With all the wonderful restaurants to choose from in the Charleston, South Carolina area, it would be easy to miss this way-out-of-the-way spot. It’s on U.S. 17 in Mount Pleasant, on the way to Isle of Palms. I mean, that’s where it is physically, but cuisinically (like that?) it’s on the way to flavor heaven.
Maybe the word “Gullah” is new to you. It describes a special culture of African Americans living in the low country of South Carolina and Georgia. Because of their isolation, they’ve managed to preserve more African language and culture than virtually any other group in the country.
Owner and chef Charlotte Jenkins brings some of the special flavors and dishes of Gullah culture to her restaurant. Perhaps the centerpiece is Gullah Rice, a wonderfully rich rice in which you’ll find shrimp, chicken, sausage, and vegetables. It’s a main course in itself, or you can enjoy it with other entrees such as lightly coated fried shrimp, fried chicken, or fried oysters. Yes, fried. You can’t do it every day, but you’re depriving yourself unnecessarily if you avoid it altogether.
You’d also be depriving yourself if you didn’t try Miss Charlotte’s wonderful vegetables. Michael Stern, of the terrific website roadfood.com, has this to say: “No one ever need nag me to eat my vegetables when they are as delicious as Gullah Cuisine’s collard greens…How do so many southern cooks manage to transform austere broccoli into a rich, luscious vegetable? We’d guess the answer includes breadcrumbs, plenty of butter, and cooking time long enough to make it soft as clotted cream…If you like your yams sweet, these caramelized hunks are heaven on earth.”
I couldn’t finish this without talking about the two “soups” on the menu that are so delicious. The Gullah gumbo is full of shrimp, chicken, and sausage, while the she-crab soup is a rich bisque fortified with a dash of sherry.
There are so many delicious choices at this restaurant – you either have to pig out, or have your party order several things and share…
See an interview with Gullah Cuisine owner Charlotte Jenkins just after the four minute mark of this video:
Any plans to compile a “Great American Things” travel guide? It would be a great book to take on vacation!
I’ve come to South Carolina to explore the Gullah approach to cuisine and have found it to be exceptional. Looking forward to more Carolina Gold rice dishes soon!