Charleston’s Oldest Restaurant: Great Food, Modern Plating, Intimate, Cozy Atmosphere

McCrady's, 2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC

McCrady’s, 2 Unity Alley, Charleston, SC

I was very excited to try McCrady’s on our recent trip to Charleston. It purports to be the city’s oldest restaurant – I think George Washington is supposed to have dined there – and I’ve heard from foodies that it’s quite good. However, I had two concerns: first, finding it. The address is in Unity Alley. Okay, that sounds like it could be challenging for a visitor. Although in reality, it’s right off East Bay Street and there’s a big sign that says “McCrady’s” pointing to the alley. Second and more complex, dinner was during the Redskins-Cowboys game. Yikes.

I’m happy to report dinner was a success in every way – a terrific meal with delightful company. Oh and a Redskins win to put us in the playoffs on top of it all.

The setting is cozy, with a long original-looking brick wall along the dining room with two huge fireplaces set in it. The roaring (gas) fires gave off a warm glow and just the right amount of heat to offset the chilly breeze outside.

The service was just right. Our server was knowledgeable about all the various ingredients and their local sourcing, and he answered all of our various questions.

I went with the tasting menu, starting with a salad of “winter brassica,” delicate greens and thinly shaved cauliflower, slightly bitter with a wonderfully crisp bite. A light start to what promised to be a wonderful meal:

salad of winter brassica

salad of winter brassica

My next course, the (shelled) shellfish over heirloom beans in a light broth, was terrific as well, with a good contrast of textures …

Shrimp and mussels

Shrimp and mussels

For my main course, I chose the lamb two ways, while G had the wagyu style beef. Both were perfectly prepared – even though neither of us specified how we preferred the meat done. (It was a leap of faith). So how did they know?

Our server explained that unless specifically requested, they make the lamb and beef the temperature the chef deems it best, in this case, medium rare. In other words, they respect the protein.

McCrady's wagyu beefMcCrady's lamb 2 ways

Dessert had an odd description – frozen brioche – and our server said it was nothing like the description, but it was excellent. He was right on both counts.  It turned out to be an ice cream with powdered frozen brioche crust sprinkled on top. Just a touch of a nice, frozen flavor to end a wonderful evening.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. And I look forward to another visit the next time we’re in Charleston.

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One Response to Charleston’s Oldest Restaurant: Great Food, Modern Plating, Intimate, Cozy Atmosphere

  1. teresa bruce says:

    Okay you have to do it. Rank the restaurants in Charleston!

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