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Gullah Cuisine

1717 US-17, Mt. Pleasant, SC - (843) 881-9076
Posted By Michael Stern on 5/31/2009 9:35:00 PM
"Food that speaks to ya" is the motto of Gullah Cuisine, a restaurant on a laudable mission. Its purpose is to celebrate the cuisine (and the culture) of coastal South Carolina, known as the lowcountry. As you enter, you’ll notice elegant woven sweetgrass baskets for sale near the cash register – they are a time-honored local craft; and you will also see little jars of “Gullah seasoning.” It’s that spice that helps give so much of this food an indescribable zing.

For instance, the Gullah rice that comes as a meal unto itself or as a side dish for such entrees as fried shrimp, smothered pork shops, or oxtail stew. It is like a dry gumbo, choc-a-bloc with shrimp, shreds of chicken, discs of sausage, and nuggets of vegetables, the rice itself tinted a glistening mahogany color and fairly radiant with peppery flavor. “There was a fella who came in here last week to ask Miss Charlotte [Charlotte Jenkins, chef and proprietor] about mass-producing her Gullah rice,” our waitress told us when we offered our compliments on the wonderful dish. “Miss Charlotte told him ‘No way!’” she assured us.

It was a tastebuds-challenge for us to eat both Gullah rice and okra gumbo. Each is powerfully spiced, the gumbo dark and smoky and loaded with sausage, shrimp, and chicken. Midway through the meal, we felt we had gone into a kind of sensory overload from the overwhelming allure of so much flavor and aroma. On a recent visit the high-seasoned fare was balanced by a trip to the buffet for Gullah's fried chicken, which is itself something to crow about.

Vegetables are Southern classics. We were as impressed by the broccoli casserole as by the more complex Gullah specialties. It is a real southern specialty – broccoli transformed from a plebeian vegetable into a dish that is rich and full-flavored by the addition of cheese, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. Far, far from modern al dente broccoli, this casserole is soft, gentle, and profoundly comforting. Collard greens were cooked-tender leaves radiant with chlorophyll goodness and packed with pieces of hambone.

Desserts included a slice of superb pumpkin pie and a block of tawny bread pudding laced with raisins and soft peaches and topped with caramel sauce.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Gullah Rice
Ice Tea
Okra Gumbo
Collard Greens
She-Crab Soup
Fried Chicken
Fried Shrimp
All You Can Eat Buffet
Fried Oysters
Cornbread Muffin
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The aroma and flavors of Gullah gumbo are positively dizzying. It is loaded with shrimp, chicken, and sausage and thickened by okra in the classical manner.
"The aroma and flavors of Gullah gumbo are positively dizzying. It is loaded with shrimp, chicken, and sausage and thickened by okra in the classical manner."
Michael Stern





Look closely at this serving of she-crab soup and note the layer of clear sherry that floats atop the creamy soup. A couple of servings of this and you won’t pass a breathalyzer test!
"Look closely at this serving of she-crab soup and note the layer of clear sherry that floats atop the creamy soup. A couple of servings of this and you won’t pass a breathalyzer test!"
Michael Stern


A close view of Gullah rice gives a sense of how much flavor there is in every bite. Shrimp, chicken, and sausage each delivers its own note and the rice itself is an edible kaleidoscope. The portion is not immense, but the satisfaction is.
"A close view of Gullah rice gives a sense of how much flavor there is in every bite. Shrimp, chicken, and sausage each delivers its own note and the rice itself is an edible kaleidoscope. The portion is not immense, but the satisfaction is."
Michael Stern


Forking into the dish of collard greens revealed many chunks and shreds of ham, the flavor of which had permeated every fiber of the vegetable's leaves.
"Forking into the dish of collard greens revealed many chunks and shreds of ham, the flavor of which had permeated every fiber of the vegetable's leaves."
Michael Stern


No one ever need nag me to eat my vegetables when they are as delicious as Gullah Cuisine's collard greens. This is one of the greenest-flavored dishes on earth.
"No one ever need nag me to eat my vegetables when they are as delicious as Gullah Cuisine's collard greens. This is one of the greenest-flavored dishes on earth."
Michael Stern


Most sweet teas are pretty similar, varying only in degree of sweetness. This one is unique, flavored not with sugar but with honey. Its floral taste is fine complement for the flavor bouquet of each dish.
"Most sweet teas are pretty similar, varying only in degree of sweetness. This one is unique, flavored not with sugar but with honey. Its floral taste is fine complement for the flavor bouquet of each dish."
Michael Stern


Like everything else here, these lightly coated fried shrimp are powerfully flavored.
"Like everything else here, these lightly coated fried shrimp are powerfully flavored."
Cliff Strutz


The cornbread muffin that signals the beginning of the meal looks pretty ordinary, but it is not. The oven-hot cylinder of corn cake is so fragile that it falls into pieces when you put any pressure on it. It is grain with the character of cream.
"The cornbread muffin that signals the beginning of the meal looks pretty ordinary, but it is not. The oven-hot cylinder of corn cake is so fragile that it falls into pieces when you put any pressure on it. It is grain with the character of cream."
Michael Stern


How do so many southern cooks manage to transform austere broccoli into a rich, luscious vegetable? We’d guess the answer includes breadcrumbs, plenty of butter, and cooking time long enough to make it soft as clotted cream.
"How do so many southern cooks manage to transform austere broccoli into a rich, luscious vegetable? We’d guess the answer includes breadcrumbs, plenty of butter, and cooking time long enough to make it soft as clotted cream."
Michael Stern


We love a restaurant on a mission. Here at Gullah cuisine, chef and proprietor Charlotte Jenkins aims to share the culinary gifts of the lowcountry.
"We love a restaurant on a mission. Here at Gullah cuisine, chef and proprietor Charlotte Jenkins aims to share the culinary gifts of the lowcountry."
Michael Stern


The fried chicken on this plate had been delivered to the serving pan hot from the fryer, still glistening. It is luxuriously chicken-fatty, tender, and delicious. Clockwise, from the drumstick, are collard greens, braised cabbage, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese.
"The fried chicken on this plate had been delivered to the serving pan hot from the fryer, still glistening. It is luxuriously chicken-fatty, tender, and delicious. Clockwise, from the drumstick, are collard greens, braised cabbage, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese."
Michael Stern


If you like your yams sweet, these caramelized hunks are heaven on earth. They were an especially good companion to the potent greens on the buffet.
"If you like your yams sweet, these caramelized hunks are heaven on earth. They were an especially good companion to the potent greens on the buffet."
Michael Stern



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