When Johnson & Wales University decamped for Charlotte in 2006, it seemed like the Charleston dining scene might suffer without such a prized pipeline of culinary talent. Incredibly, four years later, Charleston continues to add interesting new restaurants. Two of the responsible restaurateurs are Karalee Nielsen and Tim Mink of Revolutionary Eating Ventures, who already owned Taco Boy and Monza. Until last year, the duo also owned a tapas bar called Raval at 453 King, but decided the neighborhood would be better served by a gastropub. Based on my recent visit, it’s clear that they’ve delivered an inspired take on the genre with Closed For Business.
The Pork Slap ($10) was an ingenious sandwich that involves a fried pork cutlet topped with Benton’s famed country ham (smoky, salty and rosy-hued), Swiss cheese, green tomato chutney and “house sauce,” all on a soft bun. This is a brilliant sandwich, with a crisp crust, juicy core and pork-on-pork action that is downright pornographic. By adding two kinds of pork to a challah bun, the chef clearly has a sense of humor. The green tomato chutney adds acidity that helps to balance out the richness of the Vitamin P. So does the house-made pickled vegetables, a dish of tangy cauliflower florets, carrot and sliced onions. If you want CFB fries, a twice-baked potato or pickle slaw instead, be their guest.
My father, brother and I all inevitably gravitated toward the Pork Slap. I couldn’t convince either one of them to split a sandwich, and it’s hard to fault anybody who wants pork to themselves, so we just added to our order.
Duck Pot Pie ($12) sported a puffy “pie crust” top that peeled back to revealed juicy strands of pulled duck, roasted parsnips, carrots, mushrooms and leeks. The pie was lighter than usual since the chef didn’t drown it in gravy. The pan also came with a refreshing salad of grapes, cashews, feta and greens.
The Closed For Business draught beer list is 30-deep, divided by Light, White/Fruit, Pale, Amber/Brown and Dark. Each beer is available in 10-ounce, 16-ounce and liter pours. It was disappointing to see Bud Light, Stella Artois and Pabst Blue Ribbon on draught, but it’s hard to fault the owners too much considering the other options, including Smuttynose, Southern Tier, Bell’s and New Holland, which aren’t available in Los Angeles. They even had The Bruery on the menu. Still, I was in the mood for something in the Amber/Brown category, and opted for a glass of Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale, which was dark brown in color and somewhat bitter in the body, but not at the finish.
My only regret was not having enough room to consume the Closed For Business fried pocket pie. Next time, I’ll just stuff my pockets and devour later.