When I found we were heading to Charleston for business, I looked at all of my food resources and identified the places that I wanted to dine:
- Rockaway Athletic Club (in Columbia, on the way up
- Hominy Grill
- Husk (where I was wait-listed for a reservation on three different days) and
You have to love a place with the motto “Food is Good”. I fundamentally agree with that. I also realized, at about the time we were leaving that FIG might actually be an acronym, and not a reference to the fruit. We arrived early (5:45), as is our wont and found the place fairly empty. During our dinner, the restaurant filled up about 60%, but the bar was packed with diners and drinkers.
FIG is dedicated to local, sustainable foods and it shows in the menu. Lots of seafood (oysters, soft shell crab, grouper, fish stew, lump crab) and interesting combinations.
One odd thing to start, was the Som pomegranate vinegar soda. I was intrigued and ordered one. It looked fairly normal, but as you went to drink, it smelled strongly of vinegar. But when I tasted it, the vinegar taste was very light and there was more pomegranate flavor, but neither was strong.
In 2008, I remembered reading an article in Garden & Gun – “100 Southern Foods You Absolutely, Positively, Must Try Before You Die”. Slap in the middle of the “meat” section:
Chicken Liver Pâté – FIG – Charleston, South Carolina
If this is poor man’s foie gras, I’ll settle for a double-wide, a bottle of Ripple, universal health care coverage, and a lifetime supply of chef Mike Lata’s exultation of offal.
I was ideologically forced to order it. It was served with pickled beets, mustard, snap pea greens and toast. The waitress suggested, toast – mustard – chicken liver – beet. I knew I didn’t like beets, so I put some mustard on the toast, sliced off a chunk of chicken liver and spread it on the toast. It was awful. Surely, my palate just needed cleansing, so I did it again. Still awful.
Realizing that we’d struck out with the Chicken Liver Goodness at Bocado, I was resigned to the realization of my redneck sensibility that the only way I liked chicken livers was deep fried, like my mom made when I was a kid. While we were waiting for the main course, I dipped the toast in the mustard, took a bite, and it was awful, too! It was the mustard that I hated.
Jo ordered the black bass with a golden zucchini coulis, sweet onions and a tapenade. My photo is too dark to do it justice. The fish was slow baked, at low heat, then sauteed in a pan to give the outside a crispy crust.
For a table side, we ordered farro piccolo with sweet peas as a “table” side. Scouring the web, it appears that farro piccolo is the oldest cultivated grain (at over 10,000 years) and the smallest member of the farro family.
For my meal, I ordered Caw Caw Creek suckling pig confit with sauteed young greens (which tasted a lot like kale), roasted beets and a mustard jus. Caw Caw Creek is a pastured pork producer and the suckling pig confit was like a meatloaf made of pulled pork, with a tough crispy top.
The mix of the confit with the farro piccolo and peas was a wonderful flavor combination. Truly a fine dining experience.