We have had some birthday celebrations around here over the past week or so- both Alfonso and I are October babies. Ten days (and 3 years) apart. We’ve had lots of love from family and friends and even got taken out to some fun restaurants to celebrate. BBQ, Spanish food, brunches- it was a regular culinary tour of Charleston! We had a birthday brunch on Halloween day with family at Eli’s Table, a southern American restaurant in the heart of downtown Charleston. Oddly enough, we were originally introduced to the local restaurant’s brunch by friends from out of town. We brunched with them and loved it, so we decided to go back for our birthdays!
I would agree with the “updated classics” sentiment described on the restaurant’s website of it’s menu. The idea behind a menu that offers “bold, worldly flavors while using fresh, local ingredients” (See restaurant description on the website.) is an idea that appeals greatly to Alfonso and me. The use of “fresh, local ingredients” is something we have come to expect from any restaurant worth it’s salt (food pun alert). I would say overall we enjoyed the experience and the food. We have a few talking points to discuss, but we would definitely recommend a visit to anyone who wants a pleasant brunch close to all the downtown Charleston action.
Side note: We are not professional food critics, nor are we the last word on what counts as good or not, but I like to think we have a pretty trained and diverse sense of taste. These are our opinions and, obviously, the best way to know what its like for sure is to pay them a visit!
I’ll start with my least favorite dish. Ironically enough, it was mine. I ordered Eli’s Breakfast, which was the standard eggs, meat, carb breakfast combo that you see at many restaurants. I chose to scramble the eggs, with sausage and potatoes. I could have chosen bacon and grits had I wished.
While everything was good- especially the fennel sausage patty-it lacked the freshness promised in the menu. And by freshness I mean fruit or veggies (That orange slice isn’t fooling anyone). I could have ordered a side of fruit (the only veggie/fruit side available), but I still think that a plate should be more balanced than what this was. Maybe some homemade chunky salsa for the eggs would fix the problem. The potatoes were seasoned well and just the crispiness that I love- two thumbs up! The biscuits were good, but did not taste as recently baked as they were advertised to be. In short, if you are looking for standard breakfast fare and are not a big fan of fruits or veggies, this might be a choice for you.
On to the next dish!
My second favorite thing that the table ordered was Alfonso’s dish. He ordered the Shrimp and Grit Benedict and Oh man! was it delicious! It was served with the same crispy potatoes that I had and loved. They made 2 cakes out of grits and gouda cheese, topped them with a (grilled?) shrimp each, a poached egg each, and tasso gravy.
Great texture, great flavor, perfectly cooked shrimp, perfectly poached eggs. Sometimes its the simple things done well that make a meal great. All three people at the table who tried this dish had something positive to say about it. Maybe add a little sprinkling of something green on top- parsley?
I should also talk a little about my obsession with the holy trinity of breakfast drinks. I love a brunch with good coffee, a bloody Mary, and iced water. Like LOVE. It almost makes a brunch for me if I can get some delicious dark roast with a drop of cream and a spicy, tomato-y, deep-flavored bloody Mary on the side with some iced water for when things get too rich. The bloody at Eli’s was very refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to our brunch-not too weak, not too strong. Coffee was smooth and rich and the iced water was always full. Gold star.
We also had someone order the Texas Scramble one of the breakfast items on the Chef’s Features menu. It had smoked sausage, cheddar cheese, corn salsa and fruit was substituted for the grits. Although I didn’t try it personally the answer to the question, “How do you like it?” was “Delicious! Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm!” I’m going to take that as a sign that the dish was well-received. Just by looking, I still am of the opinion that there should be more fresh fruit or veggie on the plate. Had fruit not been substituted for the grits, there would have been only the corn salsa in the scramble to freshen up the plate.
The last brunch dish at the table was the Holy City Croque Madame. Ham, cheese, béchamel sauce, topped with two over easy eggs. And FINALLY a little arugula salad on the side! This looked so delicious. It had a grainy, spicy mustard sauce drizzled under the sandwich on the plate. If you’ve never had a Croque Madame (or her equally slobber worthy brother, Croque Monsieur) its like a jazzed up grilled ham and cheese. What’s not to like? This was the most balanced of the brunch dishes in my opinion.
Now for a dish that is in my top favorite dishes EVER from anywhere! It was from the lunch menu and we all shared it as an appetizer, but I could have eaten a couple by my self. I’ve never had anything like it before, but all of the flavors were familiar. They call this the Fried Green Tomato Napoleon. It deserves a crown on top of that tower of goodness.
The menu lists some of the components as pimento cheese, tomato coulis, and aged balsamic glaze (of which they should make some dang candy or something- so good). The tomato “sauce” on the bottom was like the best tomato soup you’ve ever had and despite being placed on top of the coulis, the fried green tomatoes were still super crispy, but fresh from the perfectly ready-to-eat green tomatoes. The pimento cheese was creamy and had the perfect spice. It balanced the texture of the fried tomatoes. This was classified as a salad or starter, but could perfectly well be a good lunch. Don’t go to Eli’s Table without trying this. Seriously. In fact, go JUST to try this.
I also would like to recognize our pirate waiter (Remember it was Halloween?) and everyone else who attended to us. Service was great. Thanks for a fun birthday brunch!