Those looking for a change from the casual bar-and-grill scene at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant need to look no further than Tavern & Table, a refreshing newcomer that opened just before the holidays. In addition to its gorgeous, rustic coastal decor, the Lowcountry menu is globally influenced, incorporating ingredients from Asian, Indian, and Moroccan cuisines into the Southern staples we all know and love.
Near the entrance to the restaurant is a full display of Tavern & Table's in-house cured meat program, a really promising sign of a good place to settle in for a tasty meal. I mean, if you can't trust a restaurant that cures its own meat and then hangs it proudly in the entranceway, who can you trust? (Answer: not that many people.) The restaurant is cavernous, with ample bar seating, traditional dining room seating, and plenty of outdoor tables and bar spaces with great views of Shem Creek. The restaurant's executive chef, Katie Lorenzen-Smith, also has plans in the works to offer a dockside menu once the weather gets warmer.
Top, left: a bone-in ribeye with a miso mustard crust, garlic butter, scallions, and vidalia onions; top, right: the rustic decor of Tavern & Table is charming and modern at the same time; bottom: the must-try pimento cheese and bacon jam appetizer
The food is decidedly Lowcountry, but shows influences from the Asian-inspired culinary touches from Lorenzen-Smith, whose previous experiences include stints at high-end restaurants in Las Vegas and Aspen. Together with owners Dianne Crowley, Cecil Crowley, and Andy Palmer, Tavern & Table's menu reflects a thoughtful infusion of ingredients not typically found in traditional Southern dishes. For example, a very tasty pimento cheese is accented with a generous topping of housemade bacon jam. Any good Southern palate knows that bacon makes everything better, and this pimento cheese, served with traditional Ritz crackers, is no exception. In fact, it was the clear winner of all the dishes I sampled.
Top: the gorgeous dining room at Tavern & Table; middle: a beef short rib flatbread served with crisped kale and tomato jam; bottom: kale salad with curried Marcona almonds, green apple, shaved pecorino, and charred brussel sprouts in a lemon-tahini viniagrette
It's indisputable that the food at Tavern & Table is just as beautiful as its setting. A miso mustard crusted, bone-in ribeye arrived with curls of charred, bright green onions and an out-of-this world dollop of fresh garlic butter. The short rib flatbread had beautiful pops of color from tomato jam. Every dish was plated beautifully and arrived promptly. Still, it seemed that some of Tavern & Table's menu could probably still use a little tweaking (there seemed to be a heavy emphasis on sweetness in some of the dishes), but I chalk that up to a newly opened restaurant still figuring out its way. In fact, since my visit, it appears that either the current menu has changed already (based on the online version) or the online version is out of date. In any event, it's clear that the staff and Lorenzen-Smith are eager to please and enthusiastic about the food and their new establishment.
Desserts don't disappoint, either. A rich flourless chocolate cake accented with graham cracker ice cream, which turned out to be surprisingly and pleasantly crunchy, is surely a decadent way to end a meal that started with in-house cured meat (let's be honest—that's how any sane person would start a meal), but it's worth it. Topped with a flambéed marshmallow whip, it's not for the diabetic or sugar sensitive, but for everyone else—oh, it's well worth the calories.
The same goes for a trip to Tavern & Table. It's a great place to go on Shem Creek for a change of scenery and for those with a mood for something just a little different.
Tavern & Table | 100 Church Street | Mt. Pleasant
Photo credit: Ann Kaufman; please do not copy or use without prior permission