Stars Restaurant Rooftop & Grill Room provides the only 360 degree views in the city, but though you may come for the views and drinks, stay for the food. When you first walk into the swanky King Street restaurant you are greeted by an overlarge wine-tap bar (yes...wine tap....I said that, just go with it) and a beautiful dim dining room. In the rear of the room is the open kitchen featuring the famed custom built "Grates of Hell" grill for which the "Grill Room" moniker is derived.
The Chef at Stars, Nathan Thurston, won The Girl and I over a few years ago during Taste of Charleston, when he was the Chef at the Ocean Room at the Sanctuary. Eschewing the pulled pork that seemed to be the required dish, he served up a pate melt sandwich (get it? Patty melt, pate melt) that, three years later, I still remember. So, when he announced his new restaurant, we were both very excited.
Wood-grilled mushroom bruschetta with seasonal greens, goat feta, and a truffle vinaigrette ($9.25) would probably not have been our first choice of an appetizer, but based on Chef's recommendation we went with it. Boy were we glad. If I had not already won The Girl to the glory of mushrooms, this dish would have done it. The glorious mushrooms with the salty cool feta and slight sharp acidity of the vinaigrette provides this dish perfect balance.
The Plancha seared jumbo lump crab cake with spring bean and pea salad, shaved radish, and ginger vinaigrette ($13.95) was a good-not-great dish. The crab cake itself was tasty and buttery but slightly underseasoned. The bean and pea salad underneath was amazing, and I would gladly eat another bowl of it. Together, the dish lacked cohesiveness, but that didn't stop us from cleaning the plate
This dish is where I fail as a food writer. The Girl and I both loved it. It involved a fish. And Brussels sprouts. Specials, always write them down #ProTip.
The favorite of our apps was the most playful, Bacon tater tots ($7.50). Served with a black pepper-buttermilk dressing, these fun little balls of baconny nostalgia were crispy, hot, and what middle school tater tots become when the go to graduate school.
Let me tell you a secret about The Girl. In many ways her preferred diet is that of a middle class Southern man in the 1960s. Meat. Sexy red meat. And grits. She doesn't really need more than that. So the Grill Room Steak ($27.50) with angus shoulder tenderloin, black truffle grits, braised mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and baby arugula may be one of her dream dishes. This isn't an overly imaginative dish, but it doesn't need to be. This is classic comfort food done to fine-dining standards. Perfect sear on the steak, temperature dead on, well seasoned grits, and sexy mushrooms.
Then we get to my dish....and some sweet sweet sticky food love. Black Garlic Baby Back Ribs ($25.50) with smashed & fried potato salad and a crisp vegetable slaw. The potato salad was a fun take on the classic side, but these ribs were the star. The bones just slide right out leaving beautifully glazed succulent meat. I wanted to pick these up and let the sauce dribble down my fingers but The Girl gave me that "Oh no you don't mister" look. Fork tender and beyond delicious!
There was a dessert menu, but we didn't make it that far. TOO many apps. Next time....oh next time.
You want to make your girl happy? After dinner head back upstairs for drinks on the roof, under the stars, and enjoy the cool breeze and stunning views.
Overall: 20/25 A beautiful dining room, amazing rooftop bar and fantastic food make this a must-try restaurant.