Saturday, June 03, 2006

after midnight in Charleston, SC-make it MERITAGE and SWEETWATER Cafe simply sucks

This morning, I mourned the closing of The BAKERY CAFE in downtown Charleston, as it has moved out of town this past spring. I used to adore breakfast there with the superb breads, jams, spreads and delicious brunch items and exellent coffee. I did not mind waiting 10-30 minutes for this treat on weekends, but can tell you not to bother heading around the corner to the SWEETWATER Cafe, which is what I mistakenly did. While the coffee was good, I waited almost 30 minutes for my "breakfast sandwich" made up of a biscuit, fried egg, a slab of processed cheese (not even melted), and a slice of EXCELLENT BACON. It was a dry and boring concoction, not worth the wait, and frankly even thought the total tab with tax and tip came to $7.65, I still left very disappointed.

Last night, I had a reservation at 11PM at CYPRESS, one of the top places in town, but the opera ran late, and they don't serve dinner past 11PM, so I tried desperately to find someplace decent serving food after 1130PM and was directed to MERITAGE, a sort of Low Country Tapas place at 225 East Basy St. (tel 843-723-8181) (

It was a bit noisy at the bar, but I got a table in the corner of the adjoining room and it was not too bad. I quickly ordered a glass of DVG "Emotion" Chardonnay 2003 from Burgundy which was crisp, steely and minerally; just right on a warm evening.

I enjoyed the DUCK CONFIT & LENTIL Salad with Shallot Truffle Vinaigrette, but it would have been better with MORE lentils and less PARSLEY. Does anyone really use so much parsley as a salad? A glass of THOMAS HALBY Pinot Noir 2002 from Oregon was perfect as well.

My server suggested the SPICE RUBBED HANGAR STEAK which at under $10 may have been "tapas" sized, but filled me to perfection. She hit the button just right when she suggested this GRILLED Steak with a Sauce of GOAT CHEESE FONDUE and topped with a SUPERB tangy ONION MARMALADE....WOW! And a glass of intensely dry and almost chalky RAMSAY LOT 3 Napa CABERNET 2000 was the perfect wine with this huge tasting dish.

I may have rolled home through the noisy streets of Charleston at almost 2am, but I was rolling happily. AND, I have rebooked CYPRESS for this evening!