Michael & I are excited to share that we’re headed to Scotland for the first time next month! We’re taking advantage of a work trip that Michael has in Edinburgh, and will make our way through the Scottish Highlands & Islands once he’s finished up working. Seven or so years later, I still remember the very conversation we had in college when Michael told me how much he’d always wanted to visit Scotland someday, so the fact that we’re making this trip together is extraordinarily special.
The reason for this post is two-fold. First, we love hearing travel recommendations from our readers – your suggestions have led us to more than a few memorable meals and experiences – so if you’ve been to Scotland, we’d love to hear any tips you’d be willing to share. We also thought it might be worthwhile to share some of the resources we’ve been using to plan our Scotland trip, in case you find yourself faced with a similar task.
Isle of Skye was at the very top of our list when we began planning this trip. After reaching out to a lot of self-catering cottages (rental homes) we noticed that almost all of them required a one week stay. While I’m certain that we would have had no shortage of things to experience on Skye for a week, in the end we decided that splitting up our stay in multiple Scottish locations might be a wiser use of our time abroad. If a weeklong stay on Isle of Skye sounds appealing to you, I would look no further than An Airigh or 15 Fiscavaig. I’ve exchanged emails with the owners and they’re delightful people with the most beautiful of properties. The cottages at Lyndale is another spot I would also go ahead and bookmark, and this website was also very insightful.
For Scotland, our Where Chefs Eat book has come in handy once again. Thanks to it, we’re looking forward to a meal at Three Chimneys on Isle of Skye, and Michael will have no shortage of great recommendations to browse for his time in Edinburgh.
Another book that has proven to be quite useful is our copy of The New York Times 36 Hours in Europe. We were both excited to read that we’ll be driving past the Glenfinnan Viaduct (seen in the Harry Potter films) on our way to Skye, and we certainly cannot wait to experience a meal at Kinloch and sample whisky at Talisker (which was also the distillery our podcasting friend, Bo, told us to visit).
A while ago, I bookmarked these photos from Vanessa Jackman’s fall trip to Scotland, for the sole purpose of getting more excited for our own trip. It doesn’t hurt that her food + activity recommendations seem to be almost as lovely as her photos.
Here are some more lovely Skye photos from Olivia Rae James!
As touristy or cliché as it might sound, experiencing firsthand some of the beautiful scenery featured in Skyfall was another must on this trip for us. Our first B&B is located just 30 miles from Glencoe, where Bond’s family’s property was set in the movie.
The final website I ended up using during this process was Further Afield – a site that features handpicked accommodation options that are open to hosting same-sex couples. While I obviously didn’t quite use the site as it was originally intended, I thought Further Afield was too good not to share – the interface is intuitive, they share useful tips about each place, and the properties they feature all appear to be lovely. Plus, some of the properties on Skye I’d originally contacted when we were considering a weeklong stay were listed, which seemed to be a great sign. Seriously, how gorgeous are these Boathouses in Perthshire that I found on Further Afield? (As an aside, we noticed that our adorable inn from our trip to Atlanta was featured on the site as well!)
As I mentioned above, we’d love to hear any thoughts you might have for our visit to the Scottish Highlands and Michael’s trip to Edinburgh in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading along!4 Comments - Leave a comment
Meredith and I often get emails and comments from Map & Menu readers asking for help in planning their own Portland adventures. While we love that people are finding and using the site for the exact reason we created it – to be a tried and true travel resource – we’ve only had a few first-hand accommodation experiences in our hometown of Portland – all from before we moved to Maine, and long before Map & Menu. Thus, when we saw one of our favorite branding agencies in town share some of the recent work they’d done for a new Portland inn, we quickly searched for more information and reached out to its owners to setup a visit.
The Mercury Inn has many of the things that typically draw us to the places we stay on our travels – creative taste, a clean aesthetic, cozy accommodations, and great branding. During our tour of the property, we had the chance to speak to the co-owners, Tim and Jake, about their experience in running, then renovating the previous inn at the State Street location, and their passion for the food and service industries that led them toward owning a bed and breakfast. After managing what was formerly the Wild Iris Inn for part of the season prior to re-opening as the Mercury Inn, Tim and Jake began to renovate according to the experiences they had gleaned from patrons, the property, and the sustainable vision they had brought with them. The design of the interior came from Tim’s sister’s firm, Landing Design & Development and has a clean, contemporary feel that meshes perfectly with the branding done by Might & Main. Details like the custom Sea Bags pillows, roman numeral door lettering, and large-printed shower curtains add fun accents and give the space plenty of its own personality. On top of being within walking distance to some of our favorite restaurants in Portland’s West End and on Congress Street, Tim and Jake use their culinary experience to provide homemade breakfasts to visitors, which we’re looking forward to trying at some future date.
We’re thrilled to add the aptly-named Mercury Inn (Mercury was the Roman patron god of travelers) to our list of places to stay in Portland. We’re sure that given it’s design and comfort it’ll be the perfect fit for many Map & Menu readers in the future.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.
Contact Information - Mercury Inn
Portland, Maine 04101
When Michael found out that he’d be headed to Atlanta for work, I quickly made plans to join him. Having not been to the city in a number of years, I was excited to reacquaint myself with Atlanta after reading so much about how it has grown and changed, and all of its new offerings. A sprawling city, Atlanta has developed a number of unique neighborhoods with delicious restaurants and delightful shops, mostly within a short ride of one another. Together, between work commitments, and also on my own, we explored so many different places and had an absolutely lovely time. Even with all of the places below, I feel like there’s still so much remaining in this interesting town, and can’t wait to return again (maybe next time with Orvis in tow)!
It’s fitting that a walk in Piedmont Park was the very first thing we did after dropping our bags off at our B&B down the street. After many trips to Atlanta growing up, I’d never visited the expansive 190 acre park, and even on a chilly winter’s day without too many flowers or green signs of spring, the park did not disappoint!
I honestly cannot imagine us planning a return trip to Atlanta that doesn’t include a stay at Stonehurst Place. The inn was stylish and comfortable, and with its close proximity to Piedmont Park and some of Midtown’s best restaurants, the location is surely hard to beat. Although a trip in the height of spring would allow us to enjoy the beautifully landscaped property and spend more time exploring the darling neighborhoods nearby, it’s hard to imagine a time of year that a stay at Stonehurst Place would be anything short of idyllic. Read more about our stay at Stonehurst Place here.
It’s hard to imagine a better way to start a trip to Atlanta than with a meal at Empire State South, easily one of Atlanta’s best restaurants. We’ve been cooking out of chef Hugh Acheson’s cookbook: A New Turn in the South for the better (and more tasty) part of two years. We met one of Michael’s co-workers for an early dinner, and had an amazing time sampling the farm-to-table Southern-inspired dishes. The ‘In Jars’ selection of spreads was perfect to split for the table while catching up and sharing laughs, but judging by the absolute silence once our entrees arrived, I don’t think we could’ve possibly been happier with our meal.
The food scene in Atlanta cannot be beat and the people we met were so kind, but my walk through the Virginia Highland neighborhood is truly what made me fall in love with this sweet Southern city. Read more about the Virginia Highland neighborhood here.
Luckily for me, Design*Sponge published their 24 Hours in Atlanta with Ginny Branch while I was planning our trip. It was an overall great resource, but the very best part of the article was Ginny’s advice to try one of Miller Union’s famed ice cream sandwiches. My chocolate coconut macroon ice cream sandwich easily lived up to the hype, and the pimento cheese & arugula toast I had wasn’t too shabby either. Lunch at Miller Union, complete with the ice cream sandwich, seems like the perfect fuel for an afternoon of browsing Atlanta’s Westside Provisions District.
Visiting wine shops in a new city is one of my favorite pastimes while traveling, even if with shipping/airline rules, it doesn’t make too much sense to purchase anything to take home. I love seeing what wines catch a merchant’s eye, and the different regional tastes of the cities we visit. Although given the style and selection of Perrine’s it was inevitable I’d be a fan, I hadn’t even had a chance to browse their collection before I fell for her shop, as I was greeted by her happy puppy, Maddie. One of the most beautiful wine stores I’ve ever visited, Perrine’s is a gem – I saw wines I’ve never seen outside of California (like Peay), bottles of Banshee that brought me back to our trip to Sonoma, my go-to Poggia Anima varietals, and no less than a dozen I wish I could have taken home with me right then.
The idea of visiting Atlanta and not stopping in the Ann or Sid Mashburn clothing shops was never really an option for me. I’d been wanting to see the eponymous shops of this Atlanta-based wife & husband clothier duo in person since seeing these photographs my friend, Ali, shot for Matchbook Magazine. Visually, both stores are stunning, and the collection in each one is classic and timeless. My only regret is that Michael was working at the time and missed out on visiting Sid Mashburn – something he’s been wanting to do for a long time.
Upon walking out of the lovely Steven Alan shop, the delicious smell of sweet onion confit led me through the doors of the delightful Preserving Place, a beautifully appointed cooking school and preserve producer. I chatted with owner, Martha McMillin, who showed me where the cooking and classes take place and ended up purchasing a jar of Woodford Reserve julep sugar that I thought might be a safer bet for my carry-on than a jar of the sweet onion confit that I can credit for getting me through the door. I can hardly wait for spring to properly arrive in Maine to give it a try!
A recommendation from Atlanta-based blog, The Love List, JCT Kitchen was just the spot we wanted to share with Michael’s friend & co-worker, who wasn’t quite as familiar with the regional cuisine, having grown up in Germany. As we finished our classically southern meals (shrimp & grits for me, fried chicken for the men, and a plate of deviled eggs to share) it became clear why JCT Kitchen and the al fresco bar upstairs seemed to be the place to be in Atlanta on a Thursday night.
This one was an unexpected surprise of the trip! I’ve owned the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook for years and have always wanted to visit the original scoop shop in Columbus, Ohio with my family in the Buckeye State, so discovering that there was a Jeni’s in Westside Provisions was just too much for me. With deliciously creative flavors like Birch + Marshmallows and signature flavors such as The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, we were in heaven – so much so that we may have gone here two nights in a row…
While researching things to do in Atlanta I happened upon this post on the blog of Steven Alan written by the couple of The Southerly and made a point to re-visit Atlanta’s oldest cemetery, a place I’d toured with a school group when I was younger. Although I didn’t have too much time to wander around the historic cemetery, I admired the landscaping and green spaces that make it one of the more beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever visited.
Across the street from Oakland, and another recommendation from the couple of The Southerly that I really wish I’d been able to share with Michael, the only real coffee drinker of Map & Menu. I cabbed down here on my way to see him speak (!) and instantly regretted my decision to visit Octane before Michael’s presentation, not afterwards when I had an abundance of free time to enjoy the beautiful space, delicious drinks, and scrumptious baked goods.
A sweet instagram follower suggested we visit one of Atlanta’s Yeah! Burger locations and we were so thankful that she did! To celebrate Michael’s successful presentation, we cabbed over to the Virginia Highland location and ate our fill of some tasty burgers & fries. My Yeah! Veggie burger and Michael’s All-American burger with bacon was the perfect excuse to take a long post-lunch stroll around a neighborhood (Virginia Highland) I couldn’t wait to share with him.
The famed oyster bar has been on my must-try list for a year or so, probably since I read about it Bon Appetit or Conde Nast Traveler. At times I’d wondered if I’d built it up in my mind, but now, after eating one of the more memorable meals in my life there, I know that just simply isn’t possible at a restaurant like The Optimist. This final dinner of ours was easily our favorite meal in Atlanta, kicked off with two of the best cocktails we’d had on the trip . Our waiter expertly guided us through his favorites on the menu and even convinced me to try the octopus, which although hesitant from past octopus experience, I tried and loved. Delicious Rhode Island oysters and tasty fried rice accompanied the grouper I ordered and the swordfish Michael selected – both incredible dishes. But the show stopper of the evening, which is truly saying something, just might have been the bite-sized hushpuppies, served “beignet style” with powdered sugar and cane syrup butter. They were most definitely the best hushpuppies I’ve ever eaten, and I’ll undoubtedly be scouring the internet and cookbooks for a recipe in the next few weeks.
As is often the case on these weekend trips, we didn’t have the chance to visit every spot on our list. My biggest regret was missing out on Taqueria del Sol (a favorite of my friend, Alexis), and I also heard great things about Antico Pizza, Ecco (thanks, M!) and Holeman & Finch in Decatur. A trip up the road to Buckhead would have been equally as fun with a stop at one of my favorite art galleries, a tour of the Atlanta History Center, and a meal at King & Duke.
Are there any other Atlanta highlights we missed? Please share them in the comments below – we’d love to hear your favorite spots in what has become a favorite city to visit!
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.5 Comments - Leave a comment
How is it that I visited Atlanta a number of times as a child and young adult without really starting to fall for the city until now, my fourth or fifth trip? It’s probably because my visits were limited to activities like sampling Coca-Cola at the World of Coke or watching Braves games at Turner Field, instead of experiencing some of the city’s delicious restaurants or exploring the quieter areas of town. Regardless, I have a newfound appreciation for this sweet Southern city and it’s largely because of my morning spent wandering around the Virginia Highland neighborhood. (I should also add that the historic Midtown neighborhood I walked through to get there was also lovely, but there’s just something about the charming bungalows of Virginia Highland that I cannot get out of my head.)
I happened to walk up Cooledge Avenue upon entering the neighborhood and I immediately texted Michael, who was working at the time, that I’d found the most dreamlike of streets in Atlanta. Little did I know, there are dozens of blocks just as charming as Cooledge in the neighborhood, although none that I saw with a Little Free Library (pictured below) or street paved with brick.
Photographing the homes of Virginia Highland didn’t come quite as easily as it did for me during our walks through Charleston – the area feels a lot more lived-in than the sprawling mansions south of Broad. I loved exploring the streets of this neighborhood, a part of town named for the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue, that I ended up bringing Michael back the next day. Together we selected our favorites on each street – a craftsman (or seven) here, a contrasting modern home there – as we walked back towards Piedmont Park.
If you’re in Atlanta and love looking at homes and daydreaming as much as I do, I highly recommend a little walk through Virginia Highland – you won’t be disappointed.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
Every now and again on our travels, Michael and I feel like we’ve truly stumbled upon a place to stay that simply seems to be doing everything just right. Every detail and design element seems to be carefully thought of, and our trip always ends with mixed feelings of happiness from the comfort of our stay and sadness that it must come to an end. Last week, Michael and I had the opportunity to visit one of these ‘finds’ – Stonehurst Place in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood – and though our stay was short, we left feeling as though we’d discovered a true southern gem of a bed & breakfast, one that we just couldn’t wait to share with y’all!
There’s a surprising amount to cover when describing this six-room 19th century craftsman. Owner Barb Shadomy has done an unbelievable job restoring the home to its original charm, while still providing any and all of the modern comforts one could want. Everywhere one looks, they’ll find a balanced blend of that historical framework, finished with modern accents. The main floor plan is essentially as it was more than 100 years ago, while the furnishings and art enhance the aesthetic in a more contemporary fashion. We took our time browsing the inn’s impressive art collection, an extensive, non-exaggerative “museum-quality” body of work curated by the owner that includes pieces by Andy Warhol & Pablo Picasso, among many others. Our room, the Gables Suite, was open, spacious, and filled with natural light. Details like the lettered room name on the door, the fresh cut wildflowers, large classic wooden desk, and the comfortable leather lounge chair only added to our delight, and it honestly seemed as though the art in our room was made for the two of us.
Innkeepers, Lori & Paul Worrell, were just another wonderful part of our stay at Stonehurst Place. Their warmth & southern hospitality is evident in many aspects of the inn, from the delicious breakfast the couple prepares each morning to the conversations they shared with us and the other guests during our visit. We particularly enjoyed hearing Paul speak of the green initiatives at Stonehurst Place, including the modern rainwater harvesting system which now produces purified drinkable and usable water – the first of its kind for hotel properties in Atlanta.
I honestly cannot imagine us planning a return trip to Atlanta that doesn’t include a stay at the Stonehurst Place. With its close proximity to Piedmont Park and some of Midtown’s best restaurants, the location is surely hard to beat. Although a trip in the height of spring would allow us to enjoy the beautifully landscaped property and spend more time exploring the darling neighborhoods nearby, it’s hard to imagine a time of year that a stay at Stonehurst Place would be anything short of idyllic.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.
Contact Information - Stonehurst Place
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
Over the weekend Michael and I had the extraordinarily rare opportunity to attend the wedding of two of our friends as guests – no cameras involved, and in the Florida Keys no less! This little glimpse into life as an ordinary wedding-goer was truly wonderful and allowed us plenty of time to explore the islands that make up the village of Islamorada. The following are a few of our Islamorada musts if you ever have the chance to visit this part of the Keys.
We read about M.E.A.T. in an issue of Travel + Leisure, but our friends also included it on their wedding website as well, so it seemed like a no-brainer. Our burgers (mine was topped with pimiento cheese and a tomato jam and Michael’s was stuffed with pimiento cheese and bacon) were delicious and the Nutella shake we shared for dessert sent us on our way, as happy as could be. The thought of squeezing into our swimsuits (in front of people!) after such a filling meal didn’t even matter – we were stuffed and pleased to be so.
The wedding festivities were all taking place at the Postcard Inn, so this was a natural choice for our weekend’s accommodations. This oceanfront resort had quite a bit of character and charm for such a large hotel. Recently renovated, it’s retro, cheerful decor was a pleasant place to rest our heads, whether in the room, or laying out at the beach.
On Saturday morning, we woke up in Islamorada looking for a small adventure, and decided to drive down south of Marathon for a walk on what was once considered the 8th Wonder of the World - the original Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. Read more about them here.
After our walk to Pigeon Key we were more than eager to enjoy a nice meal outside, complete with a couple of refreshing cocktails. We found the perfect setting at the Morada Bay Beach Cafe where we enjoyed a picturesque view, some of the freshest tasting mahi-mahi we’d eaten in quite awhile, and two perfect warm weather vacation drinks – a mojito and a rum punch.
While researching Islamorada in preparation for our trip, I kept coming across articles about Moorings Village and just had to see the cottages & bungalows that make up this idyllic property in person. After lunch at the Morada Bay Beach Cafe across the street (part of Moorings Village) we took a quick stroll around Moorings Village and onto their gorgeous stretch of beach. If we’d been able to extend our stay, a visit to Moorings Village would’ve definitely been in the plans.
We visited Anne’s Beach, a stretch of beach on Lower Matecumbe Key named for one of Islamorada’s most prominent environmental conservationists, at high tide the morning we left to head back up to Miami. The day before we happened to drive by the beach at a lower tide en route to lunch (hunger unfortunately prevented us from stopping) and caught a quick glimpse of the wide beach at low tide as well. Regardless of where the tide is when you visit, Anne’s Beach is simply stunning and worth a stop to experience (maybe even dip your feet in the warm water), even if you’re just driving down Highway 1 on your way from Miami to Key West.
Have you been to this area of the Florida Keys before? We’d love to hear any Islamorada suggestions you might have in the comments below!
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
On Saturday morning, we woke up in Islamorada looking for a small adventure, and decided to drive down south of Marathon for a walk on what was once considered the 8th Wonder of the World - the original Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. The bridge was originally constructed in the early twentieth century as part of the Overseas Railroad, connecting Key West with the rest of Florida, and at the time was one of the longest bridges in the world. After a new modern bridge was constructed parallel to the original, “Old Seven” was converted to a pedestrian path and fishing pier connecting the mainland to Pigeon Key where the workers who built it once lived. The four mile round-trip stroll was that perfect mix of sunny & breezy, leaving us in the perfect mindset for a Jimmy Buffet singalong on the ride back to Islamorada.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.4 Comments - Leave a comment
Michael and I had every intention of exploring Miami Beach on our way down to and from our friends’ wedding in the Florida Keys this weekend, but travel complications prevented us from seeing as much of the city as we’d hoped. Still, in our short evening there before our Monday morning flight back, we made the most of a city with so much to offer.
The highlight of our brief visit to Miami Beach was most definitely meeting our friend, Caro, for drinks at The Broken Shaker – the bar at the Freehand where we spent Sunday night. I haven’t come across an article on the Miami food scene in the last year or so that doesn’t include rave reviews for this James Beard nominated poolside craft cocktail bar – in fact, it’s the reason we decided to stay at the Freehand in the first place! The drinks certainly lived up to their reputation – my Guanabana Caipirinha was so tasty, it was impossible to not order two and Michael downed his London Calling.
After we finished our drinks with Caro, we took her advice and grabbed a cab down to Pubbelly for some unforgettable Asian-inspired tapas. Each plate was fantastic, but we’re still talking about the two highlights of our meal – the Miso Butter Toast & the Kimchee Fried Rice with porkbelly & pineapple – two days later. So very delicious.
Although our time at the Freehand itself was short, it was a pleasant experience with more than an abundance of visual details to photograph. The Sydell Group (the company behind Ace Hotels, The NoMad, etc.) has done an outstanding job incorporating such vibrant style & Art Deco personality into a hostel setting. If you want to be right in the middle of the fun, you definitely can’t go wrong with the Freehand.
Are you headed to Miami soon? Here are a few places we were hoping to try, mostly suggestions of our friend Caro – a girl whose culinary taste we wholeheartedly trust: My Ceviche, Khong River House, Yardbird, Panther Coffee, Charlotte Bakery, Huahua’s Taqueria, and Joe’s Stone Crab Takeaway for a picnic on the beach! What are your favorite Miami Beach spots? We’d love to hear your suggestions!
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.
Contact Information - Broken Shaker & Freehand Miami
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
Looking back on our recent trip to Charleston, I’m quickly blown away by the town, the history, the culture, the architecture, the drinks, and that oh-so-delicious food. Charleston is one of those cities that you could see yourself visiting often and staying for a very long time. The town holds a special place in Michael and my hearts, as it was the destination of one of our first trips as a couple, but in the 7 years since then, so much has changed that we found ourselves repeatedly saying “this definitely wasn’t here before” throughout our stay. Obviously the neighborhood South of Broad is still chock full of colorful, grand Charleston single houses (think long row houses with full-length porches to relax on in that hot Southern sun) that will make your jaw drop, and East Bay still has its fair share of tourist-packed storefronts and restaurants, but now areas like Upper King, Elliotborough, and Cannonborough are seeing an explosion in unbelievable eateries, craft bars, stylish shops, and scrumptious bakeries. Charleston has always been a town with plenty of culture, but this new-to-us side of Charleston makes us want to stay awhile.
We were there for four full days of eating, drinking, and exploration, but we feel like we only scratched the surface of what Charleston has to offer. Have a read through some of our favorite parts of Charleston, and please don’t hesitate to let us know if we missed anything that should be added to our list for our next return trip – there will definitely be one.
Simply put, staying at Zero George was an absolute delight. It is the perfect mix of classic Southern charm, style, comfort, and convenience. Our room was perfect for the two of us – just the place we couldn’t wait to return to between meals and meandering expeditions through the city. View pictures & read more about Zero George.
We came to Charleston to eat – no question about it – so we hit the ground running by trekking up to Butcher & Bee for our first meal together. I’d read about the sandwich shop in numerous publications, so there was really no question of whether or not we’d swing by for what promised to be an amazing lunch. Michael devoured his roast beef sandwich, and my carrot salad was pretty scrumptious, but the real show stopper was the bowl of curried brussels sprouts. We ate more than a dozen meals in Charleston that week, but my mind keeps coming back to those perfect brussels.
After seeing that The Rarebit made Thrillist’s list of The Best New Bars in America, I immediately put it on our dauntingly long list of places to try. Thankfully we were able to make it there on our first night. We had quite a few cocktails in Charleston, but those first two – an Aviation and a Corpse Reviver – certainly stand out as some of our favorites. Our meals that followed – the country fried steak and the vegetable rarebit – hit the spot for the casual comfort food we were craving.
We could lie and tell you that we only visited Brown’s Court once during our short stay in Charleston, but then you might not believe just how much we loved it. Even after visiting three (!) other bakeries in the city (go ahead and judge – we kind of deserve it.), we still managed to come back to Brown’s Court three times. Everything – the croissants, the sticky buns, the cinnamon rolls, the charming building, and the friendly staff – made Brown’s Court the perfect bakery experience.
I dare you to walk by Mac & Murphy and not stop in. It’s that adorable. Michael and I are suckers for a creative selection of paper products, and Mac & Murphy and its friendly staff does not disappoint.
While preparing for our trip, this men’s shop popped up on our radar from their mention in Kinfolk and we couldn’t wait to see their collection in person. Of course upon walking inside, I immediately wished they had an equally well put together shop for women, but I happily settled on shopping for Michael. The store showcases some of our favorite brands – General Knot, Makr, Jack Rudy, Raleigh Denim… the list goes on – and does it all in a visually beautiful setting. Michael picked up a sweatshirt from Saturdays Surf that I’ve contemplated borrowing for myself, and after a helpful conversation with the owner Brett, we headed out to try some of the suggestions on our quickly growing list.
If you’re a fan of sweet confectionery bakeries like Michael, Sugar Bakeshop should catch your eye (if the large blueberry cupcake painted on the building doesn’t). After a number of people recommended it, we stopped in to try their deliciously sweet lemon curd cupcakes and ginger molasses cookies. A new friend from our trip pointed out that their mini cupcakes make the perfect pick-and-chose party treat, and if you’re having a hard time making a selection, do as we did and ask the extremely helpful bakers behind the counter.
The few blocks encompassed by Cannon, King, Spring, and Rutledge are home to a number of very cool shops, bakeries, and restaurants that are somewhat off the beaten path. We spent a chunk of our first full morning in the area, and found ourselves returning for one thing or another each day. One of those very delicious ‘things’ was Xiao Bao Biscuit, where we met one of Michael’s coworkers for lunch one afternoon. The casual ‘Asian soul food’ restaurant struck us with its bold style and amazing dishes. My paratha and Michael’s bo bo ji were creative, flavorful, and fresh, and the cocktails we washed our meal down with left us with smiles on our faces as we walked the streets back down to our hotel.
Food Is Good. The restaurant says it in the name, and sticks to it with their cooking. While Charleston has no shortage of great restaurants, FIG was the one that seemed to always be first on the mind of every Charlestonian we spoke to. Their reputation was well-earned, as our meal here – a gracious gift from some close friends in Maine – was easily one of the best we had on our trip. Our friendly waitress pointed us in the right direction with every course selection, and between the drinks, handmade gnocchi (aptly described as pillows of heaven), and fresh local seafood, we left that evening in a flavorful stupor of smiles.
While Michael was in Charleston for work the week prior to our trip, he went to The Gin Joint with coworkers to fulfill their search for a proper southern mint julep. Michael enjoyed his drink (the Beauregard) that evening so much, that he was insistent that we return once I arrived. We enjoyed an evening of tasty drinks with family in the comfortable space on East Bay Street, and if you were wondering, Michael reports that their Julep is done right – bourbon, fresh mint, and plenty of crushed ice in a silver julep cup.
It was a great sign when we told the barista at Black Tap that we were from Maine, and he immediately asked us if we were familiar with Tandem Coffee Roasters. Unbeknownst to him, we had left our hotel that morning in search of the “Tandem of Charleston,” and we’re pretty sure we found the closest thing to them in Black Tap. The space was beautiful and lively, and although they don’t roast their own, the coffee was delicious. If we were lucky enough to live in Charleston, this spot would be in our regular rotation.
Our time at the Old Road Mercantile and its sister shop, Lily, couldn’t have been more pleasant. We spoke with the shop owner, Kevin, for quite awhile and probably could have kept the conversation up for another hour. (Charleston business owners might just be the friendliest of any city we’ve ever visited!) The shop’s tagline – The World’s Smallest Department Store – is an apt description of this awesome collection of goods. We both gravitated towards their selection of cocktail mixers (from Charleston’s own Bittermilk), and more than a few of the home goods caught my eye.
We passed goat.sheep.cow during one of our many walks south of Broad Street and admittedly decided to stop in simply because of their branding. It didn’t take us long to strike up a conversation with the sweet shop owners about cheese – something we love dearly, yet know little about. After we’d sampled a few of their favorite selections and heard about their go-to restaurants in town, we left with great big smiles on our faces and a package of the best comté we’ve ever had.
Husk is a restaurant that Michael and I have wanted to visit for years – ever since they started making headlines in just about every national publication for their creative new American take on classic Southern cuisine and their ultra-local menu (essentially nothing on the menu is from further than 2 states away). Michael was lucky enough to get to visit Husk twice during his stay in Charleston, once for dinner with coworkers and once for lunch with me (dinner reservations were hard to come by and our list of restaurants was far from short). While he had plenty of good things to say about his slow cooked heritage pork dinner, we couldn’t have been happier with our lunch. My wonderfully savory and creamy shrimp and grits made for one of my favorite dishes from the week.
A Charleston-based photographer whose work I’ve followed for years, Olivia Rae James, listed The Belmont as one of her favorite spots for a good drink in town, and after passing the Carolina blue building more than dozen times during our walks up and down King Street, we knew we had to give it a shot. We stopped in for drinks before dinner one evening, and weren’t disappointed in our choice. The bar has an unbelievably cool vibe, and the bartender masterfully whipped-up two drinks for our pre-meal pleasure.
Stepping into The Ordinary is an almost surreal experience. The oyster hall on upper King St. has plenty of classic charm and many leftover details from its history as a bank (including the vault from which the raw bar is now served). With its spacious interior and timeless style, it’s no wonder that The Ordinary seems to be the place to eat in Charleston right now. Run by the same people as FIG, another Charleston icon, the food is not something to overlook. We loved our cocktails, oysters, shrimp hushpuppies, blue crab toast, and Wednesday evening lobster roll meal (eaten by the non-Mainer of course), and every few minutes, my eyes stumbled on some other unique detail to photograph. In a town full of tasty, stylish, and well-branded restaurants, The Ordinary has to be near the top of the list.
There were plenty of reasons for us to be excited about lunch at Two Boroughs, but after discovering that the owners incorporate their corgi, Walter, into their branding, we knew that this was the right restaurant for us. Michael’s Bowl-O-Noodle, served with pork conﬁt, a soft egg, and pork broth, sent him into a pleasant food coma, and thanks to a tasty kale salad with egg & boquerones, I discovered that I did, in fact, have an affinity for anchovies after all. Not only does Two Boroughs serve up deliciously flavorful food, they also feature a wall of carefully selected tableware, specialty food items, craft beers, and good wine available for purchase. And while you’re there, see if you can possibly resist picking up some of that adorable Walter paraphernalia – I know we couldn’t.
Believe it or not, by our fourth night in Charleston, we couldn’t bring ourselves to get excited about another filling, delicious meal. We had five or so restaurants we were considering for this final night of our trip, but after a sunset walk along the Battery we decided to grab a couple of tasty sandwiches from Ted’s and shared a picnic on the porch of our hotel. Made even more scrumptious by the rest of our cheese from goat.sheep.cow, this low-key dinner was the perfect ending to a food-filled few days, and one I honestly wouldn’t do over if I had the chance.
I ordered Michael a few bars of chocolate from the Charleston-based Sweeteeth for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago. Picking up a few bars of chocolate on our trip was as high on my list of things to do as sampling the shrimp & grits at Husk. We ended up grabbing more than a few bars at Ted’s and have been nibbling on them since our return last week.
Meredith and I visited a bunch of restaurants during our stay in Charleston that would typically fall under the classification of “new American, Southern-inspired” – not the vegetable plates and fried chicken that your grandparents served up in the South, but rather new takes on older dishes and flavors. Don’t get me wrong, they’re delicious, but every now and then I just want a plate of fried chicken or catfish, shrimp and grits, and some collard greens with fatback. When that urge strikes, I’d highly recommend Hominy Grill, where tradition is strong, the food is delicious, and the biscuits come with honey :).
Of course we weren’t able to make it to every place on our list in the four short days we were in Charleston. Had Drayton Hall been open, we probably would have rented a car to visit the 18th century plantation, and while we were at it, we surely would have driven out to Sullivan’s Island for a walk on the beach. We were sad to miss out on the experience of drinking a glass of wine at Bin 152 or sharing a meal at The Grocery – both recommended to us by many of the friendly shop owners we met. Next time we’ll also be sure to grab some breakfast at Martha Lou’s and enjoy an Italian dinner at either Trattoria Lucca or Indaco. Can you think of anything else we might have missed?
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.13 Comments - Leave a comment
Most of the time, when travel plans go awry due to weather, and trips have to be extended, it can be a cause for headaches and stress, but when a winter storm threatened our return trip from Charleston to Boston, we could barely contain our excitement at having the opportunity to prolong our stay at Zero George Street, and quickly rescheduled our flight, even before the original had officially been canceled.
Simply put, staying at Zero George was an absolute delight. The property consists of a number of early 19th century buildings (two original to the land and two painstakingly relocated from the area), in the beautiful, historic, and conveniently-located Ansonborough neighborhood. It is the perfect mix of classic Southern charm, style, comfort, and convenience. The buildings are positioned to form a peaceful enclave around a central courtyard, and from the moment we first walked through the entrance gate, we knew that we’d made the right decision with our reservations. Our room was perfect for the two of us – just the place we couldn’t wait to return to between meals and meandering expeditions through the city – and the location is a quick stroll to the French Quarter, South of Broad, and Lower and Upper King neighborhoods. The staff was extremely friendly and accommodating, and the details of the inn gave Meredith plenty of photographic inspiration each day. Staying at the hotel was more than just the necessary lodging detail of our trip, it became a highlight, even serving as a evening porch picnic destination after countless Charleston dinners had finally taken their toll on us.
We count ourselves very fortunate to have been able to make Zero George part of our Charleston getaway, and can’t wait to one day return.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.
Contact Information - Zero George Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401