Earlier this year, I received an invitation to review Palmetto Cafe, an American restaurant inside Charleston Place. Matt and I decided to play tourist and have an extended lunch break downtown to check out the new place. Upon entering the cafe, I immediately noticed how beautiful and well lit it was. Though we were indoors, it was clear the sun was shining, which gave the restaurant a very spacious feel. From where we were seated, we had views of the courtyard patio with a bronze fountain and a lush garden.
Our server was friendly and happily answered our many questions about the menu. He offered his opinions without making us feel pressure to order any certain way. I really liked him. Upon seating, we were given an assortment of bread and lavash chips with three different types of butter. From left: kalamata olive, arugula pesto, and sun-dried tomato.
The first appetizer we tried was the Shrimp Poke with avocado, light pepper vinaigrette, and crisp wontons. This is such a lovely, summery app with so much flavor. There was a generous amount of avocado on top of the shrimp that balanced out the peppery dressing.
Our second and heavier appetizer was the Plantain Crisps with braised pork and housemade pimento cheese. Hello and welcome to Charleston. Pork and pimento cheese are all over this city’s menus, but the Palmetto Cafe adds in plantain chips for a nice twist on a typical Southern dish. While the chips were actually light, they were sturdy enough to hold both the pork and gobs of melted cheese.
For a main dish, I had the Seared Free Range Chicken with housemade gnocchi, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, english peas, and crispy applewood smoked bacon in a parmesan broth. I rarely ever order chicken from a restaurant, but I can never say no to gnocchi. This did not disappoint. The broth was incredible and both Matt and I said we wished we had a spoon!
Matt chose the Seafood Tacos with lobster, shrimp, tuna, blue corn tortillas, marinated coleslaw, cilantro lime aioli, and plaintain chips. This taco trio was another light dish with incredibly fresh ingredients. I cannot stress enough how much seafood was in each taco. You see that lobster claw meat? There were at least 3 of them in the taco.
Though most normal people don’t indulge in dessert at lunch, our server convinced us to at least try one thing. Check out the Banana Daiquiri Cake with coconut icing, bruleed bananas, orange rum curd, and sweet & salty macadamia nuts. Ordering this was probably the best decision I made all day. It was heavenly and almost too pretty to eat! But don’t worry, we devoured it.