Left: Gullah Cuisine’s fried chicken is crispy and juicy in all the right places; top, right: the fried okra was perfectly done; bottom, right: I could’ve eaten an entire meals’ worth of these corn muffins alone
Ahh, the South. It’s good to be back.
One of the great things about being near family again is that every once in awhile, the hubby and I are getting a chance to slip away for a meal, just the two of us. It’s hard to eat at the same time these days, and one of us usually ends up with food smeared all down our shirts (although, to be fair to the Gravy Baby, there’s a 50% chance that my shirt will end up smeared with food regardless of whether or not he touched me at all during the meal).
On our date night, we ended up at Gullah Cuisine, a unassuming little restaurant located in a low-slung building just off Savannah Highway in Charleston. It’s one of those places that I’ve been meaning to go to for years, but my visits back home have always been concentrated on getting to those “must eat” places I love.
Charlotte Jenkins, chef-owner of Gullah Cuisine, and a plate of her home grown goodness
Gullah Cuisine, as it turns out, is exactly the right place for simple, soulful food. I knew this as soon as the waiter greeted us and slid two cornbread muffins, straight out of the oven and onto our table. Light and crispy around the golden-brown edges, those muffins were so divine that they set my expectations into overdrive, and I got greedy to try a little bit of everything on the menu.
Perfect mac and cheese – eggy in the right places, cheesy in the other parts
We started out with an absolutely delicious she crab soup (a staple for Charleston restaurants serving local fare), which was good, although I prefer the versions that come with a little pot of sherry to drizzle on top, for obvious reasons. Our want for sherry quickly abated when our main courses arrived: okra gumbo for the hubby and a fried chicken plate with fixings for me.
The okra gumbo was honestly to die for. I’m not sharing a picture because none of mine turned out particularly well, and I didn’t want any injustice heaped upon this gumbo due to my inability to take a decent photo. Just trust me — this okra gumbo is the kind worth crossing state lines for. Spicy and flavorful, the hubby and I couldn’t get enough. We speculated about the difficulty of preparing okra well — there’s a slime in okra that can ruin a dish if you don’t know how to cook it properly (I don’t, so I think a cooking experiment is probably in order soon).
And as for that fried chicken — oh, for the love of sweet tea, was it ever perfect. The chicken was crispy on the outside and amazingly juicy on the inside. I got mine with fried okra and mac and cheese, which not only complemented the meal well but also were delicious all on their own. I even spoke to my okra as I ate it, a la Bridget Jones’s Diary: “I like you, Mr. Okra, very much, just as you are.”
We finished off our meal with a shared bowl of peach cobbler, since peaches were in season. It was the right call. Eating that cobbler reminded me of summertime back when I was a kid. My babysitter used to make the best peach cobbler with fresh South Carolina peaches. Her cobbler, which always came with a cold glass of milk, is still one of my favorite cobblers I’ve ever had.
This one comes pretty close, though.