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New & Notable: The James puts a premium on comfort with country club classics

New & Notable: The James puts a premium on comfort with country club classics
November 2023

The Maybank Highway spot fills a niche with a nostalgic menu 

Call it country club classic, the menu is full of nostalgic hits like the iceberg wedge with green goddess dressing and a prime rib melt with fried onions and au jus.

The James
Diners in Charleston are spoiled for choice when it comes to beef tartare, fancy seafood towers, and house-made pasta. But what about the occasional craving for nostalgia, comfort, and yes, a parking lot? Enter The James, the newest restaurant from the Neighborhood Dining Group (NDG). At first glance, the Maybank Highway spot isn’t particularly remarkable—aside from, say, its proximity to the Terrace Theater—but once seated, guests may find it delivers on details that peninsula hot spots can lack. Space, for starters: you won’t be privy to your neighbor’s conversations in the roomy contemporary interior, the noise level is kept to a dull roar by a soundproof drop ceiling, and two-top booths? Yes, please.  

(Left) The bar, like the rest of the space, puts a premium on comfort; (Right) Maryland crab cakes live up to their billing.

To be sure, none of this would matter if the food and service weren’t on par, and NDG has dialed in both. Cocktails lean classic, with half of the list devoted to variations on the martini—a perfect primer for the veritable time machine that is much of the menu. But who doesn’t like a good Parker House roll? Spinach and artichoke dip? Or an iceberg wedge with bacon and green goddess dressing? Then there’s the filet and rib eye, complete with retro accoutrements like béarnaise and au poivre. Maryland crab cakes are surprisingly solid for a town that rarely gets them right (a server assured this skeptic that they are a point of pride for the GM, who hails from Annapolis). Another winner: a satisfying prime rib melt with horseradish cream, fried onions, and au jus on a milk bun. For dessert, what could be more 1980s than crème brûlée? No matter, it’s spot-on, which could be said for the whole experience.

1939-A Maybank Hwy.
Monday-Thursday: 5-10 p.m.
Friday: 5-11 p.m.
Saturday: 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.