The former patrons of Anson Restaurant were eager for the space to reopen and were hopeful to relive the experiences of the dining room's glory days. Recently, both City Paper critic Allston McCrady and Charleston Scene critic Hanna Raskin took a spin around the menu.
Here's three dishes they each tried:
Fried Green Tomatoes (one thumbs down, one thumbs up)
- Raskin: "On the fried side, tough green tomatoes with a gritty cornmeal crust are considerably less enticing, despite a smear of bacon jam, as is a pile of thickly breaded hush puppy-like balls of batter containing a slice of okra, stacked atop a slick of sweet tomato gravy and dotted with pepper jelly.
- McCrady: " A little less high-falutin', the four perfectly cooked, cornmeal fried green tomatoes ($12) arrive topped with a decadent layer of creamy pimento cheese and some toothsome, sweet, smoky bacon jam. The dish is Southern, sentimental, and surprisingly superb. If you don't think you like fried green tomatoes, this is the version to try."
Fried Quail (two thumbs up and a proposition to ferret it to the bathroom)
- Raskin: " ... fried quail, a new addition to the menu, eclipsed appetizers offered previously."
- McCrady: "Anson's fried South Carolina quail ($16) is another intriguing dish. Plated on a bed of spicy Charleston Gold red rice with sausage notes, the accompanying cabbage is rich and buttery, but still retains some crunch. Not what I was expecting — in a good way — the fried quail itself is reminiscent of Korean fried chicken. Super crunchy with a saucy kick, there's pretty much no ladylike way to get down with this bird. Surrender to the moment unless you're wearing white. In that case, consider ferreting it into the bathroom where you can sort it all out privately."
- Raskin: " It’s hard to know whether tastes have changed or [the chef] has checked out after crisping thousands of fish, but the flounder now served at Anson is indistinguishable from sweet-and-sour anything available at a Chinese take-out joint. The soft, mild fish is obscured by sugary goop, which could probably be dragged into the present with the right peppers and herbs."
- McCrady: "... the signature fried flounder ($36) is way too sweet for my tastes. Reminiscent of General Tso's, a little poking around revealed what may not be a coincidence. Originally created in the '80s by Thai-Chinese chef Dan Kim of sister restaurant Garibalidis, the thin, flat fish is crisp fried, diamond filleted, and coated with an apricot shallot sauce. The whole fish sans head is served. While the meat comes gently off the bone, I'd personally get the sweet apricot sauce on the side next time."
Anson's Signature Crispy Flounder (two thumps down)
The takeaway: Raskin says to give Anson some time and McCrady says go now, but avoid the flounder if you don't like sweets.