Charleston’s done it again, a new restaurant. This is why I love this city. It is small enough for me to be on top of the new happenings, but at the same time, large enough to consistently have new happenings. In New York, whenever a new restaurant opened up, it was 20 all at once. It was intimidating, especially when people would visit having to decide where to go. I felt the goal of discovering them all was out of my hands. Charleston, however, is more my size.
My co-worker, Julia, told me about Park Cafe and how much she loved it and the location. It is tucked up on upper Rutledge Street in the Wagner Terrace neighborhood. Karalee Nielsen Fallert is the restaurateur who also has Taco Boy, Monza, Closed for Business, and The Royal American and she joined with Xan McLaughlin to open Park Cafe. Also, the chef John Amato, previously worked at FIG which is one of my favorite restaurants… so my crockheads, start connecting the dots.
After a long nine-day stretch of working at the hotel, I scooped up Danielle who lives in Wagner Terrace and we headed to Park Cafe last night. It is a very cute cafe from the outside with big glass windows that show off the inside of the restaurant and nice wooden picnic tables out front. The inside is fairly small with nice white walls and tables, black booths, plants on the walls, and low hanging lights. We also had a nice little candle on our table, but that was blown out from laughter as soon as we sat down.
To start, we ordered a bottle of Tempranillo wine from Spain, similar in body to a grenache. Delicioso. We then decided of course to order as much food as possible. If yall have been to The Grocery, Park Cafe’s menu is similar in that it has appetizers, snacks, sides, salads, soups, sandwiches, and entrees. Certainly allows for ordering many different dishes.
First we ordered the Baked Camembert Tart. Danielle explained to me that this is like baked brie and I was sold. It almost was like a dessert. It was served with spiced candied nuts and roasted grapes atop a small salad.
Second, per my co-worker Julia’s recommendation, we ordered the Chicken and Vegetable soup…with…wait for it….a POACHED EGG! The egg made the dish. The soup consisted of chicken broth, carrots, butternut squash, celery, and the cutest mushrooms I’ve ever seen or eaten (not sure what they’re called, but they were skinny with tall stems). Tip: break the egg immediately it’s the best part.
Next we had the Roasted Cauliflower. I love cauliflower, but have to say these surprised me at first bite. They were cold? They were roasted, which led me to assume they would be warm, but they were not. My immediate thought was this is stupid. However, because my love for cauliflower is so strong, I continued on and grew to like this dish. They were marinated in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette and served with hazelnuts.
For the entree we went with their most popular dish, the Braised Shortrib Steak. The shortribs were served with buttered herb spatzle. Spatzle is a type of egg noodle or dumpling found in Germany. After Danielle saw me eat one piece of the meat and the following facial expression, she said, “I already know what Crockpottuesday is going to say….’YALL! This meat was sooooooooooooo tender and melted in YO mouth! Slap yo Grandma good!” Well there ya go. (Guess I need to mix it up a bit, but hey she knew from just looking at me what kind of food heaven I was in the midst of!) I recently just made Short Ribs that cooked for 10 hours, but these tasted very different. The waitress explained that the chef takes the ribs, does a vacuum seal on them, and then gives them a water bath for 48 hours before cooking them. WELL isn’t he fancy.
One thing you should know about Danielle: Danielle loves sweets. One time we were talking about words that would describe us and I said something like seafoam, crockpot, golden retriever, etc. and Danielle’s answer: sweets and cats…Andy stop laughing. So we had to order dessert and the waitress recommended the Chocolate Pudding with homemade peanut butter brittle and the Lemon Meringue Tart. Perfect light desserts to end our meal.
Park Cafe was excellent and is certainly already on its way to becoming a very popular neighborhood spot. This Sunday will be their first opening for brunch so somebody go and let me know how it is!
Next on my restaurant list: Lee Lee’s Kitchen and Edmund’s Oast…stay tuned!