Husk was a restaurant I had been salivating over for quite some time. After a coworker showed me an article written up about the chef in a favorite magazine, I was dazzled with the idea of a restaurant that served nothing native to North of the Mason Dixon. I thought that maybe this place would have to reside in my dreams for a while, but on a family trip to Hilton Head, I finally got my chance.
It would be unfair to say that Husk is the most beautiful building in Charleston, because, well, every building is beautiful. Set in the scenic downtown where historic antebellum homes sit atop cobblestone walkways, Husk’s gleaming white exterior beckons you to sit atop its porch and relax. I felt as if I was walking up to a long lost grandmother’s home, not a restaurant. Inside was a similar vibe. I was surprised with how contemporary the place seemed, grey walls, tall ceilings, and detailed features steered very clear of the kitschy kitchen I had in mind. The waiters all wore plaid and many had impressive mustaches, so the pretenses were kept low. We were seated exactly at our reservation time (reservations are very difficult to get-plan ahead!) and greeted by a cheerful waiter. Then our fun began.
We started off with the compressed watermelon, which our waiter was happy to explain to us. Put in a bag and sucked of all air, the watermelon is left looking a little pinker than usual. Sprinkled with a smattering of salt and served on a beautiful tray, we gobbled it up. It was great watermelon, but perhaps I missed out on something, for it tasted just like other watermelon. The bread, however, was divine. With a choice of duck fat butter and regular, we smeared our little buns with plenty to keep us licking our lips for more.
When the food arrived, we were most impressed by the presentation. My mom and I’s salads came in large wooden bowls that looked as if they had been carved out of a tree that day. Diving into the bibb lettuce, beets, and most delectable bleu cheese, we were hooked. The buttermilk dressing that tied it all together made the whole thing as flavorfully indulging as the most decadent hamburger. Each fresh ingredient was able to shine and we were happy.
Michael had no words for his wood fired quail, farro, peaches, and arugula, only smiles. Finally stating that it was, “cooked perfectly and delicious,” we concluded that those would be his last words of the dining experience. My dad was equally as pleased with Carolina catfish with fried cabbage and sweet peas. My brother, whom we had suspected to be the most unadventurous, was pleasantly surprised to learn that his hamburger of choice had actually been rated as one of the top ten in America. “It was really good,” he said, shaking his head and looking down at the burger. Our waiter even informed us with a chuckle that some people come from all over to try the famous slab of meat, only to ask for it plain. Our sides, bacon cornbread and cheesy mushroom grits left us feeling satisfied and a little overstuffed. Rubbing my stomach, I wondered what would happen to myself if I ate those grits every day of my life.
As with any Oswalt family meal, nothing ends until the sugar arrives. Our waiter realized at this point that we were all ears when it came to the process of making the foods, and quickly filled us in on the desserts. After much hesitation (how can you say no to so many booze infused goodies?) we decided on the Blueberry Boy Bait, a 1950s recipe that included lime ice cream and smoked pecan crumble. The flavors, mixed together, were the best way to beat the Carolina heat any day.
The meal was lovely, the service was great, and the atmosphere was cozy, so what am I complaining about? My only qualm with Husk was the lack of vegetarian food. Don’t get me wrong, my salad was spectacular, and the grits were amazing, but I would have loved to see something that allowed their farm fresh produce to shine, not take a supporting role to meat.
Satisfied and happy, we left with the assurance that we had not only filled our bellies to the brim, but ate at a true gem.