In order to maintain our BFF-status, I will never say to my friend Jule, “Let’s go to brunch on Sunday.” Mind you she lives 2,500 miles away so it’s kind of an idle threat. But to discover why she is (gasp) opposed to brunch culture, check out her classic column from the DC City Paper. Unlike my friend Jule, I appreciate the brunch culture and all that the spectrum of a Sunday brunch can offer.
Meet up with friends or stay in your pajamas watching a Bravo marathon. Eat a healthy omelette to make your My Fitness Pal happy or drown your pancakes in syrup. Linger over a Bloody Mary while you convince yourself that there is a veggie serving included, especially here in Charleston where they put a crudité platter in your glass. Or you can try a smoothie with ingredients you would never welcome to your dinner plate. The potential is to either have brunch be the one thing you accomplish on a Sunday, or the kickoff to getting the most out of your last day off before the work week begins anew.
The plethora of great restaurants in Charleston makes some things very difficult. For example, I look dumbfounded when someone asks me, “What’s your favorite restaurant in Charleston?” But some restaurants make life in Charleston a little easier by including their address (or part of their address) in the restaurant name.
Charleston locals and tourists don’t need Waze to find 82 Queen (82 Queen St), 39 Rue de Jean (39 John St), Fulton Five (5 Fulton St), Grill 225 (225 E Bay St), Kitchen 208 (208 King St), Bin 152 (152 King St) or Zero Restaurant & Bar (0 George St). But just as a warning to Charleston tourists, there are exceptions, 5 Church (32 N Market St) and 167 Raw (289 E Bay St).
492 is one of those easy finds. It is located at 492 King St in a beautifully restored 1800s building. Not only am I thankful that this building was saved, but I am also thankful for the lightly fried soft-shell crab on fluffy scrambled eggs I recently devoured. It reminded me why I love brunch so much. Would I want to eat a soft-shell crab at 7 in the morning? Probably not. But in the middle of the day, the creaminess of the eggs and the saltiness of the crab ensured that every bite was the perfect brunch bite. Soft-shell crabs are only in season for a few weeks but their regular brunch menu has a soft scramble which I am sure is delicious.
My husband had the carbonara because if it’s Sunday, John must eat pasta. I was very busy with my seafood scramble so my fork never had a chance to visit his plate. But it looked very cheesy with tender pieces of short ribs. And judging from the empty bowl our server carried away, I’m surmising it was exquisite.
Next time I will probably order the daily special because this is the kind of place where you trust that the chef’s special really is special. Their regular brunch menu has some great options like a double bacon cheeseburger with thousand island dressing and hash with pork belly and Brussels sprouts. I am also planning to take home a sourdough sticky bun next time because I think Mondays wouldn’t be so painful if I started with that.
Review: Rustic Table
Pawleys Island is about 90 minutes north of Charleston and heralds itself as “the oldest seaside resort in America”. The 2015 census estimated the population at 107 residents. I am not sure 107 residents need all of the great restaurants they have, but I think all of the great restaurants in town are needed to feed the tourists that flock to Pawleys year-round to take advantage of the great beaches and temperate South Carolina weather.
Adam Kirby is the chef/owner of both Rustic Table and it’s neighboring sister restaurant, Bistro 217. When our current United Nations Ambassador was South Carolina’s governor, she started a Chef Ambassador program. This annual program selects chefs to represent the best of South Carolina cuisine and Chef Kirby is a 2017 Chef Ambassador. The press release for the Chef Ambassador program mentions that the chefs are selected for their “dedication to using healthy, locally-grown ingredients.”
I must have missed the menu options that were the “healthy, locally-grown ingredients” because I was blinded by the description of the Pawleys Island Sandwich. It was everything I enjoy about Southern cuisine in one sandwich: buttery toast, creamy pimento cheese, thick fried green tomatoes and two types of pork (smoked bacon and spiral ham).
It is our tradition when eating with our friends who met us for brunch to have ice cream every time we get together. While there was an ice cream shoppe nearby, we decided to have dessert at Rustic Table, enticed by their combinations of sweets and homemade ice creams. Homemade vanilla ice cream over warm peach cobbler and chocolate chip pecan pie with a side of the vanilla ice cream were the hits of our brunch finale.
Chef Kirby certainly was selected to represent South Carolina because of his unique takes on traditional Southern cuisine. The service at Rustic Table was excellent and we didn’t feel rushed at all while we caught up with our friends. As a side note about brunch tipping, I recommend using 20% as a starting point and increase it based on the time you sat at the table. And only stick around if there is no line of people waiting to enjoy their brunch so that the servers can turn over their tables.
Recipe Review: Cornbread Waffles
Jule once told me she considered owning a waffle iron a sign of being an adult. I think perfecting waffles is the true sign of being an adult. A few weeks ago Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for cornbread waffles which challenged me to test my adulthood.
Between segments of CBS Sunday Morning, I threw together the batter in about five minutes. The recipe is only nine ingredients and yielded four giant waffles. We ended up eating two of them for brunch and then had the other two with our dinner the next night. I had my waffle with a fried egg and salsa and John enjoyed his with the last of some real Vermont maple syrup gifted to us by a friend. I recommend giving these a try when you have that random half-used carton of buttermilk in your fridge you don’t want to throw out. Were they perfectly crunchy on the outside and doughy in the middle? Not really. But I guess I am not quite an adult yet.
So how does my tale of three brunches end? Sunday brunch is my favorite meal of the week regardless of if I am meeting friends at a new restaurant or at home trying to perfect waffles. But there is nothing better than just sitting at home in my pajamas, reading the newspaper, having an extra cup of coffee and hoping time will stand still so that the “tick, tick, tick, tick, tick” of “60 minutes” won’t remind me that tomorrow is a work day and I don’t have the sourdough sticky bun from 492.
I am Amy. And this is my feed.