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Fête Like the French

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


An actress posing as Marie Antionette greets Bastille Day partygoers with a shower of rose petals; (right) Chef Nico Romo and a troupe of costumed performers will hold court at Fish restaurant (442 King Street) on Monday, July 14. Photographs Courtesy of Fish Restaurant

July 9, 2014

Fête Like the French
Chef Nico Romo hosts a Bastille Day celebration this Monday inspired by those of his native France

written BY Erica Jackson Curran


Growing up in Lyon, France, chef Nico Romo remembers Bastille Day as the biggest party of the year. A street fair transformed the city’s downtown: food vendors hawked merguez sausages and barbe à papa, the French version of cotton candy; fireworks lit up the night sky; and “almost everyone was toasting a drink—a glass of wine, Champagne, Pernod, you name it,” he recalls. From his post at the helm of Upper King’s Fish restaurant, Romo brings that hometown tradition to Charleston by throwing an annual Bastille Day celebration of his own. Monday, July 14 marks the sixth iteration of the event, which has been a hit with locals since its debut. “In a historical city like Charleston, I think people love to share in rich traditions,” says Romo.

Fish kicks off the festivities at 6 p.m. with its own reenactment of the 1789 storming of the Bastille. Romo’s version is much more lighthearted: a troupe of costumed performers marches from the restaurant to Marion Square, their focus on revelry rather than releasing prisoners. The procession is populated with can-can dancers and actors posed as historical French icons (think Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte).

The party continues back at the restaurant, where Romo offers a four-course prix-fixe menu with optional French wine pairings, as well as more casual bar noshes such as charcuterie, a fromage du jour plate, and beignets. Meanwhile, guests can say “santé!” with a glass of Champagne or a cocktail made with a liqueur, such as Grand Marnier.

Past events have featured grape-stomping in the courtyard and a portrait artist; this year, guests can count on guillotine-cut pommes frites, live accordion music, pétanque games, a cake-eating contest, and more. “I’m excited to be the place to celebrate Bastille Day in Charleston,” Romo says. “It’s an honor for me to be able to share my hometown traditions here at Fish.”

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