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Limehouse Produce FlashBack Fridays: Hominy Grill review 1.31.14

HominyGrillReview-BatchedFor the first review, we selected an old Charleston favorite—Hominy Grill. Well, it’s not that old. But it is one of Charleston’s most recognized and written about places. That’s because Chef Robert Stehling has done an outstanding job of defining a place that is truly southern and delicious and we are proud to see how far he has come over the years.

Here are some updates and comments from Stehling based on the original Peter Herman review.

Robert Stehling: Looking at the review, one of the most apparent things that has changed is the menu. Not saying it is all that different, we just don’t do some of the items any more. Items like the boneless pork chop, crab cakes, grilled breast of duck and pan-seared rib eye steak are gone. Those dishes did not really define who we were trying to be—we just felt like we had to have them. We also do not serve the chicken liver pasta dish even though people come in and beg us to bring it back.

We do serve the items that do represent us well—the shrimp appetizer but we now have two, one with pickled shrimp and one with pickled okra and country ham. We have the catfish and fried chicken and of course our desserts are still “terrific” as Peter states.

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Hominy Grill also recently had a major renovation and added 25 seats outside and 20 outside, still keeping the outdoor setting, but opening it up more to see it from the street. The great thing about the house is that it required little renovations when Robert got the space after Tom’s (the restaurant that occupied the space before Hominy Grill) closed down. They only had to paint and the designer came in and recommended not to do much. When asked about the exterior, Robert shares the story about the selected mural:

RS: I knew of artist David Boatwright and loved the Rutledge Coffee & Cream sign on Coming and Spring streets. I knew I wanted him to do something similar and as anticipated, he created a memorable sign that really helps distinguish our brand.

When asked if David has ever had to repaint it, Robert shares that they have scrubbed the outside once, but he is confident David comes when they are closed from time to time to do touch ups.

The best part of recalling the Peter Herman review is Robert’s memory of the night of the review:

RS: Yes, I knew he was in. My parents were actually at dinner and Peter came by our table while we were eating. He told me he was writing the review and I was petrified. All I could do when I learned was try to remember all the stuff he ate!

He laughs when he looks back at some of the items he was served. Back then, Robert was still trying to figure out who he was as a restaurant and soon realized serving lentil salad and tuna cakes was not what he wanted to cook.

Well to us, he figured it out quickly and truly represents a quintessential Lowcountry place. Hominy Grill is a true staple in the Charleston culinary landscape and locals, out of towners and media flock to it as a “must go to” place. Robert has also been recognized in almost every major food media outlet and remembers the days people like the former New York Times food critic R. W. Apple, Jr. and Anthony Bourdain came to dine. It helped garner accolades like the coveted James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southeast award, an award only won by one other local chef before receiving it (Chef Louis Osteen). When asked about his favorite “celebrities to host” (aside from those listed above), he shares:

RS: I loved having Jimmy Buffett in, and Lou Reed and Ted Danson came nine times in three days. I finally came out the last time he was in and thanked him. When I really saw a major influx of visitors was after Rachael Ray tape her show “$40 Dollars a Day”. It was amazing how many people watch that show, Bourdain’s show, Man vs. Food and others.

As far as proudest moments:

RS: That people are so fond of the place. That we are an institution—a neighborhood place. It is what we always wanted to be.

His favorite dish on the menu:

RS: Shrimp & Grits, it has been part of the repertoire since the first days in the kitchen. It is so simple and just great food.

Fun Facts:

  • The biggest renovation they did on the space was to the kitchen
  • Before it closed, Tom’s had a banner on the side of the building that stated “worst food in town” after a bad review in The Post and Courier
  • The original interior paint color was burgundy—now it is a starch white.

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Angel Postell
Home Team Public Relations
(843) 557-4077
angel@hometeampr.com

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