Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lengendary "Brick House" on Edisto Island--A Love Story With A Regrettable Twist

"I know not how it was--but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit...I looked upon the scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain--upon the bleak walls--upon the vacant eye-like windows--with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream...Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principle feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity...Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn."

Drayton Hall 
The Lowcountry is rife with aged and ruined plantation homes that fit the portraiture of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Once sprawling estates of opulence, now pillaged realms of providence--some by Federal troops in the Civil War--some by the all-consuming fires of unintentional carelessness--some by creeping disrepair. What Edgar Allen Poe described with trepidation, we idealize and romanticize. For us, they are living remnants of a glamorous and sometime savage by-gone time called the Old South. Their storied and ghostly pasts color our dreams and shade our nightmares--part of the wonder that lures people from all over the country and the world each year by the millions to their caretaker and master, Charleston and its Sea Islands.

Brick House before 1929
The "Brick House" on Edisto Island is one of those houses. Believed to have been built in 1725, Paul Hamilton used bricks imported from Boston and wood aged a minimum of seven years in its construction--Boston bricks were more denser than local bricks. It was architecturally designed in American colonial architecture, but flavored with a French Huguenot influence. The Jenkins family acquired the estate in 1798, which included the 300 acre plantation. It was in the late 1700's and early 1800's Sea Island plantations grew in wealth and prosperity due to its highly-prized Sea Island Cotton. It was around this time an Edgar Allen Poe type story became a part of its history.

Shortly after the Jenkins took ownership, a relative of Mrs. Jenkins visited Brick House from James Island. Amelia was very beautiful, popular, and recently engaged to the prodigy of a prominent Charleston family. She was accompanied by her young mistress. Not long after, a complication arose when Amelia fell in love with a wealthy Edisto planter. She attempted to break off the engagement by letter, but the gentleman came to Brick House to confront her, demanding an explanation. Amelia's answer, "I fell in love with someone else." The jilted suitor pleaded for her to reconsider, but failed. "You will never marry him, I would rather see you dead," he threatened and walked away.

Time passed and the threat was forgotten--everyone was preoccupied with the wedding plans. The wedding day arrived. Nearby, Mr. Jenkins private steamboat awaited at the wharf. The newly weds would leave for Charleston after the festivities were completed. Brick House was filled with family and guests. Early in the evening, Amelia retired to the upstairs to put on her dress. With the assistance of her mistress, she readied herself. The veil was placed on her head and the mistress left the room. From the open window in the room, Amelia faintly heard her name called out. She approached the window and peered out into the darkness. Then, there was the deafening sound of a gun shot and a second.

Downstairs, the relatives and guests stunned by the echoing gunfire looked at one another in disbelief. They took immediate inventory. Everyone downstairs was alright. Then, a cold chill fell upon the celebrants. They all rushed up the stairs. The bridegroom was the first to reach the bloody and lifeless body of Amelia. Beside the window, a bloody-red handprint marked the place where she placed her hand before collapsing to the floor.

The jilted lover from Charleston made good on his threat. Outside the window stood a stately old oak. He had climbed into its broad branches, fired the fatal shot, and then turned the gun on himself. His body was found beneath the tree. The pistol's sulfuric exhalation lingering among the leaves overhead.

It is said, the bloody handprint left by Amelia remained on the beautiful, scenic-painted wall until a hundred years later, when it was covered by a heavy, green paint. In 1929, a fire gutted the interior, thus forever erasing the paint-covered manifestation. The brick shell survived. Over the years since, Brick House has suffered instability and extraordinary dilapidation, but Amelia's tragic story lives on. Each year on August the 13th, screams can be heard coming from within its crumbling walls. Some people say Amelia is often seen standing in the bedroom window--wedding dress shimmering in the moonlight.

After 1929

This is just one of the many houses and legends you will encounter as you navigate the historic Lowcountry from Bulls Island to Edisto Island, from the Battery in Charleston to Hutchinson Square in Summerville. They are as nurturing as the coastal tides and as murky as pluff mud. Bring your camera and broaden your mind for these words will reverberate in your ears, "Houses are alive...If we're quiet, if we listen, we can hear houses breath. Sometimes, in the depth of the night, you can even hear them groan. It's as if they were having bad dreams. A good house cradles and comforts, a based one fills us with instinctive unease."--Steven King in "Rose Red"

Ghost or Civil War Walking Tour of Charleston
Chilling Charleston Macabre Ghost Tour
Ghost and Haunted Tours in Charleston
Bulldog Ghost Tours
Tours of Edisto
Botany Bay Eco Tours

Friday, October 10, 2014

Now Barely A Whisper In The Wind With A Ghost Of A Story, Edingsville Beach Was A Haven Of Grandeur And Extravagance

As the legend tells, in the hazy cast of a summer's blood moon, when the ocean air is heavy with a salty mist, you just may see the glazed shadow of the moon's dim light dance its somber dance on the window panes of the once upon a time planter's homes an oyster toss from Botany Bay along a stretch of beach once called Edingsville. And if you carefully listen to the tempestuous breeze passing over the sand and through the scattered relics washed ashore by the agitated surf you just may hear the faint laughter and decadent chatter of the souls who past the time here during the burdensome heat of the malarial months of mosquito infested inland Edisto. But do not linger, for out of the translucent shadows unexpectedly you may be enlisted by an illusory woman walking the beach mournfully in search of her husband long past due from a distant land.

Today, this hauntingly seductive shoreline is a windswept, sea-shelled stretch of solitary sand located between Edisto and Botany Bay Beach(see map). You would be looking from Botany Bay for a glimpse because there is no access to the beach other than by way of a causeway used exclusively by the residents of Jeremy Cay--a gated community separated from the beach by a salt marsh. You arrive at the gates of Jeremy Cay by way of a moss covered, oak lined road called Edingsville Beach Road. The very same road that led the families of the aristocratic Sea Island planters of Edisto to their beach-side, summer resort once called Edingsville and the beginning of the story.

With the 18th century closing out and the 19th beginning, Edisto planters were fast becoming the wealthiest plantation owners in the South due to Sea Island cotton. Silky and highly-prized, Sea Island cotton boasted extra-long fibers making it a variety avidly sought after by mill owners of the world. Their unbelievable wealth empowered the planters to establish an aristocracy reinforced in blood and marriage. They built beautiful mansions, bought town-houses in Charleston and entertained lavishly, but in the summer months their plantation paradises languished in summer's oppressive heat besieged by swarms of mosquito and the dreaded "country fever," also known as malaria. While seeking relief on the barrier island beaches of the Atlantic, they discovered the cooling ocean breezes kept the scourge at bay. With this realization, the idea of Edingsville Beach was born.

Sea Island plantation
 By 1820, the beach-side resort of Edingsville had grown to include sixty stately two-story, brick houses wrapped in terraces with sweeping views, adorned with gardens and serviced by carriage houses and slave quarters. Two churches praised their good fortunes and resolved their sins while an academy kept the boys educated. In 1852, the Atlantic Hotel was built by the Eding's family to accommodate the growing list of vacationers. The beach retreat was dubbed "Riviera of the Low Country."

Every May, the planters would gather up their servants and furnishings, load them onto wagons and carts followed by horse drawn carriages filled with their progeny, and make the trek over Edisto's hot sandy roads to their magical haven by the ocean to spend the long summer days partaking in elegant parties, boat races, horse races, elaborate banquets and splashing around in the soothing, salty waters of the Atlantic. They would stay until the first frost of autumn. It was a leisurely, carefree life, but destiny had other plans for Edisto's planters and Edingsville Beach.

Between the devastation of the Civil War in the 1860's and the boll weevil infestations of 1917, the Sea Island Cotton industry in the Lowcountry became decimated. In almost a single season, the royal crop of the sea islands was wiped out, never to return. After escaping the insanity of the Civil War, Edingsville Beach's benefactor became its malefactor. The very same ocean that brought jubilant relief brought absolute devastation.

A series of hurricanes beginning in 1874 relentlessly eroded away the golden era existence of Edingsville Beach until finally the hurricane of 1893 washed away all affirmation of its splendor and extravagance leaving only a tabby brick fireplace and broken trinkets. Over the years since, the occasional piece of china or brick appears on the beach delivered by a passing wave as a reminder of the once flourishing aristocracy.

As for the illusory woman, her name is Mary Clark. She was the daughter of one of the wealthy planters who spent the hot summer months with the family at their water front home on Edingsville Beach. She recently married her childhood sweetheart, a ship's captain, who also was a descendant of island planters. Four weeks after their wedding, the groom set sail for the West Indies. It was October, and most of the planter families were still in residence in their beach homes.

Each evening, just before sunset, Mary walked down to the water's edge, stared out over the steadily building surf and longed for the return of her husband. Two weeks had passed. The captain's ship was overdue. The smell of an approaching hurricane was in the air, but it was too late to leave the island. The causeway was already flooded. Mary knew in her heart the captain's ship may be involved.

The hurricane hit and the house trembled and swayed. The structure started to buckle and sea water washed into the house. It was a long night of terror for Mary and the others as they struggled to stay alive. The morning brought an eerie calm and a scene that would never be forgotten. Trees were lying everywhere. Some beach houses were moved off their foundations with porches, chimneys or windows washed away.

Through it all, Mary's concern for her husband never wavered. Looking in disbelief at the heavy pieces of furniture, chairs, and sofas strewn along the beach, she spotted a dark, lumpy form floating on the ocean's horizon. She watched as the form washed closer toward the shore and become more recognizable. It was the form of a man. A numbing chill ran down her spine. She ran into the water, and as the form got closer to her, she recognized the body of her husband. With a shuddering cry, she plunged her trembling arms into the salty water and with tears streaming from her eyes, drew his lifeless body to her heartbroken chest and then it disappeared. Later, the heart-wrenching news arrived. Her husband's ship went down in the hurricane and all on board were lost.

Now it is said, on moonlit nights a young woman can be seen desperately searching the beach and running into the waves to pull the form of a man onto the shore.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

An Emerging Watersport Comes To Tidal Wave Watersports Near Morgan Creek On The IOP--Available This Spring

Over the past five years, stand up paddleboarding has mushroomed from the handful of surfers who were doing it in Hawaii. Since hitting California beaches, it has spread across the country to the east coast like a tidal wave. From Edisto Island to the IOP, Charleston's coastal beaches and tidal creeks have been besieged. A sport that now includes everyone from whitewater enthusiasts to people who like to practice yoga. There are an estimated 1.2 million SUPers. To those who do it, it is like walking on water. But how would you like to soar over water?

A new kind of watersport is emerging in Charleston. It is called flyboarding. A flyboard is a device that is attached to your feet via boots containing two high volume nozzles connected to a jet ski by a 50 foot hose. Water from the jet ski is forced up the hose to the board where it is ejected from the nozzles out of the bottom of the board at a high speed creating a thrust that sends you an estimated 20 feet into the air. By controlling the direction of the nozzles through which the water is ejected with your legs and arms, you can control the thrust and control the direction in which you move.

Besides flying over the water, once you have mastered the board anything is possible, which for most people generally takes about 15 minutes. Try a pelican high dive into the water and swim like a dolphin. You are only limited by your own imagination. As long as the jet ski is providing power, the rider can hover in the air for as long as they want. A certified instructor is on the jet ski the entire time controlling power and giving instructions.

Tidal Wave Watersports on the IOP is in the process of training and certifying its guides on the intricacies of flyboarding and plans on offering it to the public in the spring of 2015. One beautiful Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to watch and take video as each took their turn on the flyboard. I would have loved to have strapped on the board and flown like an osprey or swam like a dolphin over and under the waters near Morgan Creek, but there is the thing about having the necessary insurance and license. I will have to patiently wait until next spring.

The Lowcountry is richly blessed with beautiful estuaries, tidal creeks, and barrier islands accented with shell-covered sandy beaches--a paradise for the watersport enthusiasts. Kayaking and paddleboarding for those who seek to enjoy the wild life and surround themselves in the beauty of Charleston's estuaries and tidal creeks. Boat Charters and Waverunner Safari Tours for those who crave the unspoiled splendor of the uninhabited barrier islands of Capers and Bulls Island. Jet skiing, parasailing, skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and banana boat rides for those who are in pursuit of fun and thrills, and next spring, the challenge of soaring on a flyboard by way of Tidal Wave Watersports.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Charleston's Entertaining Ghostly Side--Landmarks And Stories To Put A Scare In Your Visit

We all like to be entertained with a good scare once in awhile. Remember the fun times sitting in a semi-dark room on a stormy night or around a crackling campfire taking turns telling scary stories and seeing who could come up with the most sinister plot. This was how Mary Shelley gave birth to her first spine tingling novel.

While vacationing on Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Mary and her friends amused themselves by reading German ghost stories, which prompted a suggestion each write a supernatural tale of their own. Mary's scary tale was conceived in a waking dream she had one night. She wrote a short story about her horrific dream and later expanded it into the story of "Frankenstein." Needless to say, her tale took the honor of being the scariest on that infamous night.

Looking for inspiration for a winning scary novel? Charleston's sister city to the south, Savannah, GA, was dubbed by The American Institute of Parapsychology as "America's Most Haunted City." The Sorrel-Weed House at 6 W Harris Street on Madison Square could be a stimulating subject. It was featured on Ghost Hunters and is one of the top ten creepiest places in America. Be sure to take the 10:30 pm tour for the greatest affect--if you dare.

Charleston's darker side most certainly could incite the imagination and inspiration for a winning, frightful tale--Travel Channel designated Charleston "America's Most Haunted Places." It is well-known for its old homes, church graveyards, cobbled streets and intimate alleys--many with bizarre tales of ghostly encounters and things that go bump in the night.

Old City Jail
The Battery Carriage House Inn caters to the "gentleman ghost" and the gruesome headless torso--rumored to occupy room 8. Poogan's Porch's resident apparition is an old lady by the name of Zoe St Amand--often heard banging things in the kitchen or waving to guests staying at the Mill Street Inn. Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth, is said to appear at the Dock Street Theater and Lavinia Fisher, before being hanged, is famous for saying, "If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me-I'll carry it." She haunts the Old City Jail. And then there is the story of Ruth Lowndes Simmons, a Charleston lady with unfulfilled expectations.

Ruth was the daughter of Rawlins Lowndes--an American lawyer, politician, and president/governor of South Carolina in the 1700's. She was in love with a childhood friend and John's Island planter by the name of Francis Simmons. In the course of time, Ruth made the unwitting mistake of introducing Francis to her closest friend, Sabina Smith. Francis fell in love with Sabina immediately.

In a desperate move to counteract this unintended turn in fortune, Ruth put in motion a plan incorporating deception. She told Francis Sabina was planning on announcing her engagement to another gentleman by the name of Dick Johnston. Heartbroken, Francis stepped aside. On a visit to Ruth sometime after, Francis showed her a handkerchief with his initials on it and said, "Wouldn't you like to have such beautiful initials?" Ruth took that as a proposal. Next, Rawlins Lowndes called Francis to his home to discuss the proposal. Assuming Sabina would never be his wife, Francis accepted and arrangements were made for his marriage to Ruth.

The wedding was now one day away and Francis was walking down Church Street, which took him passed the Smith house and a happenchance rendezvous with Sabina. During their resulting conversation, Ruth's deception was uncovered. Sabina told Francis she never intended on marrying Dick Johnston. Raised a honorable southern gentleman, he resentfully honored his word and stuck to the agreement, thus losing Sabina forever. Bitter about the trickery, he told Ruth she would be his wife in name only.

On November 15, 1796, Francis and Ruth exchanged vows at the home of Ruth's father. After the wedding, they went to their new townhouse at 131 Tradd Street. Francis escorted Ruth to the door and then departed. He lived at his plantation on John's Island until purchasing the property at 14 Legare Street where he built the home he lived in until his death twenty years after marrying Ruth, leaving their union unconsummated--in my opinion, very ungentlemanly.

14 Legare Street
The townhouse is long gone, but it is believed Ruth haunts a long, narrow alley on Tradd Street whose entrance is marked by tall, brick columns. In the late hours of the night, the pounding of horses' hoofs and the rumbling of coach wheels can be heard passing by in the dark alley. Charlestonians believe it is Ruth Simmons being driven to her townhouse and her deserted bed. The narrow pathway is rightfully called Simmons' Alley.

It's October, the days are getting shorter and darker, the perfect atmosphere for a scary tale. Charleston's long history provides the ideal plots and its streets and alleys offer the perfect ghostly backdrop. You can choose from a variety of tours offered by the numerous hosts located throughout the historic Charleston Peninsula. Before or after your selected tour, be sure to make a stop at the Southend Brewery on E Bay Street and clink glasses with its resident ghost.

Tour companies: Black Cat Tours, Bulldog Tours, Ghostwalk, Charleston Ghosts Hunt, Ghosts of the South, Charleston's Best Tours, and Tour Charleston.
Old Charleston Walking Tours-$15 ($31 value) for admission for two or $29 ($62 value) for admission for four and Ashley on the Cooper Walking Tours-$20 ($40 value) for admission for two to the Chilling Charleston Macabre Ghost Tour.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Photos Of Summerville's Sweet Tea Festival Celebrated On Third Thursday, September 18, 2014--It Was Sweet Tea-rific

It was Third Thursday in Summerville. The Birthplace of Sweet Tea celebrated its highly anticipated, ever popular Sweet Tea Festival. It was sweet and it was historical.

Summerville restaurants presented a sampling of their popular culinary delights and participated in a sweet tea challenge. Festival attendees purchased commemorative Sweet Tea Mugs for $5, sampled the various restaurant's original sweet tea drinks, and voted for their favorite.

Live music was at every turn of the corner from Hutchinson Square to Short Central and in between courtesy bands from around the Lowcountry. It was a huge success thanks to the tireless efforts of Summerville DREAM, the Town of Summerville and the residents and visitors who filled the streets and businesses. Great fun was had by all. Enjoy the photos.

Visit and discover the Birthplace of Sweet Tea. Check out Summerville's Trolley Tours, Festivals and Celebrations, Culinary Events and Summerville's informative museum--be sure to check out its new outdoor mural.

Trolley Tour reviews:
Sip And Savor Summerville's Popular Drinking Establishments--The Newest Addition In The Trolley Tours

It Was A Sweet-ride And Tea-rific Fun-Summerville's "Good Eats On The Sweet Tea Trail Tour"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Waverunner Safari Adventure--Tidal Wave Water Sports High Velocity Thrill Excursion to Capers Island

Eagerly awaiting this moment since awakening, the appointed time finally arrived. "You may want to leave your hat," the young lady at the outdoor counter suggested. Declining the proposal, I turned my hat around. A decision that would later have an unusual outcome. I was sized up and handed a life jacket. I snapped it on while listening to the guide begin his introductions. Needless to say, my emotions jumped to the next level of excitement.

The weather worn wooden dock rocked gently in the creek's fluid current while our guide wrapped up his final instructions with some pertinent safety tips, "In the no-wake zone, stay 20 feet apart at all times. Once we leave the no-wake zone, keep 100 feet between yourself and everything else. There are hidden sandbars and oyster beds, so follow in my wake at all times."

We collectively mounted our assigned personal watercraft and familiarized ourselves with its various controls and buttons. After hooking the shut-off cord to our floatation vests, our slumbering high velocity watercraft were one by one gently nudged from their plastic cradles. After fully slipping into the warm, salty waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, I immediately depressed the start button. With my jet ski aroused to consciousness, I squeezed the throttle propelling it forward onto the first leg of an unbelievably riotous Waverunner Safari Adventure with Tidal Wave Water Sports.

Waverunner Safari Adventure takes you on a high velocity cruise through the intricate coastal waterways of Charleston's northern barrier islands. It begins at the docks of Tidal Wave Water Sports in the IOP Marina and proceeds up the Intracoastal Waterway. Once you leave the no-wake zone, you are turned loose to get a feel for your jet ski. For fifteen minutes, you can jump waves, spin out, pretty much do whatever you want as long as you maintain the 100 foot rule.

Several times my jet ski was launched skyward off the waves of passing larger vessels momentarily suspending me weightless in the air and once beneath the waves completely baptizing me in salt water. It was here I lost my hat.

After honing our skills, our guide took us full throttle 15 miles through the beautiful coastal waterways of Dewees and Capers Island to the tidal river of Price Inlet. It was here we beached our jet skis and for the next fifteen minutes, I let the beauty of Capers embrace me, sunk my grateful feet into its soft sands and happily allowed its soothing waters wash over me in full view of Bulls Island, my next planned excursion. Too quickly, it was time to depart the serenity of Capers.

For the final time, I mounted my jet ski, powered up and once clear of the shoreline, took off in a sudden burst of acceleration leaving a turbulent swathe of water behind me. Following in the playful and trick-filled wake of our guide for the next fifteen miles, we weaved in and around patches of sea grass and marshland until we entered the no-wake zone of the Intracoastal Waterway back to the IOP Marina and the Tidal Wave docks totally satisfied with a well spent 1 1/2 hours on a thrill ride cruising 30 miles through the unspoiled coastal waters of Charleston's northern barrier islands--unfortunately without my hat, forever lost in the waters of Seven Reaches.

Our tour guide, Donny, was personable and friendly. Fully knowing the dangers involved in operating watercraft at a high velocity, he responsibly took his oversight seriously giving helpful and vital instructions to the age varied group of seven.

On the safari, we were afforded the freedom to be daring as long as we stayed within the parameters of the earlier stated rules and used common sense related to each individuals skill level.

The jet skis were well maintained, the docks were organized. It is a tour I would gladly do again and highly recommend it to everyone, families and individuals, looking to put daily physical restraints aside and freeing oneself to experience something different and exciting. It was a blast.

As regards my hat, ten minutes after leaving the IOP Marina I received a phone call from the young lady at the counter informing me my hat was retrieved from the merciful waters of Seven Reaches--amazing.

Tickets: Single $119.00, Double $139.00
Drivers must be 16 years old, 18 years old with a passenger

Isle of Palms, SC
(843) 886-8456 69
41st Avenue
Isle of Palms, SC

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Visit To Charleston's Number One French Brasserie During Restaurant Week--39 Rue de Jean Was Sumptuous

This would be my first visit to the posh 39 Rue de Jean--a French brasserie located between Meeting and King on one of Charleston's most notable streets. With the Charleston Museum close by, the museum's newly constructed glass enclosed building housing the first locomotive built in America could be seen from my vantage point at the entrance of the beautifully landscaped alleyway that separated the restaurant from the oldest building on the block, the Charleston Music Hall.

In the distance, magenta and purple neon lighting brightly bathed the alley's inviting walkway of odd sized stone pavers while the overhead lights of Rue's covered patio softly immersed the table settings along the alley's right side. This was a part of John Street I thus far had not ventured down on previous outings.

Reservation was set for 7:00 pm. I checked in at the front desk and was promptly taken to a small table with a single chair and a booth-style burgundy bench topped with stainless steal rails. Identical on both sides, it ran along the right-middle of the main dining area. Full booths and scattered tables filled the rest of the space. A bricked archway led to additional seating beyond and glass doors flanking the bar opened onto an outdoor patio. Two aged-smoky looking mirrors covered one wall and a full bar covered another. A patterned ceiling reflected the age of the building. The table was covered with white paper--the perfect medium for doodling on or writing the lyrics of a new hit song or sonnet, if you were moved to do so. Hey, Edgar Allen Poe did it.

My server promptly arrived with a carafe of water, filled a glass and shared some of the preferred specials from the main menu aside from the 3 for $30 menu prepared by Rue for Restaurant Week. I immediately informed the server I would be choosing from the 3 for $30 and selected my cocktail--a Citron Mojito. The concoction of mint leaves floating in Absolut Citron, key lime juice, and simple syrup topped with a slice of lime arrived a few moments later and I took my first sip. It was the perfect opener.

The first course on the 3 for $30 menu was a choice between Cauliflower and Brie Bisque, Smoked Salmon Maki Roll and Varietal Greens Salad. I chose the Varietal Greens Salad with Roasted Pecans, Pickled Golden Raisins, Figs and Goat Cheese Vinaigrette. Second Course offered four options: Poulet Confit, Pork Belly, Braised Cod, and Vegetable Dauphinoise. Braised Cod was my selection. It was an entree of Fennel, Curry, Cherry Tomatoes and Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes. Dessert options were between Brown Butter Crepes and Chocolate Pate. I hesitantly picked the Brown Butter Crepes prepared with Caramelized Apples, Creme Anglaise and Powdered Sugar.

The Varietal Greens Salad was a generous portion of locally grown greens. The nutty flavor of the pecans superbly complimented the delightfully fruity taste of the pickled raisins while the cheesy vinaigrette dressing pleasantly accented the total combination. It was very sumptuous.

The Braised Cod arrived to the table steamy hot and at the hand of a helper with a French accent--aside from the menu, the only French I encountered all evening. The fennel, curry and cherry tomatoes were buried under a fillet of cod surrounded by the whipped potatoes. The curry mixed in with the whipped potatoes made my eyes water from time to time, but overall was tolerably delicious. The fennel covered with a crisp coating was very good as were the cherry tomatoes. The texture of the cod was perfect, flaky to the fork and not dry.

My hesitancy in selecting dessert was justified. I am not saying the Brown Butter Crepes wasn't good, to the contrary, it was satisfying, but I should have not passed up the Chocolate Pate with fresh strawberries, creme anglaise and berry coulis. It would have been more colorful with the red of the strawberries and the berry coulis drizzled all over it.

Andre was a very attentive server, checking in from time to time and filling the water glass when it was near empty. The delivery of the various dishes was timely and the presentation was artful. The removal of spent dishes was prompt and replacement silverware was provided when needed. Additionally, mixed in with the meal, I like to engage in a little small talk with the server, more than just, "Is everything satisfactory?" or "Can I get you anything?" It was a busy night at the Rue, so I do understand the server's limitations in this regard, but it is something to give consideration to when dealing with patrons.

The upscale casual Rue de Jean is ideally situated between Meeting and King Street next to one of Charleston's finest venues, the Charleston Music Hall. Its marquee style entrance is eye catching. The main dining area is comfortable and not cramped for space. It offers outdoor seating on a black rail enclosed covered patio with a front view of historic John Street and a beautifully landscaped alleyway even more picturesque at night under the lights. I give high marks to the chef and kitchen staff for a skillfully prepared, elegantly presented culinary experience on my visit during Charleston Restaurant Week.

Side note--If you are looking for a mouth-watering burger, 39 Rue de Jean was named Charleston's number one brasserie for burgers.