Destination Heaven for Lunch and a Beach Stroll at The Sanctuary’s Jasmine Porch – And a Book Give Away
I’ve lived long enough to know, if you’re not careful, that it’s too easy to take people, places and things for granted. Even more so, perhaps, living in beauty and nature-kissed Charleston. It’s one of the most popular vacation and wedding destinations in the world, yet it takes a visitor from out of town this weekend to remind me of Kiawah Island, a gorgeous barrier island just about forty-five minutes from greater Charleston. Though short in distance, the travel along live oak and Spanish moss canopied drives with sweeping marsh vistas delivers a transformation so complete that by the time you’ve passed through the gates to Kiawah, you feel like you’ve landed someplace divine and are shifted into extreme relaxation gear as if by osmosis.
Initially, we had planned to visit Kiawah’s public beach, but since it was lunch time, we decided to visit Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary, a luxurious destination anytime of the year, but particularly welcome at the debut of the week and the off-season. The massive, early 19th-century inspired and elegant lobby with views of a sparkling Atlantic almost within reach felt almost like our own private mansion, so scarcely was it populated on a recent Monday early afternoon.
Jasmine Porch is the sister restaurant to the ultra elegant Ocean Room and is situated on the ground floor at The Sanctuary off the main lobby. The food is described as Lowcountry bistro. Here, more than you might expect at a resort, the Lowcountry notes are strictly adhered to by purist and talented Chef Jeremiah Holst, who buys only from local (and seriously vetted) producers of local produce and fishermen. Strict attention to culinary detail is evident in the layered nuisances of the she crab bisque – the flavors of the long-simmered crustacean, the shells’ natural color, nutty butter, and just the right amount of sherry and thickening with Charleston’s own Carolina Gold rice. The same is abundantly evident in the flaky, hot biscuits, and smoky hot pimiento cheese spread, garnished with pickled okra.
Other notables on the lunch menu include the plucky fried green tomatoes, with a delicate touch of acidity countered by the cooling and extreme crunch of a well seasoned panko crust, and chef Holst’s pristine version of shrimp and grits. For dessert, try the moist, fragrant coconut cake layered with crispy shards of shaved coconut and butter cream and served on a cold, silky creme anglaise with notes of fresh vanilla. First-class service from the entire staff makes a visit to Jasmine Porch even more sweet. All this for just $100 (or so including a three-course lunch for two with cocktails and a tip) followed by a complimentary, lingering stroll on a wide and very lightly traveled off-season beach on a sparkling October afternoon felt like an investment with lifelong memory dividends. If you feel like staying for dinner, visit the luxurious Ocean Room, featured in my latest release, The New Charleston Chef’s Table.
The New Charleston Chef’s Table Give Away!
Just in time for the holidays, I’m offering a complimentary, signed and delivered copy of my latest cookbook, The New Charleston Chef’s Table (retails $29.95) featuring The Ocean Room and some eighty delicious dining destinations, recipes, Charleston history and culinary lore and gorgeous photography to a randomly selected individual from comments/responses to this blog post. Tell me what you love about Charleston, restaurants, or even just why you want this book for you or someone you love, and I’ll post the winner on Friday, November 9. I look forward to hearing from you.
Bon appetit! Holly
You’ll enjoy this relatively new restaurant on Lower King Street (near Fulton Lane) in Charleston. Big, hearty, delicious breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch offerings, the restaurant also offers a warm welcome to furry friends on their spacious outside patio.
I decided to spend Labor Day morning exploring this pleasant restaurant’s breakfast options. The results were more than delicious, especially the Danish pastries which were served hot out of the oven with fresh blueberry jam. For more about the restaurant, click on the link below which will take you to my new blog at The Permanent Tourist Charleston.
Getting to know a beautiful, old city anew is a little bit like falling in love, I think. First, there is the initial attraction, that pull from the gut that tells you this one is special and the overwhelming sense that this one will last. Then, there are all of those exciting yet nerve-wracking firsts – the first cup of coffee, the first moonlit walk, the first romantic dinner, the first kiss – each one hopefully building upon the next to confirm a mutual and enduring adoration.
So, it is, that I find myself in the early stages of getting to know and love Savannah. I spent most of last week there walking downtown and Forsythe Park (near my hotel) with my accommodating and sweet dog companion, Tann Mann. Together, we were getting reaquainted with this most lovely of cities. The goal was to get the lay of the land, study, and find restaurants and eateries that looked interesting and good – worthy of inclusion in some upcoming books I’m writing about Savannah and her food scene. At times, it was hard to make headway. It seems Savannah is plum-full of friendly dog lovers. There were times when I couldn’t advance three feet with little Tann Mann without being stopped, all ooh’s and ah’s, from the canine adoring crowds. Tann Mann, who has mastered the “high five,” started doing it spontaneously as the groups circled him, flailing his little paw greedily to hands that hadn’t even yet been extended.
As we walked the beautiful, live oak and Spanish moss draped squares designed by Savannah’s visionary founder, James Edward Ogelthorpe, we literally inhaled the palpable history and soul of Savannah. And so, the first steps towards falling head over heels were taken.
All of this walking (as was part of the intent), builds an appetite, so we stopped to sate it, morning, noon, night and several times in-between. On this first visit, it was the breakfast and lunch stops that most impressed – ah, that first cup of coffee!
Clary’s Cafe is the kind of place that recalls the world as it used to be, an old-school diner where you can practically imagine spotting Andy Griffith downing some honey pecan waffles while he chats up Barney Fife about the latest smalltown scuffle. Real and delicious chunky house made corned beef hash prepared with slow cooked brisket ($9.99), blintzes, and hoppel poppel (scrambled eggs with Kosher salami and more), are all scrumptious nods to the cafe’s Jewish origins. Inside rambles in true diner style with the requisite long counter and glass refrigerator with assorted pies, and outside metal tables and chairs invite with pale green and white laminate tablecloths – oh, and a doggy bowl full of cool, iced water.
A little further into the center of downtown, there are two neighboring hot breakfast/lunch spots that, like Clary’s, are well-worth a visit when appetite calls. Both are on different “sides” (one is east, the other is west) of pretty, broad and inviting Liberty Street. J. Christopher’s serves heaping plates of breakfast goodness (see the San Bernadino omelette, $8.59, pictured) with glowing, happy smiles from the super amiable service staff. The griddle puts out some seriously amazing cakes – from the stellar bluebarry crunchcakesl laced with granola and berries to the chocolate chipcakes. There are many choices across many spectrums – skillets, burgers, sandwiches, crepes, omelettes – and many are spiced with Southwestern ingredients, such as the avocado and pico de gallo in the recommended San Bernadino omellete.
Soho South Cafe is a sunny, Bohemian haunt that is equal parts art studio and restaurant. This is “where food is an art,” afterall! There is truth in those logo words. The chunky, creamy tomato basil soup ($3.75, cup, $5.50, bowl) comes out steaming hot with a just-right dusting of fresh basil and the grilled salmon blt ($11.75) served on grilled challah with a fresh herb mayonnaise, bacon, arugula and tomato is worth many return visits. Inside is delightful with artfully scattered benches, umbrellas, mirrors and paintings. Ah – the first kiss!
Looking forward to many more delightful firsts in lovely Savannah. We’ll keep you posted:)
Clary’s Cafe, 443 Abercorn Street, historic district, Savannah. (912) 233-0402. There is a second location at 4430 Habersham, (912) 351-0302.
Soho South Cafe, 12 W. Liberty Street, historic district, Savannah; (912) 233-1633. www.sohosouthcafe.com.
J. Christopher’s, 122 E. Liberty Street, historic district, Savannah; (912) 236-7494. www.jchristophers.com.
As far back as I can remember, Woodland’s Inn has had an extreme knack for finding stellar kitchen talent. From Ken Vedrinski to Scott Crawford to Nate Whiting, Woodland’s always has put an elegant and delicious spin on classical cooking. The inn’s latest executive chef, Andrew Chadwick, is no exception.