Friday, May 31, 2013

Charleston Edition: The Daily Cup

The Daily CupThe Daily CupThe Daily Cup apparently recently moved downtown. It's only a few blocks from work, so it makes for a good lunch break during the day. My coworker and I braved a rainy afternoon in search of coffee and quiche.

Located at 700 Virginia St. E., The Daily Cup is a nice, modern cafe that offers sandwiches made with cuban presses and lots of specialty coffee drinks.

The Daily CupThe Daily CupI perused the case and a sandwich board that was outside before deciding on their ultimate grilled cheese sandwich and a side of spinach/ham quiche.

They pressed the sandwich, and handed me over a slice of quiche to take back to the office. The sandwiches are a pretty good size, and it was filled with four different types of cheeses, tomato and bacon. It was gooey, warm and the perfect comfort food for that gray day.

The Daily CupI was a little less impressed with the quiche - I wish it had set up a little more so the texture was a little stiffer. And it was kind of bland overall - no vibrant flavors. Just eggy with a little ham. A different flavor or more spices could amp it up.

Nice little cafe spot with a cool vibe. I could definitely see myself getting some homework done here.

They are open 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday & Tuesday; 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday; and 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.

Grade: B
Daily Cup on Urbanspoon
The Daily Cup on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Charleston Edition: Frutcake

FrütcakeFrütcakeSo, Frutcake rounds out the Charleston trifecta in addition to Bluegrass Kitchen and Tricky Fish. They're all owned by the same folks, I believe. All of which I find okay, while I find Charlestonians tripping over themselves to compliment the places. I think they are good. Amazing? Maybe I'll have to test out some more dishes before I go that far.

Frutcake is only open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday 8 a.m to 2 p.m. So my friend and I went on a Saturday after the East End Yardsale. There are a few shabby-chic tables and chairs, but it seems as though most of the business is take out.

FrütcakeThe place boasts organic pastries, pies, cakes and espressos. Since we got there late in the afternoon, many of the goodies behind the case were already nabbed up. But muffins, pies - which I will definitely get next time, and more were still options.

One item did catch my eye, though: A ramp scone. With parmesan cheese. Mmm. Since I didn't really experience the ramp phenom growing up that consumes the state, I'm trying to make up for lost time. I asked if I could have the last ramp scone, and the woman behind the counter said "good for you!" Apparently I don't look like the type to try different(?) foods?

FrütcakeFor only a couple bucks, I took the scone, enclosed in a brown paper bag, and headed out. The savory scone was what dreams are made of. Crumbly chunks of the garlicky, pungent - in a good way - ramps combined with some sharp parmesan cheese was fabulous.

I ate every last crusted, flavorful piece. I'll have to try some of their other offerings soon, especially if they're as good as this was.

Grade: A
Frütcake on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Charleston Edition: Charleston Brewing Company

Charleston Brewing Company
Charleston finally has its own little brew pub, much to the delight of brew connoisseurs in the area. Ann Saville of Taylor Books opened the English pub, Charleston Brewing Company, and she actually told me about it a little over a year ago when I was working on a story about successful businesswomen on Capitol Street. She was very excited, and it's been in the back of my mind ever since.

Charleston Brewing CompanyIt opened up recently at the corner of Summers and Quarrier streets, and Daily Mail reporter Paul Fallon has followed its progress for some time. My friend Karie and I decided to check it out. We arrived around 9 p.m., and since they close around 10 p.m., we thought we'd be good to go. The hostess sat us and supplied us with menus.

We looked over them briefly, but before our waitress even took our drink orders, someone from the kitchen came out and asked if we'd ordered. We said no, and they informed us the kitchen was closing, but if we knew what we wanted, they would try to put our order in. I scanned the menu again and decided on fish and chips, which came with smashed peas.

Charleston Brewing CompanyCharleston Brewing CompanyCharleston Brewing Company

Charleston Brewing CompanySoon, our waitress came over and told us the kitchen was closed. We told her another man just took our order. So, she left to make sure our order did indeed get in. It did, luckily. So, take note - the kitchen closes an hour before the bar does. She took our drink orders - I initially wanted the sampler so I could try each one, but she told me I wouldn't want that because only one beer was left. So, she told us what was left, and I opted for the Quarrier Wheat.

Charleston Brewing Company
That was a good decision. It was slightly sweet, crisp, and clean. Not too heavy, so I was happy with that decision. Our waitress - named Candace =] - brought out some rolls. They were, how can I say this, rock hard. But that's probably because they were the absolute last rolls and sitting around all day.

Charleston Brewing CompanyThe main meal wasn't bad. The fried fish was so hot, it was a little mushy on places where it didn't have a chance to set up properly. The fish itself was great, though. I was expecting a sweet, tangy tartar sauce, but this was a thinner, more tart flavor. It wasn't bad, but I really would've liked to have that more mayo-based sauce. The steak fries were good - salty and flavorful.

The smashed peas were ... well, smashed peas. If I had time, I would've looked into substituting something. I don't mind peas, but this kind of thick pea paste isn't the most appetizing. Maybe with a slab of butter and garlic, it would've been more manageable. Apparently I just want all my food's to amplify the fat content.

However. There is value in having an English restaurant as well as a brew pub. Definitely an asset to the community, and there are so many other items I want to try - bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and the Scotch eggs!

The environment here is really cool. I love the laidback, relaxing vibe. Next time, I'll get there a little earlier so that the experience isn't rushed.

Grade: B
Charleston Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Charleston Edition: Fujiyama Japanese Sushi and Steak House

FujiyamaFujiyamaFriend and journalist superstar Ashley B. loves her some hibachi. Specifically, the Fujiyama Japanese Sushi and Steak House is her go-to. I accompanied her one Friday evening.

FujiyamaI ordered a chicken teriyaki hibachi dinner as well as West Virginia roll - which made me entirely happy. I love the West Virginia roll at Volcano in Morgantown, and it's essentially the same thing here - shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado, crab. Divine.

FujiyamaFujiyamaThe soup and salad were the same as every other restaurant. The soup is a light broth; the salad has that awful ginger dressing that I abhor.

FujiyamaFujiyamaThe actual hibachi portion was fun. Instead of shrimp, the chef tossed zucchini to each member at the grill. I - because I'm crazy - sometimes feel anxious about this. But it was good fun, and I was able to catch it so it didn't mess up my makeup like usual.

Anyway.

The chicken teriyaki was tasty. Your usual. The noodles, as usual, were tasty. And the vegetables were all great. I can't complain about my meal - just that it was exactly what I expected because I've had the exact same thing at every hibachi restaurant. It's like McDonald's, you can get the same burger all over the country.

With that said, it was still very good. Just nothing different, nothing surprising. I do love love the sushi roll, though. And I will probably go back for that alone. I haven't found that anywhere else in Charleston.

Grade: B
Fujiyama on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Charleston Edition: Mission Savvy

Mission SaavyMission SaavyAs part of Art Walk, my friend Brittany and I stopped in Mission Savvy since I had never been. Mission Savvy focuses on ethical fashion, organic food and a sustainable lifestyle. So, it's definitely a cool addition to the downtown restaurant restaurant scene. They even have a food truck that they take to events.

Mission Saavy
I ordered a drink that was probably the safest - full of fruit and not the veggies. It's thinner than a smoothie - more like a juice. But it was quite tasty, and it was sweet without being too much. If you're feeling a little more adventurous/healthy, try one with spinach or other leafy greens.

Coconut Wraps (Original or Curry)
w/ Veggies & Vegan Cheese Spread
Mediterranean Dolmas
Fresh Collard Wraps
Marinated Kale Salad
Raw Hummus & Carrots
Veggie Collard Wraps
Thai Spring Rolls w/ Almond Tamari Dipping Sauce
Not Tuna Salad Pate w/ Veggies or wrap
Organic Beet Burger w/ veggies & vegan cheese
Homemade Soup w/ Crackers
Indian Quinoa Salad
Jamaican Black Eyed Pea Salad

Mission SaavyMission SaavyI wasn't interested in a hot meal because it was quite warm that evening, and I was already sweating.They had salads, a beet burger, wraps. But I just wanted something small - I opted for a "cocao brownie ball."

Mission SaavyMission SaavyBlech. I'm sure it's much healthier and vegan-friendly, but blech. I wasn't a fan. Plus it got fuzz on it, either from me or elsewhere, and I didn't need much of an excuse to stop eating it. I'm glad I had the drink, because it was a nice cool treat.

Some of the plates look interesting, and I'd be interested in trying some of those in the future. I like that this type of cafe exists, because it's vegan, raw and gluten-free, which is important for so many folks. I'm just not necessarily one of them - but I acknowledge its role in the community. They're open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sunday.

Grade: B
Mission Savvy on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Charleston Edition: Graziano's Pizza


Graziano'sGraziano'sWhen I was feeling a little anxious and displaced about moving to a new town, my dad told me to do two things: Find somewhere to get a beer and find a good pizza place. Then you'll start to feel at home. I recently found the latter.

Yes, there is Lola's and Pies and Pints, but for a regular pie, I hadn't found my go-to. That is, until I wandered upon Graziano's. I had an interview in the evening at Taylor Books not too long ago, and as I was heading back to my car, I felt my tummy rumble. I looked around and realized I should've grabbed something from Taylor's, but right next to my car was this pizza joint that I hadn't tried yet.


Graziano's
After walking in completely dumbstruck - usually I try to research a new restaurant a LITTLE before trying it - I stared at the menu for a solid 10 minutes. They have some items prepped and on the counter, but you can also order. I got awkwardly flustered by the options and instead ordered a small pizza. With mushrooms.

I sat at a table and made small talk with a woman working. She had been there for quite some time and was folding pizza boxes. I was listening to some of her tales when a man from behind the counter handed me a box and told me to make sure I keep it level.

Also to note here - the folks working called me "hun." And I generally hate this because 1 - it's condescending or 2 - it's obnoxious. A small portion of people can pull of the 3rd option where it's this sweet, homey feel. These folks made me feel right at home. And that's something I'm desperately searching for in Charleston - this sense of belonging. But back to the main story here...

This is the best regular pizza I've had in Charleston, and I couldn't be more thrilled! The dough is not so thin that it rips and tears but not so thick that it overwhelms the flavor. It's thin, but not paper thin. I like it to be thin enough to act as a vehicle for the rest of the ingredients without falling victim to grease, sog or deconstruction.

Graziano'sThe sauce has that very slight tang to it, rather than being watered down, and enough cheese to properly coat the top without masking the flavor. To top it off? A nice helping of salty shrooms. If you've read my blog, you know this is my preferred pie.

And in Charleston, this is my preferred pizza joint.

I've even had it delivered once already, for only a $1.50 charge (+ tip, of course), and it's just as delicious.

And and, it's nowhere near the grease levels for half the stuff Morgantown produces. Nuh-uh.

Grade: A
Graziano's Pizza Parlor - Charleston on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Charleston Edition: Sistah's Rib Shack

Sistah'sSistah'sHow could you not be interested in a place called "Sistah's"? A friend and I went over the West Side (gasp!) to check out the Queen of Ribs' place. Upon arrival, I realized there really isn't a dining area inside. They do, however, have a couple of like - wooden spools? - outside to dine at.

Sistah'sSistah'sSo, we placed our order for a rib dinner, complete with two sides. I opted for macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. You gotta order at least $10 worth to use a credit card; luckily, my total came to $10.60

Sistah'sThey told us to come back in a half hour or so to pick up our food. A half hour goes by, and we come back. They tell us they had an issue with their smoker, so it'd be another 20 minutes. We waited this long, we figured, so we might as well stay. Another 20 minutes goes by, and they tell us it'll be another 20. Again, we figured, we already paid so we might as well stay.

Sistah'sRepeat this scenario for three hours. Three hours total, that is. We asked at least for our sides around hour two, and they gave them to us. They were delicious. The macaroni and cheese was homemade and slightly sweet. The potatoes, creamy and doused with brown gravy. Delicious. The cornbread was also the perfect consistency between crumbley and moist. If the ribs were this good, it would've been worth the wait.

But by the time three hours went by, I was just unhappy. I tasted the ribs once I got home, and I was just completely let down. I know they had a problem with their smoker, so that may be the culprit. But they were fatty, and it didn't look like they were cooked through. That worried me, so instead of risking it, I ended up throwing away most of my dinner.

Sistah'sSistah's

I feel like if their smoker was working correctly that this may be a completely different review. But, I just can't get over that wait and then being let-down by the taste. I waited forever, then was still hungry. And while I really enjoyed the Queen's personality - she was super sweet - if you REALLY want your customer to give this place another try, you comp their meal.

Grade: C
Sistah's Rib Shack Carry-Out on Urbanspoon