It’s our last day in Charleston, time for a restaurant recap. The visions of loveliness above are from our lunch yesterday at Husk, which was voted 2011’s “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appétit and “Best Restaurant in the South” by Southern Living. Here are some of Executive Chef Sean Brock’s recent accolades:
As one of Charleston’s most decorated culinarians, he was nominated in 2008 and 2009 for the James Beard “Rising Star Chef” award and in 2009 and 2010 for the James Beard “Best Chef Southeast” category, winning the award in 2010. Most recently, he was nominated for the James Beard “Outstanding Chef” award for 2012. He was the winner of the “Next Great Chef” episode of the “Food Network Challenge” and appeared on “Iron Chef America” in December 2010, taking on Michael Symon in “Battle Pork Fat.”
Chef Brock describes the restaurant’s concept as a modern exploration of “the reality of Southern food.” Indeed, everything on the plate was raised or grown in the South, some as close as the back yard. The menu is created twice a day, based on what is seasonally available. There seems to be a particular emphasis on “heirloom pork,” as is evidenced in our lunch menu. We started with pig ears, fried crisp (like bacon), covered in buffalo sauce and served in a lettuce cup with sweet vinegar marinated cucumbers and red onions. It was crunchy, spicy, sweet, salty, soft, tangy, smoky, messy and delicious. I had a cheeseburger made with 20% bacon ground into the beef and cooked in a wood burning oven. It was served with a side of potato wedges that were crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and sparkling with crystals of course salt. Mark opted for the Heritage Pork Bacon Steak. Yeah, you read that right. Mark described it as baby back ribs without the bone, it was succulent, fall-apart meat covered in a layer of fat cooked crisp across the top and melting like butter underneath, served atop corn, smoky beans and tomatoes.
Those desserts, of course, speak for themselves. I don’t normally take pictures of the food in restaurants, but when the strawberry shortcake came out in that gorgeous wooden bowl, a lady across the way (who I believe was three cocktails into lunch) said, “You have got to take a picture of that!” So I did.
It often takes a couple of weeks or more to get dinner reservations, but I was able to snag a spot for lunch at the last minute, although we saw plenty of people turned away. So, if you find yourself in Charleston, I do recommend Husk for a unique and authentically Southern culinary experience, but be sure to plan ahead.
We’ve had several other wonderful meals during our visit, but they will have to wait for another day, as I would not want to short change any of them. We’re off this evening to another cooking class and I’ve waxed poetic for way too long over all that pork. Wish me luck in the kitchen tonight.