Saturday, November 28, 2015

Husk - Charleston, SC by Chef Sean Brock

Last weekend we took a long weekend getaway to two cities we'd never been to before - Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.  Zac had an opportunity to go to Charleston for a speaking engagement.  I took some time off work and we made a mini-vacation out of it.  We live in the South, but for whatever reason had never made it over to either city.  Charleston has been on our short list of places to visit due mostly to  the city going through a food renaissance of sorts over the past several years. What we've heard about James Beard Award Winner Chef Sean Brock and his restaurant Husk pretty much sealed the deal in our wanting to go sooner rather than later.   So off we went!  

We went down on a Thursday and came back on Sunday; Charleston is roughly a 7 hour drive from our house.  We were not able to get reservations to Husk, but found out that at 5:15pm you can get on a waiting list for the porch, which is literally a small porch on the front of the Charleston mansion turned restaurant.  We arrived about 5:25pm and were told we'd only have to wait 20 mins!  So far so good.   Oh, and they send you a text when your table is ready, super convenient!

Upon checking in with the hostess, we were told they had a cancellation, and asked if we preferred to sit inside or outside.  We opted for inside, even though eating outside on a cool November evening would have been fine too. 

As is our tradition for our fancy meal splurges, we created our own chef's tasting menu (they did not have that option available) and ordered lots of first courses to share, and then an entree each (which we also share!).  Here is our menu for the evening:

I won't spend much time on the background of the restaurant, cuisine, or Sean Brock, so I encourage you to check out Husk's website and read about it for yourself.  Also encourage you to watch PBS's Mind of a Chef season 2, on which Sean Brock is one of the two main subjects.   Basically Husk focuses on food regional to Charleston and using heirloom varieties of both produce and protein.   It's not your typical Farm to Table restaurant or your typical low-country restaurant, but the best of all of that.  They have contributed significantly to research and cultivation of many heirloom foods  native to the area that have long been lost to industrialized farming.  Same goes with pork, they are well known for what they are able to create with pork and the variety of pig as well.  So, that being said, we have to order lots of pork!

First up, appetizers.  We order the Kentuckyaki glazed pig's ear lettuce wraps with sweet vinegar marinated cucumber, red onion, Bourbon Barrel togarashi.    The pig's ears were super crispy and very tasty!

Next up - Tempura rock shrimp with tangerine, oyster mushrooms, napa cabbage, red pepper-soy dressing, radish, and cilantro.  Delicious.

Third course - Kurious Farm Bibb with crispy chicken skins, cherry tomato, farm egg, cucumber, radish, feta, and charred onion vinaigrette.  More deliciousness!

Fourth Course - Anson Mill's Farro Verde with preserved duck, heirloom pumpkin, fried egg, and baby brassicas.  This was my first time having farro, and I'm now a HUGE fan.  I recently bought some after Cooking Light highlighted it with other lesser known grains, but hadn't made it yet.   Can't wait! Although I don't think I can get it anywhere near this tasty.  They just rolled this out on the menu the day before, lucky us!

Close up of the farro - duck dish
Fifth courses - the entrees.  I got the Wreckfish from Mark Marhefka with roasted autumn squash and heirloom cauliflower, pecan gastrique, and brown butter.  Wreckfish was very mild and well cooked (never had it before or heard of it before), cauliflower and vegetables were perfectly charred.  The squash was so tender and sweet I almost convinced myself they had given me some sort of fruit by mistake! The pecan gastrique made it even more tasty.

Our other entree was the creme dela creme - American Spot Heritage Pork with Carolina Gold red rice, Benton's bacon, Heirloom kale, lemon, and chilies.   The entire dish lived up to all the hype and then some!  The pork was very terrine like, meaning it was several cuts mashed together in the patty shape.

close-up of pork terrine
We also got all of the sides, which were a skillet of Allan Benton's Bacon Cornbread, Wood fired Geechie Boy Mill Grits with TN Cheddar, and the last dish of Napa cabbage, Mepkin Abbey Shitake with peanuts and black garlic.

Grits and Cabbage side dishes

Napa cabbage dish


Grits closeup (notice I have the pork dish now!)
So what did we think?  There is a good reason that Husk is one of the hottest restaurants in the country right now.  It's not just an award winning chef making good food, it's the food itself.  Using the heirloom varieties with so much more flavor than what we are used too is super cool.  If we had to choose just one thing to order again, it would be the pork entree.  Amazingly delicious! Overall a wonderful meal and very glad we had the opportunity to eat at Husk.  

Next up I'll write out all our other tasty adventures in Charleston and Savannah. Stay tuned! 

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