Early Bird Diner

I don’t trust a person who doesn’t enjoy replacing dinner with breakfast every once in a while. It was one of those nights where I couldn’t keep my mind off of eggs, bacon and coffee, and with this feeling I drove over the Ashley River to Early Bird Diner.
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The sweet smell of syrup was in the air as soon as I opened the door, and as I took a seat on the worn plastic booth, I knew I was in for a treat.
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I ordered “The Mess” and was presented with a scramble of curried vegetables, potatoes and eggs topped with slices of avocado and served with a house-made biscuit. I would never guess that curry could taste delectable with eggs,  but there was something about the mix of vegetables and avocado that made it just right. Also, the biscuit was a real treat.
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*Side note: Do not ask a waiter in the South if their biscuits are homemade, they will answer this question with a “What do you think this is? Of course” and dumbfounded expression on their face. 
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My  date got the classic, Chicken and Waffles, because when in Rome… I thought the waffles were whole wheat, but was surprised when I tasted the cinnamon batter. The fried chicken was pecan encrusted and was the element that made this meal a ten. I wish that it was served with the lavender honey that is served during dinner, but the honey mustard also did the trick.
Who I would take as my date: A breakfast for dinner lover

Two Boroughs Larder

I can not stress enough how much I love neighborhood restaurants, places that blend in and add to the charisma of the neighborhood. Two Boroughs Larder is located about 30 big steps from my house and it has been on my bucket list for way too long. This past Friday was the night I could finally cross TBL off my list.

TBL has a daily menu with an emphasis on local ingredients. The menu is small, which if you know me at all you know this is a blessing. I always have the most difficult time deciding what I want on large menus….

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To start, my date and I made the decision to get the Charcuterie platter. I know a good charcuterie when I see one and when this one came out on a wooden platter adorned with a variety of mustard’s and pickles–the deal was sealed. The platter included, chicken liver with huckleberry jelly, blood sausage (thanks to my madame in Paris, I had a palate for blood sausage), chicken patty with mushrooms, and dried cured meat.

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The menu is separated by tabs on the bottom (not pictured) and under the tab “Standard” you will find the, well, standard dish. The ten dollar Bowl-O-Noodle has been served since the opening of TBL. The bowl contains perfectly tender pork confit, soft egg, pork broth and house noodle. You are also able to add on kimchi, sesame greens, or pickled mushrooms. Because this was my first time here, I kept it classic to get the full effect.

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Luckily for me, I am only 30 big steps away from my next meal.

http://twoboroughslarder.com/

Who I would take as my date: A neighbor

 

Trattoria Lucca

Monday nights at this cozy Italian restaurant are dedicated to something Italians do best, family style dinners. You pay per head and are served courses created by chef Ken Vedrinski. The menu changes according to what local ingredients inspired him or what fresh catch he can get from his fisherman. And, I trust any chef that is also a certified Sommelier, because lets be honest, if you have a gift for wine, you have a gift for food. 

I was very fortunate to spend this meal with a dear friend who was celebrating her 22nd birthday! She just returned from studying in Florence, Italy (with an expertise in wine and food).

What you are about to see is all-inclusive within the family style dinner.  

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This bread could have been a course. One of the top things I miss about Europe is the amazing bread–so when I taste it, I just can’t say no to another slice, roll, piece, stick, etc… 

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Butter bean salad

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Fried Cauliflower. Can’t have just one. 

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Charcuterie Board

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Who knew a pasta with red sauce could be so flavorful?

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Mushroom topped Pork Loin

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Tiramisu-Cheesecake

This meal is perfect for Monday nights, it keeps you full all week. 

http://luccacharleston.com/

Who I would take as my date: A friend who studied abroad in Italy to show that there can be good Italian in America!

Xiao Bao Biscuit

It is easy to be transported when eating at Xiao Bao Biscuit, where centerpieces of fire engine red chopsticks in mason jars decorate the tables. Not only does the gas station-turned restaurant make you feel like you are somewhere other than Spring Street, but there are also menu items from various Asian destinations. I’m not talking standard pad thai and chicken + broccoli—I’m talking a menu that has been thought up by a master cuisiner. XBB was also a nominee on Bon Appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants in America,” also listed was previously blogged, The Ordinary

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The menu goes something like this–small plates and large plates; divided into regional flavors where the dishes got their inspiration. My date and I opted to get a mixture of small plates. 
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Starting with two different salads, we dined on the spicy eggplant salad and papaya salad. The papaya salad was light and refreshing while the eggplant woke up your taste buds. 
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After reading reviews about the pork belly, it was clear that Xiao would be the place where pork belly would make its debut into my tummy. The belly was oh so tender, and the sauce that went with it was the perfect compliment. 
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We also ordered the mapo chicken wings (my date happens to be a wing fanatic). The wings tested like candy, perfectly glazed, and perfect crunchiness and texture. 
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I can’t wait to get a hankering for Asian again, we all know, it will be very soon. 
 
 
Who I would take as my date: A Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean food lover!
 

The Ordinary

The Ordinary is anything but ordinary. Nominated for a James Beard award, the Ordinary doesn’t mess around when it comes to a fine dining experience.

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The menu is perfectly sized, all fitting on one page which is developed into the following categories: cold, hot, seafood towers, soup + salad, and large plates.

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I began my meal by enjoying the crispy clams. The only thing I can compare it to is meatclamloaf. It was a tasty mixture of clam meat, herbs and breading.

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My dear friend recommended the hawaiian rolls to me (listed under sides). The rolls are soaked in pineapple juice + coconut milk and they are heaven on earth.

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My entree from the large plate menu was the caribbean stew. It. was. incredible. I can’t even explain how opulent the broth was that the array of seafood sat in. There was rice hiding underneath the stew.

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My date enjoyed the black bass en papillion. Upon opening the papillion paper, we were presented with the fish which was surrounded by tomatoes, olives and capers—creating a provocative dish.

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It is impossible for me to refuse dessert at a restaurant this good. I had the salted mint chocolate and nut surrounded by caramel. It was the perfect way to end a perfect meal.

http://eattheordinary.com/

Who I would take as my date: My Mom ❤