My extended family is spread all across the southeast, and while Charleston isn’t exactly equidistant for everyone involved (sorry Louisiana cousins), we spent quite a few Thanksgivings together in the Charleston area.
Not too long ago, I realized that despite spending many Thanksgivings in the Charleston area, and despite Charleston being an awesome place, I don’t remember ever actually going to Charleston. We were always Charleston adjacent.
As a kid, I couldn’t care less if I went to downtown Charleston or not. I was there to eat Thanksgiving food, to not be in school, to watch James Bond movies, to play Pokemon, and to win at Rummikub (come @ me, family). As an adult, I couldn’t believe that I have never made a point to visit the “Holy City”.
Anyways, all of that to say that I badly needed to revisit Charleston and familiarize myself with their famous and renowned restaurant scene. Luckily, I have a number of friends who live in Charleston that I can use as excuses for visiting and eating at restaurants! That’s what friends are for, right?
Recently, I was in Charleston for a wedding (another great reason to visit places and eat at their restaurants), and went to Poogan’s Porch for brunch on the day of the wedding.
I know that literally everyone everywhere LOVES brunch, but if I were to pick an ideal location for brunch, Charleston would be it (second it would be New Orleans, probably). There are loads of fantastic restaurants to choose from, the city is very easily walkable and condensed, it’s in the south, it’s on the ocean, and the average temperature never dips below 50°F year-round. If those aren’t perfect mimosa and bloody mary sipping conditions, then I don’t know what is!
The friend that I was staying with recommended that we go to Poogan’s Porch for brunch because she thought I would like it. Also, more importantly, because she wanted biscuits, and at Poogan’s Porch, they give you a basket biscuits for the table. Good enough for me!
Poogan’s Porch is a very popular and well known Charleston Restaurant. That tends to happen when you’ve been around for over 40 years, I guess. For some reason, I took this popularity to mean that it was a beachy, touristy-type restaurant. I was dead wrong.
Poogan’s Porch, like many other Charleston restaurants, was converted from a gorgeous Charleston home into an equally gorgeous restaurant (with a great porch, of course). They didn’t change much from the when the restaurant was a residence. The dining rooms are all of the various rooms and the bar is in the middle of the first floor where the kitchen used to be. I thought the lack of an open concept helped to put you in the mindset that you’re eating in someone’s house and not at a restaurant. It’s very comfortable and southern feeling.
I had a tough time trying to choose between the Lump Crab Toast (local crab salad and caviar on tasted sour dough), the Pulled Pork Benedict (pulled pork, poached eggs, and BBQ hollandaise), and the Sunrise Shrimp & Grits (with Tasso ham gravy, peppers, onions, and sausage).
Luckily, the biscuits came out to buy me some time to decide.
Now, these are some good biscuits. The exterior is a bit chewy (not a bad thing), while the interior is light, airy, and ever so slightly sweet. Spread some salted butter on that warm biscuit and you’ve got yourself a great brunch appetizer.
After much deliberation, and three trips from the waiter to check on us, my friend ordered Biscuits & Gravy with a side of Adluh Grits with white cheddar cheese (because: more biscuits!) and I went with the Sunrise Shrimp & Grits because I had yet to have shrimp & grits in Charleston (a felony, I’m sure).
I’ve already discussed the biscuits above, so I’ll just address the gravy half of the Biscuits & Gravy here. The sausage gravy that smothered the biscuits was creamy and savory with a little bit of spice and heat provided by the crumbled sausage. This is an ideal sausage gravy. There’s nothing special about this sausage gravy, but it doesn’t need anything special to still be outstanding. It won’t inspire an epiphany, but it will still be delicious and memorable.
Okay, Shrimp & Grits. Admittedly, gumbo-esque shrimp & grits is not my favorite style of shrimp & grits. HOWEVER, despite my preference, I greatly enjoyed the shrimp & grits at Poogan’s Porch. The Tasso ham gravy was the perfect consistency, the shrimp were cooked just right (very important), the bell peppers and onions imparted some sweetness, while the sausage leant some spice to the gravy. Most importantly, it complemented the grits extremely well.
These grits, y’all. Let’s talk about these grits. Here are my unedited notes about the grits:
The grits are near perfection. Cheesy, creamy, salty. Amazing. Some of the best I’ve ever had.
Even though I said that the grits are near perfection, I have no earthly idea how someone could make them any more perfect. Texturally, the grits were smooth and silky; could still flow, but solid enough to be eaten with a fork. They were so deliciously cheesy, but I couldn’t put my finger on what type of cheese they used; I suspected white cheddar*. I was/am obsessed with these grits.
*Confession time: While researching for this post, I realized that the actual description of the grits on the Poogan’s Porch menu is, and I quote, “Adluh Grits: white cheddar“. . . 1 point for taste buds! : ) . . . 0 points for observation skills : (
I left Poogan’s Porch determined to step up my own grits game because Charleston is unfortunately way too far away (probably not a bad thing because I would go broke eating their grits) and I NEED these grits in my life. It’s not often that you leave a restaurant inspired to improve yourself (usually you leave inspired to take a nap), and I think that speaks volumes about the quality of food at Poogan’s Porch.
Poogan’s Porch is the quintessential Charleston experience: Incredible Charleston food and culture served in beautiful Charleston architecture. There’s a reason it’s been around for 40+ years. There’s a reason it remains so popular. There’s a reason I will recommend it to anyone traveling to Charleston.
That reason is GRITS!