There has been ALOT of talk lately about the newly opened, Barony Tavern, located inside of the Renaissance Hotel. Well, there should be, first of all acclaimed, iconic and beloved chef of Charleston, Bob Carter is at the helm. Secondly-there is NOTHING LIKE IT, in Charleston right now. I suppose anytime a well known chef takes on a new project, its going to generate some buzz. And that buzz has people really talking right now. Eater Charleston has given it a lot of coverage and placed it this week in their: HEATMAP (hottest restaurants in Charleston right now), along with the Post and Courier (whose reviews have certainly got people talking, fired up and interested). So in my opinion, it was just time to go and check it out for myself and see what I thought. My standards are not that of a professional critic, I just know what I like. I enjoy an array of atmospheres and food, it depends on what mood I’m in as to where I want to go and what I want to eat. I have a top 20 places list that is as diverse as it gets (everything from fine dining to diner). However I usually only have 3 places that make the short list of: My Go-To-PLACES…(and I’m pretty confident that) Barony Tavern just got bummed up into that ranking.
Its an interesting space and they have really done a remarkable job in creating an atmosphere that transitions seamlessly from hotel lobby, to bar seating to tavern area to a beautiful and elegant dining room. I think it is difficult to master the art of creating an atmosphere that allows for comfort and confidence, no matter what your attire. This may sound confusing so I’ll explain my experience from yesterday when I visited BT. It was 5:15pm on Saturday evening, I was planning on meeting a friend at 6 pm for dinner before we went to our final Spoleto event for the year. I was dressed in black slacks, a dress shirt and heels. I walked through the hotel lobby to the hostess stand in front of the bar. I asked what availability and options they had for dinner (she replied the dining room was full till 8 pm at which time we could plan to be seated or we were welcome to eat at the bar or tavern area). I explained that we would like to eat at a tavern table at 6 and I would grab a bar seat until then. While there (and I should mention, I had great service and lively conversation while enjoying my delicious beverage). The seats were all taken by people dressed entirely different (there was a man in jeans, a few young women dressed up for a night out on the town, another man who had just checked in at at the hotel in shorts and a polo shirt) we had a diverse range of attire at the bar-and it appeared that everyone was comfortable and it felt easy and enjoyable. Its difficult to create that kind of atmosphere-and I definitely appreciated that. It was refreshing, especially in Charleston! Once my friend arrived we grabbed a table. I love it when there are options, there were several different size tables in the tavern area, everything from two tops to a community table. We peeked into the dining room-it is beautiful, I loved the dark mahogany details, it felt masculine and yet light and elegant at the same time. The decor is unlike anything else in town. It isn’t the typical kind of setting I would think to find myself enjoying, the decor included; taxidermy foxes wearing bow ties, a painting of a stag dressed smartly holding a glass of wine, its odd alright and I loved it! Its stylish and interesting and fun without being gimmicky and I completely felt comfortable and enjoyed everything about it! Nothing about it felt pretincious or uncomfortable but it wasn’t too casual either. I can see myself going there after work and grabbing a bite to eat on my way home, or meeting friends for a night out or going there for a date.
The menu is diverse and rich with options yet it all makes sense together. There is a menu for the tavern area and a dinning room specific menu (though both menus are available in the tavern). Red meat and fish, traditional appetizers, low country and southern favorites, small plates, full entrees and interesting fun order items too. We ordered a few things to split and sample: Oysters Wadmalaw, Southern Grilled Cheese, House Cured Tuna Nicoise and Caramelized Cauliflower. Wow, everything was delicious. The flavors were amazing, the portions were adequate and everything was just really well done. Each dish was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. Our entire bill for dinner including 2 glasses of wine and iced tea was $74. I felt that was extremely reasonable. (We didn’t order any full entrees, sometimes I regret that when the food is presented but that wasn’t the case. We left feeling happy, full and looking forward to going back)! I especially loved the grilled pimento cheese and pepper jelly sandwich and french fries-it was amazing and was only $10.
I can only say great things about this place. I am thrilled about the addition to lower King Street and couldn’t be happier that it is literally in my backyard. I will be going back very soon (as in-I will be going back this week).