Monday, July 23, 2012

weekend recap {husk}

We were about five minutes out of downtown Charleston when Jacob turned to me and said "I'm disappointed," and I had to agree with him. Let me preface this by saying our meal was good, everything was cooked correctly, the restaurant was beautiful, the cocktails and wine lists were exceptional, and the cured Virginia ham, sliced right off the leg while sitting at the Husk bar was the most exciting part of my meal. I'm going to attempt to explain the hour long rant the two of us went on while driving back from dinner. Before I go off on a couple of tangents, I do want to say that I think Sean Brock is an amazing chef, and I haven't tried McCrady's, but I still really want to, and I suspect it's a little more experimental than Husk. It may give me a different view on Brock and the meal I had on Saturday, but I can only speak to what I've experienced, so here we go.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading the July issue of Food & Wine, and I came across an article by Katherine Wheelock about how seasonal cooking may be overrated. I remember thinking, "how can this be?" This is the idea that we have all be striving towards, using fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, and cooking them correctly. This idea is great when at home, it's great when going to lunch or dinner on a Tuesday night. However, if you're going to create this kind of menu, and expect people to pay $200+ a meal, I expect something spectacular, I expect a revelation.

I've had this before while eating at "farm to table" restaurants. California restaurants, particularly Thomas Keller, executes this theme arguably better than anyone else. When we first ate at Ad Hoc, the creamed corn dish was one of the best things I had EVER eaten, and he did that by adding lime and cayenne pepper, that's it. He took a beyond amazing ingredient and not only cooked it amazingly, but put a twist on it, and that's the point. I can go to the farmer's market and purchase green tomatoes, green beans, and peaches. I can cook them exactly the same way I had them at Husk {and my fried green tomatoes are better... just saying}, I can spend $30 and make that same meal. As a customer, I expect more, especially when I have an issue of Bon Appetit telling me that this is the best restaurant in the South, if not the country right now.

And that brings me to my next point, southern food. It's an amazing style of food, one I look at with a love of it's tradition and with excitement for its future. I'm loving people like Hugh Acheson and David Chang even, who seem to be taking what we all love about southern food {and no i'm not talking about butter and salt, but on that note, thanks Paula Deen for essentially ruining the way southern food is looked at around the world, and thanks to the infinitely better chefs who are bringing good food back to the south, without gimmicks and without the need to make southerners seem like country bumpkins, but I digress} and elevating it to something different. Taking sweetbreads and leeks and mixing it with an asian inspired sauce creating a "kung pow chicken" like dish, which is something I have gotten at Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, it was different and delicious, while maintaining southern flavors.

That's all I'm asking , I love that you're using farm fresh foods, I really do, but you're chefs. You should be striving to show me your skill, to push the boundaries of ingredients, of cooking styles, not putting a fresh ingredient on a plate, without doing anything to it, and charging me $30 for that plate. Do something, show me something new, please, I'm begging you. Make me excited to go out and spend an entire day's pay on your food, I want to come away from it praising you, and thinking that I just had the meal of my life, and that, as the diner, I was able to understand your thought process, and creativity.

I want to conclude this rant by saying again, our meal was good, not great. Would I try the restaurant again? Yes, probably, I think I would give it another try, however, every other year for Jacob's birthday we have gone to F.I.G., with all the hype around Husk, I expected it to be blown out of the water, but I can honestly say that every single dish I have ever had at Fig was better than any dish I had at Husk. The crispy pork trotters and coddled egg we had last year at dinner, were revelations, they were dishes I will always talk about and remember, and I think that's what dining out is about. Something different, something exciting, and something memorable. That's not too much to ask, right?


  1. Thank you so much for this post. As a native Californian, and a fairly recent Savannah, GA implant, I literally could not agree more! Where is the innovation with ingredients that not only allow creativity, but NEED to be pushed and changed? Preach. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and thoroughly enjoy it, but this is my first comment.


  2. Julia,

    Thank you so much for reading!

    Gosh, I didn't even get into Savannah's awful food scene, that would take multiple posts I think haha.




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