glazed baked salmon with long-grain wild rice and fried Brussels sprout leaves

  • Stuffed black-bean pepper with red pepper strips and sliced avocado on a bed of rice

Desserts

  • Blueberry cobbler cheesecake

  • Flourless chocolate torte with espresso whipped cream


Appetizers

  • Brisket sushi with crispy sushi rice topped with brisket, Asian citrus slaw and yum-yum sauce

  • Sesame-ginger wedge salad with house-made ginger dressing, carrots, toasted sesame seeds and crispy wonton strips

  • Pacho nachos with fresh fried pork skins topped with pulled pork, caramelized onions, nacho cheese, BBQ sauce and crispy banana peppers

Entrees

  • Sticky short ribs featuring Chinese 5 spice-braised short ribs served with housemade fried rice and purple cabbage

  • Pork belly creamy Parmesan risotto

  • Meat-and-sides sampler featuring your choice of four meats with four housemade sides

Desserts

  • Strawberry cheesecake wonton deep-fried and stuffed with mascarpone and strawberry compote

  • Classic Southern-style banana pudding    


DT Prime ($45)

Appetizers

  • Signature house salad

  • Caesar salad

Entrees

  • Certified Angus beef prime sirloin with garlic mash and seasonal vegetables

  • North Atlantic salmon with garlic mash and seasonal vegetables

Desserts

  • New York cheesecake

  • Chocolate chalet cake


Appetizers

  • Cranberry and apple salad with pumpkin seeds over mixed greens and housemade black-cherry vinaigrette

  • Fresh panko-rolled and mozzarella pearls with house red sauce

Entrees

  • The Goat signature blend burger with housemade bacon jam, goat cheese served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo on Charleston Bread brioche and fries

  • Pimento and panko-crusted hot honey fried chicken with house pimento cheese and hot honey on a Charleston Bread baguette with fries

Desserts

  • Mohawk cheesecake with a choice of berry compote or salted caramel drizzle

  • Layered chocolate butter cake topped with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache


Appetizers

  • Half-order of Almost Heaven maki

  • Side salad with creamy ginger dressing

Entrees

  • Mongolian filet stir-fried in a spicy savory oyster sauce with bok choy and mixed vegetables with white or fried rice

  • Bamboo chicken with peppers, onions, bamboo shoots and crispy fried chicken sautéed in General Tso sauce with cilantro and white or fried rice

Desserts

  • Key lime tart

  • New York cheesecake with raspberry-matcha crème


Appetizers

  • Parmesan-encrusted potatoes with crispy pork belly, crème fraiche and cilantro

  • Lobster bisque with jumbo lump crab meat, infused olive oil and buttered crouton

Entrees

  • Garlic chicken and mushrooms over polenta with basil, balsamic and gorgonzola

  • Pork carnitas taco in roasted tomato sauce with guacamole and corn pico

Desserts

  • Tiramisu with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar

  • Chocolate salted-caramel brownie topped with chocolate salted-caramel ice cream


Appetizers

  • Butterflied jumbo shrimp baked and stuffed with crab

  • Baked Alouette brie in a cast-iron skillet topped with brisure cherries, praline hazelnuts and hot honey with toasted ciabatta bread

Entrees

  • 12 oz. cider-brined bone-in French-cut pork chop with rosemary roasted red-skin potatoes and herb-buttered broccolini

  • Manicotti stuffed with ricotta, Romano and mozzarella, topped with fresh lobster in a lobster cream sauce

Desserts

  • Vanilla bean brulee with macerated Madagascar vanilla pods and crispy oat crust topped with torched raw sugar

  • Two-layer strawberry cake with cream cheese filling and strawberry pieces, covered in dark chocolate ganache, strawberry coulis and fresh whipped cream


Appetizers

  • Caesar salad

  • Cup of homemade chili with chips and sour cream

Entrees

  • Veal Marsala medallions pounded, floured and pan-fried over Parmesan risotto with candied Brussels sprouts and shitake-bacon Marsala sauce

  • 10-oz. French pork chop grilled with bourbon butter and served over roasted red potatoes and candied Brussels sprouts and topped with brown sugar apple chutney

Desserts

  • Peanut butter pie on graham cracker crust filled with Amy’s peanut butter cream filling and topped homemade whipped cream

  • Chocolate cake layered with chocolate mousse and chocolate icing topped with chocolate chips


Appetizers

  • Shrimp empanadas with sriracha sour cream

  • Fried feta with cherry and Cognac glaze

Entrees

  • 9-oz. beef sirloin with onions, mushrooms and Cabernet reduction

  • Lightly blackened cod with crab risotto, sauteed broccoli and carrots

Desserts

  • Tiramisu

  • Pineapple upside-down cake with cherry-pineapple rum glaze


Appetizers

  • Blue cheese fritters with roasted red pepper mayo

  • Lumpia spring rolls with sweet-and-sour sauce

Entrees

  • Pork belly sliders with BBQ and coleslaw

  • Gochujang chicken thigh with mango slaw

Desserts

  • Chocolate icebox cake

  • Maple ricotta mousse with candied pecans

 

For more information on Charleston Restaurant Week, check out the group’s Facebook page or contact the individual restaurants above.


• • •


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 www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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