Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Grace is Good, Very Good

Sherry Laced She Crab Soup and Shrimp Remoulade Salad

Most people get excited about Spoleto, Charleston's annual and very International arts festival, for the promise of Mozart and ballet. While that's all very well and good, I get excited about Spoleto because its advent also marks the time for one of Charleston's most delicious dining events - Grace Episcopal Church Tea Room. The two, it just so happens, are operational at the exact same time during a two-week run that begins and ends with Spoleto. Both are happening now.Consummately Southern, the church's main hall and gardens glitter with all chintz, hydrangea, bow ties and smiles a' plenty from the church ladies. An elderly man sporting seersucker plays uplifting live tunes from a piano in a corner of the large room. It's just too much fun, and all proceeds are distributed to local charities selected by the church, which recently underwent extensive renovations, leaving her more stunningly beautiful than ever.The abbreviated menu is very Huguenot- inspired and many of the recipes come directly from the family recipe boxes of old Charleston families and members of the church. Vat upon vat of the steaming, rich, crab-laden She crab soup (one of the best sellers) is produced daily by the all-volunteer kitchen. The soup ($6.00) is served with a small paper liner (to prevent staining the table, indeed) and a cruet of sherry. There is also a fabulous, chunky okra soup and generously herbed tomato soup on this year's menu.The shrimp remoulade ($8, pictured) is very generously portioned and mild, with pink, sweet shrimp barely bound with a mustard-mayonnaise dressing and served with a mound of grated, fresh carrots and cucumbers. This, along with the almond, curry chicken salad is offered with the choice of crackers or a croissant. There are also several sandwiches available, including a diminutive ham biscuit ($4) filled with salty, aged ham on a fresh buttermilk biscuit slathered with a Dijon butter poppy seed spread.The breath-taking dessert tray at Grace

 

But, let’s get down to what Grace is best known for – the huge, beautiful dessert trays that are ushered throughout the dining room by delicate ladies before eager eyes. It reaches most people’s table (as it did ours), just as you’re finishing lunch. A lady and gentleman describe each dessert and you make your choice. It sounds easy enough, but it’s a grueling decision! Everything is dressed with freshly whipped cream and mint and one is as beautiful as the next ($4 each). The Huguenot Torte, a crunchy, sweet meringue concoction is an especially warranted indulgence that I personally look forward to every year, but really, all desserts are exceptional.

Lunch comes with your choice of iced tea (seasoned well with fresh mint and lemon), coffee, hot tea, milk and water. Now, if only they were open all year-round! You have until next Saturday to check it out if you’re in Charleston.  I highly recommend that you do.
Grace Episcopal Church Tea Room
98 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Take-Out: (843) 723-8587
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9 Responses to Grace is Good, Very Good

  • Readers, please forgive the formatting issues with this post. I do not have time today or this week and I want to make sure you all know about Grace’s fabulous, fund-raising, annual tea room!

  • YUMMY! I had lunch at the Grace tea room twice last week and I’m heading back for more Wednesday.

  • In spite of your recommendation, we only had time for one midday meal on Memorial Day and, since Grace was not answering its phone, we opted for Hominy Grill, only to find out (as our pedicab tooled down Wentworth Street) that Grace was indeed open and packed with diners. We’ll be back for Spoleto again and Grace will be etched in bold on our agenda. Thanks again, Holly. We are singing Charleston’s culinary praises here in New Orleans.

    • Hi Phil,

      Oh, I’m sorry you missed it. I hope you loved Hominy Grill. They’re both very different experiences. Grace is open the first Sat. – last Sat. of Spoleto. It’s really something special. I know you both will love it on your next trip. I’m thrilled you so enjoyed Charleston’s dynamic and delicious food scene. It was a pleasure meeting you both! Fondly, Holly

  • Hi Holly! I just got back from the Grace Tea Room lunch and it was so neat. The food was wonderful – I had the ham biscuit & crab soup. I want to go back next week for the chilled cucumber soup & chicken salad sandwich! Take care, the other Holly 😉

    • Hi Holly! It is truly awesome. Those are two of my favorite things. I can’t wait to go tomorrow! Enjoy your next visit. Best, Holly

  • I wish I could be there! It’s fun just reading about it from New England.

    • Me, too, Tinky. You must try and make it one of these years. Enjoy New England. I am constantly missing it, as much as I love Charleston.

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