Chef Sean Brock of McCrady's had been on our radar screen for a long time – long before he won his recent James Beard Award for 2010 Best Chef Southeast. He works as a dedicated, modern “farm to table” chef. This work, growing fresh vegetables and grains at his own farm and in conjunction with other local purveyors of other local ingredients, is what inspired us to make a trek to Charleston for the Chef’s Tasting Menu.
As we walked the streets of Charleston to get to McCrady’s, we approached the awning on the main street of East Bay calling us to our destination. Little did we know that we would take the next alleyway to be able to enter – we felt an adventure ahead.
We were presented with bread that could be eaten with either fresh olive oil or salted butter. We knew to take only a small bite of each so we would not be too full for the tasting menu. We also perused the wine list and found some nice selections to complement the food we anticipated.
The adventure began when Chef Sean Brock appeared at our table to describe the first course as he zested fresh orange peel onto our dish. This dish was impressive and thought-provoking – Chef Brock explained that it was inspired by a special citrus-based cocktail that he had once enjoyed. He pointed out that the crab was caught locally by a good friend, with the crab being finely shredded and formed into a disk as the base of the dish. This was topped with a very thin disk of soft (not flaky) coconut. The next layer provided the unique toppings of a frozen sour mix, some pickled under-ripe mango, and tiny cilantro blooms. The cold temperature and texture of the frozen sour mix made the crab “POP” when you ate a bite. What a way to start.