Carter’s Kitchen is a restaurant that opened about one year ago in I’On in Mt. Pleasant. On my last day of my internship at The Reynolds Group, they gave me a gift certificate to the restaurant, which is one of their clients. I was really excited because this is not a restaurant I have ever thought to go to, but now I had an excuse. It’s also cool to go to the restaurants that I got to do some work for during my internship and be in on the background scoop. Carter’s Kitchen is led by Chef Robert Carter who also just recently opened up Rutledge Cab Company with Bill Murray, my new best friend.
I went to the restaurant with Brendan and we both decided to order a bunch of small plates instead of each getting an entrée….well I guess he happily agreed to my request. Personally, whenever I dine at a new restaurant now I’d rather get the most out of it, which obviously means trying as many different dishes as possible. None of the entrees particularly called my name either so I did not feel guilty leaving them out. As our waitress was describing the restaurant to us, I found her to be very knowledgeable on where the food came from and how the Chef prepared the food. She named dropped a lot of local Chefs and talked about Chef Carter’s certain dishes that made it big in the media world. She was also super excited that we were newbies and was enthusiastic about us being at the restaurant which was endearing.
We started off with the kale salad. I had never eaten kale before and it’s been one of those greens I never think to buy at the grocery store or order. My first thought was really?…but Brendan said when cooked right it’s delicious, and he was right. When stemmed, kale becomes harder than other greens and has a crunch to it and the ends become curly. Our kale salad had large shavings of parmesan cheese, a cesar dressing poured on top, and then crispy bread crumbs sprinkled over it instead of croutons (genius). I was pretty impressed and now have a new appreciation for kale-and on a side note, it’s a Super Food which is always a plus!
The next dish that came out was from their daily specials. It was gnocchi stuffed with smoked salmon and sweet potatoes, a sweet raspberry balsamic reduction drizzled on the plate, and then accompanied with pieces of bacon and fried spinach. Now, gnocchi is my JAM. The first time I ever ate gnocchi was in my parent’s kitchen, home-making it with my dad. I fell in love with gnocchi right then and now whenever I eat it; it just takes me back and makes me happy. One restaurant that really has set the bar for amazing gnocchi is FIG. Chef Lata stuffs the gnocchi with ricotta cheese, and yall…that should be illegal. So when the waitress was describing the dish to us, we both agreed that it had to make its way to our table. However, this was not gnocchi…more like dough. I was actually left very confused. Every gnocchi dish I have ever eaten has a soft, rubber like texture similar to pasta surrounding whatever it is stuffed with. This gnocchi did not have this texture, but instead a moist dough-type, bland taste that left me thinking, “what is this?” I had even forgotten that it was made with smoked salmon and sweet potatoes because I never tasted them. We both agreed that the gnocchi was maybe too small to allow for any of the flavors it was stuffed with to be present, but that still seems like a lousy excuse. The best part of this dish was by far the fried spinach. It was crispy at first and then immediately melted in your mouth and you could tell it was sautéed with some type of bacon grease…w-o-w.
After the disappointment with the gnocchi I was ready for the next dish: scallops on top of whipped sweet potatoes. OH- and as stressed by our waitress, not your ordinary whipped potatoes. These were put through a tamis (pronounced tammy). What is a tamis you ask? I still don’t really understand, but it’s a cooking tool that acts as a strainer and grater. It’s a slow process, but eventually the potatoes are strained and then pushed through using a scraper creating much more fluffy mashed potatoes than normal. With that being said, I need a tamis and an entire bowl of those potatoes. This was my favorite dish and the scallops were seared perfectly. On the side of the plate there was bacon marmalade to eat with the scallops. We both thought though that the texture was off. It had hard little pieces of bacon mixed in the jam that left you chomping down on them. It just didn’t compliment well with the soft and smooth textures of the scallops and fluffy potatoes. So besides that, which was easy to leave on the side of the plate where it belonged, the dish was exactly what I hoped to expect plus more.
Still reading? I have two more plates to tell yall about it, the next being the crab cakes. Lately, I feel like all crab cakes taste similar, these included. And not that that is a bad thing, I just haven’t distinguished anywhere yet where I want to scream from the roof tops that their crab cakes are amazing. These were certainly yummy and more crab then bread, but they just tasted like my normal experience with crab cakes. I did notice that the crab feel apart in my mouth and the citrus flavors really did come through. I could taste each individual crab piece and was left satisfied. However, they were served on wheat berries, which I had never had before and I am not a fan. Wheat berries again have way too hard of a texture to serve with crab cakes. I think couscous or something of that soft pearly texture would have been much more appealing. And sorry I don’t know when I became the texture police, but it has never stood out so much to me until these two dishes.
Okay, the last dish and by far the prettiest dish: winter squash ravioli with braised greens in a balsamic brown butter sauce. This is the type of dish I want a big bowl of right MEOW. The squash was whipped up inside the ravioli with basil sprinkled on top and had soaked up the sauce from the plate. This dish did a good job of promoting squash to be an awesome stuffing. Fresh is hard to describe, but it’s like when a flower still smells good. The squash was the same way and I was glad the flavors came through. Even the little square cut up pieces of squash on the plate stood out and enhanced the dish. Also-cool fact: The ravioli is made locally and you can buy it at the farmers market at Marion Square and the Pig on Harbor View.
I enjoyed Carter’s Kitchen and as you all know, just love trying new places. Eating is such a social activity and you really do learn new things from the experience. Example: my new love for kale. It’s important to be open during the food journey and you’ll be amazed what doors will open. I really appreciate yall reading and supporting Crockpottuesday, this has been a fun and meaningful food journey for me 🙂