There are some new kids on the block. I say kids because Nicole and Jay Kees are at least as young as my adult children. Though they are well seasoned food adventurers who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina just 12 weeks ago to open their new eatery, Angel Oak Restaurant. I was invited to attend a media dinner at Angel Oak last night and I was pleasantly pleased. It is not just the interesting locally based seasonal food that caught my eye, but attention to the smallest details in the choices for decor and service ware. The restaurant has a very personal feel to it and that is because everything in it was hand picked from antique markets in upstate New York before the Kees moved to Charleston. Antique bottles filled with herbs are on each table and in window frames, the tables which are covered in brown paper are set with vintage china and when you order coffee, the cream comes in old pint milk bottles. The toile banquettes were hand made by the couple, chairs bought on Craigs List and antique doors provide cover for the busing station. Though the mason jar drinking glasses are a southern staple, the decor is fresh, art filled and not at all cloying.
Now, let’s talk about the food. The Angel Oak Restaurant has a seasonal locally inspired menu which is printed up daily. All pasta is made in house. Sauces & condiments are made from scratch and interestingly presented. Their supper menu includes appetizers such as oysters on the half shell with fresh horseradish, champagne mignonette ($7), deep fried bacon drizzled with a Buffalo sauce served with home made blue cheese dressing ($6), Port Wine Pate fresh creamy chicken liver pate, green tomato chow-chow, pickled vegetables, selection of mustards, toast points ($8) and Lobster Mac with fresh lobster, creamy herbed champagne cheese sauce and a baked panko crust ($12) among other offerings.
They also have a fun “snack” menu for just $3 you can have a taste of House-Made Ricotta with toast points and local honey, Fried Green Tomatoes, Deviled Eggs and Yorkshire Pudding with Gravy. It is a playful way to taste some really interesting flavors. At our table the house made ricotta was a big hit.
Entrees, salads and sandwiches fill out the rest of the supper menu. The entrees vary from Southern staples (Chef Kees is from Southern Missisippi and trained at the C.I.A.) to interesting plays of local ingredients. Their stellar Buttermilk Fried Chicken, drizzled with five spice herb honey served with macaroni and cheese gratin and collard greens ($17) made several diners smile. Shrimp Carbonara with sautéed Low Country shrimp, house made pasta with peas, roasted lardons of local bacon tossed in a creamy herb sauce ($16). My Steak Au Poivre; seared peppercorn crusted local grass fed sirloin finished with a brandy cream sauce were served with herbed shoestring fries in a brown paper bag ($21) was a perfectly cooked medium rare. Other offerings round out the supper menu. Sides ($3) include herbed shoestring fries, macaroni and cheese gratin, roasted corn on the cob,creamed smashed potatoes, stone ground grits, braised carrots, collard greens & seasonal vegetables.
After all of that good food, it might be difficult to save room for dessert, but their banana pudding served in a jelly jar was worth the extra calories.
Sunday Brunch is served from 10-4, Lunch is served buffet style with lemonade or tea from 11-4 Tuesday-Friday ($8.95~ call for menu items as they change daily) and dinner is available Tuesday-Thursday till 9 and Friday-Saturday till 10. Angel Oak is located near Johns Island, 3669 Savannah Highway Johns Island, SC 29455. Indoor and out door seating is available. For reservations call 843) 556-7525. Go to Facebook and “like” Angel Oak Restaurant to stay in the loop on what is happening at this fun new dining spot.
If you are not from Charleston, you might want to read more about the namesake of this restaurant, the Angel Oak Tree. It is thought to be the oldest living organism East of the Mississippi River.
I am looking forward to return visits and having a chance to taste more of Chef Kee’s creations. I will be sharing them with you then.