The Review: Graze
Last September, eclectic eatery Graze moved into the former Coco’s Café in Mount Pleasant’s Patriots Plaza Shopping Center.
After renovating the space for a more open feel, partners Bradford Bobbitt, Michael Karkut, and Derek Lathan used earth tones and minimalist décor—including live grass accents and contemporary works by local artisans—to set the stage for a creative, casual menu with a farm-to-table focus.
All former members of the Sette team, the owners are actively involved in the daily operations at Graze. With Bobbitt serving as general manager and Karkut and Lathan as executive chefs, they produce a fluid menu that combines a variety of tastes, including Lowcountry favorites, and changes with the seasons and local market. The offerings begin with the “Tiny Grazing” menu that tempts with lobster mac ’n’ cheese and fried calamari as well as truffled hand-cut fries with black sea salt and roasted garlic aioli. While entrée selections include a number of seafood and vegetarian dishes, there are several options for other palates and an interesting soup and salad selection.
A friend and I began a recent Graze experience with glasses of bold red Rivoli, a perfect accompaniment for our first tasting, exquisite duck liver mousse. Silken and light, this amazing dish celebrated the rich flavor of the duck when paired with peppercorn-studded sweet onion marmalade, whole-grain mustard, caper berries, cornichons, and crostini. Cornmeal-dusted oysters were plentiful and well-cooked, lightly fried and delicious with spicy tomato aioli, artisan blue cheese, and particularly refreshing baby rocket salad with crunchy celery and a nice citrus vinaigrette.
Next, we sampled the roasted garlic and tomato soup, which was intensely satisfying, subtly seasoned with fennel seed and garnished with crème fraîche. Blackened salmon salad came with blue cheese, thinly sliced red onions, and praline nuggets over baby greens, lightly tossed in roasted shallot vinaigrette.
As for entrées, delicate North Carolina lemon-thyme-encrusted rainbow trout was a true triumph, consisting of two tender filets with crisp skin served with fire-roasted romesco sauce and a lovely quinoa, zucchini, and red onion salad flavored with smoked olive oil and goat cheese. Bursting with flavor, the pristine local jumbo lump crab cake was served over corn and butter bean succotash. Pleasantly rivaling the trout, this jewel of an entrée was seasoned with smoked bacon and paired with a slender fried green tomato and onion marmalade.
The dessert we shared—coconut panna cotta—though not entirely unpleasant, did not meet the standard set by the rest of our meal. With a barely detectable coconut flavor and odd texture, it was paired with homemade peanut brittle that was a little too salty and hard to eat. Bobbitt was present and interactive throughout the evening and the service was mostly well-executed, though a couple of descriptions included misinformation and timing for course delivery was a bit off. All staff members were pleasantly accommodating, however, and happy to share their time and attention.
The room filled quickly during our visit, a good sign for this comfortable new option for fresh food served in extremely generous portions at moderate prices. The busy bar area with large-screen televisions is also a good spot for solo or impromptu dining, surprisingly compatible with the room’s pleasant ambiance thanks to good design.