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Carolyn Tillie

McCrady's

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My visit to Charleston, South Carolina was a very quick one – barely two days. But there were two very specific things I wanted to experience whilst in Charleston; true southern barbecue, and McCrady’s. I’m not sure where I first heard about McCrady’s, but when I suggested to my friend that this is where we were going on my last night in town, she quickly assented and confirmed it was well-regarded in town.

We arrived early and admired the elegant dark wood interior as well as the numerous paintings on the wall. Being a tad parched, we started at the bar with a few house specialties. All I remember now is that one was made with house-made limoncello and was a bit too strong for both of us while the other, gin-based drink was nice but we were too anxious to move onto wine so neither drinks were finished.

The first course came out with a bang; Country Pâté, Frozen Mustard Pearls, Cornichon served with Pinot Gris Rose, Domaine de Reuilly, Louire, 2006. The very tasty house-made pâté was centered with a small round of truffle-wrapped foie gras but the brilliance lied not only in the delectable terrine, but the Dippity-Dot creation of mustard – tiny little frozen pearls of mustard essence which melts delicately on the tongue and entices against the richness of the terrine. We were truly marveled and giddy at the experience.

Next was Marinated Scallops with Mango Vinegar, Avocado, Crispy Rice, and Chamomile served with Txakoli, Gurrutxaga, Bizaiko, Spain, 2006. Served ceviche-style, the three slices of scallop were topped with a lovely mélange that accentuated the freshness of the fish which was complemented well with minerality of the wine.

Being overly enthusiastic about the pâté, our waiter surprised us with an extra course from the chef, a selection of his house-made charcuterie. As I had been telling my friend about my own endeavors in sausage making, our waiter informed me that the chef was enthusiastic about someone who appreciated good charcuterie with the platter which included braesola, lenzino, duck prosciutto, finocino, pepperoni, noisette du Beaujolais, rosette du lyon, and sopresetta, The accompaniments included pickled quail egg, ramps, turnip, cauliflower, and mustardo. Our giddiness continued at the surprise gift which was heartily enjoyed.

We were then presented with our first and only “interactive” course, a Himalayan salt rock that had been heated to 500° and given the course of Hawaiian Tuna, Pineapple, and Miso Butter. We knew it was going to be fun when a delicate set of tweezers were placed and we were instructed to sear our tuna on the salt griddle to our liking. The miso butter was unctuous and rich and paired with La Paradou Viognier from Provenece, 2006, could have easily been overwrought with unnecessary ingredients. The brightness of the pineapple was tamed with the butter. Stunning.

Getting more complicated, next came Colombia River Sturgeon with English Peas, Morels, and a Truffle-Emulsion served with a 2006 Costa de Oro Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Having gone down the Molecular Gastonomy path with the frozen mustard pearls, I was not surprised to see the first introduction of foam. My non-mushroom-loving friend was entranced with the morels (as was I) but I was more in love with the sturgeon which is a fish I feel does not see enough menu time.

Our foie gras course came next; what the chef jokingly calls “Liver and Onions,” the roasted foie was served with three accompaniments, thick slices of roasted sweet white onion, a slaw of pickled onion, and a crouton studded with onion essence. The fabulous wine pairing came in the form of a Leon Beyer Gewurtztraminer from Alcase, 2005 which proved not too sweet or cloying as so often foie is served as an intermediary with a sauterne, thereby offering an unnecessarily jarring sweetness in the middle of a dinner. This way was superb.

The next course was another additional one that I had requested from the menu, Forest Mushroom and Pine Nut Stew topped with Celeste Alber’s Poached Egg and Parmesan Crisp. This was paired with an Azura Estate Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, 2006. Shame on me for asking for something outside the prescribed tasting menu as this was the only misstep of the evening. The broth was a tad too salty and the existence of the egg, which when broken would have made the sauce creamy, was poached a bit too hard to give the requisite runny yolk. There just was not an overwhelming cohesiveness. Also, the wine was a bit too bold and redolent of cranberry to give the classic earthy pinot quality which usually complements mushrooms so well.

Getting back on track, our meat course was next, Beef Shortribs with Carrot Confit, Celeste Alber’s Potatoes, and Truffle Jus paired with Ey, “Vigne Las Collas” Côtes Catalanes Grenache from 2004. Cooked sous vide, the shortribs were perfect but it was the carrots that wowed me.

A cheese course came in the form of a single bite, ColoRouge with light garnish of Smoked Grape, Saba, and Herb Salad. Served with a 20-Year Tawny Warre’s Port. Creamy and rich, the light garnish worked well with the port and the cheese. It was just enough and a great presentation.

Another surprise came which differed from the printed menu that evening, two desserts, both served with Elio Perrone’s Italian Moscato d’Asti. The first was a Meyer Lemon Curd served with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt, a Compressed Strawberry, and a Triangle of White Chocolate. The curd was perfectly creamy and the combination of flavors were bright and clean. The second dessert was the show-stopper as we were presented with a platter that contained a rectangle of Soft Dark Chocolate, Mascarpone Cheese Yogurt, Chocolate Rice Krispies, and then the piece de resistance, nitrogen-frozen, dehydrated Strawberries served tableside. We were giggling again as what we were eating was akin to an adult’s version of cereal with the crispy strawberries similar to what we ate as Frankenberries as a child and an adult-version of cocoa crispies.

Overall we were presented with an exciting evening full of inventiveness and imagination. The missteps were few and far between and the highlights were so superior and memorable as to easily make the meal memorable for a long, long time.

Pics on the blog.

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Wow, I can't believe that this is the first post on McCrady's, Sean Brock's restaurant in Charleston. Thanks for doing it, Caroline. This restaurant has garnered enough of a national and a growing international reputation that one would have thought that it would have been written about on here before now. It has been quite some time since I have been to the Low Country, but this restaurant has certainly been enticing me to go, all the more now.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Thanks for the report! I'm eager to get to McCrady's soon. I'll probably manage a trip down there some time in August. I'm far from any sort of expert in these matters, but it seems that Sean Brock is just hitting his stride. It's a treat to watch, even from afar, someone having so much fun with his food.

Chad


Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Aki and Alex from Ideas in Food will join in the fun on 29 June. I can't wait.

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Aki and Alex from Ideas in Food will join in the fun on 29 June.  I can't wait.

That will be great fun. Alex and Aki and Sean have been online collaborators for some time. I can only imagine some wild and wonderful things coming out of that.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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We were fortyunate to be the photographers for that event at McCrady's with Aki and Alex! Check out our photos! http://www.charlestonpicturecompany.com/fo...read.php?t=1974 We welcome any feedback at all. It was an excellent night! We ate everything, too!

Aki and Alex from Ideas in Food will join in the fun on 29 June.  I can't wait.

That will be great fun. Alex and Aki and Sean have been online collaborators for some time. I can only imagine some wild and wonderful things coming out of that.


CharlestonFoodCompany.com

Charleston, South Carolina Food and Beverage Discussion Forums and Food Photography!

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This is a lil bit premature as we have about ten more "studio"images to upload, but I just saw your post about the Richard Blais dinner at McCradys. We were lucky enough to shoot this event as well! Can you please check out some of our photos and post some feedback on this site? It would mean a lot to get some good foodie perspectives.

http://charlestonfood.smugmug.com/gallery/5862567_8NWBi

There's a dinner tonight in Charleston with Sean Brock and Richard Blais.  Had I known, I would've tried to get tickets.  Anyone go?

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/gyrobas...ntent?oid=50706


CharlestonFoodCompany.com

Charleston, South Carolina Food and Beverage Discussion Forums and Food Photography!

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Those pics are awesome :) We were originally supposed to go but alas Life got in the way. Thanks for sharing :biggrin:

This is a lil bit premature as we have about ten more "studio"images to upload, but I just saw your post about the Richard Blais dinner at McCradys.  We were lucky enough to shoot this event as well! Can you please check out some of our photos and post some feedback on this site? It would mean a lot to get some good foodie perspectives.

http://charlestonfood.smugmug.com/gallery/5862567_8NWBi

There's a dinner tonight in Charleston with Sean Brock and Richard Blais.  Had I known, I would've tried to get tickets.  Anyone go?

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/gyrobas...ntent?oid=50706


Edited by chickenfriedgourmet (log)

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Ditto. Some great shots. Made me want to eat the photo. (Isn't that the point?)

Anyone have the menu? (if there was a written one).

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Ask and ye shall receive. This is courtesy of the DH is GOod Blog 364114648_8C5RH-L.jpg

He has a nice review up on his blog :: click here for review of this meal

Ditto. Some great shots. Made me want to eat the photo.  (Isn't that the point?)

Anyone have the menu? (if there was a written one).


Edited by charlestonfoodie (log)

CharlestonFoodCompany.com

Charleston, South Carolina Food and Beverage Discussion Forums and Food Photography!

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Thanks for the compliments. ALMOST have studio shots ready!

Ask and ye shall receive.  This is courtesy of the DH is GOod Blog 364114648_8C5RH-L.jpg

He has a nice review up on his blog :: click here for review of this meal

Ditto. Some great shots. Made me want to eat the photo.  (Isn't that the point?)

Anyone have the menu? (if there was a written one).


CharlestonFoodCompany.com

Charleston, South Carolina Food and Beverage Discussion Forums and Food Photography!

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I visited Mcrady's this weekend for the first time and had the ten course tasting menu. I must say that I had huge expectations for as much press it has received and I am sure that Sean is a very talented chef. However I must say that after spending over $250pp and spending a week seeing the fall menus in NYC it left a lot to be desired.

The standouts were the porks head terrine and the new sweet breads dish. Other than that the first three "courses" were amuse' like- tiny and lacking a punch, the wreck fish was uniformly overcooked (in a c-vap!)- all seven of us commented the same, the short ribs were nice- again lacking umph! The local-seasonal peach- it was the end of September and there hasn't been a peach grown in South Carolina in the last six weeks. The final chocolate dish did have a great flavor. The Foie however was the biggest flop- Again all of us agreed that the foie was over salted and the peanut butter and jelly were just a little off- not working together. This is a dish that Sean is known for I hope we just got an off night version.

I and my six compadres love food- We are all in the business of either food (2 chef's present) or wine. My comments are in the hope of posssibly reminding all of the Chef's of the world that tasting menus might really be like Marco Pierre White said " chef's wanking off". There is a sense that in an effort to show our talents we loose focus. There is certainly talent in the kitchen. I just wish I had seen it 10 times instead of twice and for more than 4 oz.'s total of food. Maybe real courses is the way to eat here, maybe tasting menus isn't the way really to get the chef's message. However, you shouldn't sell it if you can't deliver it. Maybe focus back on food is the key instead of technology, farming, animal husbandry, publicity etc. We are Chef's to focus on our food.

In the end I probably won't make it a goal to return like I had to share with my good friends that night. I certainly know there is great food possible from that kitchen- We just didn't see much of it.

The other aspects of the evening were all excellent; the restaurant- beautiful, the service- well executed, wine selections- of our eight there were only a couple of misses and we made them not the wine steward.

Charleston has some wonderful restaurants- I went feeling as though this was the place to take my friends, I left wishing we had spent our $1600 elsewhere.


Edited by rdnkchef (log)

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I am sorry you had that type of experience. I have never been but have been following Sean's progress on his blog and we were originally scheduled for the Blais dinner but Mother Nature changed our plans. I would have to guess that maybe it was just an off night. From what I have seen and read I feel that Sean is one of the few in the country who are redefining the whole farm to table. He and his crew have their own farm, pigs etc and he is truly interested in preserving the southern type of food AND flavor with a twist. I would say give it a second chance, I am stll waiting for the 1st chance :)

I visited Mcrady's this weekend for the first time and had the ten course tasting menu. I must say that I had huge expectations for as much press it has received and I am sure that Sean is a very talented chef. However I must say that after spending over $250pp and spending a week seeing the fall menus in NYC it left a lot to be desired.

The standouts were the porks head terrine and the new sweet breads dish. Other than that the first three "courses" were amuse' like- tiny and lacking a punch, the wreck fish was uniformly overcooked (in a c-vap!)- all seven of us commented the same, the short ribs were nice- again lacking umph! The local-seasonal peach- it was the end of September and there hasn't been a peach grown in South Carolina in the last six weeks. The final chocolate dish did have a great flavor. The Foie however was the biggest flop- Again all of us agreed that the foie was over salted and the peanut butter and jelly were just a little off- not working together. This is a dish that Sean is known for I hope we just got an off night version.

I and my six compadres love food- We are all in the business of either food (2 chef's present) or wine. My comments are in the hope of posssibly reminding all of the Chef's of the world that tasting menus might really be like Marco Pierre White said " chef's wanking off". There is a sense that in an effort to show our talents we loose focus. There is certainly talent in the kitchen. I just wish I had seen it 10 times instead of twice and for more than 4 oz.'s total of food. Maybe real courses is the way to eat here, maybe tasting menus isn't the way really to get the chef's message. However, you shouldn't sell it if you can't deliver it. Maybe focus back on food is the key instead of technology, farming, animal husbandry, publicity etc. We are Chef's to focus on our food.

In the end I probably won't make it a goal to return like I had to share with my good friends that night. I certainly know there is great food possible from that kitchen- We just didn't see much of it.

The other aspects of the evening were all excellent; the restaurant- beautiful, the service- well executed, wine selections- of our eight there were only a couple of misses and we made them not the wine steward.

Charleston has some wonderful restaurants- I went feeling as though this was the place to take my friends, I left wishing we had spent our $1600 elsewhere.


Edited by chickenfriedgourmet (log)

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Congratulations to Chef Sean Brock on winning the Food Network's "Next Great Chef" on Food Network Challenge, which aired last night.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I was looking forward to eating here on Tuesday night.

Service was mostly very professional. The wine list is certainly solid.

I was annoyed when our waiter launched (unprompted) into an explanation of what an amuse was. That's completely unnecessary at a restaurant at this caliber of ambition. Insulting really.

The amuse itself was a mistake. Foie with truffle. Nothing wrong with that except that it was way too heavy to start the meal. Completely the wrong concept. Just showing off luxe ingredients.

General Tso's Sweetbreads was the dish of the night. Nice idea. Perfectly executed. Tasty.

Cauliflower soup was properly executed and inoffensive.

squash ravioli were quite good.

a grouper main showed off lots of technical cooking but had no flavor.

a wagyu flatiron steak was quite similar to the WD-50 dish and didn't improve upon it.

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I was looking forward to eating here on Tuesday night.

Service was mostly very professional.  The wine list is certainly solid. 

I was annoyed when our waiter launched (unprompted) into an explanation of what an amuse was.  That's completely unnecessary at a restaurant at this caliber of ambition.  Insulting really. 

The amuse itself was a mistake.  Foie with truffle.  Nothing wrong with that except that it was way too heavy to start the meal.  Completely the wrong concept.  Just showing off luxe ingredients.

General Tso's Sweetbreads was the dish of the night.  Nice idea.  Perfectly executed.  Tasty.

Cauliflower soup was properly executed and inoffensive.

squash ravioli were quite good.

a grouper main showed off lots of technical cooking but had no flavor.

a wagyu flatiron steak was quite similar to the WD-50 dish and didn't improve upon it.

I guess I have to take the bait. What would be offensive cauliflower soup? :raz:

Sounds like McCrady's left you less then impressed.


Robert R

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Four of us--two locals, two northerners--had the $35 prix fixe meal at McCrady's last Sunday. It's a great deal. My dinner started with popcorn soup with shrimp--a nice variation on corn soup, very slightly marred for me by the reminiscence of microwave butter flavor popcorn, which I loathe the smell of. I'm not saying it tasted or even smelled like that; it's just the strong butter-and-popcorn combination that evokes it. Then I had the local mahi mahi served with braised greens, expertly cooked. For dessert I chose the chocolate tart with Pappy Van Winkle ice cream over the red velvet cake. I think dessert was the least successful course; the flavors just didn't come together for me--and the crust of the tart seemed a little off.

Unfortunately, the table was large enough that I couldn't share tastes with my husband, as I usually do. The restaurant is very attractive and the service excellent--bread (pretty good, not world-class, sourdough and multigrain) constantly, but not obtrusively, offered.

Definitely worth the money and the experience.

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You should have eaten last night.

Canapes by Richard Blais

Main course by Wylie Dufresne and Sean Brock.

Pastry by Johnny Iuzzini


Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.

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You should have eaten last night.

Canapes by Richard Blais

Main course by Wylie Dufresne and Sean Brock.

Pastry by Johnny Iuzzini

Yeah, those tickets were sold quickly.

I'm still looking for reports...

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The design of the restaurant itself is spectacular. Surely a setting that inspires relaxed, pampered dining. It should be noted that McCrady's is very committed to environmental issues such as a sustainable environment. They are quiet tedious in their recycling program. No wonder Opinionated About Dining named them one of the top restaurants of '08 for North America!

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Take a look at chuckeats.com for a generous review of chef Brock's efforts.

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