Barony Tavern, Chef Robert Carter's downtown restaurant that's a part of The Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel, expanded its offerings earlier this fall to include a lunch and tavern menu.
Quail and Grits
The menu offers lunch classics with Southern flair, typical of Chef Carter's southern-influenced classic cuisine. The restaurant's atmosphere—a dark-paneled, leather-bound interior infused with eclectic details—is the perfect palce to grab a quick, hearty lunch.
The menu includes a variety of sandwiches, including a juicy bacon and cheddar burger ($16), but the absolute must-try dishes are quail and grits ($12) and a classic reuben sandwich ($14). The quail, which is seared boneless and dressed in a boozy chicken jus with oyster mushrooms, is a savory, hearty stew without being overly rich. The grits are a great medium for absorbing every last drop of the decadent sauce.
Barony Tavern's classic reuben sandwich is made with house made corned beef
The classic reuben ($14) is also a go-to lunch item on Barony Tavern's menu. The corned beef, a tender, fall-apart meat brimming with peppery accents, is made in-house. The juicy meat sits in between two perfectly crisped pieces of rye toast, which is supposed to make the filling sandwich easier to eat. The problem is that the corned beef is so delicious on its own that you'll want to pick at it with your fingers, letting swirls of tangy thousand island dressing ooze over the edges of the sandwich as you're nibbling away at bits of stray corned beef. What I'm saying is this: if you haven't yet discovered your hobby or passion, swing by Barony Tavern and order one of these corned beef sandwiches. Whittling away an hour picking at this sandwich and all of its meaty goodness is definitely a worthwhile undertaking.
Top left: butternut squash ravioli dressed with local shrimp, spinach, bacon, heirloom tomatoes and brown butter; top right: the crabcake sandwich features confit tomato and butter lettuce on a brioche bun slathered with lemon cayenne aioli
Other notable lunch dishes are the crabcake sandwich ($16) and the butternut squash ravioli ($12). The crabcake is chock full of shredded blue crab meat, and has nice garnishes of jammy, mini-heirloom tomato confit and a spicy-tart lemon cayenne aioli. The butternut squash ravioli, al dente and filled with sweet, creamy squash filling, was unexpectedly paired with local shrimp. Although butternut squash seems to make an appearance on every fall fine dining menu, I liked the variation with shrimp -- it added a briny twist to an otherwise ordinary dish.
On the day I visited Barony Tavern in late October, it was unseasonably warm. The temperature hovered around the low 80s, and the restaurant had opened their large front windows to take advantage of the cool breeze. To the side of the restaurant, the hotel business hummed quietly as travelers passed through the lobby, which is adjacent to Barony Tavern's front room. Most seats by the window had a nice view of the foot traffic on Wentworth Street. It's a relaxing way to check out during the work week, slow down and have a really delicious, relatively affordable bite.
Of course, if you're really busy, I'm betting the staff at Barony Tavern would be more than happy to wrap up a reuben sandwich for you to take back to your desk. It'd be the ultimate way to rid yourself of the sad desk lunch forever.
Barony Tavern | 68A Wentworth Street | Charleston, South Carolina
For more details and photos about my recent visit to Barony Tavern, visit my blog, Grits & Chopsticks, here.