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Middleton Place Restaurant

4300 Ashley River Rd., Charleston, SC - (843) 556-6020
Posted By Michael Stern on 6/1/2009 3:11:00 PM
You will spend plenty to have lunch at the Middleton Place restaurant: $16.95 for the food plus $25 per person just to get to where the restaurant is located. It is part of a vast historical setting built on the grounds of the plantation that once was the home of Henry Middleton, president of the First Continental Congress. If you have a taste for Colonial history, the cost of admission is money well-spent, providing access to sweeping terraces, gardens, walks, and artificial lakes that proffer beauty from a bygone age. Attractions include "Eliza's House," a freedman's dwelling that shows what life was like for ex-slaves who stayed on the plantation after the Civil War, and the stable yards where farriers, potters, carpenters and coopers demonstrate their 18th century skills. Glorious trail rides (right past sneaky-looking alligators) are available at the nearby Equestrian Center; and the mansion itself is full of priceless antique furniture.

The restaurant is very much part of the grand effort to interpret the Lowcountry's cultural heritage. When it opened as a tea room run by the Junior League in 1928, its specialties were okra soup and sandwiches. In more recent times, expert southern cook Edna Lewis came on board to develop recipes that provide a knock-out sampler of beguiling southern specialties, some nearly impossible to find elsewhere. Huguenot torte, anyone? How about peanut soup made with sweet potatoes? Even the more ordinary dishes tend to be extraordinarily good. Here is some of the most delicious buttermilk-batter fried chicken anywhere. The greens are not too porky, but pungent with their own tonic punch. She-crab soup is dreamy-creamy. Even the pulled pork barbecue -- smoke-cooked on premises, of course -- has direct, simple authenticity that puts it right up there with South Carolina's best.

Meals are three-course, prix-fixe affairs, served in a charming modern-rustic dining room with windows that overlook green grass and grazing sheep.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Fried Chicken
Huguenot Torte
Peanut Soup
She Crab Soup
Barbecue
Key Lime Pie
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The Lowcountry Sampler is dazzling, each of its elements memorably delicious. The barbecue is slow-cooked pork, just barely drizzled with thin, vinegary, slightly-hot, slightly sweet sauce. Its companions include hoppin john, greens, okra and tomatoes, and a buttermilk biscuit.
"The Lowcountry Sampler is dazzling, each of its elements memorably delicious. The barbecue is slow-cooked pork, just barely drizzled with thin, vinegary, slightly-hot, slightly sweet sauce. Its companions include hoppin john, greens, okra and tomatoes, and a buttermilk biscuit."
Michael Stern





Stupendously good fried chicken, with a buttermilk tang to its evanescent batter and with skin that is charged with powerful, complicated seasoning. The meat within is so moist that I found myself worrying every last shred off the bone. In the background, next to the buttermilk biscuit, is fluffy corn pudding, as rich as dessert and nearly as sweet.
"Stupendously good fried chicken, with a buttermilk tang to its evanescent batter and with skin that is charged with powerful, complicated seasoning. The meat within is so moist that I found myself worrying every last shred off the bone. In the background, next to the buttermilk biscuit, is fluffy corn pudding, as rich as dessert and nearly as sweet."
Michael Stern


One of the most interesting peanut soups of the south, the legumes' musky flavor intertwined with the earthy taste of sweet potatoes and an exclamation point of cayenne pepper. The menu refers to it as West African peanut soup.
"One of the most interesting peanut soups of the south, the legumes' musky flavor intertwined with the earthy taste of sweet potatoes and an exclamation point of cayenne pepper. The menu refers to it as West African peanut soup."
Michael Stern


Charleston's signature soup: she-crab enriched with roe and a shot of sherry.
"Charleston's signature soup: she-crab enriched with roe and a shot of sherry."
Michael Stern


Huguenot torte is a cake-pudding-cobbler hybrid made of nuts and apples. Curiously, it is not by any means a torte, nor is it a dish from French cuisine. It got its name because the Huguenot population of Charleston is said to have loved it so.
"Huguenot torte is a cake-pudding-cobbler hybrid made of nuts and apples. Curiously, it is not by any means a torte, nor is it a dish from French cuisine. It got its name because the Huguenot population of Charleston is said to have loved it so."
Michael Stern


Classic Key lime pie, its cool, smooth filling poised exactly right between creamy and tart, its crust made of pebbly Graham cracker crumbs.
"Classic Key lime pie, its cool, smooth filling poised exactly right between creamy and tart, its crust made of pebbly Graham cracker crumbs."
Michael Stern


The tables at Middleton Place Restaurant look out on bucolic meadows where sheeps graze.
"The tables at Middleton Place Restaurant look out on bucolic meadows where sheeps graze."
Michael Stern



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