Charleston, stop 4 - Two Boroughs Larder
I apologize for the bit of back-and-forthing lately between my two blogs. Depending on the post, I often feel some stories flow better on one blog than the other. I also find it hard to pick out my clothes in the morning ... if that gives you deeper insight. So my three previous stops in Charleston, SC are on my "other" blog, and you can find them here.
At this point in the day I was stuffed to the brim with enough glorious food from the Charleston area to make even the most disciplined of locavores green with envy. If you and the places you gravitate toward at mealtimes focus on obtaining the freshest possible ingredients locally, you're a locavore.
I hear there's a twelve-step program for that ...
With so many fantastic places in Charleston (like Fig and Husk which I actually drove past on my way to Two Boroughs) one day was not enough so I had to weigh the options and gamble a bit on dinner. I'd done some serious home-work, talked to the locals and read and re-read everything I could about "where to eat now" in Charleston and Two Boroughs Larder won out over everything else. The food was fantastic, as I'm sure the places are that I had to pass up, so here's a little bit more about my experience. I hope you'll have a chance to visit them soon.
Charleston reminded me a lot of Seattle in that many of it's hottest, newest restaurants are snuggled into quiet, unassuming neighborhoods. You're driving along a beautiful tree-lined street with kids playing on the corner and suddenly, there's a restaurant. You go in and it feels like ... well, it feels like home.
Two Boroughs is located in Downtown Charleston, and in addition to serving seasonal American Cuisine (which means they're cooking food that is influenced by pretty much every cuisine - because really, that's what American cuisine is), the "larder" is filled with lovely pantry items and tableware. After dinner you can take home several bottles of specially crafted beer and a dozen local fresh eggs if you want. It's also a great idea to check out their site often, as they list all sorts of interesting events that take place there.
As with most restaurants focusing on seasonal ingredients, the menu at Two Boroughs changes often, but their signature Bowl-o-noodle (Pork Confit, Soft Egg, Pork Broth, House Noodles) is almost always available. I hated not sampling it, but I'd eaten noodles earlier in the day and honestly, I don't think my rental car could have handled one more take-out container.
Instead, I opted for a starter of Choucroute Garnie - a traditional French dish of pork and sauerkraut transformed by a mash-up of local, low-country ingredients. Atop a bed of sauerkraut and tender sprigs of dill seasoned with sake rested smokey hunks of octopus that had been long braised and then charred on the grill. Replacing the traditional pork sausage was a boudin of octopus, chicken and pork. The richness of the octopus and boudin was balanced perfectly by the acidity of the sauerkraut.
And then, knowing my pants would hate me for it, I ordered one of the best damn burgers I've ever had in my entire life. I had to. They only serve them on Wednesday and they only make 24 (yes, if you're thinking that reminds of you of someplace, you're right - Holman and Finch in Atlanta serves 24 burgers every evening, but not one minute before 10pm). I told my server she was cruel and sent her away to get my burger started.
Two five-ounce patties are slapped on the griddle and cooked perfectly to medium rare. Replacing the traditional American melty cheese (and there's nothing wrong with that) was a house-made mornay sauce that dribbled delicately down the sides of my burger into a delectable puddle on my plate which I immediately dipped my finger into. Freshly-made pickles, applewood-smoked bacon and brioche buns that Two Boroughs receives daily from a bakery right around the corner topped it all off.
Oh and of you know I didn't forget the egg. Ten ounces of beef and a slab of bacon was not enough. Why, my arteries were freely flowing. Why not live a little and slide an over-easy egg in there as well. Don't judge me. You know you would've done the same damn thing (if you have half a brain).
You see where all of this is going, right? Right to my freakin' waistline. But as I took the first bite through the soft, pillowy bun, my teeth sinking sweetly into juicy meat, smokey bacon, then the snap of those fresh pickles ... well, you just had to be there.
And you should be there, at some point, you should. I would.