Charleston Culinary Tours visit the best locations in Downtown Charleston. We had a chance to take the Downtown tour with Glenn Morehead last week. His knowledge of the city and its restaurant culture was unmatched and informative. With so many restaurants opening all the time, and with the competitive nature of many of our accomplished chefs, it can be intimidating for visitors and locals alike to sift through the many options available in this world renowned city. Taking the many tours available by Charleston Culinary Tours is the best way to get introduced to some of the finest establishments around.
During the Downtown Tour, expect to be overwhelmed with great food. During this particular occasion, we indulged in almost a dozen samples from Southend Brewery, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, Burwell's Stone Fire Grill, and Kaminsky's Bakery. A small group of six gathered at the starting point at Southend Brewery. A lovely table was prepared in advance, and we quickly introduced ourselves to each other. Four of us were local, and two were visitors from Chicago. As we sat at the beautifully decorated table, we were immediately offered samples of the Brewery's seasonal Imperial Brown Bourbon Ale (9.2% alcohol). Its smooth smoky flavor was easily sippable, and many of the group ordered flights of the brewery's beer to sample more.
A lovely bowl of She Crab Soup was brought to each of us. The flavors melded perfectly, and a light drizzle of sherry adorned the top. Each bite was thick with crab, and the texture was splendid. Soon after receiving this, the chef sent over glasses of freshly made seasonal eggnog (made with Jim Beam, 151, and Grand Marnier) to accompany the next dish, a flavorful fried green tomato settling comfortably in a spicy pimento cheese. The addition of a pickled chow chow on top created a nice combination of flavors. The tomato was heavily crusted with a hand ground corn meal made fresh at the restaurant. Lastly, a hefty plate of their famous barbecue found its way to our table. Sweet and tangy, the sauce was definitely the standout of the dish. The barbecue was also tasty in and of itself and had been on the smoker upstairs for nearly 12 hours.
We then headed toward Burwell's with a quick stop by the Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar. Glenn popped inside to gather a sample of Shrimp Corndogs, which were surprisingly good! Skewered shrimp were dipped in a lightly sweetened cornmeal blend and fried to perfection. Each of us ooh'd and ahh'd about the innovative little concoction as we continued to our next destination.
Another table awaited the group at Burwell's, and as we settled into our seats we were introduced to the chef. Happy hour priced cocktail specials were offered, and many of us ordered a freshly muddled drink fondly named "Pear Knuckles". It quickly arrived with an edible blossom adding color and flavor to the deliciously sweet aperitif. It was an apt choice, as the next dish we sampled incorporated pickled shrimp served on crusty bread dipped in brown butter and lightly toasted. The shrimp were light and crunchy with just a hint of citrus. The Pear Knuckles cocktail, with its muddled blend of pear, gin and soda, gave the shrimp a delicious little punch.
By this time, we were getting pretty stuffed, but there was much more food to be sampled. The chefs brought out huge heated stones, heated to 700 degrees, with a large stack of hand sliced raw beef. (Picture at the top of the page) Three sauces lay on the side and included a fresh Bearnaise, a light chocolaty Mole, and a peppercorn Bourbon for dipping. We were instructed how to cook our own slices and invited to try each of the sauces. It was impeccable and fun, with each of us sliding a slice onto the granular salt that provided both flavor and helped to keep the beef from sticking to the stone. We each had our favorite sauce, but the general consensus was the Mole based sauce was the best. As if reading our minds, we got a full sized dessert of dark chocolate mousse that was simply divine. The light mousse was topped with a sweet and salty combination strawberries and salted almonds.
The tour wasn't over yet. We still had one last place to visit before saying our goodbyes to our new friends. Upon leaving Burwell's, we headed to our last stop at Kaminsky's. Glenn extolled upon us the history of various other restaurants in the area, talked about chefs, and offered tips on places to try during our future dining adventures. His comments were spot on, and we appreciated his insights. Finally, we found a table at Kaminsky's and perused the drink menu while waiting for our final dessert. Hot toddys, warm blended coffees and chocolate mixes, along with a full bar, teased us. A huge slice of a Toll House Cookie Pie arrived, but by then most of us couldn't eat another bite. We were able to take the slice home for later to enjoy.
As you can see, this tour was a foodie's dream come true. Plan to go on this fun and filling tour, and arrive hungry! You won't be disappointed, and the $60 ticket price is well worth the adventure. Make sure to ask for Glenn Morehead as your tour guide when you go!