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November 2010

The Review:
High Cotton
Written By: 
Patricia Agnew
Photographs By: 
Paul Cheney & Jason Kaumeyer


If top-shelf cocktails and free-range Green Grocer Farms eggs aren’t enticing enough to get you in the door, High Cotton adds soothing jazz to seal the deal for a very special Sunday brunch.

Crisp service, rewarding food, and good music are the perfect excuses to laze away the morning at this casually elegant Maverick Southern Kitchens property. Presiding over the kitchen is chef de cuisine Ramon Taimanglo, a Johnson & Wales University grad who worked under Slightly North of Broad chef Frank Lee developing a culinary style that reflects the group’s signature locally sourced, seasonal, Lowcountry-inspired cuisine.


Eager to enjoy a relaxing Sunday morning, we recently arrived at High Cotton just as brunch began, finding the early crowd already there. Instead of the main dining room with its lofty ceilings and flood of sunshine, we were seated in a smaller, more intimate room with elegant furnishings and the option for quieter conversation.
Our first encounter: signature house Bloody Marys, hot and spicy with white and black pepper, cayenne, and smoked paprika served with dilly bean and fresh lemon garnish. The bartender was having fun with other concoctions, including a Charleston cocktail with Firefly sweet tea vodka, Madeira, lemonade, and mint-infused simple syrup and the Dry Cotton martini made with Maverick vodka or Tanqueray gin and served extra dry, up, with blue-cheese stuffed olives.


On the menu, which celebrates local purveyors—prominently listing all farmers and sources by location—the list of starters included salad or fresh fruit, classic Carolina shrimp cocktail with a tangy sauce, and buttermilk-fried oysters with arugula and green goddess dressing. As huge fans of traditional Charleston crab soup, we felt it important to try the High Cotton version and found it perfectly creamy, served piping hot, and loaded with jumbo lump crab. With its splash of blue crab sherry butter and fresh chives, we agreed it was one of the best we’d had and a meal in itself when enjoyed with homemade corn bread.


Plentiful entrée choices included farmers market omelets; steak and eggs; grilled Scottish salmon salad; Carolina shrimp and grits; burgers of local, grass-fed Angus beef; and tantalizing banana bread French toast with bourbon-aged maple syrup and apple-smoked bacon.


Not without difficulty, we bypassed these for server Delia’s strongest recommendations—crab cakes Benedict and the intriguing barbecue duck hash. Stacked upon fried green tomato slices, a tower of pure lump crab cakes was topped with divine, deep orange-yolked poached eggs from Celeste Albers’ Green Grocer Farms and anointed with velvety hollandaise. A juicy watermelon wedge and hearty cheese grits from Timms Mill in Pendleton, South Carolina, were excellent sides. The barbecue duck hash, a delicious blend of roasted duck, red onions, mushrooms, peppers, and potatoes, was topped with sunny-side up eggs and flavored with mustard-based barbecue sauce. It was excellent, though we thought its slightly sweet finish could have used a little more heat.


There were several house-made desserts to choose from, but after the rich meal, sorbet sounded best. We were rewarded with a selection of Wholly Cow’s finest—tart lemon and raspberry, the ultimate invigorating finish. The delicious fare and animated service, together with jazz by Kevin Hackler on trumpet and James Slater on guitar, make brunch at High Cotton a satisfying way to ease into the week ahead.


 




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