Before our vacation to South Carolina gets too far away from me, I wanted to write about Husk. Located in a restored 1893 Queen Anne-style house in downtown Charleston, Husk was named Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit in 2011. Jon and I were able to swing reservations there last year, when we enjoyed James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock lowcountry cuisine on the upstairs porch. This year, however, our attention was focused next door at the bar.
The freestanding bar is housed in what was once a three-story, single-family dwelling for a family of eight. When Husk set their sights on the building, which was built in 1831, it was but a shell of century-old brick. Today it's a two-story, tightly arranged bar that serves-up both historic and modern cocktails crafted from local ingredients, as well as wine and artisanal microbrews. It's a great place to sidle up while waiting for your table in the main dining room or, in our case, order an early dinner. (The bar opens at 4 p.m., but doesn't serve food until 5 p.m.)
I immediately gravitated to Husk's bloody Mary, which we were told takes 28 ingredients to concoct. (Sadly, mine was missing one ingredient: vodka.) The drink was made with fresh local heirloom tomatoes and garnished with a pickled green bean and two slices of Berkshire pork butt, which was cold-smoked over seven days and then carved right in front of me. I will go on the record saying it was the best bloody I've had to date. And I like my bloodies, folks.
But the real reason we headed back to Husk was for their cheeseburger. (Bar fare adheres to the same standards as the main dining room, by the way. “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door,” Brock has been quoted saying.) Hickory-smoked bacon is married with prime rib, hand-ground, locally sourced, grass-fed beef chuck, and "a whole lot of other good stuff I can't remember," the bartender says. It's then rendered in bacon fat (hello, happy calories!) and pounded into two thin patties, which are seared over a wood-fired oven. Caramelized onions and pickles are tucked between the patties, which are then topped with gooey American cheese and sandwiched between a grilled bun. Finish the whole thing off with a side of thick-cut fries and Husk's house-made catchup--"eight chefs, three days"--and you have yourself a masterpiece in a mouthful. If you can't catch a reservation in the main dining room, I promise you won't be disappointed here.