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Carolina Dine Around - December 3, 2021

Cocktails and bagels for breakfast with no reservations required

Flights of mimosas and eye-opener cocktails will accompany the breakfast fare at Ruby Sunshine on East Bay Street in Charleston
Flights of mimosas and eye-opener cocktails will accompany the breakfast fare at Ruby Sunshine on East Bay Street in Charleston (Ruby Sunshine)

By Robert F. Moss

It’s time for the Carolina Dine Around, our weekly digest of food and beverage news from around the Carolinas.

Regardless of which Carolina you’re dining in, the news this week has been largely about new restaurant openings. With a few notable exceptions, like Brasserie la Banque in Charleston, the new arrivals suggest the winds in the industry are still blowing away from big nights out on the town and toward more casual—and boozy—modes.

Charleston

Daybreak Cocktails are featured on the new brunch menu at the Longboard on Sullivan's Island
Daybreak Cocktails are featured on the new brunch menu at the Longboard on Sullivan's Island (The Longboard)

If you like drinking before noon, it’s a great time to be dining in Charleston.

Out on Sullivan’s Island, the Longboard is adding weekend brunch service starting tomorrow (December 4). The menu will include raw bar selections like oysters and poke along with island-inflected plates like rum cake with apple butter, seafood sausage breakfast sandwiches, and pork belly breakfast bowls. There’s also a full slate of “Daybreak Cocktails” incorporating a few breakfast-time ingredients, including bacon fat-washed rum, cold brew coffee, and grit orgeat. Brunch will be served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Let’s head downtown. I noted a little while ago (see “The Ones We Lost”) that East Bay Street is steadily being transformed from Charleston’s independent restaurant row into a strip of national chains. The latest to enter the fray is brunch-centric New Orleans import Ruby Sunshine, which is set to open its doors this month (no official date yet beyond “this December”) at 171 E Bay Street. Charlestonians will remember that address as the long-time home of Blossom. Southern brunch fare like benedicts, pancakes and French Toast plus “eye-opening” cocktails will be featured.

Over at the Post & Courier, Parker Milner reports on the transformation of the old Smoky Oak Taproom, which closed in June, into Dills & Camp Sundries. Shifting its hours earlier, the new operation serves breakfast and lunches featuring meats from the former barbecue restaurant’s smoker—and a drinks menu chock full of mimosas, bloody marys, and morning-themed cocktails like Sunrise Park and The Morning Dove.

No brunch cocktails yet at Brasserie La Banque which, as we recently reported, opened for dinner service on Tuesday, but they plan to add a weekend brunch soon. Erin Perkins of Eater Carolinas got the big scoop this week with a report that former McCrady’s chef Dano Heinz and his wife, Bethany, are returning from Los Angeles and taking over Ken Vedrinski’s old Trattoria Lucca space on Bogard Street. The venture will be called Vern, and “a neighborhood restaurant” is all they’ve announced regarding the format.

In a separate Eater story, Perkins observes that “Charleston residents love to complain about the lack of ‘decent bagels.’” She reports that Wendy Wenzel Gleim and Jeff Gleim of the newly opened café Little Line Kitchens & Provisions on Line Street are trying to rectify that by importing ones baked by the long-revered H&H Bagels in New York City. Soon there will be good bagel options even closer to the bustling King Street strip, for Holey City Bagels, which has been selling splendid hand-rolled bagels from a food trailer since 2017, just announced that it will be moving into a shop at the corner of Cannon and Coming Streets in early 2022.

Could Charleston be poised for a bagel boom? Perhaps. What better way to soak up all those breakfast cocktails?

The Triangle

The new Crawford Cookshop in Clayton features upscale comfort food like crispy catfish sandwiches and grilled duck wings
The new Crawford Cookshop in Clayton features upscale comfort food like crispy catfish sandwiches and grilled duck wings (Jennifer Noble Kelly/JNK Public Relations)

The Raleigh-Durham area picked up a couple of new and long-awaited dining options in the past week, and you shouldn’t have any reservations when visiting them. In fact, you can’t have any reservations because they are walk-in only.

Scott Crawford opens the doors today (December 3rd) at his latest restaurant, Crawford Cookshop, which is located in a century-old building at 401 Main Street in downtown Clayton, just southeast of Raleigh. Its “Americana” comfort food menu centers on a wood-fired grill, offering burgers, wings (both chicken and duck), grilled oysters, and ribs. Bryan Slattery will lead the kitchen as Chef de Cuisine. Crawford’s Cookshop is open Tuesday through Saturday and does not take reservations.

It’s walk-in only at Queeny’s in downtown Durham, too. The new bar and grill from Sean Umstead and Michelle Vanderwalker, who own the Kingfisher bar downstairs in the same building, officially opened on Sunday. One notable feature of Queeny’s, beyond its hearty North Carolina pork chop and birria dip sandwiches: the days of operation, which are Thursday through Monday—the day when many other restaurants are closed around town.

I was a little taken aback to see Drew Jackson of the News & Observer report that Durham’s Jack Tar had kicked off the holiday season by serving a two-year-old egg nog that was mixed before the pandemic arrived. At first I thought perhaps it was just the whiskey base and spices that were aged and then mixed with fresh eggs and cream, but, no, it turns out it’s perfectly safe (and tasty) to store not just the nog but the eggs and cream, too, for years on end thanks to the preservative powers of booze. I have much to learn about egg nog.

Charlotte

Uptown Yolk is bringing its beloved breakfast fare back to Charlotte
Uptown Yolk is bringing its beloved breakfast fare back to Charlotte (Peter Taylor)

As in the rest of the Carolinas, new restaurants keep arriving in Charlotte despite the ongoing pandemic and the labor crunch in the F&B industry. There are signs, though, that staffing challenges are beginning to shape the format and business model of some new arrivals.

Kristen Wile reports for the Unpretentious Palate on the pending opening of Bit by Seoul Food, a stripped-down spin-off of the popular Seoul Food Meat Co.. She notes that the restaurant’s owners wanted to open a full-service restaurant but opted for a fast casual format instead to reduce the number of employees—and in particular, servers—that were needed.

Speaking of stripping down, the Charlotte Observer’s Charlotte Five section reports that a new farm-to-table steakhouse called Cinder is coming soon to a yet-to-be-undisclosed location in North Charlotte. What caught my attention was the detail that Cinder’s owners aspire to create “a space where fine dining can be accessible to a crowd without suits and ties.” I had no idea people still wore suits and ties out for dinner, but I guess Charlotte’s finally going to shed that “just a banker town” image once and for all.

Years ago, while visiting my parents in Rock Hill, I happened across a modest-looking storefront breakfast joint called The Yolk and ended up being floored by the seriously delicious housemade-everything spread we were served. The restaurant’s owners, Greg and Subrina Collier, eventually moved the business to Charlotte and renamed it Uptown Yolk, but they ended up closing it back in March to focus on their widely-acclaimed Camp North End restaurant Leah & Louise.

But Uptown Yolk is about to return. The Colliers announced a few weeks ago that they have secured a 2,800 square foot spot in the Vantage South End development on Tryon Street and will be launching a revamped version of their breakfast spot in the spring of 2022.

And, yes, it will have a full bar, in case anyone from Charleston is visiting and needs a good spot for breakfast.

Leftovers

Must have been a slow F&B news week over at the Post & Courier, since the editors had to stretch a bit to flesh out the Food section headlines:

The Post & Courier delivers the latest in food news
The Post & Courier delivers the latest in food news

In fairness, while the story is primarily about a local jewelry store closing, there is a food angle, for the retiring owners “are considering selling the store site between Five Guys Burgers and Hudson Nissan.”

Tag it with “Burgers” and call it a day.

About the Author

Robert F. Moss

Robert F. Moss is the founder and publisher of The Southeastern Dispatch as well as the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living magazine and the author of numerous books on Southern food and drink, including Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, and Barbecue Lovers: The Carolinas. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.