Seared foie gras accompanied by a black pepper biscuit, duck barbecue and Carolina peach jam
For the hubby’s birthday last month, we headed to Peninsula Grill, a swanky, well-known dining establishment in the Planter’s Inn. It’s exactly the kind of place you think of when you think of a formal, special occasion type of place, which made it kind of funny that we happened upon there completely by accident. The hubby and I had been wanting a night out, and what started as, “Let’s get a quick bite to eat while Grandpa and Grandma Gravy watch the Gravy Baby” turned into an exhaustive discussion filled with frantic Yelp searches and phone calls. The hubby and I value our breaks so highly that we act like a genie just popped back out of the bottle and said, “Just ’cause I like you, I’m going to give you a fourth wish.” What do you do when that happens? Where do you even start?
Anyhoodle, it dawned on us while we were hemming and hawing over where to go that we should just — well, go for broke. And by broke, I mean we sauntered into Peninsula Grill just five minutes after having called the restaurant and demanded a reservation. We’ve discovered that such assertiveness is often rewarded, particularly when you offer to arrive at the restaurant promptly at 5:15 pm and wait patiently for a 5:30 pm seating. Yes, I always want to say to the servers and maitre’d eyeballing us as we order almost as soon as we’re seated, having reviewed and re-reviewed the menu on my IPhone on the drive over, we are the lame couple with the toddler at home whom we’d like to tuck in by 7:30 tonight. No, we don’t mind dining with octogenarians. Judge away.
Dry aged sirloin with lobster tempura claw and grilled asparagus
But seriously, mock judgment aside, what can I say about Peninsula Grill that hasn’t already been said? Was the food essentially perfect? Yes, my seared foie gras had the exact right amount of caramelization on its seared surface — enough to provide a satisfying crunch, but not so much as to ruin that glossy, buttery essence that makes foie so heartbreakingly delicious. Did the hubby’s dry age sirloin melt in our mouths? Absolutely. Was the gorgonzola balsamic glaze on my tenderloin, which I’d fretted would turn out to be overpowering, provide a mouth-watering accent? Oh lord, did it ever. (Just so you know, that’s a big statement for me. I really feel like blue cheese on most red meats is so early 2000s, like those LiveStrong yellow bracelets that everyone used to wear.)
The multi-layered coconut cake, a veritable cultural icon here in Charleston
I think what I can say is this: even on a night where our dinner happens at an hour when most people are just starting their pre-dinner cocktails, a meal at the Peninsula Grill is an occasion. It’s so much of an occasion, in fact, that while we were looking for parking outside the restaurant, we decided we needed a reason to celebrate in order to walk through its heavy, oak-paneled doors. Conveniently, we chose the hubby’s birthday, which happens during the holidays and is always overlooked.
Luckily, with a meal at Peninsula Grill like the one we had, we’ll remember this birthday for a long, long time.