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November 2008

The Review:
Old Village Post House
Written By: 
Patricia Agnew

Given its culinary pedigree, it’s no wonder the Old Village Post House remains a favorite among loyal foodies who enjoy the endless repertoire of celebrated executive chef Frank Lee. Well-known for his commitment to fresh local products and elegantly straightforward techniques focusing upon inherent flavor and product integrity, Lee garners high praise as a leader and teacher among Charleston’s diverse community of restaurateurs.

The recent renewal of the offerings at the Post House prompted a visit to see what the new menu held in store. On the first refreshingly cool evening of fall, we found the charming exterior still appealing with its flickering gaslights and refreshing breezes floating from the nearby waterway. Inside, the animated laughter of friends was reminiscent of the building’s history as a circa-1888 wayside inn. Fresh interior décor, lofty windows, a colorful bridge-scape, and a painting of Scarlet O’Hara lend local flavor and contemporary spirit to the venerable space.

After a brief tour of the property, we were seated in the main dining room near the tiny kitchen where chef de cuisine Jim Walker bustled about with his staff. The proximity to the kitchen provided an engaging stage on this occasion, thanks to the professional demeanor and calm, unobtrusive organization of the team.

Having enjoyed Lee’s signature dishes on many occasions, we were pleased to see that a number of them remained on the menu. The stellar arugula salad, flavorful with tart apples, bold blue cheese, and toasted pecans, is dressed in a light balsamic vinaigrette. Earthy mushroom soup, resplendent with pure essence of the fungi, is lightly bound with
only a hint of cream. The signature crab cake, delicate lump crab expertly seasoned and unencumbered by fillers, dazzles with its accompaniments of mesclun and chipotle tartar sauce.

All entrées we sampled were extraordinary, beginning with tender salmon served with grilled tomato, baby asparagus, cucumber salad, and Dijon dill butter. Succulent pan-seared pork tenderloin was enlivened by sauce au poivre, delicious beer-battered onion rings, and country-style zucchini and yellow squash. Finally, the pan-roasted top sirloin was so perfectly cooked and seasoned that I can still recall the texture and flavor of the meat and its rich veal demiglace. Tiny local potatoes and tender baby spinach sautéed with garlic completed this fabulous plate. Avid lovers of good bread, we were so taken by this stunning meal that we forgot to request it and found that it was not missed at all.

Amazing desserts led to a passionate discussion about which was better, the sublime vanilla crème brûlée; the roasted banana panna cotta with crème anglaise, candied pecans, and berry coulis; or the Post House pots de crème finished with chocolate krispies and a plump raspberry. The chocolate expert in our group pronounced the latter such a paragon of perfection that she stopped after the first bite, not wishing to destroy the sensation.

Throughout the evening, the refreshingly honest staff shared expert guidance and intricate knowledge of the menu with consistency and pride, boldly sharing recommendations that we found right on target. At the suggestion of our delightful server, we enjoyed a bottle of Cantina Del Pino Dolcetto 2006 from Italy’s Piedmont region chosen from the well-designed wine list.

The Old Village Post House is an exceptional choice in this peaceful Mount Pleasant neighborhood, where after-dinner strolls lead down quiet, tree-lined streets. Other options available include private event spaces for lunch and dinner, courtyard dining, a spirited tavern, and regularly scheduled wine dinners led by sommelier Patrick Emerson.

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