QUICK TAKE: Husk, Charleston
Updated: Oct 2
A profound disappointment living off its reputation.
by Andrew Chalk
Husk opened in Charleston in 2010 and has been widely proclaimed as the high point in lowcountry cooking. However, we must have picked the wrong time to go when we visited on a Tuesday and found problems with both the food and the service. It should be said that Husk is now a chain with four units throughout the southeast, two Mineros, and Delaney Oyster House in Charleston. Opening Executive Chef Sean Brock severed his association with Husk in 2019.
At the food level, Wood Fired NC Oysters, Fermented Chili Garlic Butter ($24) were six oysters, none of which had had the flesh cut from the shell during preparation, and all of which had pieces of shell in the meat. Luckily, the fermented chili was tasty.
On the service side, after having dined early, the half-empty restaurant was filling when we came to pay at half past seven. It took a long time to flag down our waitress for the bill and then she mis-charged it. Again we couldn’t find her and eventually had to get the F&B manager to handle the transaction. It took about 20 minutes to handle checking out, something which reminds me of some of the worst encounters in Europe.
This was Husk, which engendered great expectations, and it just wasn’t there on the night. The best restaurants run a tight ship, and the management, front and back of house, seemed to have the night off.
Elsewhere in the meal was some good food. Notable was Ink Rigatoni NC Blue Crab, Fermented Chili Garum, Okra, Chicken Cracklins ($38). Flavors went from sweet crab to earthy pasta and grassy okra, and textures from al dente pasta to crispy chicken. Also, Cornmeal Fried Catfish, Butter Bean Hoppin’ John, Bacon, Greens, Tomato Gravy ($36) was a good example of a relatively simply prepared protein delivering in a tasty fashion. Charcoaled Pork Toro, Lettuce Wraps, Cucumber, Mint, Benne ($19) was also a worthy dish.
The deliciously creamy Basque Cheesecake is a recommended dessert.
The wine list is loaded with unusual good selections including a 2019 Andorfer “Strasser Weinberge” Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, from Austria ($14 BTG) and 2020 Castelfeder Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige, Italy ($13 BTG) among the whites, and 2019 Shiba Whichern (sic) Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley ($17 BTG). The winery name is Sheba Wichern. However, the best part of the wine list is the dessert section which has the biggest Madeira selection I have seen at any restaurant outside the island of Madeira itself.
Cocktail and local beer enthusiasts will find themselves well provided for on the drinks list.
Charleston is target-rich when it comes to restaurants. I chose Husk based on reputation and was very disappointed. I would not choose it again.
FTC disclosure: I paid my own way and dined anonymously.