Long known for Southwestern-spirited Red Drum Gastropub two doors down, chef/owner Ben Berryhill, along with chef Nathan Hood and their team captures the flavor of locally grown, artisan ingredients with fresh daily inspiration, delivering the comforts of a familiar village café with fare that is simply presented, yet rich in reward.
Happily, a recent dinner visit revealed that the interior space was not changed a great deal, with inviting chocolate leather booths and organic shades of robin’s egg blue and flax showcasing a wall of candles on one end and an artfully lit bar at the other. The appealing semi-enclosed patio remains, with its cozy fire pit hosting a fond circle of friends on the night we were there.
The menu is brand new, changing as often as every day depending upon the availability of local ingredients and popularity of items. Amazing oyster stew began our delicious experience. At first bite, we were intrigued by the non-traditional blend of earthy clam stock flavored with potatoes, bits of red pepper, leeks, white wine, and delicate oysters, with hand-crafted oyster crackers completing the presentation. A generous salad featured flavorful young lettuces including radicchio, chicory, frisée, and arugula joined by shaved fennel, fresh herbs, and toasted pistachios tossed in a perfect complement of blood-orange vinaigrette.
An interlude of pastas and pizzas proved irresistible, therefore we over-ordered but were delighted to enjoy a healthy dose of tender buckwheat tagliatello tossed with roasted cauliflower florets and parmigiano cream flavored with lemon zest and crushed almonds. Again, the textures and flavors reflected a light yet informed hand and artful preparation—magnifico! Other appealing options from this section of the menu included raviolo with poached egg, ham, and house-made ricotta in brown butter sage sauce; spinach and ricotta gnocchi with beech mushrooms, sage, and butternut squash; pappardelle with rabbit sugo, onion, and Mepkin Abbey oyster mushrooms; and a fig and goat cheese pizza with Bosc pear, arugula, and white truffle oil. Clearly, these will be part of future adventures.
Main courses brought similar intrigue, with seven or eight entrées including fish, seafood, and meats procured from local providers and as many organic sources as possible. Our selections were excellent, including day boat-fresh triggerfish. Golden-crusted and crowning a bed of flageolet beans, spiced red-mustard greens, and confit of garlic and onions, the colorful plate was ringed with a halo of flageolet purée and olive oil. Oregon’s Painted Hills Natural Beef braised short ribs—unusually tender and uniquely flavored with pine nut gremolata—were served with roasted fingerling potatoes, carrots, and onions. We could hardly resist the pan-seared pork chop with bacon confit, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and parsnip purée or the pan-roasted duck breast with turnip, pear, parsnip, and kale—again, saved for another day. Delicate pumpkin goat cheese cheesecake prepared by WildFlour Pastry chef/owner Lauren Mitterer was an ethereal delight featuring a gingersnap crust and maple honey glaze.
Service is generously shared at Next Door, and our interaction with charming server Ben was as enriching as the food itself. Great care was taken in explanations for preparations and source of ingredients, with an amiable dose of humor enjoyed throughout the evening. Craft beers, interesting boutique wines, and festive cocktails are available along with complimentary valet parking.
4819 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant (843) 881-8817
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Monday-Saturday, 5-9:30 p.m.
Average entrée: $25