Dining Review: Husk – Charleston, South Carolina
The only reservation I had for the entire weekend was at the coveted restaurant, Husk. When we turned down Queen Street, the building stood out among all the rest with a huge tree in front – it used to be an art school now converted into one of the most famous restaurants in Charleston.
The menu changes daily both with lunch and dinner for the premium farm to table dining experience. It is posted outside for review but our sneak peek online at the lunch menu earlier in the day looked promising – favorites like the fried chicken and others such as pork belly. When we looked at the posted dinner menu outside before our reservation, we were a bit stunned at how drastically different it was from the lunch offering… including no fried chicken. I repeat – no fried chicken! To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Trying to remain optimistic that the other dishes (I am sure) were great, I checked us in hoping they could take us almost an hour before our reservation. Unfortunately, they could not seat us early and offered the Husk bar next door to pass the time. With no other options that we could think of, we decided to grab a seat at the outside bar area.
Flipping through the menu, the gods smiled and sprinkled some magic – one of the small plate offerings was the famous Husk fried chicken. I looked up at Kevin – “we HAVE to get it!” – could we pregame this multi-course meal with fried chicken?! Of course the answer was yes. With 45 minutes before our 7PM reservation, we ordered the three piece Husk fried chicken.
The chicken is made to order so it took about twenty or so minutes to arrive at the table. I will admit I was a little nervous that it would be so close to our reservation time to spoil our appetite but at this point I was willing to bring those suckers into the restaurant if needed.
Well isn’t that a beautiful display of fried chicken? While I was hopeful that orange dust was not spicy, it was certainly wishful thinking. Scrapped it off the best I could to enjoy my piece but Kevin loved the level of heat it brought. The batter was well flavored, just the right thickness and perfectly fried without leaving a greasy residue. And oh that crunch. The meat was so juicy – no one likes a dry chicken.
Who else pregames their evening at one of the most acclaimed farm to table restaurants with fried chicken? Well, if the fried chicken was any indicator, we were in for a delicious meal.
We were promptly seated at our reservation time in the front of the restaurant. The ambiance inside was comfortable without being overly fancy. There is also a large blackboard as you walk in that outlines where are the ingredients for the meal are sourced.
I know I was thrown off my game looking at the menu and not seeing fried chicken earlier, but now that I resolved that internal turmoil, I could focus on the dinner offerings. The menu is split into “First” and “Supper” options so over half the menu were appetizer portions and the remaining items were larger. It was easy for me to pick out the items that were spicy or had peppers and luckily I was still left with many dishes I would enjoy. With some recommendations from our server, we were ready to tackle Husk.
Husk has a large beverage list – including cocktails, wine, and beer. We opted to split a bottle of Moreau-Naudet Chablis since we would be having so many different flavors. We did not want a wine to compete with the food but rather by enjoyable to drink on its own. Chablis is always a crowd favorite us!
These rolls reminded me of Hawaiian rolls – super fluffy and not dense, a little sweet that the salty butter cut threw. They were very good and I am glad they only brought two – thanks for the portion control!
TN Cheddar Crackers, Whipped Pimento Cheese, Country Ham Cracklins, Pepper Mash, Chives
We heard so much about Pimento Cheese that we had to give it a try, even though I was almost positive I would not enjoy them. With the same orange dust that was on the chicken, I removed it best I could before diving in. Minus the small bit of heat from the cheese itself, the flavors and textures were very good. The cracker was perfectly selected and the consistency of the whipped cheese was fun. Instead of more salt, the country ham was placed on top for that salty kick. While Kevin ate most of these, I enjoyed what I could tolerate.
Crispy Fried Quail, “Aji Verde”, Compressed Pear, Sweet and Sour Peanuts, Pickled Peppers, Cilantro
Oh fried goodness. These little legs packed quite a tasty punch. The green stuff on top was spicy so Kevin ate the top leg and I took the bottom. The crispy game was on point. The batter was not thick either – just enough to give the outside that delightful color. The dark meat had such amazing flavor that was not overpowered by the deep fry. These were definitely one of our favorites of the evening.
Slow Smoked Pork Ribs, Bourbon-Honey Glaze, Toasted Pecan, NC Mountain Apple, Fried Cornbread
Before ordering, I asked about the fried cornbread – it sounded amazing but I didn’t want to order a side of corn bread if I was getting a bunch in this dish. The server explained that they were small pieces and one of the best things he has ever tasted. The pork ribs were enormous and had the most amazing color- that bourbon-honey glaze worked some magic. And yes, there was something so spectacular about fried corn bread. Another amazing dish!
Fresh House Made Pasta, Whey Broth, Preserved Ramp Butter, Country Ham, Brassicas, Aged Gouda
Our server spoke very highly of this dish and I am not one to pass up home made pasta. While it was very good, I think this was my least favorite dish. I was hoping for the Gouda to be a stronger presence to create more of a creamy sauce other than the broth. It just felt like it was missing something. Pasta itself was very well made.
Crispy Catfish, Sugar Snaps, Sweet Peppers, Fingerling Potatoes, VA Peanuts, Shiitake, Green Curry Broth
This was Kevin’s choice from the entree list. He enjoyed the green curry broth but with such a depth of flavor we had so far, the catfish was on the bland side. It felt like a basic dish in comparison to some of the others we had up to this point. Kevin enjoyed it but was his least favorite dish of the evening.
A Skillet of Real Cornbread, Benton’s Bacon Crumble
This is what dreams are made of – hot cornbread in a skillet, bacon crumble, and sides of hot sauce and honey to “DIY”. But what made this magical was the honey butter. We were so full but we could not stop eating this cornbread.
Pecan Tart with Pecan Crumb, Orange Bourbon Ice Cream, Bourbon Sea Salt Caramel
While the cornbread only could have certainly served as our dessert, we were at Husk! We had to try the pastry chef’s creations. Pecan pie is one of Kevin’s favorites so I was agreeable to split this choice since there was not a chocolate explosion dessert on the menu. It was certainly a beautiful presentation and everything on the plate was delicious.
As the only reservation I had for this trip (I know, very unlike me!), we went all out and left enormously full. It was a welcomed half hour walk back to our Airbnb before quickly passing out.
It is easy to see why Husk is so beloved in Charleston. From classic southern staples to innovative twists on favorites, from traditional flavors to exploring new combinations of ingredients – all of these ways are how Husk has reinvented the taste of the south.