Charleston's Cafe, which used to be the Bookstore Cafe in the city of Charleston, recently moved to a shopping plaza just off Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant. Breakfast remains its strong suit. "The Classics" section of the menu includes eggs and grits, biscuits with sausage gravy, buttermilk pancakes and apple oatmeal pancakes. "Best Sellers" are shrimp and grits, a four-cheese omelet, eggs atop fried green tomatoes with country ham gravy, and various omelets.
What attracted our rapt attention were the "Island Potato Casseroles." These are big meals built upon a bed of semi-crisp fried potatoes – here known as chippers. The toppings can include grilled chicken with cheese and hot peppers, spinach and bacon with Swiss cheese and hollandaise, and a vegetable medley. We loved our "Kiawah Casserole," in which the potato bed is heaped with sausage gravy and melted jack and cheddar cheeses. An excellent biscuit was served alongside.
Charleston's Café is also proud of its hash; and as hash devotees, we must say that the spicy tasso ham hash we ordered was terrific: rugged and chunky, at once spicy and sweet, topped with buttery fried eggs. When we return, we're going to try the traditional corned beef hash … or maybe the sweet potato / chicken hash … or the salmon / red potato hash.
"This is the Kiawah Island Potato Casserole. At the left and right of the plate you can see the fried potatoes peeking out from under the blanket of sausage gravy."
"Tasso ham is rare outside of Cajun Louisiana. It has a powerful flavor that makes wonderful hash well-accompanied by a drift of creamy grits (and a sweet poato biscuit in the background). The hash itself is mostly buried beneath the over-easy eggs. See the next picture for a detail of what it looks like."
"A detailed view of the tasso ham hash. Spicy stuff!"
"With the egg out of the way, you can see the shrimp, kielbasa, mushrooms, and potato chippers, all sitting in a spicy red cream sauce."
"Charleston's Cafe's strip mall location doesn't inspire thoughts of great eating, but all that will change with your first bite of the food."