Charleston! (Part One)

By the time I finish this post, we will be home. But as I begin writing, we are still enjoying a wonderful long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina with friends. This is the first trip to Charleston for all of us and we've had a memorable time.

We're staying at the Embassy Suites (in the remodeled building that was once The Citadel). After driving all day Thursday, we checked into our rooms, dropped our luggage off and headed for dinner. Someone on staff recommended Coast for good seafood and the shortest walk, since we were all hungry. John had a healthy meal of grilled Escolar (which I tasted and really liked). I had a less healthy Lobster and Crab Gratin (a half lobster stuffed with blue crab meat, lobster and parmesan cream in an herb breadcrumb crust, served with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans). It was great. But, unfortunately, I ate half of it before I realized I had forgotten to take a picture!

Friday John and I got up early and walked up and down King Street before meeting Mark and Anita for a late breakfast at Toast. It was highly recommended on Trip Advisor and it definitely lived up to its glowing reviews. Toast is a cozy casual restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. But they serve breakfast all day, including bottomless mimosas for $10 (which we decided to skip this visit).
Anita and I shared Eggs Meeting Street and Peach Stuffed French Toast. Both were delicious, but Eggs Meeting Street was possibly the best and definitely the most unique breakfast I have ever had. It's a Southern version of Eggs Benedict. A fried green tomato, topped by a fresh lump crab cake and a poached egg, then drizzled with remoulade and served with a fresh buttermilk biscuit and either home fries or grits. This picture doesn't do it justice. The blend of flavors was out of this world. The freshness and quality of the crab cake was outstanding. Roxy, our server, was warm and friendly. She took the time to give us a lot of helpful tips and walking directions in addition to the excellent service. If I'm ever in Charleston again (and I hope to be), this is the first place I will want to go.

After breakfast, we did a little browsing at The City Market before taking a Classic Carriage Tour of Charleston. We got to see historic areas and beautiful houses. And it was relaxing. Here are a few pictures that don't involve food...

After our carriage ride, we walked back to the hotel to relax a bit before getting ready for dinner. We had reservations at Grill 225 ... a very special restaurant ... to celebrate Mark and Anita's 24th wedding anniversary. (We had originally planned this trip to coincide with their April anniversary and postponed it to May.)

Anyone who knows me knows how important food is to me. I am euphoric when a meal is fabulous and my disappointment can be just as disproportionate when a meal is not good or when I order the wrong thing. I take a lot of good-natured teasing about this. But no worries about disappointment on this occasion. Grill 225 was a purely euphoric dining experience from beginning to end.

We waited only five minutes in the lounge ... just long enough to take a few pictures.

I have never seen so much stemware on one table. It was such a beautiful table setting. We didn't have wine, so they had to clear all but our water goblets. However, Anita and I had to try a Grill 225 Nitro-martini. (Peach for Anita, Watermelon for me.) They are nitrogen infused martinis that arrive dramatically at your table. They are ice-cold, fun and delicious (also quite expensive -- definitely a vacation splurge). See the smoke?

I have a few recommendations if you ever try this restaurant. First, ask for Jeff. He provided first rate service, which greatly enhanced our enjoyment of the meal. Jeff was personable and attentive to every detail,
 without hovering. His assistants were also poised and professional.

My food pictures speak for themselves. I would recommend every dish on the table this particular night. The first picture is my plate. I ordered the Halibut with Lobster. We shared two family style side dishes; Potatoes Maxim and Creamed Spinach. As usual, I was offered a taste of everything on the table. And everything was amazing. Mark teased me later about my exuberant exclamation of "I'm so happy!" during dinner. If you've ever shared a great meal with me, then you know about my food euphoria. ; )

John also ordered the Halibut with Lobster and we shared a delicious Chopped Caesar Salad. Anita had the Filet and Mark had the Lamb Chops. And they shared a BLT Salad (every bit as good as the Caesar) with a very tasty cranberry vinaigrette. Grill 225 steaks are aged fifty days and the filet was so tender and flavorful, encrusted in cracked pepper. I was "so happy!" when Anita could not finish it and offered me a few more bites. I'm not even a lamb fan, but Mark's Lamb Chops were incredible!
We ate early, so it was still light when we finished. Dusk is so pretty in Charleston. And it was a perfect night for a long walk down East Bay and Battery Streets. We walked up to the rooftop pool and bar atop the Market Pavilion Hotel (and saw Steven Colbert at the bar). Then we walked to the harbor and all along the shoreline walkway before calling for a Charleston Rickshaw Tricycle Taxi Service (which was really fun). The weather was absolutely perfect for our open-air taxi back to the hotel. Here are some pictures from our walking tour. First, the view from the roof! ---->

Right after this we boarded our Rickshaw Taxi and headed to our rooms. It was an unforgettable day.

We're home now (Monday night) and I was eager to get at least the first day on my blog. But as you might guess, I REALLY need to get in a workout tonight. So I'm going to publish this much and hopefully add a Part Two tomorrow.


you were near my stomping grounds :)
Eric's mom and dad took us to "Toast" was great!

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