A Squared: Grown Up Spring Break: Dinner at Husk Charleston

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grown Up Spring Break: Dinner at Husk Charleston

I don't even know where to begin to tell you about Husk. I'm such a huge food and restaurant nerd that I had been bookmarking online reviews of this place and saved an old issue of Bon Appetit that featured the restaurant in preparation for this trip. So, when we finally booked our plane tickets for the trip I booked a reservation too-- like 3 months in advance. I know that's a little excessive, but when presented with the opportunity to dine at what food lovers know to be one of the best restaurants in the US I was not going to miss my chance! And it was definitely worth it.

Husk is situated right in central Charleston in a quintessentially southern building complete with a front porch and yard. The inside is sleek, simple, and modern and still has a laidback feel. Although I love a fancy dinner, I also don't like feeling like I'm not cool enough to eat there. Husk's staff is friendly, the vibe is unpretentious, and the food is not over the top, but just really good.

The restaurant is the brainchild of James Beard Award winner Chef Sean Brock and the Neighborhood Dining Group and the concept is all about creating elegant food out of ingredients and dishes that are native to the Lowcountry region. Husk's menu is consistently rotating-- they update it twice daily-- and is built around using and highlighting the freshest seasonal ingredients available near one of their two restaurants (there is also a Husk in Nashville) that day.

We started our meal with a couple of shared items for the table. First up: Husk's southern take on Asian lettuce wraps. Pig's ears were glazed in their "Kentuckyaki," a bourbon-infused teriyaki sauce. The pork was both crunchy and super tender and the glaze was sticky, sweet, and spicy-- just as it should be. The wraps were topped with a little cilantro and marinated cucumbers and onions. The acid in those tangy vegetables was the perfect match for the sweet pig's ear.

To go along with our rich and savory pork, we also chose a salad that was on the lighter and sweeter side. This was such a great summery salad (read: summer in Chicago or April in Charleston) with peppery arugula, locally sourced glazed Wadmalaw beets, strawberries, and a lemon-scented ricotta all tossed in a light toasted benne vinaigrette. Benne, by the way, are traditional South Carolina sesame crackers so this vinaigrette gave it a great nutty flavor. The colors in this salad made it almost too pretty to eat-- look at those amazing striped beets!

And I can't forget the side of skillet cornbread with Tennessee bacon that we ordered for the table! It was a great mix of buttery and crumbly, sweet and savory. It's the perfect size to share with the table, although Husk does serve a basket of hot buttery (delicious) rolls to every table too.

When it came to ordering an entree, I knew what I wanted almost immediately-- and Heather ended up ordering it as well. This cornmeal dusted catfish seemed so quintessentially "Lowcountry" that it felt totally appropriate to order it here. The fish was well seasoned and crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. It was served with locally milled grits that were really rich and creamy-- almost in a mac and cheese way-- with South Carolina mushrooms. The rich grits were a great match for the crispy kale and it was all complemented by a light tomato jus that brought it all together.

This dish, all in all, was really simple and unpretentious, but it was so well done. All of the components were delicious on their own, but all together they created something really special.

But wait, there's still dessert! And as great as our dinner was, I have to say that dessert was equally delicious. I snagged a bite of Heather's rice pudding and it was delicious, as was the chocolate cake that both Alex and Zander ordered. I, however, decided to go with the Buttermilk Chess Pie. Chess pie is a traditional southern dessert that consists of a pastry crust filled with a buttermilk and cornmeal custard filling. It was another dish that I had an eye out for when we left on this trip, so finding it on Husk's menu was super exciting! Like the rest of our meal, this dessert was super simple, but excellent. The flaky crust and rich custard filling were paired with a fresh rhubarb compote and buttermilk crema... and I ate every last bite of it.

Cheers to a fabulous dinner with great friends (shout out to Heather and Z for putting up with my dinner table photography!) and the perfect ending to an amazing trip!
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  1. ooo i've been wanting to try this place! so happy to hear that it lives up to the hype!! i want that cornbread :) :) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

    1. Or just go straight for the Chess Pie... amazing!!


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