Let me summarize what I knew about the dinner we were going to have. Jeremy Holst of Anson would be the chef. It would happen somewhere on a Sunday evening. jimihatt runs the show, and he has a beard. That is it. I received an email the day before the dinner to ask about food allergies, and another a few hours before the dinner with the address. This is Trust-Me dining to the extreme.
The location turned out to be a space I have wanted to get into for YEARS! 141 East Bay Street, the old Farmer's and Merchant's Bank (The building that looks like a mosque). For those of you F&B Veterans who used to squeeze into Charlie's Little Bar, this is the building you went in the fire door at the back of in order to get drunk. The space is stunning. Two story ceilings, Moroccan Revival detail work. One long table down the center. The setting feels like a secret meeting of the Illuminati in a Dan Brown novel. Freakin' awesome!
Before the dinner, our host jimihatt (only person you'll ever meet with that spelling) introduced our chef and informed us of the mantra of the evening; tonight we are the coolest people in Charleston. When you first hear that it seems absurd. Then it begins to sink in. You and the 15 or so people around you are dining in a building that no one else uses, having a menu no one else gets to eat, at a restaurant that will only exist for one night. Underground supper club MUST equal cool!
On to the menu! First course: Tartar of Ahi Tuna, sesame cornet, uni, Peruvian pink salt, petite wasabi. This is a Nutty Buddy for adults. The uni (sea urchin) provides a beautiful salty brine to some of the cleanest tuna I have ever had. The cornet acts as a great vessel for this adult snow-cone. The wasabi cream at the base of the cone is delightful without being overpowering. The girl actually enjoyed it very much, other than the wasabi. I gladly finished that off for her.
Second course gave her even more trepidation, being the non-fish eater that she is. Chef Holst's take on Lox & Bagels: wild king salmon, cream cheese gelato, bagel chips, capers, Mosto olive oil. Before I get into the dish, let me tell you about the process of catching the salmon. This is wild dip net caught fish. That means Native Americans on the Columbia river use techniques thousands of years old to procure these fish. Sustainable and pretty damn awesome! The dish itself was stunning. The bagel chip makes a great crisp to pile on fish and gelato. The salmon is pleasantly salted, and mixed with the decedent cream cheese gelato, it is about as wonderful a dish as anything I have ever had. The fact that The Girl cleaned her plate is testimony to that fact, though she would have liked more gelato.
The third course was again something The Girl wasn't looking forward to, but I was dying to try. Beetssssssssss (in many forms). This included roasted, raw, powdered, pickled, juiced, and cotton candy forms of beets, with aged goat cheese and citrus. Unlike the first two dishes, The Girl couldn't be convinced she liked beets. I gladly cleaned her plate and mine. The cotton candy was whimsical and fun. The goat cheese paired wonderfully with all the different beets. If this ever goes on the menu at Anson, I'm all over it!
The fourth course is the first of the two most intimidating dishes for those around me: Crispy Florida Frog Legs, tempura, sushi rice "risotto", sake, beech mushroom, oyster sauce, garlic chives. I love how Chef Holst continues to play with his food, in a fun way. This is a take on Chinese street food, with the tempura frog legs tasting like a sweet and sour chicken, and the risotto having the look of cheap fried rice, while tasting like a dream cooked in sake. The Girl could have easily eaten the risotto all night long.
The fifth course was the one I was most anticipating, though I think it was the least successful of the night. A play on McDonald's mystery meat chicken nuggets, the dish featured sweetbreads, sweet n' sour, homemade tater tots, and green tomato ketchup. The two sauces were beautiful and well balanced. The tots were weirdly soft and somewhat off-putting. The sweetbreads, while imitating nuggets perfectly, fell a little flat. Salt would have helped, but I think my biggest complaint is the masking of the sweetbread flavor. Not a horrible dish, but compared to everything else it was a little blah.
For an intermezzo, chef provided us with a champagne, mint, and strawberry popsicle. This is a great palate cleanser, though I would have preferred basil to mint. The fun factor is through the roof with this tasty treat.
The Scores (Remember, every single dinner will be different)
Overall: 22 out of 25, the single most fun I have ever had at a single dinner.