Charleston, South Carolina is an incredibly well-heeled city. Plenty of people who live there and visit there expect the best of everything, every day. That certainly is the case with restaurants, with an abundance of riches. To stand out in the bunch is quite the feat and that’s exactly what Circa 1886 does! I was happy to be hosted to experience it.
When professionals talk about the finest of dining experiences, every single aspect counts — even the outside entrance to the restaurant. Everything must be calibrated to make for a memorable night. Circa 1886 is in what was the carriage house for the Wentworth mansion downtown . . . you approach the dining area by going through the manse’s gardens.
Dress is business casual; jackets not required; no shorts or t-shirts. You will see some people dressed for special occasions as well. Soft jazz plays in the background.
Though Circa 1886 is fine dining, the service is comfortable, not intimidating. The thoughtful hospitality is in the details: chilled water glasses are presented with lemon and lime slices on a tray. I personally appreciated the flawless wine pairings, as I ordered all over the map flavor-wise. I needed and got expertise!
Their Battery Breeze cocktail is chic without being wacky: Effen Cucumber Vodka, muddled cucumber and lemon, elderflower nectar, soda. It’s a cool and refreshing “tall” drink. Night Blossom cocktail has Sauza Conmemorativo Tequila, St. Germaine, grapefruit and jalapeno: it has residual heat, but juicy flavor.
An amuse bouche was brought: it was Caribbean orange and tomato soup with coconut and fennel powder. Chef Marc Collins’ time cooking in Texas shows! Next came a Plantation rice roll, baked daily, accompanied by butter with orange essence. It was like a savory donut.
Specially cooked/slow-cooked eggs are a hot trend in dining now. Theirs is cooked at 64 degrees Celsius and obtains a sensuous mousse-like texture.
I’ve tried lots of different game, but never antelope. I was a little scared: though I like venison, I hate moose. But, I figured the Texas cooking experience would rule the day . . . and it did! The chef’s antelope was incredibly mild, more like veal in flavor. It was a tender, thick cut with a steak chew and pepper seasoning. Garbanzo bean chips were a surprising and tasty garnish: they were salted, so as not to be like a dull hummus.
The desserts are quite gourmet, made in-house. A dessert sampler had some barely-sweet chocolate sweets and also, white chocolate with pop rocks! A mini milkshake was just flat-out fun.