My husband and I had the pleasure of spending the first weekend of August in Charleston, without the kiddos. To make this happen, I had to find a sitter, coordinate my husband flying in from Denver and leaving at the end of the weekend to fly to Boston. We chose a flight that gave us a layover in Chicago together, because we’re that kind of couple. Of note to many: Southwest now flies into Charleston! If you book far enough in advance, with many cities, including Nashville, you can score a direct flight!
First, let me ask this: WHY have I never been to Charleston? We loved our weekend so much we want this city to be our go-to getaway place every year from now on. We might even bring the kids with us next time…
Quick breakdown for those just wanting just a summary:
- We stayed at Charleston Place hotel and loved it. Perfect location, lovely service, attention to details. Consider the Club Level if you can swing it for the all the little extras like free food and an open bar. This hotel is large, but the service and attention to detail make it feel much smaller. This an urban resort, to be sure.
- We ate at Macintosh, Husk and Charleston Grill. All were fantastic, but our favorite was Charleston Grill. It was so out of this world, I think we may have wept during our meal…or angels started singing with harp accompaniment. (Oh, I’m about to cry again.)
- From Charleston Place, we were able to easily walk everywhere. We never once called a cab or used our rental car.
We stayed at Charleston Place, the largest hotel in this historic city. While perfect for meetings, we found that the world-renowned service of Orient Express properties made us feel like we were staying in a much smaller boutique hotel. In fact our room (all the rooms have just gotten new mattresses for all mattress snobs, which includes me!) felt more like I had landed in the guest room of a proverbial rich uncle than that of a hotel. No doubt we will stay here again.
My husband and I got to meet with Garden & Gun for a future post on Behind the Scenes at Garden & Gun. Stay tuned!
Okay, a quick behind-the-scenes: here is the wrist of editor Jessica Mischner. I love this combination of stacked bracelets.
We walked by the classiest Forever 21 I have ever seen. This same spot housed SAKS before being replaced. No worries for high-end shoppers: Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more, as well as fabulous local boutiques, are all found in Charleston.
Walking back from G & G we saw FIG, the one restaurant that we really wanted to try but couldn’t get into. So, plan on calling at least a couple weeks in advance for this gem.
Dinner Friday night was amazing, just as we expected it to be in this ultra-foodie city. Macintosh is one of the newer establishments and they embrace the farm-to-table concept. Our server was so nice and knowledgeable.
Macintosh menu, which you can see changes daily. (This one is from August 3rd, as seen in the top left).
My salad was the Ambrose Farm’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with arugula, basil and smoked burrata. I had no idea what “burrata” was until this meal, so for those of you as equally in the dark, here’s the Wikapedia definition, “The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is also defined by some sources as an outer shell of mozzarella filled with butter or a mixture of butter and sugar. It is usually served fresh, at room temperature. The name ‘burrata’ means ‘buttered’ in Italian.”
Sauteed Local Scamp Grouper served on a bed of pureed eggplant–yum!
We ate breakfast at our hotel. Since we were staying in the club level at Charleston Place, we were able to take advantage of all-day-long luxuries, like an open bar and buffets filled throughout the day with fresh fruit, salmon, sushi, cheeses, homemade breads and more. Yes, it costs more, but if you want a more private experience and the ability to have some low-key “fee inclusive” meals, snacks and cocktails, this is a good bet.
After breakfast we went for a long walk, as all we really had on the agenda were reservations for lunch… and then for dinner!
The streets in Charleston are just beautiful.
There are walls upon walls covered in this ivy.
We made our way down to the shore and got to spend a few minutes on one of these lovely park benches. We had our phones and returned some emails… a paper back would have been better.
Ahhhh, the sea air.
We walked back through the open-air City Market, which spans four city blocks. The market showcases local artisan finds including these baskets.
We went back to the hotel to hit the fitness room, as again, we had no plans except to eat and walk the city. The fitness room is located in the spa, which houses this incredible pool. See that ceiling? It’s retractable. Yep, this pool is both an indoor and outdoor pool, with a pool side grill. Charleston Place is located in the heart of the city, but has all the resort qualities you could want (shopping, spa, pool, fitness rooms, restaurants…)
Next up was lunch at HUSK. We walked there. In fact, we never got in our car again once we arrived at the hotel Friday afternoon, which, for my husband and me was perfect. We never called a cab either, choosing to walk everywhere and immerse ourselves in this beautiful place.
Next up was HUSK. Yes, the one that was voted “Best Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetite in 2011.
The menu at HUSK.
First up was the lunchtime Bloody Mary.
We started with the Husk Pimento Cheese (made with goat cheese), Pickled Ramps (ramps are wild leeks), Shaved Country Ham and Fried Green Tomatoes.
My Shrimp and Grits
Everyone told us that Husk’s Cheeseburger was the thing to order. It has a smoky flavor, and while we found it odd that the dish everyone was pushing from Bon Appetite Best New Restaurant in America was a cheeseburger, it was a damn good burger.
I love it when a restaurant uses local pottery as the dishes.
After lunch we… walked some more. The cobblestone roads and historic buildings and houses – many of which are 200-300 years old – were incredible. I felt like I was stopping every 10 seconds to take more photos. My husband indulged me, but we weren’t moving quickly. I wanted to capture it all. I had to pick through 153 photos to give you the following, but I think I picked out a nice representation of Charleston and why we fell so hard, so fast.
More of that ivy. Notice the brick street next to the stone sidewalk.
Beautiful stately doors.
The brick street flanked by white houses.
The small gardens were all well groomed.
Peaking through wrought iron gates and imagining who lived there provided lots of fun.
So many lovely window boxes.
The houses near Battery Park are impressive. And at about 6-8 million dollars a pop, they should be!
White picket fences
We found ourselves on the gorgeous campus of Charleston College.
My favorite street was this cobblestone side street. I wondered how old it was.
We’re not big “graveyard” people, but we couldn’t help but wander into St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church’s graveyard and feel the quiet and reverence. The cicadas were in full song as we wandered among the rows of 300 year old headstones, weathered with age.
We eventually made our way back to the hotel in time for a quick change before setting off again for another meal. This one ended up being our favorite: Charleston Grill, which is actually found inside Charleston Place (which we had no idea when we booked!).
Half the menu at Charleston Grill. Where to start, where to start…
A little salmon nibble that came out from the chef. Don’t you love it when a place does this? For Nashville readers, executive chef Michelle Weaver trained under Bob Waggoner at The Wild Boar and moved to Charleston with Bob to continue as his sous chef. They worked together for 15 years. Chef Waggoner is now back in Nashville at Watermark.
We shared the Octopus Salad. Here is my portion. I have never had its equal.
We both had a crab cake next. I’ve eaten plenty of crab cakes in my life and this one was lighter, had almost no filling and was finished with a bright citrus dressing that was unexpected and perfect.
Next came the poached duck egg appetizer. WOW.
My meal, which I will dream about until the day I die, was the Thai Fish. You break it all up, mix it up with the broth and then eat with a spoon.
My husband’s entree – pork chop over grits and corn. He really did get misty-eyed.
When this chocolate dessert arrived, we thought we couldn’t fit another thing in. We did. Order this!
My best friend by the end of our meal was General Manager Mickey Bakst. The service, like the food, was impeccable. Mickey was featured in an article by Executive Travel as one of the Top 5 restaurant owners or hosts. “These restaurants go beyond fine food or ambiance—they exude personality because the maitre d’ or owner brings the establishment to life.” We agree 100%.
We rolled our way up the stairs, went to bed, got up the next day for another long walk, then drove away to catch our flight. We vowed then and there we would be back!
- We stayed at Charleston Place hotel and loved it. Perfect location, lovely service, attention to details. Consider the Club Level if you can swing it for the all the little extras, free food and bar.
- We ate at Macintosh, Husk and Charleston Grill. All were fantastic, but our favorite was Charleston Grill.
- General Manager of Charleston Grill, Mickey Bakst, was featured in Executive Travel magazine. See that article here.
- Do take the time to walk into the old churches and graveyards.
- Charleston makes for the perfect weekend destination getaway, but I can see how a whole week would be enjoyable. With a week, I’d hit the beaches, Cypress Gardens, the Hunley submarine and the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. I’d also want to take the ferry to Fort Sumter and eat, eat, eat. The food in this city is incredible.