Approximately one million years ago Jay and I went to Husk in Charleston on our anniversary. It feels SO long ago because it was on vacation, in the middle of summer, I was only 21 weeks pregnant, and Jay had broken his leg 10 days prior.
So, in grown up time it was only 6 weeks ago, but a lot has happened since then, know what I mean? Feels like a lifetime ago.
Jay had actually picked the restaurant for our anniversary months prior after watching Sean Brock the owner of Husk on Mind of a Chef, which is made by PBS but is on Netflix and you should totally watch every single episode right this very instant. We'd seen a few of Husk's dishes featured on the show, and we're total celeb chef junkies, so it was a no-brainer for the fanciest dinner of our year. Sadly, Sean Brock wasn't there to fawn over the unfamous crippled bloggers gracing his restaurant with their presence. The nerve.
Besides the utterly strange circumstances in which we found ourselves, we had a WONDERFUL time that night. It was Jay's 3rd outing since his accident (1 lunch and one doctor's appointment had come first), so logistically we had to figure out parking and steps and all sorts of fun accessibility things. The staff at Husk was wonderfully helpful before we arrived at dinner, and parking right across the street was super convenient.
The restaurant itself is located on a side-ish street in downtown Charleston, in a big old house with a house NEXT to it that serves as a bar. The buildings are awesome, feel very historical, but are decorated to kind of combine old and new, which we love. We were a little early for our reservation, so while I was parking Jay HOPPED UP THE STAIRS to the restaurant to tell them we had arrived, then hopped down to go next door. This was a huge feat for him at the time, and I remember being very concerned that he was going to fall and break his hip. He didn't.
While we waited we got Jay a drink at the bar next door, which was teeny and dark but kind of in this fancy whisky bar type of feel, not dark seedy at all. Jay had a summery bourbon cocktail, and I had the TEENSIEST sip just so I can tell you that it was alarmingly refreshing for dark liquor. It was some kind of mixture of bitters, citrus zest, bourbon, and a teensy bit of fizz, and watching the bartender make it was really magical - I love watching bartenders that are downright artsy about their jobs, and this was one of those times.
When we got inside to our table (more stairs!) we had menus with the night's features and a HAPPY ANNIVERSARY message at the top, which was a super nice touch. The menu at Husk changes nightly, so it's hard to tell you what to order, but I can definitely tell you what we ate. Since it was our anniversary we were given a glass of hard cider, which was a super fun change from the standard champagne, not to mention delicious. It wasn't a sweet cider at all, but had a great strong apple flavor that went with most of the food we ordered. We were also presented with a bread basket that we inhaled because ALL THE CARBS ALL THE TIME. The bread was phenomenal.
To start, we had pig ear lettuce wraps which were 9,000% different than what we'd expected. First, not chewy. Ears are kind of sinewy, right? Touch your own ear. That's what I expected. Not so at all. The pig ears are dehydrated like jerky and then deep fried so they puff up like a, wait for it, pig skin - the south's favorite snack. But THESE pig skins are sliced thin and up looking like shiitake mushrooms but they're crunchy and were served with Asian-style flavors. A dark sauce for the pig ears that was kind of like Korean BBQ, and a rice-wine based marinade for a cucumber/onion slaw that went over top. The combination of the tart slaw and super rich fried pig was just insanity.
For another starter we ordered clams in a smoked broth with cornbread croutons. This was by far my favorite dish of the night. The broth was tomato-based, and the smoky flavor made it allllmost barbecu-y without actually tasting like barbecue, which would have been gross. There was a little bit of spice, and the cornbread croutons were ridiculously delicious, especially after they'd been sitting in the broth for a few minutes. We both loved the dish, and Jay asked if I could put the serving bowl in my purse. I could not. But, if anyone knows where we can get bowls like that the baby would really like some for her room.
We shared an entree, which was fried catfish with veggie gumbo and Carolina Gold Rice. Thiiiiis was the reason we came to this restaurant, to make fun of white rice. No, but really. On Mind of a Chef Sean is always going on about this rice and how any other product is "simply inferior" and damn it if he wasn't right. I'm not about to start spending any kind of money on fancy rice to keep around the house, but at restaurants this stuff was GREAT. Slightly buttery and with some herbs folded in - excellent. The gumbo was super flavorful and featured lots of local veggies, but since we shared the entree I wished that there was about 3 cups more of gumbo on my plate. The fish was probably the most meh thing we had the entire night. It was fine, but was nothing special compared to the sides that accompanied it and the starters we had. We've actually started to find that a lot, the main courses are often not as sexy as the starters or salads, and that was certainly the case here. But, the fish was still yummy.
We were too full for dessert or any other food, but our overall impression of Husk was that 1. it was gorgeous, 2. the service was great, 3. the prices were what you'd expect for a fancy restaurant but well worth it, and 4. the food was excellent. It was SO exciting that Jay slept for approximately 10 hours that night after convincing my sisters to rub lotion on him (not as gross as it sounds) when we got back to the beach house. I get that he broke his leg and all, but the man is seriously spoiled.
Thank you Husk for a great anniversary! Next year we might be slightly more mobile and I'll be spending way more on drinks.