Along Rutledge Avenue in Charleston, South Carolina there is a popular eatery called Hominy Grill that caters to those who have a love for incredible southern cuisine. What is hominy, you may be asking? Some say it’s the same thing as grits, but the true definition is “a food made from kernels of corn which are soaked in an alkali solution of either lime or lye. The corrosive nature of the solution removes the hull and germ of the corn and causes the grain itself to puff up to about twice its normal size.” If hominy is ground coarsely, you’ve created grits. With that said, my husband and I ventured to the quaint part of the city where the restaurant is situated to do some research of our own.
Having realized the national acclaim this establishment has attracted and taking note of the fact that owner and Chef, Robert Stehling, received the James Beard Award for Best Southern Chef in 2008, my husband and I were both curious. Additionally, the restaurant has been featured in magazines such as Gourmet, Food + Wine, Esquire and also has been mentioned in the New York Times on numerous occasions. Time for research. And something to eat since we were getting a bit famished after a very late night and early morning of business meetings in the area.
Hominy Grill packs patrons in, and by this, we realized something must be amazing here as we found ourselves waiting nearly an hour just to get a booth for the two of us. First good sign…lots of customers! We didn’t mind the delayed calming of our hunger because that gave us a chance to observe everything and listen to the comments of other diners as they left the restaurant. Nothing terrible was brought to our attention by anyone leaving. One patron was mentioning something about her biscuits being cold when they were served, but also that she appreciated how quickly the server replaced them. We were excited to finally approach the head of the line and were ready to be seated next…
A nice starting touch was the container of boiled peanuts delivered by a friendly staff member. Despite the calorie and fat content in these large boiled tidbits, I am personally a lover of boiled peanuts! I couldn’t believe how big they were in fact. A pleasant way to start our meal…
We ordered a refreshing sweet Mimosa and a glass of chilled Chardonnay to start while we perused the menus placed in front of us. The Mimosa was served in a tall glass complimented with an orange wedge garnish, while the Chardonnay was cold and perfect on a warm day.
We wanted to do thorough research, so we each ordered two different entrees to try. We do this sometimes, and just take the leftovers (which there always are with four entrees and only two people) home with us for a late-night snack or breakfast the next morning if we’re not researching a breakfast spot the next day. We often get some strange looks from nearby patrons that seem to be wondering if we’re really going to eat all the food placed before us. It’s a funny thing, and my husband and I really get a kick our of that.
Marinated Skirt Steak Topped With Arugula and a Side of Cheese Grits
Above, one of the daily specials presented by our waitress…the Marinated Skirt Steak topped with fresh arugula and a side of cheese grits that I had the option of adding sounded healthy and packed with lean protein, yet still combined a bit of cheese grit naughtiness. I elected that combination and we were not disappointed by the tenderness of the steak, the freshness of the fresh arugula piled on top with a succulent savory dressing and the side of hot cheesiness of the grits that was simply cooked to perfection.
Sesame Crusted Farm-Raised Catfish with Sauteed Okra, Deep-Fried Cheese Grits and Geechee Peanut Sauce
To balance out the restrained ordering of the lean steak and arugula above, I also chose the Sesame Crusted Catfish. But wait…that just got better with the sauteed okra, and get this…DEEP-FRIED CHEESE GRITS, and unique-all-to-its-own Geechee peanut sauce (a creole peanut sauce), which tied every fascinating flavor of this dish together into some kind of southern cuisine heaven. Enlightenment was an understatement as to the way we felt after tasting this preparation. And I especially loved the display of this creation…just bursting with vibrant color between the bright green sauteed sliced okra, the deep cayenne hue of the peanut sauce and the lighter additions of yellowish shades from the grits and the sesame seeds that coated the catfish.
Brisket and Slaw Sandwich Special with a Side of Cheese Grits
My husband selected the above Special…the brisket inside this inventive inception was so tender. The delicious slaw it was combined with really was a nice combination in flavor as well as temperature contrast as the cool slaw mixed with the hot brisket and together combined to form a sensational savory experience. Of course, we ordered additional shredded cheese for the side of cheese grits…on TOP of it all!
Below, we also indulged in the classic Fried Catfish Sandwich…I wanted to try Hominy Grill’s traditional version of the fried catfish sandwich aside from the scrumptious plated catfish dish that I ordered above. I was glad I did, because despite them both being catfish dishes, they were so different in preparation style and flavor, we would have missed the opportunity to experience the adversity before us. The Fried Catfish Sandwich was exceptional as well, however. Adding a few sinfully savory fries with this plate of happiness enhanced the fun!
Fried Catfish Sandwich
Okay…so here’s something you really MUST try after your next meal at Hominy Grill. The Hominy Grill Chocolate Pudding. Pure decadence, complete transformation to a very happy place and a deep rich chocolate sensation that will not go forgotten…ever…for the remainder of your days…as in this has to be the best chocolate pudding I have ever enjoyed!
Hominy Grill’s Chocolate Pudding
Did we enjoy what we found at Hominy Grill? In a word, yes. Would we return again despite the lengthy wait to be seated? Quite simply, yes we would. For the quality and presentation of the cuisine, attentive waitstaff far exceeding our expectations and the quaint locale of this Charleston hot spot, we will most definitely visit again.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: This place is fun! The decor is colorful, the waitstaff is happy and spunky and the atmosphere is charming.
- FOOD / DRINK: True southern excellence here. If you’re not looking for southern cooking, then you’re in the wrong place. But if you’re curious, or if you’re a lover of all cuisine of the south, then you’ll definitely have a memorable experience.
- LOCATION: Hominy Grill is located at 207 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston, SC 29403.
- HOURS: The establishment is open for business Monday through Friday for breakfast between 7:30 AM and 11:30 AM, then for lunch/dinner between 11:30 AM and 9 PM. On Saturdays, brunch is available from 9 AM to 9 PM, with dinner Specials available from 3 PM – 9 PM. Sundays are reserved for brunch only from 9 AM until 3 PM. Reservations are reserved for dinner only, so be prepared to deal with a ‘first-come-first-serve’ seating procedure any other time. But take our word for it…we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
- SERVICE / STAFF: We were treated kindly by a friendly waitress, and from our observation of others being served in the restaurant, it seemed to be the unanimous vote among other diners.
- PRICE / VALUE: Not too bad for what is delivered. Between the quick service, friendly and accommodating staff, stunning cuisine displays and the national notoriety of the entire place, we didn’t feel as though the pricing was too off track.
- CORKAGE FEE: A mere $10 per 750ml bottle.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (843) 937-0930, Website: www.hominygrill.com
- PARKING: There is ample parking in a lot near the restaurant. Metered street parking is also available.
- TOTAL BILL: Our total bill came in just a bit over $65 (including tax).
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.