I have to admit, I’m ashamed with how late to the game I was with this new restaurant on Upper King Street. Union Provisions has been open for a couple months now and I think everyone has been except for me and I don’t like that! That sounded really pouty. I’m not pouting. I just like being the first know-it-all and I can’t lose my street cred! So… last Thursday on my evening off, I grabbed my two college roomies, Callee and Katie, (who had been before of course) and headed to the famous corner of Morris and King Street to keep my restaurant knowledge status alive.
The building itself is beautiful. It holds down the perfect corner location with large glass windows that allow you to peer inside. On the night we went, it happened to be raining so we had to run across the street from my car to hurry out of the nasty weather. We were somewhat disoriented, but walking into the restaurant we left it outside as Union Provisions is extremely inviting. As soon as I saw the exposed brick walls and large light fixtures hanging from the ceiling adding a warming glow to the place, the raindrops had already melted off my skin and I felt pacified. Oh and now thirsty, hungry, and eager for MY Union Provisions moment. The only thing I had really heard about the restaurant was how loud it can get inside. I was a little surprised to notice the restaurant was quite the opposite though as we were one of few people in there. We were seated at a four top by the window and handed menu’s as I began to fasten my seat beat.
The menu focuses on small plates so I needed to try as much as possible. Then I noticed immediately the prices. They seemed more of appetizer and entrée prices to me, average about $14 per small plate. When I studied in Granada, Spain, every single drink came with a free tapas. Genius. Step up Charleston. Anyways, I couldn’t let this affect my mood because this is my passion and what I like to spend my money on so moving on.
The waiter approached the table and explained the menu to us and took our drink orders. He recommended their specialty cocktail of the night to start off with: King Charles Vodka distilled next door at Charleston Distilling Co with simple syrup and muddled strawberries poured into a martini glass. I was 100% down with this and then he said it resembled a strawberry short-cake. Hmm…I asked him if this would be better for an after dinner-drink instead and he said no, perfect to start off with. I stuck with his suggestion, but after my first sip it screamed dessert. It was certainly good, but very sweet (and VERY strong) and not great to start off with. I wish instead I had gone with Callee’s Pimm Cup drink which she described as, “spicy with some heat from the gin and ginger combo and then a cooling and refreshing aftermath from the cucumber.”
Now for the ordering We were told 2-3 plates per person should be enough food for the three of us. So after much discussion and racing heartbeats on my end, we went with the:
- Marinated Green Beans
- Assorted Cheeses
- Duck Confit Dumplings
- Seared Diver Scallops
- Duck Bacon Carbonara
- Sliced Grass Fed Flat Iron Steak
- Grilled Shrimp Flatbread
- and the Mexican Chocolate Tart
Okay. I’m having to stretch at my desk to find the words I need to type out. I hate giving Charleston’s restaurants bad reviews, especially after striking presentations of food. However, the only two words coming to my mind are 1) Not 2) Impressed. The cheese was by far my favorite small plate. The Duck Dumplings were extremely dry and I had to coat them in the soy sauce to find any hint of flavor. The Green Beans were the girls’ favorite dish and those were marinated with tons of salt. The scallops ($17) came with only two and between the three of us we didn’t even finish them. The Carbonara was only good because it had a fried egg over the top, but the pasta was bland and the bacon was chewy. The steak I also chewed so long I actually had to take it out of my mouth and hide on my plate. The polenta it was served with however was amazing- my next favorite thing. The Flatbread-not what I expected and wasn’t excited about. It caught my eye because the menu accompanied it with bone marrow, manchego, arugula and bacon. I am the biggest fan of the Macintosh’s Bone Marrow Bread Pudding and was hoping for the same thrill. Wishful thinking. And lastly, the Chocolate dessert. It was delicious, but such a small portion!
Along with being late to the restaurant, I was also late to hearing what the Post and Courier had to say. I’m glad I read this after my own personal review though so that I would not be influenced.
Regardless of the disappointing food, my night’s upbeat mood did not drop. Usually food affects my attitude, but I think the atmosphere and company played a strong defense. The restaurant is beautiful and I was happy to be there with two of my best friends. I will be back to Union Provisions, but for drinks and perhaps another go at A small plate, but certainly not for a full dinner.