Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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Middleton Place Restaurant
4300 Ashley River Rd.
June 1, 2009 3:11 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.
She Crab Soup
Key Lime Pie
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