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November 2009

WRITTEN BY: Patricia Agnew
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Christopher Shane

Global tastes and sustainable development are harmonious companions at Upper King’s radiant Shine, where owner Dean Johnson and chef Dillon Snider feature eclectic cuisine and cocktails in the renovated former home of historical Rabens Tavern. Bamboo tables, reclaimed wood, antique chandeliers, and unique fixtures glow in the rich interior, and light, textures, and patterns create intriguing designs throughout. Anchored by a central bar and open kitchen, the expansive space also features patterned wallpaper, mosaic tile made from recycled car windshields, and banquettes and Panton chairs that provide stylishly comfortable seating. The appealing courtyard at the Line Street entrance welcomes guests into the bar, where talented bartenders pour a variety of specialty cocktails, premium sakes, regional and high gravity beers, and wines from around the world. Patrons enjoy the chatty, knowledgeable bar talk, the opportunity for sampling trendy new products, and the pleasant spot for dining and enjoying tunes spun regularly by popular local DJs. The menu is an appealing collection of favorites chosen from Johnson and Snider’s international repertoires. The blending of their diverse culinary experiences results in a lineup of global street fare ranging from South American arepas to Korean bulgogi, Middle Eastern falafel to grilled corn with garlic aioli and queso fresco. Highly seasoned burgers, pastas, lamb meatballs, curry dishes, and “meat and two” combinations provide more traditional options along with salads and sides such as truffled fries and Yukon mashed potatoes. Recently, we settled into a cozy banquette opposite the kitchen and enjoyed the calm production in progress behind the line, munching on hummus and pita chips as our friendly server described the evening’s specials and wines. A bottle of Collegiata Montepulciano d’Abruzzo nicely complemented our first courses, which included bulgogi (marinated beef skewers) served with spicy dipping sauce, rice, and romaine leaves for wrapping. The hard-to-resist tater tot casserole, a nostalgic rendition baked with cheesy sauce, bacon, and grilled scallions, affirmed its reputation as ultimate American comfort food. Other favorites included arepas (grilled cornmeal cakes filled with pork, chicken, or shrimp; various mixtures of vegetables; and traditional sauces) as well as falafel (ground chickpea croquettes served with grilled pita, lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki sauce). Our entrée courses were quite good, beginning with shrimp curry that was the perfect blend of gently spicy yellow curry sauce and tender jumbo shrimp with potatoes, carrots, scallions, grape tomatoes, and garlic. A side dish of roasted cauliflower was presented al dente—crunchy and delicious with stone-ground mustard glaze. The nut burger, a good alternative to beef for non-meat eaters, is a mix of roasted ground almonds, peanuts, and pecans on sourdough bread with tomato, lettuce, onion, and cheese. We also shared a third entrée, taking the chef’s recommendation and choosing tender duck breast served with spicy Asian orange glaze and jalapeño cheddar polenta cake—an excellent combination of flavors. While Shine’s much-heralded chocolate-covered bacon sundae is definitely a must-try that we’d enjoyed during other visits, on this occasion, we shared two of the evening’s special desserts: vanilla ice cream with molten chocolate soufflé cake and panna cotta. The first was finished with a cranberry-blueberry reduction and the second with fresh strawberries in syrup. Both were velvety in texture and simply exquisite. The chefs maintained a calm, efficient demeanor throughout our visit, and their food was skillfully described by the staff. Service had a few hurdles to overcome, including ordering missteps that resulted in confusing food delivery. But in a good restaurant, it’s not just the mistakes that can define the experience; the recovery can be as important an indicator of the service commitment as both excellent food and perfection in presentation. In this case, the error was soon forgotten, as the staff rose to the occasion with professionalism, correcting the mistake as quickly as possible. Our evening ended delightfully, and the visit was ultimately a shining success. 58 Line St., (843) 724-6789, Tuesday-Saturday: lunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner, 5-11 p.m.; bar service, until 2 a.m. Average appetizer: $8.50 Average dinner entrée: $15