Tag Archives: al fresco dining

Husk Charleston

Something special is happening. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach, and a new bounce in my step.  I haven’t felt this way in a while, but I think I’m falling in love…

With this town!

Isn’t it dreamy?

Spanish moss floating from the trees, music in the air, front doors so pretty they almost wink at you as you pass by, boughs heavy with fat spring blossoms…

Charleston has seduced me, swept me completely off my feet!

Charleston Library Spanish Moss Oak Acordian Player

Charleston Grey House

Charleston Boughs heavy with Blossoms

It was on a romantic stroll around town, I found myself in front of one of the city’s hottest restaurants, Husk – – – without a reservation. People wait months to get one. I didn’t have high hopes, but figured “it never hurts to ask.”

We checked in with the hostess and she recommended we add our names to the waitlist and have a drink in the Husk bar across the alley. So we did.

Charleston Husk Building Exterior Front

Charleston Husk Pink Building Across the Street

I was feeling adventurous so when a Southern libation called “Shrubs” made of fruity vinegars caught my eye, I had to order one! I went for the grapefruit version.

Charleston Husk Shrubs

Wow.

It tastes like fruity vinegar alright!

Charleston Husk Shrubs Sip Bar

^^ I think my eyes were cross-eyed underneath my eyelids in this photo!

Let’s just say, Shrubs is an acquired taste. One that I was actually beginning to acquire by the time the ice melted and took things down a notch.

But, hey, I can say I drank vinegar!

Charleston Husk Shrubs Sip Bar Deck

At least I provided plenty of amusement to my date as he kicked back on the porch with a more sensible drink. Sometimes it pays to stick to what you know.

Charleston Husk Beer Porch

Charleston Husk Shrubs Porch Sipping

When the hostess called us for our table, we were fully expecting to be squeezed into a corner between the kitchen and the loos. And we would have been grateful!

Instead, what we got was a beautiful table for two on the upstairs outdoor balcony, with a view out over Queen Street, porch fans whirring silently above us. Yeah, we were pretty pleased…

Charleston Husk Upstairs Balcony

Charleston Husk Upstairs Porch

Charleston Husk Menu Frangipani Shirt

First thing I did, was order an actual cocktail. This time it was the Charleston Dragoon Punch, one of Husk’s signatures. Our server explained it as a classic Southern “porch-sipper” designed to be leisurely imbibed under the breezy shade of… a porch. The recipe has been adapted from the Charleston Preservation Society – California brandy, Jamaican rum, peach brandy, black tea, lemon juice, and raw sugar. It’s now my official favourite drink of the colonial South!

Dragoon Punch

Dragoon Punch

Well, the critics don’t lie, and all the reviews are true. The food at Husk is phenomenal!

But I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Caper's Inlet Blade Oysters on the Half Shell, SC Strawberry Mignonette, Jalapeno, Citrus

Caper’s Inlet Blade Oysters on the Half Shell, SC Strawberry Mignonette, Jalapeno, Citrus

Charleston Husk Caper's Inlet Blade Oysters on the Half Shell, SC Strawberry Mignonette, Jalapeno Citrus

Charleston Husk Caper's Inlet Blade Oysters on the Half Shell

Charleston Husk Fire Roasted Clams, HUSK Sausage, Preserved Tomato, Fennel, Ambrose Farms Pea Shoots, Garlic Toast

Charleston Husk Fire Roasted Clams, HUSK Sausage, Preserved Tomato, Fennel, Ambrose Farms Pea Shoots, Garlic Toasts

Charleston Husk Fire Roasted Clams, HUSK Sausage, Preserved Tomato, Fennel, Ambrose Farms Pea Shoots, Garlic Toasts

Cornmeal Dusted Catfish, FL Sweet Corn Creamed with Green Garlic, Fried Cabbage, Roasted Fennel and Peppers

Cornmeal Dusted Catfish, FL Sweet Corn Creamed with Green Garlic, Fried Cabbage, Roasted Fennel and Peppers

Cider Glazed SC Tamworth Pork, Grilled Asparagus and KY Wonder Beans, Charred Ramps, Smoky Tomato, Pot Likker

Cider Glazed SC Tamworth Pork, Grilled Asparagus and KY Wonder Beans, Charred Ramps, Smoky Tomato, Pot Likker

After a truly special meal, we paid our check and made it out of the restaurant just as the sun was beginning to set. So we clambered for a spot at one of Charleston’s best al fresco bars, The Rooftop at The Vendue. It’s a silly name, but the views are to be taken seriously. With a panoramic view of the city, from the array of church steeples, to Charleston Harbor, it was hard to pick one direction to look in.

Charleston Vendue Front

Charleston Vendue Rooftop Water View

Charleston Vendue Rooftop View

Charleston Vendue Rooftop Bar

Charleston Vendue Rooftop Bar Nightscape City view

Charleston Vendue Rooftop Bar Drink

We watched the sky change color and enjoyed the cool breeze wafting in with nightfall. Charleston is pulling out all the stops to win me over, and I’m falling hard for its charms.

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Sea Containers

Mondrian has arrived in London!  A familiar name we all know and love. For me, the brand conjures memories of an epic stay in Miami celebrating Art Basel many, many moons ago. This one is decidedly more Southbank than South Beach, but sits proudly on the water, the mighty River Thames. Housed in part of the old Sea Containers building, the new hotel has an understated nautical theme, and vibrant river views from its new ground floor restaurant.

We went to check it out on a blazingly bright afternoon for lunch.

Sea Containers From Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge Treacy Black Felt Hat

Sea Containers Dining Room

Sea Containers Dining Room Crest We Serve

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

There’s quite a bit of seafood on the menu, which is no problem for me! We ordered a selection of starters, then shared a chicken and a sea bass.

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep's milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep’s milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with  charred lemon vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with
charred lemon vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass  with citrus, salsa verde

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass with
citrus, salsa verde

Sea Containers Lunch Apple Pie

The desserts were great, and they even let us order a crème brulee off menu.

Sea Containers Lunch Creme Brulee

Sea Containers Faces

Sea Containers Faces Smiles

The sun was setting as we finished lunch (damn you, winter days!), so we headed upstairs to the rooftop bar, Rumpus Room, for the view – and ended up staying a little bit longer than planned.

Rumpus Room Signage

Rumpus Room Area

Rumpus Room Bar

With unobstructed views across the pulsing heart of London’s business and financial district, the rooftop terrace is no doubt going to be a popular al fresco destination this spring and summer. Have fun, people!

Rumpus Room Outside Rooftop Bar

Rumpus Room View

Rumpus Room View Rooftop Thames

Rumpus Room Drinks Table

The drinks were impressive (aka exceptionally strong) and before we knew it, we were all a bit sozzled.

Rumpus Room Drinks

Rumpus Room Rooftop Silly face

The only thing I would say if you visit Rumpus Room (and you aren’t expensing it to the bank you work for) – check your itemized bill before paying. The service is attentive and pleasant, but they definitely added extra items to our check that we didn’t order. Other than that, go forth and enjoy!

Something Red

Every bride needs something red.

I spent the morning wedding shopping and came away with a big crimson bag full of Valentino.

Keeping with the scarlet theme, next stop was a healthy booze-free lunch at a much-loved fave of mine, Ottolenghi.

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It seems like you can’t turn around without seeing one of Ottolenghi’s best-selling cookbooks everywhere you go – but have you ever looked at those recipes? The simplest salad has like forty ingredients! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

In London we are so fortunate to have a few of these delis from which to grab a scrummy lunch that would otherwise take half a day to prepare!

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Seared beef fillet with horseradish and green peppercorn sour cream sauce | Mixed green beans with red onion, chilli, mustard seeds and herbs | Jersey royals with yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, basil and mixed herbs

Seared beef fillet with horseradish and green peppercorn sour cream sauce | Mixed green beans with red onion, chilli, mustard seeds and herbs | Jersey royals with peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, basil and mixed herbs

Roasted eggplant with walnut yoghurt, herbs and walnuts | Roasted cauliflower with wild garlic pesto, bitter leaves, parsley, chilli and toasted sourdough breadcrumbs | Green maftoul and moghrabieh with pistachios, friend onion, cumin and rocket

Roasted eggplant with walnut yoghurt, herbs and walnuts | Roasted cauliflower with wild garlic pesto, bitter leaves, parsley, chilli and toasted sourdough breadcrumbs | Green maftoul and moghrabieh with pistachios, fried onion, cumin and rocket

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Beautiful food!

And holy moly! So good.

Too bad the weather wasn’t nearly as nice. Thankfully, the staff had plenty of wooly blankets on hand – in the perfect color!

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My sugar detox was put to the ultimate test surrounded by all this sweetness!

Aren’t these blackcurrant meringues a thing of beauty?

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Ultimately, I couldn’t resist the charms of this seductive little tart!

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Nearly as tasty as my version!

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It was time to keep moving.

… After I picked up a few of these mini-meringues on my way out.

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What a gorgeous day to paint the town red!

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