Slightly North of Broad, affectionately referred to as S.N.O.B., is consistently listed among the best restaurants in a city known for outstanding food. Chef Frank Lee started out at the helm of SNOB’s kitchen and catapulted it to prominence by using locally- sourced produce and seafood with a farm-to-table mindset long before the concept was popular. Now, the kitchen is under the direction of Chef Russ Moore who is continuing the tradition of commitment to locally-sourced ingredients and keen attention to culinary detail. In a recent visit to Charleston, I anticipated a special birthday lunch, and Slightly North of Broad was my choice. The meal was exactly the memorable event I wanted.
Location: 192 East Bay Street, Charleston, South Carolina, in downtown Charleston near the Charleston Market and a few blocks from the mouth of the Boone River where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Menu: For lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, an extensive gluten-free menu is provided along with the regular menu. Items on all the menus reflect the seasonal offerings that are abundant in the farms, forests, and rivers near Charleston, as well as the vast amount of seafood in the Atlantic Ocean which can be seen only a few blocks from the restaurant. The names of dishes reveal the language and the tastes indigenous to the southeastern portion of the United States.
“Blackberry Mule,” “Cathead Blues, ” and “The Barn Raiser” are just a few of the signature cocktails listed. Appetizers on the lunch menu might be steamed clams or grass-fed beef carpaccio, and sandwiches run the gamut from blackened catfish to a house-cured corned beef Reuben. Main courses include shrimp and grits, fried chicken livers, grilled chicken and watermelon salad, and grilled local trout with a side of Geechie Boy grits, just to name a few of the most interesting.
For dinner, intriguing options such as BBQ tuna, duck breast with yellow squash custard, a pork chop from Heritage Farm or an amazing steak from the Allen Brothers are sure to tempt discriminating diners. You might consider one of those entrees after choosing from five or six appetizers, such as pork cheek dumpling or grilled peach salad.
Every day there is a new special listed on the website. Recent offerings were: cream of crab soup, a side of charred okra, a jumbo lump crab cake with beet and pistachio risotto, and marinated scuppernong followed by brandied apple bread pudding for dessert. The sound of that menu makes me want to pack quickly and jump in the car.
For my birthday lunch, I chose jumbo lump crab salad with avocado toast and heirloom tomatoes, followed by a beautiful plate called Southern Medley. It consisted of a grilled chicken breast with eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, basil pesto, a dressing of balsamic vinaigrette, topped with goat cheese croutons. All of the ingredients were fresh, colorful and magically prepared.
Thoughts: The website for Slightly North of Broad includes an extensive list of local purveyors, many of which are in Charleston or very nearby on Wadmalaw Island, John’s Island, and Edisto Island. The tea even comes from Charleston Tea Plantation, which is the only place in North America where tea is grown. It is fortunate for all concerned – farmers, fishermen, owners, culinary staff, and diners – that such a vast array of ingredients can be found in the area. It is easy to imagine the produce and seafood arriving early in the morning just in time for the kitchen team to prepare and begin serving when the first lunch patrons arrive. As a matter of fact, guests can see right into the open kitchen where the beautiful dishes are created seven days a week. Slightly North of Broad is open nightly for dinner, on Monday through Friday for lunch and on Saturday and Sunday for brunch.
S.N.O.B. is housed in a former 18th-century warehouse building, and the interior is a profusion of colors, patterns, gleaming wood floors, white columns and a mix of traditional and whimsical light fixtures. The service is friendly, helpful and extremely attentive.
Every meal at S.N.O.B. begins with a small sweetgrass basket filled with warm cornbread made by a recipe that was published in Charleston, The City Magazine since 1975. A short walk will take you to the source of the intricate baskets, the Charleston Market. There you’ll find dozens of Gullah craftspeople weaving, displaying and selling them. Another great souvenir of your visit would be the new cookbook written by S.N.O.B.’s original chef, Frank Lee. It’s called The SNOB Experience.
Price Ranges: Lunch prices range from $12 to $26. Dinner prices begin at $8 for chilled gazpacho soup to $48 for a 16 oz. grilled prime rib steak. Brunch options range from $12 to $22.
Charleston is full of great places to stay, including rumors that some spots are haunted. Read the reviews here before making your selection.
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Connie's book "Telling It On The Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Unlikely Missionary" was published in 2016 and is available on Amazon.In addition to her blog, www.theregoesconnie.com, she is a regular contributor to The Yums,Trip101.com, MilesGeek.com, Epicurean-Traveler.com, ShortWeeks-LongWeekends.com and other print and online travel publications.