Saturday, August 16, 2014

Enjoying the Community Table at FIG in Charleston, South Carolina

Enjoying the Community Table at FIG in Charleston, South Carolina

While I generally find business travel exhausting and anything but delightful, there are some locations that make the frustrations with TSA, delayed flights, sand papery hotel towels and hours in refrigerated meeting rooms down right worth the hassle. Charleston is one of those places for me.

Mills House Hotel 

Wednesday afternoon as I navigated through Dulles Airport clutching my boarding pass with the gold-plated TSA Pre-Check, I looked forward to two nights in the glorious southern city on the coast with an abundance of fine dining. I knew, even if my meeting was non-productive, I would enjoy two luscious dinners. So I didn’t get my panties in a twist too badly when TSA confiscated my Hempz Pomegranate Body Butter (even though I have flown with the same size container of the same product on numerous occasions with nary a raised eyebrow) or the two hour flight delay.


After checking into my hotel, the lovely Mills on Meeting Street, I called my local contact and arranged to meet at Social on Bay Street for a glass of vino, a mouthwatering Happy Hour special grilled cauliflower with piquant Aioli, and a strategy session for Thursday’s mediation. I asked for dinner recommendations and decided on Eli’s Table, an Open Table 2014 Diner’s’ Choice Winner a few blocks from Mills on Meeting Street, where I enjoyed a beautiful sautéed grouper over a medley of diced vegetables in butter, garlic and white wine. If only I’d skipped the top-flight espresso, which caused me to jolt awake at 2:00am as if ready to run a marathon! The service was excellent and the bartender an able conversationalist.

Eli's Table

But the best experience of my trip was my meal at FIG {Food Is Good}, 232 Meeting Street, where I was seated at the Community Table. When I’m on travel and dining alone I generally eat at the bar, which I prefer to a table for one. But FIG was crowded, as are most of the top restaurants, and I was told I’d have to wait up to 40 minutes for a seat at the bar. As an alternative I was offered a spot at the Community Table, which accommodates up to 8 random diners.  I thought “Why Not?” and joined a couple from Austen, Texas on their first weekend away together and a family of 4 from Bergen County, New Jersey delivering their daughter to her first semester away at Charleston College. Everybody was friendly, open and welcoming. After the first two groups departed I was joined by a young woman and her mother from Manteo, North Carolina on the Outer Banks, and learned how the young mother to be, now living in Charleston, reconnected with her now husband, a former high school mate for whom she’d had an unrequited crush while she was living in New York City and he in Alabama when friends called pretending to be her and invited him to be her date for a wedding in Tennessee. I love stories like that! Not to mention, the food at FIG is exceptional, lovingly crafted with local ingredients. With my collegial conversations I enjoyed a salad of gem lettuces with benne seeds, heirloom tomato and aged sherry vinaigrette followed by a heartily delicious appetizer of Alabama blue crab tossed with angel hair pasta and brood di parmigiano. Just awesome! FIG also offers some excellently curated reasonably priced wines by the glass. The service was top notch. And I highly recommend that anybody who has the opportunity to enjoy dinner at a Community Table to take the plunge. For me it enhanced my dining experience at FIG.

Gem lettuce salad


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