March 29, 2011
Cypress definitely is one of my favorite restaurants in Charleston. It is run by the same owners as Magnolia's (posted earlier), but in terms of the cuisine it offers, it is a whole world away than the more traditional Southern food dishes offered by Magnolia's. Cypress was recommended by a good friend of mine who lived in Charleston for many years, and as is usually the case, you can never go wrong with the experience and knowledge of the locals! =) Because this restaurant is in the South, you can definitely see a Southern inspiration in some of the dishes they offer, but like a lot of new "american fusion" restaurants these days, the menu also is inspired by flavors from lots of other locales as well. So why do I like Cypress so much? Frankly, every time I have had a meal there, at least one dish has been fantastic - in general, the dishes have been consistently cooked well, always balanced with both great flavor and texture, and I also love the vibe of the restaurant.
I don't usually take photos of the interiors of restaurants, but for me, the interior design of this restaurant adds a lot to the enjoyable vibe of the restaurant. For instance, the lights on the ceiling change colors occasionally - blue in this photo - but it isn't intrusive at all. The restaurant dining area has several large open areas, yet the feeling is also intimate - I suggest reserving for one of their booths if you are on a date =). Lastly, the lighting is fantastic - it is dark enough that each table is private, yet each table is also illuminated with a light discreetly set in the ceiling above the table, which makes the food easy to see and photograph as well. Yay, no dark photos! =)
Our first set of appetizers, sashimi tuna & oysters on bottom (with a cilantro-lime glaze and pineapple wasabi), and a carolina cup oyster on top (garnished with green tomato and wasabi, served with a horseradish-lemon mignonette) To be honest, I don't usually make a habit of trying japanese-style dishes when I am not in a japanese restaurant, but the sashimi tuna & oysters were surprisingly good. I enjoyed the contrast of the raw tuna with the raw oyster, the seafood was quite fresh, and the cilantro-lime glaze added a nice subtle tang to the dish.
Our second appetizer, a roasted beet salad. Now, I'm not sure if I will ever find a beet salad as fresh and delicious as the one that I had at Marche Moderne, but this one was pretty tasty as well. The salad was served with a goat cheese mousse (from Split Creek Farms, a local farm in the area), toasted hazelnuts, mache, and a red wine vinagrette.
This pork chop was one of our two main courses, and it was a huge highlight of the meal. This photo doesn't come even close to doing justice to the dish - it was a bone-in, thick-cut fresh pork chop from a local farm, Eden Farms, who evidently supplies FIG as well...FIG evidently isn't the only sustainable cuisine game in town ;). The pork chop was extremely juicy and flavorful, perfectly seared and simply seasoned with some sea salt and other spices (possibly some paprika and fresh pepper, I didn't ask though). In fact, this pork chop was the BEST pork chop I have eaten in my young-ish life so far - if every pork chop was as good as this one, I would be ordering it everywhere (and slowly getting fat and broke). I particularly enjoyed the thick cut of the meat (like a really thick ribeye steak). Ha, I have been rhapsodizing so much about the pork chop that I almost forgot about the sides served with the dish: brussels sprouts, bacon, chestnuts, and sage.
P.S. As a side note, although it isn't photographed here, I also recommend the rack of lamb offered at Cypress. They definitely cook their meat well here!
The second entree we ordered was a crisp wasabi tuna glazed with a ginger-garlic sauce, served with edamame and shiitake mushrooms. Unfortunately for the tuna, the pork chop was so awesome that it completely overshadowed this dish. It was fresh and well cooked, but not even close to as good as the pork chop.
Err, here is dessert. Sorry, I can't be more descriptive than that, but I forgot to write down what we ordered, so you can just make up a name for it - I'm just going to call it "chocolate hazlenut yummy-ness", not that I actually remember what it tasted like - and acribe whatever your favorite dessert flavors are to the dish. Sometimes, your imagination can be better than the real thing. =)