The Ordinary in Charleston

featured: the-ordinary-charleston-review-eatdressgoCharleston, South Carolina is full of so many delights it’s difficult to be steered in the wrong direction. Not only is it a charming, historically preserved city, it is right on the ocean. Its proximity to the sea helped the town earn its place as a port of national, historic importance. It also offers the resources to create some pretty remarkable ‘sea to table’ restaurants.

Since it is a challenge to choose unwisely in Charleston we decided to try a new spot called The Ordinary.  Over the phone, they claimed to be a seafood restaurant-an oyster bar, if you will-casual dress, nothing fancy. Don’t let Charleston fool you. Everything in this town is a little bit fancy.  The bar is set so high, the idea of nothing fancy in Charleston means something completely different from let’s say, “Hey! Why don’t we meet at Taco Bell, nothing fancy?”

Not only is The Ordinary anything but, it’s safe to say it’s also pretty fancy-in the most hospitable ways.  Executive Chef, Mike Lata has already made a culinary mark on this foodie town with his restaurant Fig, so he knows what’s what. This new venture is a two-story renovated bank-an open, airy space with high ceilings and polished surfaces. It has a modern brasserie feel, like La Coupole in Paris or Artisanal in New York. Patron’s conversations and clinking glasses are amplified through the acoustics offering contentment and satisfaction before you even make it to your table.

Once you do arrive you are greeted by someone well pressed, well groomed and very knowledgeable. All your questions are answered and possible alterations are offered to get you exactly what you’d like on your plate. To add to the experience there is an open kitchen with clean lines and starched, crisp professionals who diligently create your meal. Although the spectacle of the preparation is slightly obscured in the background, it is not lost on the diner what a refined, well-choreographed ballet is just off stage.

The small, fine-tuned menu reflects the ‘sea to table’ philosophy by offering various preparations of what is found in the nearby waters. They do their best to support local fisherman off the coasts of the Carolinas and reach further up the East coast for things like Duxbury oysters. This approach offers the best of the Eastern ‘merroir.

I should add-it’s important to remember when you are in Charleston, you are in the south.  Be ready for your fish to be served with Yukon gold mashed potatoes the consistency of cupcake frosting. Seriously. They do not mess around down there. What else they do not mess around with is their Southern charm.  Chef Mike Lata himself paid us a visit when he saw we had our small son with us. He made sure to bring him some small portions of the very same things on the menu his young son enjoys. We felt like we’d just had dinner at an old friend’s house.

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