There’s no better introduction to lowcountry cuisine than Jestine’s Kitchen, located in downtown Charleston, SC, and not just because it’s been visited by the likes of Rachael Ray and Anthony Bourdain. The menu is chock full of traditional dishes that were inspired by Jestine Matthews, an old friend of the restaurant’s owner Dana Berlin.
A meal here starts simply but deliciously. In addition to some sweet tea, snack on some fresh pickles that have the perfect snap. They’re also a wonderful palate cleanser, if you’re sampling lots of items off the menu, from the fried green tomatoes to other fried foods galore.
The fried chicken -- whether its in a sandwich, basket, or a plate with veggies -- is one of the most popular items here, and for good reason, as it’s the right mix of juicy and crunchy. When the fried chicken is paired with delectable collard greens, which taste so delicious it’s hard to believe they’re vegetables, as well as the mac & cheese, which is listed under the “veggies” menu too, it’s hard to go wrong.
While most of the comfort dishes at Jestine’s will delight your tastebuds, some do fall short, such as the pecan fried chicken breast. While the fried crust was perfect, the flavors didn’t really reach the chicken, which ended up a bit dry. And word to the wise: if you’re getting fried anything, don’t bother with the sandwich. Most of the meat plates are just fine on their own, and the bread just gets in the way of some awesome flavors.
As if you needed any more reason to come to Jestine’s, the atmosphere here is inviting, cozy, and casual, and the number one question always is, according to the kitchen’s t-shirts, which beach is closest to the ocean?
Plus, the kitchen doesn’t mess around with desserts. This menu may change often, but it’s always a lengthy one, as there’s a Jestine’s sweet treat bakery next door. If its available, be sure to grab the cola cake -- which has a consistency somewhere between a brownie and a chocolate cake -- because there’s no better way to end this lowcountry meal.
© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2013