Burwell's Stone Fire Grill, the possibly lady-focused steakhouse that's coming to downtown, might start searing steaks as early as Friday. While the concept initially felt muddled, chef Eric Huff and co-owners Kenneth Emery and John Thomas are on the verge of opening a restaurant with a cool, cohesive feel. Both the design and the menu preserve some Charleston classics, while throwing some modern elements into the mix.
The restaurant is in the same building that housed seafood joint Gilligan's, but the Burwell's team spent months deconstructing the space before building it out again. They stripped layers of drywall away, until the original wood from 1890s was exposed. Some of the walls on the first floor were removed, opening up the space between the expansive bar and the main dining room. The kitchen is also exposed, with a chef's table adjacent to the wood-fired grill. There's also a mezzanine for dining and, eventually, they'll complete a patio and bar out back.
When it comes to the food, Chef Huff is sprinkling some playful elements in with the more serious steaks. The salt, for example, is made from Isle of Palms seawater, which means, yes, a trip out to the beach to harvest it. In addition to the beef (which can be grilled over the wood fire or seared on a stone), there are a bunch of items that will be changed seasonally, from soups to entrees.
Chef Huff got his start at the upscale, inventive Tristan, and portions of the menu seem to reflect those roots. This fall, he'll be serving mozzarella balloons as an appetizer, a Caesar salad with salmon skins and Parmesan and shrimp and "grits," which actually has quinoa in it. He says his approach is traditional, but with a more modern approach. If everything stays on track this week, expect a soft opening on Friday.
Update: This post was updated to reflect the fact that John Thomas is also an owner of Burwell's Stone Fire Grill.
Burwell's, looking in from the front [Photo: Facebook]