Brunch is a fixture in Charleston. It has grown faster than the National deficit. It is more important than our political engine and it has raised the bar for culinary excellence. Brunch is a personal experience for many. For some, it is to meet an insatiable appetite and for others a spiritual gathering of friends to share laughs and mimosas.
Brunch is an art and one that follows certain rules of behavior and expectations. A good brunch will have great drinks, excellent food, comforting décor and high level service. Rarely, will you find all those qualities. That isn’t a bad thing. Brunch is a brand and certain restaurants are selling that brand. It could be cheap cocktails, a signature dish, the ambiance of a rooftop or live music.
On a rare occasion, an establishment gets it all right. Harold’s Cabin located on the corner of Congress and President, defied the odds and created a brunch experience that has set the bar high. Ironically, seeing a chalk board sign supporting Raven Saunders in her quest for a medal in Rio laid a nice parallel for our award winning experience.
We must begin with the charming rustic décor. How often, do you want to tour a restaurant? We did. With a glass of Prosecco in hand, we took a self-guided tour of what appeared to be a quaint late 1800’s cabin with a warn American flag on the wall, bird art, wooden chairs, a couch your grandma would be proud of and the highlight, a rooftop garden. We were overwhelmed with a feeling of home as we walked on the creaky wooden panels beneath us and took in the well-designed layout and décor.
The brunch menu, to many, may seem light on options, but given the preparation descriptions, we had a challenge narrowing down our selections. We did
the proper thing and staggered our courses to maximize the options we could try.
- Course one: Corn Hush Puppies with pepper jam and sweet corn kernels – Our delightful server claimed they may be the best in all of Charleston. Believe me she was right. At $5.00, it was a meal in itself. So much so that I took one home for a later snack. So lightly fried and soft on the inside and with the compliment of just enough peppery spice, it was a perfect and zesty combination of sweet and spicy.
- Course two: Harold and Lillian. I have a confession. This past Sunday, I hosted a brunch for 14 people and one of the dishes I tried to create was this dish. Now, mine was not nearly as amazing, but it was gone in less than 90 seconds and very well received. This creation is genius and so unique to our little community. Picture this: Lox and latkas, granny apple slices and crème fraiche. With each fork full, we carefully made sure we had the crème, apple slice, lox and latkas fried up like a taco all together. That combination was heavenly.
- Course three: Tomato and pimento cheese biscuit with egg ($6.50) with a side of Brussel sprouts. Not an uncommon dish, but wow what a dish. In presentation and taste, they nailed it. This homemade biscuit with just the right toasty firmness on the outside and light fluffy on the inside and made to perfection. It was sizable for two and overwhelmingly delicious.
- Course four: The intent was the beignets, but we settled for the Prosecco instead. We just couldn’t do it, but will be back for them very soon.
We would be hard pressed not to mention the artistry of the barista. The cappuccino was made with a frothy leaf on top and hand delivered by the artist herself. As she walked away, we saw the brush in her back pocket and smiled.
Two hours later, we left happy and fulfilled. We talked down Huger Street through the neighborhoods and just enjoyed the afterglow of our exceptional brunch experience.