After a bit of a winter hiatus, I’m back, and man, am I starving! I’d like to formally apologize for being unforgivably M.I.A., but after hibernating for the past couple of months I assure you I am hungrier than ever.
South Carolina winters remind me of why I migrated from New York. While my girlfriends up north cover themselves in scarves and hats in preparation for a winter wonderland, I have the luxury of eating outside in January—what is better than that?
Any Charleston Foodie, or what I like to call a “Choodie”, is no stranger to 82 Queen. The restaurant’s three buildings can be traced back to 1688, while 82 Queen will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Whether you are looking for a quick drink and an appetizer at the bar, elegant indoor dining, or a quaint outdoor patio, this Charleston hot spot has it all.
If you’re anything like me and frugally “ballin’ on a budget” I recommend opting for lunch rather than dinner. The lunch menu, which goes from 11:30-3pm Monday-Friday has something for everyone.
As you know by now, if there’s ever the option to sit outside that is where you’ll find me. On this occasion however, I must admit that my primary reason for dining in the courtyard was to gain bragging rights with my folks up north (just kidding… kinda). The courtyard is eloquently enchanting. Trees and plants surround the outdoor area, while the white butterfly chairs offer a playfully whimsical ambiance.
After looking at the menu my stomach was makin’ music and anxiety set in as I realized that I had to choose just one dish for my entree. The minute our server placed a basket of biscuits in the middle of the table I snatched one up like the ex-softball player that I am.
The cheddar cheese and chive biscuits were fresh, warm and mushy in the best way possible. Part of being a southern transplant is to embrace the biscuit – which I have a hard time of doing. Though I often find many to be rather dry these were moist, cheesy, and loaded with flavor.
Initially debating between the roasted turkey and the corned beef, my friend decided on the Corned Beef Sandwich with corned brisket, Gruyere cheese, and apple bourbon mustard on marble rye bread. As seen in the picture above, this was a fatty, which you should expect when you’re paying $13.
The meat was fresh and salty, wonderfully complimented by the richness of the Gruyere. The sweet and spiciness of the apple bourbon mustard is what made it more than just your average sandwich. When I asked for a bite I snuck in another one just to get a second taste of the mustard. It’s amazing what a good condiment can do to a meal.
I’d recently shared my new love for crab cakes with a handful of locals who recommended 82 Queen, so I trusted word-of-mouth and opted for the entree portion ($14). The lump crab cake was served on a bed of “hashatash” with Tabasco and Beurre Blanc. The “hashatash” was a dish in itself. Corn, onions, lima beans, diced potatoes and bacon seasoned with Tabasco was salty and savory. The bacon flavor was strong but not overpowering. The Beurre Blanc sauce was creamy and subtle.
The crab cake…gulp… was the single best crab cake I have ever tasted. Unlike many places that overcomplicate them with too many add-ins, 82 Queen offers a meaty, delicate, and perfectly crunchy crab cake*. Made with homegrown ingredients, the flavor of the crab was able to shine despite the strong flavor of the “hashatash”. To say I cleaned my plate is an understatement, but I assure you I wolfed it down like a lady.
Go to 82 Queen and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Don’t forget that it is Charleston Restaurant Week now until January 22nd. Click here to see their 3 for $30 menu. Although the set-menu doesn’t offer the crab cakes I’m sure you will find something enjoyable.
Now excuse me for a moment while I wipe the drool off my keyboard…
*82 Queen offers recipes for their Crab Cakes, She Crab Soup, BBQ Shrimp and Grits and more right on their website. If you are brave enough to try a recipe out in the comfort of your kitchen, please let me know how it goes!