Last Friday, my friend TJ was in town and wanted to have dinner downtown. He made the mistake of
making letting me choose the restaurant. With the surplus of amazing restaurants in Charleston, this proved to be a difficult task. When choosing a new restaurant, I immediately do two things. First, I bbm Santo and Frankie Staropoli. Those Italian stallions know the meaning of good food. Second, I visit Urbanspoon. After consulting with the stallions and reading 20582 reviews, I informed TJ that we would be dining at Cypress.
Located to the left of sister restaurants Blossom and Magnolia’s, Cypress is in an historic building with contemporary decor. The open kitchen and color-changing ceiling lights are almost as intriguing as the wall of wine featuring 4,500 bottles. Both of us agreed that while inside the restaurant, we could have been in New York, but one peek into the menu we were back in the South. The menu highlights regional cuisine with a modern flair including a section of seasonal items.
We were first presented with an overwhelming wine list. I told TJ that was his decision to make. He simply asked me, “White or red?” and “American or French?” Within a minute of me responding, “White. American.” he chose the Chehalem 2009 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris. Done.
This wine was excellent — full-bodied with flavors of tropical fruit and a hint of spice. It reminded me much of my favorite wine, Elk Grove Pinot Gris, also from Willamette Valley. Both have a high alcohol content and pair well with a variety of foods. Score, score.
After receiving recommendations from our attentive and very knowledgeable waitress, we made big decisions. We daringly started with Grilled Pork Belly. Fearful that we’d be presented with something resembling the tripa I sampled in Italy, I was delighted when the pork belly was much more visually satisfying. Unfortunately we dug in before I snapped a pic, but the pork was placed over a bed of maple steel cut oats with golden raisins. The pork was salty and crispy while the oats were creamy and sweet.
For my entree, I chose the Crisp Wasabi Tuna. The tuna was baked in sheets of phyllo and had a warm but rare center. It was accompanied by edamame and shiitake mushrooms with a very sweet ginger-garlic glaze. This dish was excellent. That glaze…oh, that glaze. Our server was sweet enough to tell me how to make it at home, but the 14.9% alcohol content in the wine had just kicked in. Shoot.
TJ’s entree, Duo of American Lamb, was was one of the seasonal specials. The duo consisted of a loin placed over tomatoes and a shank placed over mustard greens risotto, both with a balsamic reduction. The meat was surprisingly as tender as the risotto and the reduction was delicious.
Although we were both pretty full, when a dessert menu features carrot cake, I’m still hungry. The Ice Cream Sandwich Trio included chocolate cake with brandied cherry, carrot cake with spiced rum mascarpone, and banana bread with a caramel swirl walnut filling. As adorable as these cubes appear, they weren’t as good as I had anticipated. Needing to be cold enough to hold the ice cream, they were difficult to eat with a fork. Don’t worry, I ate the caramelized banana chips, scraped up some chocolate sauce, finished my wine, and everything was dandy.
Overall, Cypress was a wonderful experience and is now among my list of favorite restaurants. The restaurant had an elegant, yet comfortable atmosphere and the food was excellent.
Remember last week when I asked you guys for fashion questions for TJ? He was a trooper for sure and answered quite a few of them. Please enjoy his humorous yet informative responses!
Melissa: Do guys like when girls wear baseball caps? I’m growing my hair out and it’s a hot mess. I wear hats…A LOT.
TJ: Haha, funny question. Does this imply baseball caps or like hat-hats? I’d say that they’re always good for a hangover day or at the beach, but other than that, leave ‘em in the closet.
Amy: I’d like to know if guys really actually notice accessories and such. or is that just one of those things girls do to “dress to impress” in front of other girls?
TJ: Dress to impress with the not too typically stereotyped “accessories.” This means belts or boots. Guys always notice boots, especially cowboy boots. Stay away from scarves, but do add a touch more with light jewelry around the neck/wrists.
Christina: I slightly disagree with TJ here – scarves are a great way to spruce up a boring tee or cardi, but yes, they can give us a bit of an unsexy grandma look.
Amanda H: Why do guys really hate Ugg boots? They are so comfortable, and I just don’t understand what makes them so ugly in guys’ eyes?? Find out!!
TJ: Are we going skiing? They may be comfortable and warm, but it’s not 0 degrees outside with tons of snow. Leave them to the Eskimos.
Amanda: Since most men dont’ actually notice their designer dress or shoes…what is the ONE thing that guys do notice on a lady?
TJ: What is around your neck. Guys are commonly drawn to look at a necklace. But also, don’t overdo it. A simple, yet elegant piece will get the most notice.
Christina: What I think he’s trying to say is, “We really like to stare at your boobs and a big flashy necklace will only get in our way.”
Krystina: What do guys think about a girl wearing work out clothes like daily attire, outside the gym?
TJ: Spandex is never a bad thing.
Christina: This is true. Trust a girl that’s not afraid to wear her spandex gym shorts to the grocery store.
Ellen: Ask your friend what guys generally think about girls who wear Converse. I’d never give mine up, but I get a feeling my bf is getting sick of them, ha!
TJ: It’s not the 90s anymore.
Christina: I’ve never owned any, but Target really seems to think they’re still in fashion.
Chelsea: I’m always curious about whether guys like it better if girls dress for comfort or if they dress to impress.
TJ: Always dress to impress. Comfortable can be worked in.
Christina: It is possible to do both – except when it comes to shoes. The more painful the shoe, the cuter it is. I swear. Invest in band-aids my ladies.
Please note that the above responses are based on market trends that TJ sees in his career as a local designer and sales rep for a southern-based clothing company. For more information on men’s fashion trends as well as the occasional restaurant review, please check out TJ’s blog: Dress or Dine.