What is in this article?:
- Fine Dining awards: McCrady's
- Serious about food
George Washington was customer at McCrady's, Charleston, S.C.'s oldest restaurant
This article is part of a series profiling Nation Restaurant News' 2012 Fine Dining Hall of Fame inductees. This report is a bonus feature from the Nov. 12 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News, typically available to subscribers only. Subscribe today.
McCrady’s is the oldest restaurant in Charleston, S.C., which in a pre-colonial coastal city means this establishment, on the National Register of Historic Places, can trace its lineage back more than 200 years and count George Washington as a past customer.
The restaurant’s history is reflected in its discreet alley location in the heart of downtown Charleston, just a few blocks from the harbor, and by a magnificent colonial-era cooking hearth set into the brick wall that runs the length of the main dining room. The appointments of the restaurant are luxurious but understated. Three large brick arches separating the dining room and bar are the only grand flourishes.
But if the building evokes the restaurant’s heritage, McCrady’s cuisine is anything but old-fashioned. In fact, after Sean Brock took charge of the kitchen in 2006, the restaurant soon became known for offering some of the most avant-garde, forward-looking cooking to be found in the Southeast.
Since then Brock has embraced an ingredient-focused menu driven by his fascination with the bolder flavors of heirloom varieties of vegetables, grains and livestock that once flourished in the South — and were nearly rendered extinct in the homogenizing rush to mass-
Along with the intellectual dish composition, which the restaurant describes as “postmodern,” has evolved a mature and inventive sense of balance and novelty that would fit comfortably in the finest dining rooms in Copenhagen, Denmark; Yountville, Calif.; or Roses, Spain. In 2010 Brock won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best : Southeast, and he has been profiled in The New Yorker, Vogue and Food & Wine magazines.
McCrady’s is consistently ranked among the top restaurants in Charleston, and The New York Times’ Sam Sifton wrote, “It is marvelous, well worth a two-hour drive from Columbia, the state capital, or the flight from New York.”