One thing Charleston has continued to gain a reputation for is its burgeoning culinary scene. However, my adopted city isn’t short on other culturally inviting activities.
My friend Amy Wachter Driggers, founder of ShopTaxidermy just opened up a prime pop-up location next to Maris DeHart, a chic boutique in Charleston. If you haven’t bought one of Amy’s divine bags, pairs of shoes or many accessories, you’re missing out…Taxidermy is blowing up.
Then you turn around and there’s some sort of party, fundraiser or oyster roast to tickle your fancy. Last week I attended the Party for the Parks fundraiser, which was a Big Top circus theme. People in Charleston, love to shop, eat, drink, socialize and just have a fun time no matter what the season.
This season’s hit TV show from Bravo, Top Chef is shooting here in Charleston, so once again the Holy City will be on everyone’s mind for culinary delights.
With renowned chef’s like Sean Brock and Jamie Lynch (about to appear on the new season of Top Chef – Charleston representing), we have no shortage of brilliance in the kitchen.
However, with multiple new restaurants opening weekly, the hype machines that exist in many other cities seem to be a bit lacking here in Charleston and some local eateries are struggling to find their footing in the overcrowded market here.
Scarecrow, the latest from the Scarecrow & Co., which was the last to open following Wise Buck Smoked Meats and FeatherTop Kitchen and Coffee Bar, seemed to slowly find its footing.
I contend that part of the problem is that the restaurants are located off of Ann street, which if you’re not a Charlestonian, can be hard to find. (Yes, the restaurant is really on an alley that runs along where the Charleston Children’s Museum sits and the Friends of the Train Museum.)
I recently got the chance to try Scarecrow and I have to say I was not disappointed, actually quite the opposite.
I’d heard some lackluster reviews before trying out the spot, so was prepared to be disappointed, but nothing could’ve been further from the truth. Like any new restaurant, Scarecrow had to test out different dishes, find what diners appreciated and alter the course as they gained footing.
The menu they have put together is the kind that you definitely seek out on a chilly winter’s night when you’re craving lusciously decadent meats and mushroom ricotta manicotti with shaved truffles on top—a dish that I’m not quite sure how I’ve lived my life without!
All the Scarecrow items are done in the massive wood fire grill, which gives everything a unique smoked flavor.
The whole restaurant kind of takes on the smokiness, which I would say would be my only critique of the space.
Given it’s a historic venue, there aren’t many windows that open, and given all the cooking is done over open wood-burning ovens, diners leave with bellies full and smelling as if they just came from a high-end cook out.
Chef Ray England, spent a large chunk of his career at Craft in Los Angeles, which explains his pension for delicious meats and I would say his skill rivals the most beloved steak shops here in Charleston, like Halls Chophouse, Oak Steakhouse and Grill 225.
We tested pretty much everything on the menu and I would say my favorites were the collard-wrapped pork sausage, mushroom ricotta manicotti with shave truffles, calamari salad with octopus and chorizo and 12 oz. sirloin.
We sampled several interesting sides as well and the table seemed to love the carrots with yogurt sauce and the squash gratin parmesan and vegetable skewers, simple but elegant.
If your mouth isn’t watering after reading this, something must be wrong with you. Each dish was more delicious than the next and yet each was simple, upholding and pulling forth the flavor of the natural ingredients. The final piece of Scarecrow’s charm was the excellent wine list and awesome wine vault that goes up into the building's eaves. The wait staff was great about suggesting wine pairings for our food choices, and they were not wrong.
Overall, I loved Scarecrow and will be back. Its ambiance is romantic and dark, enjoying the meal by the light of the wood-burning grills and I would be remiss to not mention the art.
The food was the main show and star, but the finely curated art adorning the restaurant was pretty impressive as well, from an arrow chandelier to a painting that was reported to hang in Al Capone’s office.
The team was full of information and pride when it came to their restaurant, which is a big part of the charm and appeal when dining out.
You want to feel the staff’s passion for what they do and the Scarecrow team has no shortage of passion for their food and experience.