Griffon Pub: Great Food, Great People and a Million Dollars of Memories

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By Mark A. Leon

As you journey through the French Quarter and walk down Venue Range toward Waterfront Park, you are taken in by the elegance of Charleston from the Vendue Inn to the Venue Library and Rooftop Bar. The area is ordained with fine desserts, law offices and unique and pricey gifts. What has been a foundation for over 15 years and continues to excel with great food, amazing beer, fun and casual dining for intimate groups and a true old school dart board is the Griffon Pub located at 18 Vendue Range.

For those that have never stepped foot in this traditional Irish Pub, the title of the article may be a little misleading. From wall to wall, end to end ceiling and nooks all around, locals and tourists have left personalized dollar bills stapled all throughout the restaurant. When you arrive, you just need to go to the bar, ask for a stapler and sharpie and they will have you covered. They have created a tradition of memories from Europe to the United States.

The atmosphere is very casual with warm and friendly service all day and night. Whether you are coming in for a pint and or a meal, the staff treats all its guests as if you are family. No pub would be complete without a traditional cigarette dispenser by the rest rooms.

Some may argue the East Bay / Market Street area of Charleston may be a bit pricey at times. Well, the Griffon doesn’t feel that way. Entrees range from $7.00 to $12.00 for most items and they are mouth watering good.

Start with a cup of homemade chili. Even in the summer, this chili will pack you with a little spicy kick and savor you with rich meat and spices. If spicy is not your style, the fried pickles are a fixture here.

Reuben
Reuben

Sandwiches are a hard one. There are a number of amazing and memorable carbohydrate friendly treats to entice you. Take my word on this; though the food comes in a basket, it is plentiful and will leave you very full and fulfilled.

We wanted to make three specific recommendations to you: Reuben, Chicken Philly and the fish and chips / friend fish sandwich. I must take a step back first. There are three types Reuben sandwiches: Southern, Traditional and Turkey. We recommend, if you are in the South, do the Southern. This takes away the sauerkraut and replaces it with cole slaw. So good and a very healthy portion of corned beef. The Chicken Philly takes your traditional Philly cheese steak and replaces it with chicken and combines it nicely with melted provolone, peppers and onions. The fish and chips are lightly breaded and partnered with a very healthy portion of fries. Make sure you add vinegar to your fries to make the experience complete.

Make sure you wash that all down with a pint of one of the rotating local craft beers on tap.

One of the noted parts of our experience at the Griffon is the team work. Your server is your bartender and your busser. It is amazing how seamless they all work together to make sure you have a remarkable dining experience.

The Griffon is your hometown pub right in the heart of downtown Charleston. Whether it is lunch, dinner or a pint, stop in, say hello and share a few laughs while you are there. If it is your first time, make sure you leave a dollar behind for the wall.

Let Smoke BBQ Simmer Their Way into Your Heart

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Many of you may know Smoke BBQ from their well travel food truck days.? What many may not know is that they have a restaurant situated on Upper King at 487 King Street.

To review this restaurant, I need to take a step back from the food and begin with the drink menu created by local mixologist Russ Friar.? Russ has spend time at Zia’s and the Rarebit and has created a carefully crafted selection of drinks that truly hit the palate with a punch and slip down in a cool refreshing slide.? Using high quality spirits and a unique blend of ingredients, Smoke offers a true liquid dining experience that stands alone.? The Smoke version of the Moscow Mule with some additional additives is worth an hour or two at the bar.? The bar staff is as eclectic and fun as they get.? I was fortunate enough to engage with a? peninsula girl and a James Island guy.? Both exceptional bartenders and yet both had different views on hospitality from the standpoint of the downtown and James Island/Folly Beach cultures.? This banter along with a nature channel show on bees and insects made for an entertaining evening.

The men’s room is a classy and artistic time machine ride back to the 1960’s and 70’s.? The walls are ordained with very tasteful and classy pages from issues of Playboy.? It took me back to childhood and my years of curiosity and discovery.

Time for the main attraction, good old wholesome Southern BBQ.? You will not go wrong with some Texas Bricket or slow smoked pork.? I would like to focus on two specific item:? Pastrami Rueben and Cuban.

The Pastrami Rueben is exceptional.? The pastrami is cooked for sixteen hours and topped with house sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Thousand Island Dressing and held together with a marble rye.? Not only will the smell and taste take you away as the tender meat slips down your throat, but the portions will make it difficult for you to stand up and leave after.

If that didn’t win you over, the Cuban will.? This absolute culinary delight straight from the heart of Miami takes a delicious Aioli spread to complement the slow cooked pork, ham, house pickles and Swiss cheese.? The richness of this sandwich will remind you that a sandwich can literary explode with flavor with every bite.

If you are a cole slaw fan, you must try their homemade concoction consisting of red Cabbage, green apple, heirloom carrot and candied walnut.? It is a sweet surprise and beautiful accessory to your main course.

Smoke BBQ will win you over once you step in the door with smells of the deep South and a rich reminder of how meat is meant to taste.? Make sure you enjoy a cocktail, some really good staff conversation to make for a complete dining experience.

 

Cuban
Cuban

 

French Dining Escape in Mount Pleasant – Bistro Toulouse

soup1The evening began with a Super Tuscan red which complimented the palate with an explosion of flavors swimming down the throat.? Overall, the wine and bubbly selections are wonderful sectioned off by the boldness of the wines.

Before I go further, it is critical now that we have experienced breakfast and dinner to give a special recognition to the exceptional service provided.? From the articulation and polite demeanor of the servers, to the careful placement of plates and silverware, the servers are a big part of the whole dining experience.

Your dining journey will feel like a five star restaurant without the price.? Hidden deep in the heart of one of the many strip malls on Coleman Blvd, it is easy to get lost among the neon lights panning across end to end, but make no mistake, as you enter, you will have a memorable time.

We began with a warm asparagus salad that was topped with peas, peppers and a lemon vinaigrette.? The portion was just right for one or two to share.

Bistro Toulouse has a bit of a reputation for mussels, so we had to indulge in Mussels and Frites.? There are two options and a special to select from.? It wasn’t difficult to know we wanted the Mussels and Frites with truffles and a truffle cream sauce.? This dish comes with bacon, but we chose to eliminate that ingredient.? At $14.00, this was a tremendous bargain.

This two course meal took up well past closing time as the conversation flowed nicely throughout the evening.? Therefore we had to pass on dessert.

The mussels were exceptionally light, but when complimented with the truffles and cream sauce, it made for a filling entree.? One cannot resist dipping the bread in the truffle cream sauce.? A must if you are going to enjoy this entree.

The mussel dish is very comfortable for two and can even squeeze in a third.

If you have not heard of Bistro Toulouse or have been hesitant to go, make a reservation and enjoy a relaxing breakfast/brunch or dinner.

If you have the time, enjoy one of the profiteroles, sorbet, souffle or creme brulee desserts along with fresh cup of coffee.

Hours of Operation:

Serving Dinner

Tuesday – Sunday
5:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Serving Champagne Brunch

Saturday & Sunday
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Serving Lunch

Tuesday -Friday

11:30 AM – 2:30 PM

The Newest Restaurant to Roll Into James Island — Rollin’ South Kitchen

By Tyler Sexton
By Tyler Sexton

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From the first turn onto Folly Road to the ocean, we drive past dozens of delicious restaurants.? Veering off at one of the side streets is where we find the local treasures.? These are the places where we won’t bump into tourists, because these spots aren’t on the direct path to the beach.? The newest addition to this small list of restaurants is Rollin’ South Kitchen. ?

Rollin South’ just opened up a short two weeks ago in the building that was formerly The Sloppy Cow.? With a fresh paint job on the outside and an open and welcoming interior, this new diner has been bringing in crowds from all corners of James Island and the peninsula.? Their lunch menu starts with Jim Island Snacks, which includes traditional comfort foods like Chuck Town Chips and Folly Fries, and then progresses through salads, hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, and options from the grill.

The interior is decorated in our Charleston beach fashion, with comical life lessons painted on old wooden planks, and the dishes have witty names like the Fatty Patty Melt, Bubba’s Bacon, and the Reuben You The Right Way.? Considering that they’ve only been open for such a short time, the staff were very knowledgeable about the menu.? They were able to point out and explain their favorites from each category of food on the menu.? The Reuben You The Right Way got the highest recommendation, and I opted to go with pastrami over the corned beef at the managers suggestion. ?

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The name fits.? The pastrami was tender and juicy, and it brought a pleasant bit of spice to the sandwich without over powering the other ingredients.? The tartness of the sauerkraut paired wonderfully with the kick of the pastrami, and the melted swiss cheese worked well at everything together.? Thousand Island dressing brought that familiar zest while the toasted rye kept all the flavor of the pastrami from escaping.?

The fries are done just right here as well.? They cut them in house and fry them to perfection, leaving them with a crispy golden outside and flaky white inside.? If malt vinegar is your thing, they’ve got you covered here.? If not, you can’t go wrong with ketchup. ?

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The portions were perfect.? I was completely content after cleaning my plate, but I was so satisfied with my lunch that I couldn’t help but to ask about dessert.? My server said that the key lime pie is her favorite, and she hadn’t led me astray thus far.? I love key lime pie because of the pairing between the tartness of the lime and the sweetness of the graham cracker crust, and this pie fits the bill.? Just when you are about to pucker up from the sour filling, the sweet crust balances out each bite.

With their welcoming and hospitable staff and the delicious food options, Rollin’ South Kitchen has kept their tables full since the day they opened.? It looks like the newest addition to the James Island food scene is here to stay.

Located at 1023 Harbor View Road, Charleston, SC

Retired Mensch: Tale of Two Restaurants – Rutledge Cab Company and 82 Queen

Paul & Cathy 5x7Now tell me, does a turkey sandwich befit a restaurant week menu choice? Of course not, but that’s what the Mensch ordered from the Rutledge Cab Company’s regular menu last week. If I were a poet I would have written a sonnet, an ode, or a haiku to that turkey sandwich.
Instead, I sent an email to general manager Dan Tolbert praising their turkey sandwich.
Who knew that toasted white bread could be so good? Thick cut, crispy brown outside, chewy inside. This wasn’t Wonder Bread. It was Pane De Vita bakery white according to Dan. And the turkey was just like the leftovers on black Friday, REAL turkey, not that deli-roll pretender. They roast it in house. Even the tomato was to die for. I think it was grown in a secret garden on John’s Island and not from Limehouse Produce as Dan offered.
The best part of this lunch was that the Mensch got two meals on one check! And even one day later, the toast of the other half of my sandwich had almost held its own against the spread and the tomato. I could have done without the sprouts and the subsequent gas, but that’s not their fault. Who cares what the restaurant week specials were, the everyday menu was tops.

With the unlimited budget at www.shirazmn.com, restaurant week continued with dinner at 82 Queen which, after Magnolias, was a letdown. First off, the Mensch had to pay for parking, $3, at the city garage across the street.
Again we were a few minutes early and were offered seating immediately. We followed a hostess up the iron stairs to a small room to our left. Unlike the linen-clothed table of Magnolias, there were place mats. Our server Sienna cleared the extra settings and presented menus and beverage lists. Another great selection of cocktails and wine. An old-fashion, or is it old-fashioned?, and a cosmopolitan please.
The three course menu for $30 had some great choices. There were six appetizers, seven entrees and two desserts. For an extra $10 a crab cake would be added to any entree.
Sienna recommended the she-crab soup and the crab cake. Unlike Magnolias, this room was not crowded and the ambiance left something to be desired. Mrs. Mensch opted for the she-crab soup and how could I refuse fried green tomatoes?

I had hardly sipped my cocktail when our appetizers appeared. Mrs. Mensch oohed over the soup. The fried green tomatoes were tasty but not like they had been freshly prepared. The bed of cheddar grits were smooth, creamy and laced with bacon. Even Mrs. Mensch, a died-in-the-wool grits-hater, agreed with me and proceeded to glom some grits off my plate.
(“Grits were” or “grits was” which is correct? Either way it won’t affect the taste.) Before the plates disappeared our bottle of Rodney Strong chardonnay was uncorked. A fine selection.
Entrees appeared and Mrs Mensch had to send back the land portion of her land and sea. The steak was a little too rare for her. The scallop was sweet, a little cool and the outside sear was lacking in definition. The recommended crab cake was Maryland perfect.

I know, I know, chardonnay with steak just doesn’t sound right. However there was a scallop and a crab cake on her plate and I had the cod. Three out of four tilted the odds for white wine. Speaking of cod, it was Atlantic and baked so that the muscles peeled off like so many nickels. There were other mussels on the plate. I embarrassed myself by asking what PEI meant for the mussels. Ah, Prince Edward Island. Who knew? Actually, I did know, but the gray matter could not conjure up the definition.
I was on my fourth mussel when the wayward steak returned cooked to her liking. Now she had two plates of entrees side by side, scallop and crab cake on one and steak on the other.

Neither of us could see the value in adding chocolate to cheesecake and we both chose the lemon cello spongecake with lemon frosting and shaved white chocolate. A great dessert.
My disappointment was in the pacing. It was as if the kitchen knew what we would order, yes, yes, restaurant week menu, prepared it ahead of time and warmed it up to serve. We sat down a little before 6:30 and 7:31 was time stamped on my check. If I had hadn’t lingered to chat with the hostess or explore the other dining areas, I would have been home in time for Final Jeopardy and only paid $2 to park.

82 Queen Charleston Restaurant Week Menu

Ooh La La France in Charleston – Delight with Baguette Magic

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

If you frequent Folly Beach, you have passed this small unimposing bakery just to the left on Folly Road.? It is hidden near a salon, boxing center, barber shop and La Hacienda.? You will notice the blinking open light, but many are unaware of the bakery creations that lie inside.? Baguette Magic offers a unique French Style Bakery experience right in your own backyard.

Their menu is small enough to fit in your wallet and their pricing is very similar to the Euro system where all tax is built in.? They even offer wallet size menus upon arrival so you can plan ahead for the next time.? Let us lay out the menu to help show the simplicity of this establishment.? Baguette Magic will not win you over with complex or fancy, but pure delicious delicacies.? The fresh baked fluffiness is in sight and smell from the first step inside.

They offer five culinary categories:? Bread, Croissant, Sandwiches, beverages (juice, milk, water) and Saturday & Sunday Brunch.? Of course, no meal would be complete without a fine coffee selection.? If you are looking for a traditional cup of drip coffee, keep making your way to Starbucks, for Baguette Magic only serves French Press pour.? It is rich and robust and wakes you like a zesty bar of soap.

Their breads and croissants are authentic French style and this authenticity, makes it a breath of fresh air in James Island.

The interior is small and quaint with a bar top area, a few booths and tables and a staff right in front of you baking away before the sun even rises.

If you are looking to start your morning right, start with a berry or almond croissant.? The soft flaky outside combined with divine fresh ingredients inside will leave your mouth wanting more.? Savor each bite and eat slowly for the taste lingers on.

If you find your way there for lunchtime, you may lean toward a Salmon & Dill Croissant, Prosciutto & Mozzarella with Basil Croissant or their unique offering of Pate de Campagne.

Baguette Magic can cater to one, an adoring couple starting their day before a bridge walk or cater to larger groups.

At $3.00 for a berry or almond croissant, $2.00 for a cup of coffee and $8.00 for a sandwich, the prices are incredibly well within any price range.

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If you arrive to a line, don’t fret.? Be patient and enjoy the aromas throughout this small intimate bakery.? The wait will be worth it.

Starting in the fall, Baguette Magic will start to offer homemade desserts to its menu.

The staff truly compliments the food with a kind demeanor and welcoming smile with each visit.

Baguette Magic Website – 792 Folly Road, James Island, SC (843) 471-5941

Hours:

Monday:??????? Closed

Tuesday: ? ? ?? 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Wednesday:? 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Thursday:???? 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Friday:????????? 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Saturday:???? 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Sunday:?????? 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Jack of Cups Delivers on Folly Beach

By Loretta Jophlin
By Loretta Jophlin

After a long day at Folly Beach, I approached Jack of Cups looking for a casual place to cool down. Like your best friend’s high school basement, Jack of Cups Saloon is cool, dark and a little mysterious. Hints of the supernatural present themselves all around and the bar itself is lacquered in tarot cards. There are about 10 seats at the bar, a couple of small tables as well as picnic benches out front. One very talented bartender runs the show.

Classified by some as a wine bar, the wine list is short, but does not disappoint. Unlike many other local bars, where the house wine is the cheapest magnum of turpentine around, the red and white house wines were carefully selected by the staff who sampled several before choosing. At $4 a glass, the price is more than fair. There are about 10 other unique wines by the glass and bottle at modest prices. For the craft beer lover, there is a large menu and for the true beer Spartan, High Life Ponies can be had for $1 every other Monday. Also available are specialty cocktails made from Carolina Clear, created using fresh fruits and herbs.

The food truly shines at Jack of Cups. From the chalkboard menu, to presentation using traditional Indian tableware, to phenomenal taste, my experience was a delight.

All dishes on the small chalkboard menu are $6 and marked with stars signifying the spiciness level. Choosing was difficult, but I finally decided on the red curry mac and cheese and the curried black bean nachos. The mac was good, with a distinct resemblance to the red curry noodle soup available at Taste of Thai. The flavor was a perfect blend of sweet heat and coconut cream. I couldn’t discern much in the way of cheese, but that did not bother me in the least.

The portion was modest and I would have enjoyed a few more bites. The nachos, however, changed my world for the better. Perish the thought of stale bagged yellow corn chips doused in synthetic cheese polymer and embrace this exceptional redefinition of nachos. The dish is perfectly composed of fresh, fried flour tortilla chips surrounding a mound of curried black beans topped with cooling sour cream, fresh salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro. It will be difficult to branch out and order anything else on my next visit because this is such a perfect dish.

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Over the course of the evening, the bar filled in, not for drinks, but understandably for food. The service was friendly. The live music that started as I was leaving was a nice touch. Overall, Jack of Cups is a perfect end to a beach day or well worth a trip to Folly in its own right. Jack of Cups Saloon is located at?34 Center St, Folly Beach.