I have lived in Charleston for 12 years now and it is unbelievable how the food scene has exploded! I’m not exaggerating that there are literally a handful of new places opening every month…it’s really something. Before moving here, I’d visited several times and one of the very first places recommended to me by a local was Poogan’s Porch. I have loved my experiences there ever since. However, I can’t remember the last time I went there (it’s been years). There isn’t any specific reason why I stopped going, it’s just hard to keep up with trying new places along with revisiting old ones (and then competing with new favorites that come along). I sometimes forget to revisit the older established ones that really helped to put Charleston on the culinary map to begin with.
(I am going to slightly deviate here for a minute) when Carolinas closed a few years ago, it was sad…that had been an old fav date night place, I always loved going to. It was a huge disappointment. I’m sure there is an array of reasons it closed, but I’m sure competing with all the new places didn’t help them. Now don’t get me wrong, Poogan’s Porch is slammed busy, just walk by on any given night and there will be people waiting outside, trying to get in. It doesn’t appear they need any new business, but the thing is, I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone mention going there or planning to (and I know a lot of people that eat out regularly-so that’s saying something).
So this is the story of how I found my way back, to a great place! My daughter asked me on a Tuesday if we could out for dinner on Friday after I got out of work. I agreed to this sweet request (eat some good food with this adorable child, of course!!!). Friday morning she marched into my room carrying what she describes as a “fancy dress” and reminded me we had a date to go out for dinner after work. I asked her where she would like to go (there are about 5 or 6 places I thought she would choose from) she replied: “I want to go somewhere new!” HMMMM….what new place could we possibly go to on this short of notice and not have to sit at the bar (which to be honest, doesn’t bother me…because this kid eats out ALOT, but some people don’t approve of that). This was going to be tricky. I told her I was going to do some serious thinking about it while at work and would get back to her. I thought about it and what came to mind was this (I should take her to a “new, old place” new to her, but old favorite of mine). I did my normal screening process: ok, weather is good-so let’s sit outside, preferably downtown and something that was most importantly going to be good….HMMMM. Poogan’s Porch came to mind, I called and booked a reservation (which I’m sure they didn’t really have open, but I explained that I was a local and I needed to book something for my date with my daughter for the evening). They found me a spot on the books. GREAT!
Everything about the evening was terrific… great service… great tasting food. I asked a few questions about where the produce and fish came from and I was informed that they use as much local produce and seafood as possible (depending on what is in season and what’s available). THAT IS ALWAYS MUSIC TO MY EARS! My terrific server (Jack) told me about the farm where the produce came from and answered patiently all of my annoying questions like, “what percentage of people who ate at the restaurant did he think were tourists” etc… I really appreciate that even though they were swamped and he was super busy, that he was patient with us and gave us amazing service. Our food was delicious (the dish that I ordered, was featured last September at the James Beard House) seriously…did you know that? I’ve never heard any of this about their farm to table approach or about the chef and his accolades. That needs to change. As locals, we really need to support these cornerstones of our treasured city. As the cities culinary scene continues to grow, let’s try to keep as many of these awesome long time favorites alive and flourishing and full of locals too-not just tourists. This entire experience has reminded me to get out of my box and go somewhere unexpected, do something different or merely just start over from the beginning again.