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Tasting Menu
July 20, 2012


Tasting Menu

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

Capers Blade Oysters, Grapefruit, Coastal Plants and Elderberry Capers

When I have a truly great meal, I gush about it to every living soul I encounter (hence the existence of this website). My four-hour meal at McCrady’s was definitely one of those experiences. Every dish on the 11-course tasting menu was memorable and delectable, from my first bite of crudo of cobia to my last morsels of the two desserts. Having enjoyed a meal at Husk the night before, I was already looking forward to Chef Sean Brock’s more formal and experimental cuisine at McCrady’s, but the experience far exceeded my expectations.

Grilled Local Mussels, Octopus, Truffle, Lemon Thyme and Squid Ink

I was astonished by the eloquence of each dish — the texture of each ingredient, the balance and juxtaposition of flavor profiles. For example, consider all the potential challenges in the dish of grilled local mussels, octopus, truffle, lemon thyme and squid ink; the texture of both mussels and octopus must be perfect, and the strong flavors of truffle and lemon thyme could either fight one another or enhance the layers of the dish. The shellfish and octopus were rightly tender, and the aromas of truffle, lemon thyme and squid ink harmonized with remarkable subtlety.

Flounder Crusted in Lichen, Wild Crosnes, Green Almonds and Foraged Herbs

The next act was a flounder encrusted in lichen, served with wild crosnes and sliced green almonds in a butter vinaigrette — a most delightful and inventive palate-tickling fish dish. Upon finishing each dish, I thought, “They can’t top this one,” but the surprises kept coming.

Charleston Ice Cream

Then we were served the Charleston Ice Cream, which I assumed would be a sorbet palate cleanser. While it could be considered a palate cleanser, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a scoop of twice-baked Carolina Gold rice topped with flowers. Even if McCrady’s served nothing but Charleston Ice Cream, I would keep coming back for it. Rice has never tasted this good — fresh, fluffy and creamy, without any use of cream.

Roasted Sunchocke, Chicken Dashi, Spinach and Fermented Pepper

The most incredible dish was the one that seemed the most down-to-earth and home-style: milk-poached and caramelized sunchokes in chicken dashi with baby spinach and coriander flower. The chicken dashi was light, flavorful and comforting and the baby spinach was refreshing, while the coriander flower added a burst of peppery piquancy and the sliced sunchokes imparted earthy crunch. Two delightful meat dishes were next — roasted squab and Border Springs lamb — followed by two original pristine and uncloying desserts — yogurt mousse and carrot and parsnip in buttermilk with vadouvan.

Border Springs Lamb, Oats, Peanut, Carrot and Onion

Yogurt Mousse, Blood Orange Bitters Ice Cream and Anise

Tasting menus always leave me feeling completely overwhelmed and stuffed — but not McCrady’s. Each dish was refreshing in its exquisite simplicity, and while nothing on the menu was over-the-top or extreme, each dish was truly memorable, a true feat. I will never stop singing the praises of the McCrady’s team.


2 Unity Alley
Charleston, SC