Several weeks ago I had a notification on my Instagram that I had a new follower: screendoorcharleston. I was puzzled-why was a patio place, following my food devoted Instagram page? However if there’s one thing I’ve learned with this venture…it’s to never assume, anything. So, like any blogger and instagramer I was happy for the new follower. Then a few weeks ago, some friends mentioned that they were excited that a new place was opening on James Island, close to where we live, it was called: The Screen Door, AHHHH…that made more sense! So we eagerly awaited its opening.
I typically have a rule to not try newly opened places for at least 3 months-I think its the fair thing to do, to let them settle in and get in a groove before trying it out. I (like most foodies, can be particular and somewhat of a harsh critic) I’m not saying it’s fair-but it is, what it is. When I moved to James Island, there was a lot to be desired in the way of cool, hip and good tasting restaurants. Sure there were a few places that stuck out for the better, but overall I felt our little slice of paradise had some work to do in the way of good places to grab a bite to eat. It may have been alittle unfair to go in and give it a try on (week 2 of their being opened) but I couldn’t wait…I was getting out of work early and decided…tonight was the night that I was giving it a whirl. WOW! I was hoping for a good experience, but was really surprised me was how much I liked it and can’t wait to tell ya’ll, exactly why you should check it out. This place is going to be a complete success.
First of all, THE ATMOSPHERE. I love it when a owner or designer is able to make a cool scene without making it feel like they are overly trying. (Don’t get me wrong, of course I realize they are trying to make a cool place) but when they hit the nail on the head by actually creating an (atmosphere) it’s different than just designing a space to look cool. By my standards they have to do the following:
- Take a space and make it your own, give it a new spin that is different than anything else in the area.
- Make it feel “inviting and comfortable and casual” without feeling: homely. (After all, we want to be at ease but we are trying to get out of our house).
- Make the space feel interesting without going overboard on the artsy side by giving me a headache because it’s too chaotic, scattered, jumbled or too packed in.
Yeah-they accomplished all of that!
Second of all, The Service. I expected this to be somewhat of a failure, because they did just open and are still forming their staff and getting them in the groove, of how they want the restaurant to operate and be presented. Well, every single person I encountered offered courteous and great service. It didn’t feel like this place just opened, it was very much the opposite, it felt like they had been doing this for years.
- The hostess was adorable and welcoming and patient with my 3 year old daughter who couldn’t make up her mind if we should sit on the porch or inside.
- The waitress was equally patient with our inability to make quick decisions and never once made me feel like we were inconveniencing her by her having to come out 3 times to take our order. She was great, answered all my annoying questions and was prompt with bringing everything out.
- The owner came over to our table twice to make sure we had everything we needed and make sure that we were happy (without having that annoying, overbearing or in your face way that is uncomfortable or intrusive). He seemed genuinely interested in talking to us and later on the table next to us and every table, as far as I could tell. I didn’t even know he was the owner, I thought maybe he was manager, when our server told us he was the owner I appreciated all the more, his genuineness and sincerity.
Yeah-they nailed it with having great sevice. The fact that it seemed effortless, made me love it more!
Last and most importantly, The Food. Everything on the menu sounded good. I loved the options of some small sharing plates, and pizza and entrees. That’s the kind of menu that will keep me coming back. I like options without being overwhelmed. Everything on the menu and specials list made sense together.
- It has to taste good-otherwise we are never going back. Doesn’t matter how cool the place is or how great the service is, the food has to be good and offer something that is interesting.
- I want options, I want choices and I want specials that take a chance but still flow with the menu.
- Know your target market, know your identity. If you want to be a taco place then serve great tacos, if your goal is to offer the best burger in town then do that. If you’re fine dining, great you know the people you’re aiming to please. But if you are trying to be a place that is middle of the road-taste good, decent mid-range prices that still offers quality, interesting food…that can be hard to pull off sometimes. It’s a fine balance between good food that doesn’t break the bank and still stays true to their vision. Well…they do it, and do it especially well. We ordered the following: small plates of the ricotta and bread, chicken ballotine, a pork pizza, beer and milk (of course the kid wanted milk) and our total was only $36 and I brought home a box of leftovers. Really good stuff, taste was spot on and it didn’t break the bank! That is hard to pull off.
Well done, I can’t wait to try more of the menu and see what future specials come out.
James Island has been desperately in need of more great places to dine and thankfully that has been changing. Across the board, The Screen Door has great tasting food, good sevice and offers it in a fun and inviting environment…it’s not gonna be long, before they are the “it place” on the island. I can’t wait to go back! You’ve gotta check it out-it’s a gem!