Monday, October 19, 2009

A Southern Brunch at Hominy Grill

Before I even started researching food adventures for my weekend in Charleston, all I heard from anyone who knew about my trip was "you gotta go to Hominy Grill and get their shrimp and grits!" And when I started my research, all I read about the Charleston food scene was "you gotta go to Hominy Grill and get their shrimp and grits!" It's not often that you hear reviews this unanimous and consistent, so there was no way I was going to miss this one.

Hominy Grill is situated in a residential neighborhood, off the beaten path away from the tourist areas of Charleston. It's housed apparently in a converted old barbershop, a wooden shingle structure with some garden seating to the side of the house. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon-Sat and brunch on Sundays. Luckily the shrimp and grits are on the menu everyday every meal so we made the pilgrimage early on Saturday morning for brunch. A 10:30AM arrival still led to a 30 minute wait...some people waited before the place opened at 9 to score a table. Fan devotion, good sign.

The brunch menu was a good mix of breakfast fare with southern specialties like BBQ chicken, she crab soup (a crab based bisque with a shot of sherry on top) and corn bread. My friend and I sampled both categories, starting with fried green tomatoes washed down by a mimosa and bloody mary (okra instead of celery). The tomatoes were tart in taste and unripe in texture but I guess that is the point. The breading looked like any other breading but somehow ended up super crunchy and flavorful in the mouth.

The whole thing was swimming in a ranch dressing type sauce. But somehow, for a fried green tomato virgin like me, it just worked. I know in the south, everything is fried so this may be no big deal, but we don't fry things like this in NYC. You can tell this is a skilled frying job, not a McDonald's-esque mass produced beeping timers frying job.

Entrees were just as delicious and well executed. The cinnamon french toast with pecan butter and apple maple sauce was light and fluffy and not overwhelmingly sweet despite the description. And despite the potential negative impact to my weight and health, I wanna know where I can buy the pecan butter (seen melting over the toasts below) so I can eat it by the spoonful right out the container.

And the shrimp and grits...oh, the shrimp and grits. They did not disappoint. Perfectly sauteed shrimp with scallions, muchrooms and bacon over cheese grits. That's it! I have no idea how they do it but, again, flavors out of seemingly nowhere. And I am not sure there was even cheese on the grits...not needed, there were enough tasty treats already without it. I gotta get the cookbook and try this for myself one of these days.

The dessert selection was a cornucopia of southern faves: sweet potato pie, candied ginger pecan pie, homemade ice cream, pineapple upside down cake and an unexpected Guinness float with homemade vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Knowing the desserts would also be phenomenal given the pure execution genius of the other menu items, we ordered a slice of red velvet cake (how much more southern can that be) go. My stomach was telling me to stop but my mouth wanted a side of shrimp and grits to go too. Next time I am in town, I will be eating all three meals here.

1 comment:

  1. lovely! keep it up, blogging gets easier with time, they tell me!