Try some of most inventive dishes Charleston has ever seen

By Candace Nelson - 2:13 PM

CWV Restaurant Week

Here's my latest column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

My favorite week of the whole year is practically here: Charleston Restaurant Week.

It’s the one week of the year where you can enjoy specialty menus, eat a three-course meal and try a local restaurant outside your normal rotation, all for one price.

Except, this year, as you may already know, it’s two prices: $25 and $35.

That’s in an effort to allow some more flexibility for diners, as well as include some new restaurants that align better with a lower price point. That means more restaurants, more meals and much more fun.

Hosted by Buzz Food Service, the sixth-annual event all happens next week: Jan. 28 through Feb. 2. If you haven’t already carefully planned where you’re eating each night of the week, a) you have far more restraint than I do, and b) you can do so at

This one week in January is an exciting opportunity for folks in Charleston to support local restaurants during a time of year when business tends to be slow. After a busy holiday season, it’s often tough to find the extra money in the budget to accommodate dining out. But armed with options of delicious specials at a reasonable price point, you have the ability to support your fellow community members — all while eating delicious food.

According to Buzz Food Service, restaurants throughout the years have reported serving more than 10,000 meals during the course of the six-day event. The total economic impact, which includes revenue from meals, bar sales, gratuity, taxes and incidentals, is estimated to exceed $500,000 each year.

There are a number of participating restaurants: ones that are reserved for special occasions and ones that are perfect for Saturday evening drinks. Ones that will satisfy your sweet tooth craving and ones that are perfect for the whole family. Ones that will serve old favorites and ones that will deliver you dishes crafted with ingredients you’ve never seen before.

Maybe you can switch up your typical order of spaghetti for a rich, indulgent dish of rigatoni, sausage and peas in a Parmesan cream sauce. Instead of your standard salmon, try a jerk mahi mahi special. Skip the typical burger and opt for crispy pork belly topped with a sweet-and-spicy glaze. Or, try them all. I’m not here to judge.

Is your mouth watering yet? I know mine is.

I’ll never pass up the opportunity to try something new, and I’m looking forward to seeing some new faces and new dishes this year. So, check out the website, make your reservations and join me for one of this year’s best local events.

Don’t forget to tag your photos with #cwvrestweek and share that food porn with the rest of us. It’s time to eat!

In full disclosure, I volunteer for the committee that organizes this event. I’ve loved this event ever since it started six years ago, and I am honored to help promote it with my fellow food-loving friends.

Braised Short Ribs

Chef Paul Smith, Charleston's star celebrity chef, created this recipe. It's warm, comforting and exactly what I need on a chilly winter day. Smith is not only a super talented chef, he's involved with the planning of Charleston Restaurant Week. So it only makes sense to share one of his signature recipes.

3 pounds boneless or bone-in beef short ribs

1 cup flour

2 ribs of celery

2 quarts beef broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves

1 yellow onion

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 large carrot

1/2 cup red wine of your choosing

salt and pepper

Season the beef with salt and pepper before dredging in flour.

Sear olive oil until brown and remove from pan.

Add vegetables and cook until caramelized. Add tomato paste and cook for two minutes.

Deglaze with the red wine of your choosing.

Return the beef to the pot and add the beef broth to cover, then bring to simmer and cover with foil or lid.

Cook on 325 degrees for three hours or until beef is tender. You can also use a slow cooker.

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