Lunch $, Dinner $$
How to save some cash: Grab one of those free coupon books floating around the CofC campus for 20% off (not sure if you have to show a college ID)
The original Bull Street Gourmet, tucked away in Charleston’s residential Harleston Village on the corner of Bull & Smith, has been serving up delicious, fresh café fare since 2006. In late 2011, they opened their second Charleston location near King and Broad St. and, given its popularity during our Sunday brunch visit, haven’t looked back yet.
The newer location sports a much larger footprint (at least 3 times bigger than its predecessor), more items in the market and a bigger café menu. The market is essentially a small selection of items normally stocked by Whole Foods, but is even more expensive (if you can imagine that). Just about everything is an organic off-brand. Perfect place to find those Gluten-free Pretzels (which I believe to be a fad diet, but that’s for another post) you’ve been searching for all over town. For $8, you might want to face the fact that you’re not actually allergic to gluten and eat normal pretzels like an adult.
In the small refrigerated section, you’ll find frozen pastas and ice cream. A fun alternative to what you’ll find at Harris Teeter, but again, you’ll pay the price. I saw some lobster and black truffle ravioli that I’d like to try soon.Other market highlights include organic graham crackers — which likely taste 100% worse than their “normal” Honey Maid counterpart while costing 100% more. I guess you could just chalk it up to paying for the convenience and be glad its an option.
In addition to a few grocery items, they also have a large beer and wine selection. Highlights include the make-your-own-six-pack for $11 and some quality wines starting at $12 and up.
Not a single thing sounds bad on the café menu, so be prepared for a tough choice. You’ll order at the counter and be given a number to take to your table, so expect one of those awkward “do I tip or not tip?” situations (I went with no, but then again maybe I’m just a jerk). We started with the daily special of BOUILLABAISSE ($12) in an effort to try some fresh seafood and get something in the soup category. The mouthwatering aroma from the tomato, saffron and fennel broth had us eager to dive in. It was packed with fresh tasting shrimp, mussels and mahi mahi, making it a very good value for the lunch portion (which was plenty of food). The aioli topped crostini was warm, just off the grill and perfect for soaking up some of the delicious broth on a cool January afternoon.
We also tried the CROQUE MADAME ($9), a filling portion of Black Forest ham and gruyere cheese on two giant slices of brioche bread with creamy béchamel sauce (sort of like hollandaise but not as rich) and topped with a sunny side up egg. Scrumptious and certainly not just any boring ham and cheese sandwich. It was so big that it doesn’t come with any sides, but you have a choice of potatoes, grits, arugula salad, fruit or toast.
Although you may think of this small café as more of a lunch spot, signs invite you to join them for dinner, and I’d suggest doing just that. The atmosphere is casual and inviting and the bouillabaisse would be a wonderful dinner entreé. I can’t wait to go back to try the DUCK CONFIT HASH ($10) and maybe buy some fresh flowers to take home.
The best part about this gem of a café? Free delivery on the peninsula with any $10 order (does that include beer too?). Our opinion- totally worth the walk to the corner of Broad.