Saturday, March 26, 2011

Glass Onion

While in Charleston with friends from Atlanta we visited Glass Onion for lunch. Glass Onion has received great reviews as a hip spot for fresh, local, innovative cuisine. It deserves this reputation, but it seems to always miss that final touch that would leave me enamored with the place. That said, the food is good. As I conclude below, I love what they are trying to do, but they just don't totally pull it off.
The menu changes daily based on what is available locally and what the chef decides to whip up. I ordered the blood pudding plate. It came with blood pudding of course. The blood pudding was topped with a fried egg and on the side were pickled cucumber and greenbeans.
The blood pudding consisted of blood, various pork bits, onion, and spices. It was a lot like a moist, fluffy sausage. It worked well with the egg, especially once I broke the yolk over top. The pickles were great.

A friend ordered a salad and the mussel soup. The mussel soup was excellent.

The waitress informed us that the base of the soup was broccoli which I never would have guessed. It had an onion and garlic note to it. Once I learned of the broccoli, I tasted it as well. Super creamy with tasty mussels and the complexity of the brocolli, onions, and garlic.

Another friend had the striped bass special. It was also very good. The fish was cooked perfectly with moist flesh and a charred skin.

Another friend ordered a chicken salad po' boy. The proprietors of the Glass Onion all met in New Orleans and the New Orleans influence is visible on the menu, especially in the plethora of po' boys.
I did not get a chance to try the chicken salad, but it looked good.

Another friend ordered the jambalaya, which I also did not get to try and also looked good.
The jambalaya, like my blood pudding, was topped with an egg. Apparently they have a thing for topping food with an egg. I'm not necessarily complaining because eggs make a nice addition to many Southern dishes. But you can't just throw an egg on top of everything. It went well with the blood pudding and it would work well with jambalaya, but they may be pushing the line of overdoing it.

My wife ordered the pimento cheese sandwich. The pimento cheese was fantastic. It was creamy, spicy and the perfect balance between liquid and solid.

Last, but not least, we had an order of french fries which came with bearnaise.

The bearnaise was a little over-the-top. Trust me, your doctor will never recommend that you dip deep-fried potatoes covered in salt in a sauce consisting mostly of butter. Despite being over-the-top, it was rather tasty.

Overall, the food was good to great. The prices are a little high for a regular work day lunch. Of course, the food is local, innovative, and tasty. My one complaint might be that the portions should be a little larger for the prices. I am more than happy to pay for quality food prepared with love. But, as I have said before (see my Antico Napoletana post:, the dining experience is a total experience consisting of the food, the prices, and the service.

The restaurant itself is pretty simple. You walk up to the counter, read the blackboard and place your order. The staff brings your food out to you. You eat and then walk to the second counter to pay.

As I said before, I want to love the Glass Onion. I love what they are trying to do. Their emphasis on innovative, fresh, local food should be emulated by restaurants everywhere. Their love for traditional Southern food and their desire to honor the tradition, reinvigorate it, and bring it into the twenty-first century is awesome. Perhaps the small portions and high prices leave me wanting a little more when I leave. I'm not exactly sure what it is that leaves me feeling like the last element is missing. Go try the Glass Onion for yourself. At the least it is worth supporting what they are trying to do. I just don't think the Glass Onion will fall into my regular rotation and I suspect it may be the same way for you.
Below is the menu on the day we visited.

Glass Onion
1219 Savannah Highway
Charleston, SC 29407

Glass Onion on Urbanspoon

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