Charleston Edition: The Block Restaurant and Wine Cellar

By Candace Nelson - 10:00 AM

WV state trip
The Block Restaurant and Wine Cellar has replaced the former large, vacant yellow Cafe de Paris space at the corner of Quarrier and Capitol streets in Charleston. Upon my first real adventure to Charleston, that space struck me - prime location, large, and interesting - until I learned it had been closed for years. What a shame, I remember thinking.

The BlockBut now The Block Restaurant and Wine Cellar has finally produced a functioning restaurant in that space, complete with a total beautiful renovation, extensive wine list and trendy dishes. I passed through for lunch, excited to check out this new restaurant that has been long awaited.

The BlockThe interior is quite lovely, with sleek lighting, a mixture of dark and light mocha colors and exposed brick.

The Block

The lunch menu at The Block has appetizers, cheese platters, soups, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and hot tapas. I put in for an order of the meatball trio - which comes with a chicken meatball, a beef meatball and a pork meatball, with accompanying sauces. Maggie went for the crab cake and quinoa, while Tony got an Italian panini.

The BlockMaggie loved her crab cake, and she has ordered it more than once. Tony was satisfied with his sandwich. And I, well ... I had to wait a bit. Because as everyone else's dishes came out, mine was delivered incorrectly. The waitress brought me the hummus trio.

The BlockThe hummus trio has sun-dried tomato and basil, traditional and Sriracha hummuses (hummi?). So, luckily, I dig hummus. But it's not exactly what I was going after. Regardless, the waitress allowed us to keep it while they prepared my actual meal. Points for creativity - I actually totally love the concept of three miniature bits of something. Like a sampler platter, but less guilt-inducing. I love trying a little of everything. The tomato was good - but maybe a bit dry? The traditional was fine, though even more garlic could've helped. And the Sriracha had a little heat, but not much. So, eh.

The Block

And finally, when my main dish came out, I was excited to try yet another little sampler - three different meatballs. I was starved and wanting these even more after watching my friends down their lunches and I was left with hummus.

Unfortunately, these need some work. The seasoning is weak, the meat was dry, and the sauce was lackluster. This is one tiny bite that can pack a punch - could be lots of flavor. But, it just didn't happen. They were all OK, bordering on not-so-good. The plating also could use some work.

So while I know it has received some mixed reviews, and I think I'm one more tally in that mixed column. I so want to like this place because I think it needs to thrive in that location, and I think the wine list is outrageous (in a good way).

The service just did not work (PLEASE write down the orders when you have a table of three - a hummus trio and a meatball trio are easy to mix up) - making my lunch run late and my tummy rumble. And the food needs some work. Maybe it could have been overlooked, and the seasoning hand wasn't heavy that day. There's a good chance that other menu items are outstanding. I just know the ones I got didn't fall into that category.

Grade: C
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