Posted by eemilla on April 15, 2009
Thanks to our lovely neighbors, we were able to take our three day weekend to the beach. The best part was getting to take our dog on his first trip to the ocean. He loved it, and he wasn’t in the least scared of the waves (unlike beer bottles, golf club bags, vacuum cleaners, and heights among others). The only issue was his perseverance in the search for potable ocean water. We paid twenty-five dollars for his beach license, and the beach is only open from 5am to 10am for dogs, but at least there is long stretch of beach for off lead doggie freedom. He romped in the sand and the waves, chasing his girlfriend the entire time. He didn’t try to eat any jelly fish, and he didn’t chase any birds; oh how he loved the massive expanse of water, though. I can’t wait to take him when the water is warm enough for me to brave it so hopefully he will swim a bit more and learn to body surf. We really didn’t do much touristy stuff other than eat out and take the dogs to the beach. My husband played golf, and I shopped a bit with one of our hosts in the Market and grabbed my first hot stone massage in downtown Charleston. We assumed everything would be more walkable, but everything is sprawled out. While there is a skinny little bike lane to Sullivan’s Island, it terminates at the draw bridge. The raised concrete on the side of the bridge is too narrow for me to feel comfortable walking the dog or walking it myself anything less than one hundred percent sober. On the next trip we plan on researching CARTA or renting bicycles; we checked into getting a cab to Folly Beach, but it was going to run about forty dollars without tip one way. Its about eleven miles from Charleston to Mt Pleasant so that probably would have been a forty dollar round trip in a cab, too. The vibe was much like Key West, but Key West is definitely better for walking or riding a bike.
We ate at a bunch of bars and tourist traps, and I have mixed feelings about the food scene. Although I hear Charleston has a great food scene, I had a difficult time finding it. Has Asheville spoiled me and raised my expectations higher than reasonable? Maybe I discounted the food because I was annoyed at being served all my drinks in plastic cups (not to mention it seemed impossible to get Malibu . . . no coconut rum at the beach . . . WTF). The pernicious plastic cup followed us from bar to bar, and even at the one spot were the food was good, I drink my $14 sparkling wine out of a plastic (albeit much nicer and thicker plastic) flute. I wrote reviews for almost all of my experiences on Urban Spoon, but then I decided I wanted them here too so I have added the big spoonbacks. However, one restaurant was so memorable that I couldn’t refrain from hoping on the soapbox.
Poe’s Tavern in Sullivan’s Island serves some of the best hamburgers anywhere according to my partners in dine (including my foodie/chef husband); I did not partake because alas I don’t care if the meat is ground on site, I am not eating ground beef. I was also told that the fish tacos were to die for, and they looked much more sizable that I would have anticipated. I do eat fish; I really cannot refrain, but keeping in mind the best way to reduce your impact on the environment is to go veg, I try to save it for special occasions, like beach vacations or celebrations. I was so pissed and tired of the most uncaring service I have received in recent memory that I was determined not to spend anymore money than absolutely necessary. Our party of four arrived around six, which on our part probably wasn’t the best idea. The situation is seat yourself, and the floor plan is an old house maybe twelve hundred square feet or so, with some of that occupied by the door way and bar areas. Trying to wrangle a seat was cut throat, and honestly without some liquor in me, I am pretty meek and mild. I sat down at a table as it was being bussed only to be told my a single woman that her party of six would be arriving shortly and she had beaten me to the table. I am not certain if she did indeed beat me to the table, but her party took about thirty minutes to arrive. On our second table, the departing party checked an overzealous group of five from snatching it by backing us up on how long we had been staking it out. While the staff had no problem with a single woman taking up an entire ten top table, they were right on top of us to be sure that our party of four crammed into a two top so the party of five could have the larger ten top table. Of course it was the reasonable move on the part of the staff, but I was pissed that the solitary woman with her absent party couldn’t have been asked to move. In such a busy place I was shocked to see seat yourself service. My husband explained that it made sense for the restaurant to save on the labor cost of a host because of the difficulty of wrangling parties in such a cramped space, and with the volume the servers were going to make money regardless. However, a manager or someone needed to supervise. The night we stopped in it didn’t appear that there were any bussers either, and it also appeared that the servers had sections so there wasn’t any team effort. While the poor service can be partially chalked up to the mind numbing volume of tables, it still sucked to watch the five top and the two top beside us have two rounds of drinks before we even received our first. To add to the insult, thirty or so minutes after placing our order for our first round of drinks, one of our party walked to the bar and got it herself; when she returned with our order, our server, Abby, decided to arrive and blame the tardiness of our drinks on the bar. In a normal circumstance that could have been a reasonable excuse, but she never made up for it by stopping back by more frequently. I described the volume as mind numbingly busy, because our server seemed to give up on us. Even in the cramped quarters, she would avoid eye contact while dropping off food or drinks at our neighbors’ tables. Unfortunately for my husband and me, our partners in dine were determined to make the best of it so we didn’t leave for another spot. The hand cut fries were okay, but Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville puts them to utter shame. After two long hours, we paid our bill of almost $100 before tip (I only drank water, we had one order of fries between the table, one fish taco, four burgers, and I lost count of how many rounds my companions drank), and I was none to happy that my husband gave her a much too generous fifteen percent for the abominable service we received. Maybe half the staff was out sick so there wasn’t a host, busser, manager, or food runner to help the overwhelmed servers out, but really an apology would have been nice. We will try it again so my honey can enjoy another burger, but we will be sure to do it in the off season.