Just off King Street on Cannon Street is one of Charleston’s newest restaurants, The Grocery. If I am capturing this correctly The Grocery is designed to reflect grocery stores of long ago. Where people came to chat, set a spell, break bread together, share stories, food and visit. We did just that.
Joined by another couple all four of us were a tad nervous when we entered the restaurant and there were just a few tables seated. Ut-oh, we thought, this could have been a bad choice. An empty restaurant is never a good sign. Boy, were we mistaken.
I have to say that our server was one of the most knowledgeable that we’ve come across here in the Low Country. She had a casual, easy going style while suggesting menu items, but certainly didn’t push us, which was nice. After she explained The Grocery’s concept we started to review the menu to see what we would “share” at the table.
The menu is divided into “snacks”, “bites”, “tastes”, “plates”, “table”, and “side” options. As you go through the options they escalate in price. We decided to choose a few things from the “snacks” ($4-$13) and “bites” ($9-$13). Our server explained that the portions would be on the small side, which good to know.
When our appetizers arrived it was nice to see that a lot of thought was put into what they would be served in. No white plate ware at this place. The plating on crocks, old fashioned coke bottles and casserole dishes did not go unnoticed. It actually was a great touch.
We were all hungry and ordered several appetizers. The Charred Onion Dip with Kettle Chips was outstanding – a great flavor, but not over powering. The homemade kettle chips were also terrific.
The Fried Oysters were also a plus. Placed back in their shells with a spicy deviled egg sauce and topped with sweet house made pickles was a great compliment. The ‘Piggy Plate’ though, stole the show.
On a small ‘pig shaped’ cutting board arrived some of the best items of the evening. House made ‘City Ham’, pork cheeks, mortadella, and pates along with sweet and sour pickles, pickled radishes, crostini and hearty grain mustard were to die for. This is an item I would highly recommend since we almost fought over the last pieces.
Unfortunately the ‘Crispy Pimento Cheese’ was overcooked, small cheese balls that were mostly breading and not-much cheese. I would pass on this bite. They had zero flavor at best.
Our entrees were selected from the “tastes” section of the menu. Again the presentation was impressive. I had the Pappardelle, Pancetta, Parsley and Poached Egg dish which was served in a small crock like dish and looked beautiful.
For some reason I thought that the egg would be incorporated into the dish but it wasn’t and it sat on top of the pasta. Our server told us that it was “their take on a carbonara” and to mix the egg into the pasta. Being not my cup of tea I passed on this option. Although flavorful the dish was over seasoned with pepper and the pasta was overcooked.
The Tile Fish special dish of the evening was perfectly cooked and served with brussel sprouts. Although the server informed us that the “tastes” section of the menu would be “about 4 ounces” that’s a lot smaller than you’d think. Our entrees, though tasty, were also tiny for the price.
The Beef Short Ribs were fall-off-the bone tender, though miniscule. The bone marrow served on the side did not receive any positive reviews, but that’s just a matter of personal taste.
Lastly, the ‘suggestion’ of Lamb Shoulder with Chick Peas and Sautéed Greens was flavorful, but again, very small (mostly shoulder and not a lot of lamb). There was also a piece of house made sausage on the plate that was very good, but didn’t seem to be a good match for the dish.
I guess you could say that about all of our dishes. The accompanying items to our entrees made us wonder how they “fit” with the main items on the plate. Not that they didn’t taste good, they just didn’t seem to fit with the entrees.
We also shared a Cauliflower Casserole and Roasted Root Vegetables as side dishes that were ample for the table – pricey, but ample ($8.00 each).
All in all I liked The Grocery a bunch. I do, however feel that their “Tastes” section of the menu are overpriced. The Tile Fish special was smaller than a deck of cards and my pasta was about ¾ of a cup. My advice would be to stick with the “Snacks” and “Bites”.
BTW our concerns when we first arrived and the restaurant was empty were quickly squashed. By the time we left the restaurant was packed and on a wait list. Add The Grocery to your list of restaurants to try!!