Tag Archives: Restaurants

Heart Woodfire Kitchen

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Tucked away off of Folly Road on James Island, Heart Woodfire Kitchen is a very special place. It is fun and hip and the first thing that hits you when you open the door is the sweet deep aroma of wood burning. This touches me tenderly, as I once owned a wood burning oven at my cooking school in Chicago and I miss it so much. The very core of this place is the Valoriani wood burning oven and a wood fired rotisserie grill. It does not stop there. Clever cocktails, local produce, pork and chicken raised in the Low Country, nice wine and beer selections and a creative upscale menu without being pretentious. This is not fast food, not BBQ and not white tablecloth dining, it is great flavorful dining at the mid price level, something we do not have a lot of in Charleston.

We went on a Tuesday night after going to see a film. It was balmy outside, so we opted for outside dining. The restaurant was unusually busy for a Tuesday and it was obvious that this was a bit unexpected for the staff. The assistant manager became our server because they were short staffed and we were very lucky because she was on top of her game and gave us second glasses of wine on the house because the kitchen was jammed. The food was excellent. Full of smoky flavor and interesting textures.

splendi heart woodfire

We started with a small order of one of their “Speidie,” little skewers. cooked close to the flame. We had the Fontina wrapped in prosciutto & balsamic with a wheat berry salad. 2 skewers for just $6, quite the perfect thing to nibble on while you are drinking one of their fabulous cocktails. They offer two other Speidie, one with Beef Short ribs, rosemary oil & almonds and another with Bacon wrapped Chicken Livers & chimichurri. The menu has several other small plates including some interesting soups& salads  that change with the seasons.

We shared  a spinach salad with roasted beets, wheat berries, romaine,onions and a green garlic vinaigrette.  It was crisp and yet warming with the roasted beets. The green garlic vinaigrette was perfect. I would have liked a little piece of their fabulous house made bread to go with it.
spinach salad
My husband ordered the blackened catfish sandwich which comes on one  of their sturdy house made rolls. It was round and he was expecting more of a poor boy style bread, but the flavors were fabulous and the fish was crusty with spices on the exterior and warm, tender and white on the interior, just as it should be. He ordered creamed mustard greens as his side and they were stellar. I had a few bites and we brought the rest home because after a bag of popcorn at the movies we were fuller than we thought we were.

flat bread

I had one of their signature flat breads, really a crispy little pizza. I opted for the vegetable flat bread with Acorn Squash & Goat Cheese, fennel, cauliflower & arugula pesto.I bought some home and will be having it for lunch today.

We are looking forward to going back and trying some of their local fish from the wood fired oven. We also saw dishes of their baked pasta with four cheeses walk past us and they looked delicious. Their rotisserie chicken looked fantastic and I can only imagine that their Grilled Butcher’s Steak with roasted mushrooms & onions, herb butter is fantastic. The Wood Fired Vegetable Stew, basmati rice, basil pesto, lemon yogurt, toasted almonds & apricots also sounds interesting to me.

Wood fire cooking

They have an extensive lunch menu and what looks like a fun brunch menu. They have happy hour from 4-6 and the offerings are a good way to taste several things at a reduced price.

My suggestion? Run don’t walk to this hidden gem of a restaurant. Heart Woodfire Kitchen at 1622 Highland Ave Charleston SC 29412  (843) 718-1539 Look for this sign off of Folly Road:
Heart woodfire

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Charleston’s Newest Restaurant

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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.

Port Wine Pate~fresh creamy chicken liver pate, green tomato chow-chow
pickled vegetables, selection of mustards, toast points

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.

House made ricotta with honey

Fried Bacon with Buffalo Sauce and house made blue cheese
Pate with house made pickles, mustard and green tomato chow chow

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.

Classic Steak Au Poivre ~ seared peppercorn crusted sirloin finished with a brandy cream sauce & herbed shoestring fries

Perfectly cooked crispy fries served in a brown paper bag

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.

Banana Puddiing

Restaurant owners: Executive Chef Jay Kees and Manager Nicole Kees

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.

The original Angel Oak on Johns Island, SC

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.