Tuesday, September 2, 2014

An Anteater, Pearlz, and The Ordinary

We just got back from a wonderful fun-filled vacation...3 days in Charleston, SC, and a week in Myrtle Beach.  We packed a lot in those 10 days too! And I'm excited to be able to share them with you!

The first thing you should know is that we've added a member to the "Me and My Cohorts" page.  His name is Pablo and he's an anteater, originally born at our Washington National Zoo. He's a special buddy of ours that goes along on all our adventures and you'll see him in many of our pictures.  He also will be weighing in his opinion on a lot of the restaurants we review, giving it a rating of 1 to 5 ants (5 being the best). So let's see how many of our Charleston/Myrtle meals were "Pablo approved"!!

Pablo is ready for his adventure!!

We arrived in Charleston after a very long drive, hot, tired, and hungry.  We decided to make dinner reservations at a place called The Ordinary but couldn't get in until 9pm. No problem, this gave us an opportunity to get a pre-dinner snack at another little place that was recommended to us by a friend. Pearlz Oyster Bar.

Our hotel, the Francis Marion, located right in downtown historic Charleston.

This was the view of the city from our hotel room on the top floor!
Pearlz has a cool beach-bar vibe to it. We bellied up to the bar just in time for Happy Hour, which means cool drinks and low prices! We began with Southern Fried Oysters served with buffalo sauce and blue cheese. Now let me preface this meal by saying that I am not a fan of oysters...usually. But Charleston has a way of making you fall in love with all kinds of food you might not normally like. Its all about the preparation.

These were delicious!! Crispy fried and spicy, they just melted in our mouths! And not a hint of sliminess (which is the main reason I don't like oysters). And the buffalo sauce they served was a little different than most buffalo sauces I've had before. It had just the right balance of tanginess and spiciness without completely taking over the flavor of the mild oyster. And of course, whats not to like about blue cheese? It even makes celery taste good (which I also am not a fan of yet I ate all 3 pieces).

We also ordered Grilled Mahi Tacos.  The soft tortillas were filled with crispy cabbage, pico de gallo, and a fresh crema sauce.  The fish was mild but very flavorful and seasoned perfectly. Very light and refreshing, tasted like the beach!

**Okay, I'm just going to get this out of the way and apologize right now for the poor quality of some of my photos.  When you go to a restaurant at night, all you have to work with is this dim mood lighting which is not very good for taking food pictures and in most of these places I don't feel its appropriate to use the flash as it can be annoying to our surrounding diners. Hopefully, in the near future I can find a way to remedy this. In the meantime, I did what I could with the amatuer photo editor I have.**

Our next stop later that evening was The Ordinary, located just a few blocks from our hotel. They call themselves a seafood hall and oyster bar and its located inside a historic building that used to be a bank. Beautiful historic charm shows up in every inch of the decor with the dining room extending up to a balcony seating area that overlooks the bar.

view of the lower dining area and bar from the balcony seating. loved the big arching windows!

We began with a wahoo crudo, which is similar to ceviche, that had grapefruit and pine nuts mixed in with the fish. Very unusual combination of flavors but the grapefruit brought a citrusy brightness to the other flavors while the pine nuts provided a nice crunch.

Sorry I couldn't edit this one better but the crudo is on the left with the fried oysters & beef tartare on the right. Trust me it looked better than this and tasted amazing!

We also had crispy oysters with beef tartare.  My 2nd plate of oysters in the same day! And these were just as delicious! Having the two proteins paired together like that, I also thought was unusual but it worked well. The crispy briny oysters mixed with the coolness of the raw beef was a textural delight.

Next I ordered the lump blue crab toast which was very rich and creamy, yet had a slight crunch of onion and cabbage. It reminded me of eating an uncooked crab cake but in a good way!

Hubby (aka Superking) ordered a sampling of raw oysters. This is where I draw the line when it comes to oysters. I can't get past the cold slimy texture. Blech! But Hubby loves them! "They are all yours, sweetheart," I told him. There was a variety of 7 different oysters on the plate, one of which was called the Oyster Moscow.  It was served in vodka and topped with a small dollop of sour cream and caviar. How very decadent!

The oyster on the far left with the black dot on top is the Oyster Moscow. The others, I don't remember what they were all called but we were told they were from various places which gave each oyster its own unique subtle flavor.

We finished off with a chocolate mousse terrine for dessert. A dense smooth chocolate cake topped with hazelnuts & mint leaves, and drizzled with a coffee sauce. All I can say is yumma yumma!!

And then we arrived back to our hotel room to see that the staff had left some beautiful chocolates on our pillows!! A delicious end to our first day in Charleston!

Pablo gives Pearlz 4 ants and The Ordinary 4.5 ants, which makes them both Pablo Approved!!

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