Marc and I spent 3 lovely days in Charleston, SC for our anniversary. I had always wanted to go, but had no idea how charming and beautiful Charleston was. Our accommodations were at Two Meeting Street, a lovely Bed and Breakfast that spoiled us completely. The cherry on the sundae was that Charleston offered the most amazing food. Here’s the run-down on where we stayed, what we did and what we ate.
This place was amazing! The house was built in 1892 as a wedding gift from father to daughter. Daddy even had the insight to purchase the land across the street and adjacent to the water so that his daughter would never have an obstructed view of the water. How nice! For the couple’s 5th wedding anniversary, the husband gave his bride stained glass windows that were created by his college roommate. Lucky for them, his roommate was a guy named Louis C. Tiffany. Heard of him?
When we first checked in, it was a blistering 100 degrees outside, but cool and quiet inside. Joanne greeted us with a huge smile and offered us some ice cold peach ice tea. We stayed in the Blue Room on the 3rd floor and we loved it. It was charming, spotless and had a nice little hallway as part of the room and its own nicely sized bathroom. There was a refrigerator right outside our room where they kept it stocked with bottled water. Every morning we enjoyed a delicious hot breakfast with fresh fruit, but my favorite part of the day was 4:30 pm, tea time. The ladies at the Inn created a small buffet of dips and mini desserts and offered their delicious peach iced tea, lemonade and hot tea. We made sure our adventures always took us back to Two Meeting Street at 4:30ish so we could enjoy treats and a cold beverage on their large porch. The staff was so helpful and offered recommendations for dinner, other Charleston activities and were more than happy to make reservations for anything we wanted to do. They even had menus for many of the restaurants in the area, which turned out to be very handy. We can’t say enough nice things about our stay.
On the Go in Charleston
Our first full day in Charleston I asked Marc if we could go to King Street where they have a long row of shops. Many of the shops are the ones you can see at home like J.Crew, Banana Republic, etc., but among them you can find some unique shops and a few antique stores. One store in particular was called Luna and I believe it has two locations. It reminds me of a shop in downtown Holland that I like to go into. King Street was fun to behold, even if it’s silly to go to the Banana Republic when you were just there a few days earlier in your hometown.
Another wonderful thing about Charleston is that there are house museums everywhere and they are among regular residences. I am fascinated by how these homes all blend together. This museum house was recommended by one of the ladies at Two Meeting Street and it was an interesting place to visit. It was built by Daniel Heyward in 1772 for his son, Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. President George Washington stayed at the home for a short time in 1791 and it was dubbed the Heyward/Washington House. The tour is not long, but our tour guide, Rosemary, was very nice and knowledgable. The house is fun to look at and there is a nice collection of period furniture inside if you’re into that. You end the tour in the back of the house where a lovely garden is kept up by the garden club and you get a nice view of the steeple from St. Michael’s church.
“I’m on a boat!” Sorry. That SNL skit seems to be the thing to quote for the summer of 2009. Marc loves boats. He talks often about getting one someday and while I enjoy a boat ride, I don’t have any desire to maintain one. Marc and I took a sunset cruise on our honeymoon in the Turks and Caicos and we both loved it, so boat rides are our “thing” on vacation, I guess. As soon as I saw this boat online, I knew Marc would want to go. It was relaxing and we got some great shots as the sun set. There is no narrated tour as I thought there might be, but it was nice anyway. We sat by the cutest family from North Carolina that had the best behaved little girls! They apologized several times for us having to sit by them, but really, they were lovely. They served beer, wine and snacks on the boat (for a fee), but we held out to go to a bar/restaurant for drinks and an appetizer later.
Drayton Hall is only 1 of 3 plantations that were not set on fire during the war. It is also the only one open to the public. I love that no plumbing or electricity was added to the home and we were able to experience it in its almost original state. One of the rooms has only been painted 5 times over the years. This home was in the Drayton family from 1738 until 1974 and then purchased by the National Trust. The property is very pretty and sits on the Ashley River. Since it’s run by the National Trust, this home is still being researched to uncover its rich history. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and made sure to add a disclaimer if the information he was sharing was legend or if they were still researching it. I really appreciated that. If you are looking to view a piece of almost undisturbed history, Drayton Hall is a great place to go.
Food, Oh the Food!
On our first night in Charleston, we were dressed casually from the drive and we didn’t feel like getting all dressed up. The ladies at Two Meeting Street brought out menus to browse while we had our afternoon munchies. We decided on Hank’s Seafood because it came highly recommended and it is one of the few nice restaurants where button-up shirts and long pants are not required. Our friends at the B&B set up the reservation and also arranged for a rickshaw to come and pick us up. This was a special treat. We used the rickshaws each evening while in Charleston to get to our destination on time, but then leisurely walked back along the battery at the end of the night. For $4.50 each, you get a lovely bike ride from guys that know the area well.
We arrived at Hank’s and unfortunately there was a mix-up with our reservation. They kindly offered a seat at the community table or bar, but since we would be spending a pretty good amount of money, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. Can I just take a minute on the community table, here? I think they are a great idea, especially for a town that has busy restaurants each night. They had them in almost every restaurant in South Carolina. It’s a large table surrounded by chairs, usually near the bar area. If you’re not picky about your neighbor, you can get seats right away.
However, on our first night I really wanted to sit at our own table (this trip was suppose to be romantic, after all). We luckily stumbled onto Slightly North of Broad and got a table right away. Our waiter knew the menu quite well and offered his suggestions. When he told me the Mahi Mahi hadn’t been out of the water 12 hours my decision was made. Marc went with the Rack of Lamb. We both enjoyed our very fresh meals and splurged on a piece of Sour Cream Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. It was heavenly. Our waiter also brought mini fudge brownies with the check. I was so full, but I had to try them out and they were SO good. Luckily we had a bit of a hike back to burn them off.
While walking on King Street on our first full day in Charleston, hunger hit us pretty quickly. There were many restaurants to choose from and while Marc and I try to avoid chain restaurants when we travel, this place was not in Michigan and looked like the reasonably-priced place we were looking for. Our waitress may be inducted into The Guinness Book of World Records for saying y’all more times consecutively than anyone else, ever. She was friendly, though, and attentive. It was obvious that we should order barbecue. I ordered the Open-Face Pork BBQ Sandwich and Marc, not to be outdone, ordered the Baby Back Ribs. Both of us enjoyed the food and the barbecue sauce was quite delicious. Mini corn muffins also came to the table and those were a welcomed treat as well. Looking at the menu again online makes me wish I would have tried their collard greens and sweet tea.
On a tip from a friend, we ended up here after our Schooner Pride boat ride. We hadn’t eaten since 4:30 tea time, so we wanted a little something to go with our nightcap. I called to ask if the kitchen was open and for some reason I could barely hear what he was saying, but heard in his voice that he was friendly and off we went. Embarrassed that I had just called and acted like I had heard everything perfectly, we went to the coffee shop area and asked the girl if the kitchen was open. Almost instantly, a guy perked his head up out of nowhere (I swear) and asked if I had just called. I sheepishly admitted to the phone call and apologized for not being able to hear him. After that, us and our buddy Bleu (the bartender) were best friends. Bleu said the kitchen had just closed, but because it was pretty slow he would whip up whatever we wanted! He was such a great guy.
I ordered the Smoked Salmon appetizer and the Chocolate Mousse to split with Marc. The salmon was delicious and hit the spot perfectly. It was served with water crackers, red onion, capers, cucumber, roasted red pepper and cream cheese. Marc said the gin and tonics he was serving up were pretty great, too. When he brought out the mousse, I was surprised to see it was wrapped in white and dark chocolate and looked like a ganache covered mini cake. Bleu pointed out that on the top in white chocolate was a little cameo! We quickly got out our camera and grabbed a shot of it while Bleu laughed at us from behind the bar. We are such tourists. He encouraged us to stay as long as we liked. We moved from the cafe table to the bar and he created the most delicious drink I have ever had with ginger cognac. He told me he had drink ESP and I can’t argue with that. We ended up making a few friends at the bar and closed the place down! We never, never do this, but we had so much fun with the nice people there. A great place that I highly recommend for a nightcap, lunch or coffee.
FIG (Food Is Good) Yes, it is!
After much debate about picking the restaurant for our final night in Charleston, we chose FIG. They have a seasonally-inspired menu with a commitment to using local and sustainable food. We got a bit dressed up and took a little rickshaw ride over. The place isn’t very big, but it has a warm, modern feel to it. Looking at the cocktail menu online makes me wish I would have tried one. They have retro cocktails! I guess we’ll have to go back for those. Marc did try their Mint Julep and I took a delicious sip. I went with sweet tea and it was perfectly refreshing and not too sweet at all. A girl with a large basket of fresh bread comes around and they served it with whipped butter. We decided to split an appetizer and although Heirloom Tomato Salad looked great, we compromised our tastes with Lamb Bolognese Ricotta Gnocchi with Buffalo Mozzarella. I am usually not a fan of the gnocchi, but this was melt in your mouth light and really wonderful. For dinner, I went with the Salmon with Rapini Pesto and Marc went with the Fish Stew en Cocotte. Everything was unbelievably fresh and tasty. Marc’s dish came in a little cast iron pot. For dessert we went with a Poached Peach with Blackberries and Vanilla Ice Cream. The only adjective I can muster is fresh. It was a fantastic feast. Sorry I have no pics for this place, but they have some very nice pictures on their website.
Thanks for sharing the journey to Charleston with me! It’s a lovely and romantic place. Charleston’s food has really inspired me, so I recently purchase the Lee Bros. Cookbook, (AH-mazing) as well as Charleston Receipts Repeats, (what they used to call recipes) and Party Receipts. I have only made it through the Drinks section of the Lee Bros. Cookbook and I’m already in love. I hope to add some of these Charleston favorites into my cooking adventures.
Two Meeting Street 2 Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Slightly North of Broad 192 East Bay Street Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q 288 King Street Charleston, South Carolina 29401
East Bay Meeting House 160 East Bay Street Charleston, South Carolina 29401
FIG 232 Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Heyward/Washington House 360 Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina 29403
Schooner Pride Tall Ship Aquarium Wharf 360 Concord Street Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Drayton Hall 3380 Ashley River Road Charleston, South Carolina 29414