We recently met a couple from “up north,” foodies who were on a restaurant touring vacation through the South. They were quite emphatic in their declaration that, “per capita, Charleston has more “great” restaurants than New York.” Well now, that’s high praise from someone above the accursed (Mason-Dixon) Line. But then, we knew it all along.
You can imagine that to survive and prosper in a town full of chefs and restaurateurs is no small feat. It takes something special to survive over twenty-five years in Charleston’s famous French Quarter. Truly one of Charleston’s great restaurants, 82 Queen has managed to do just that, with a wonderful mix of casual elegance and great Lowcountry cuisine.
The buildings surrounding the courtyard of 82 Queen were part of the original walled city of colonial Charles Towne in 1688. They have survived earthquake, fire, flood, war and famine to form a uniquely Charleston location for any elegant dinner or gathering. Entering through the richly appointed bar, one immediately exits into the intimate walled courtyard garden with its magnificent magnolia tree. This is a beautiful location for cocktails, an aperitif or an after dinner cognac. Dinner is also served here or in one of the dining rooms within the historic buildings.
Executive Chef Brad Jones credits the authenticity of 82 Queen's Lowcountry menu to home-grown ingredients. "We use a lot of local herbs and vegetables, when they're in season like okra, tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, and mushrooms to showcase our prime cuts of beef and fresh seafood. Our shrimp, crab, grouper, flounder, snapper and black fish are so fresh they were probably swimming in local waters a day or two before being served at our tables.”
Choosing from their award winning wine cellar is always a delight and a challenge. (So many wines, so little time.) They’ve received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for five consecutive years.
82 Queen was the perfect place in which to celebrate of our thirty-first wedding anniversary. We kept it low key; just a quiet dinner for two.
Dinner simply had to start with a taste of their famous She Crab Soup. The creamy goodness of this Low Country favorite is accented with a lace of sherry. Afterwards our waitress, Jordan, arrived with my Gorgonzola stuffed figs and pecans covered with a Brule’ style raspberry balsamic glaze. I chose this as a compliment to my favorite dish; seared duck breast with sweet potato-pecan mash, green beans and maple sour cream. Mark’s appetizer, lobster and asparagus stuffed bacon potatoes was a perfect introduction to his grilled rack of lamb. The Bing cherry chutney was a unique and outstanding accompaniment to the lamb.
Charleston, South Carolina is rich in cultural diversity and home to the uniquely Southern, Lowcountry Cuisine. Many of the original recipes include dishes influenced by African, French, Caribbean and Anglo-Saxon tastes. For three consecutive years, 82 Queen was voted “Best City Restaurant” by the readers of Southern Living magazine. In Charleston there is no better purveyor of authentic Lowcountry cuisine than 82 Queen.
82 Queen Award Winning She Crab Soup
MAKES 12 SERVINGS
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 lb. flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups of milk
2 cups of fish stock or water and fish base
1/4 lb. crab roe
1 lb. crab white meat
Melt butter and stir in flour to make roux. Add milk and cream. Bring to boil. Add remaining ingredients, simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with sherried, whipped cream.
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