Monday, July 9, 2012

Cruise From Charleston

Historic Homes Face The Battery in Charleston
One of my favorite southern cities is Charleston, South Carolina. If Mel and I and the Tabby Trio didn’t live where we do in Georgia, we’d live there. Part of Charleston’s charm is food related and with two culinary schools and a passion for good cooking, the city is home to dozens of world-class restaurants. It’s best to skip the chain eateries and dine like a local, which is why one of our favorite restaurants is Jestine’s Kitchen at 251 Meeting Street.

While surfing the ’Net recently I happened to run across an article about The Best fried Chicken in America and was pleased to see Jestine’s Kitchen was one of the choices. Jestine’s often has lines trailing out the door and around the corner, which has led some critics to dismiss it as a "tourist trap"—a misnomer for sure. Whatever you think, Jestine’s fried chicken is worth the wait. As the article says, "It’s been lauded as not only the best in the city, but also in the state, the world, the galaxy, and even the universe. The fried chicken served here is traditional, pure Southern comfort, and is available in all-white and all-dark meat orders. The kitchen serves up all things thoroughly Southern, and both Rachael Ray and Anthony Bourdain have graced its seats." Jestine’s has also been named the Food Network’s 'Best Of,' and received the Reader’s Choice Award from Southern Living magazine in 2009. The restaurant is named for Jestine Matthews, who was housekeeper and cook for generations of restaurant owner Dana Berlin’s family. Jestine lived until the ripe old age of 112 and, thankfully, her recipes live on.

I’ve been told that Jestine’s is Jimmy Buffett’s favorite place to dine in Charleston, which was a good enough recommendation for me to drop in the first time. Along with the fantastic fried chicken and other Southern-style "comfort" food, another of my personal favorites is the Shrimp Creole and either Bread Pudding or Coca-Cola Cake for dessert. Every meal should be accompanied by Jestine’s “Table Wine”—sweetened tea.

If you are Cruising From Charleston, The Antebellum Belle, restaurants on South Market Street range from the chain quality Bubba Gump Shrimp Company to the perennial local favorite, A. W. Shuck’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar. A bit further to walk, but certainly worth the trouble, is Jestine’s and I hope you love it as much as I do.

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