The words "high cotton" is an old southern idiom going back to the cotton plantation days of yesteryear. When the cotton plants grew high, it meant a good crop and good times were ahead. It was also easier to pick, not requiring the picker to stoop down to low. "High Cotton" was also the title of a country song by Alabama from their 1989 album "Southern Star." The narrator of the song reminiscences about his youth and how his younger days were good. With this in mind, "The Best of Times" is behind the restaurants name High Cotton, billed as "reflecting fine dining at its best, projecting wine and food professionalism, low-country cuisine at its finest, and a classic high society comforting decor."
High Cotton ranked number 18 in Tripadviser's reviews of Charleston restaurants. Urbanspoon's list of Best of Charleston put High Cotton at 15. On Opentable's Diner's Choice Award for "most booked," High Cotton came in at six. The Charleston City Paper's Best of Charleston 2012 honored such restaurants as Fig, Hall's Chophouse, Hominy Grill and others, but High Cotton was not anywhere to be found in any category. Southern Living's favorite choices listed McCrady's as number one and seven other restaurants, but again High Cotton was missing. So, High Cotton had their work cut out for them as to where I would put them on my list.
You couldn't ask for better weather on a January day in Charleston. Keri and I arrived downtown around 4:30 pm. The streets in the French Quarter were lively. After a street by street search for a parking spot that yielded no results, we settled for the Vendue Range parking garage. Reservations were set for 5:30 pm, so we had an hour to burn. We took a short walk to the Fleet Landing Restaurant to sit by the water and have a couple of drinks. The tide was out, so the smell of pluff mud was strong but the drinks were not, light on the alcohol. The time went by quickly and we headed back to East Bay Street and High Cotton.
|High Cotton Bar with Gerry, Keri, Teddy, and Marilee|
While waiting to be seated at our table, we introduced ourselves to other members of our party we didn't know and had a cocktail in the step-up lounge. The Charleston Cocktail I sipped was pleasant. Keri had her usual Pinot Grigio. A band was playing light dinner music as we watched the Ravens play the Broncos. Once all twelve members of our party arrived we were directed to our table, which was appropriately arranged with the necessary utensils you would expect to find at a classy restaurant, menus placed at each seat. The waiter fielded our questions pertaining to the 3 for $30 menus, graciously describing in detail the ingredients of some of the more unusual appetizers and entrees like the Pan Seared Stuffed Quail and Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Loin. The waiter repeated, "Bacon wrapped, need I say more." Both dishes contained a stuffing accentuated with sausage. Those of our party who indulged in these two selections were fully pleased.
|Pan Seared Stuffed Quail|
|Kurios Farm Bibb Lettuce|
|Roasted Atlantic Flounder|
|Benjamin the waiter, Gerry, Teddy, Keri, Marilee, Paul, Mike,|
Lisa, Brandy, James, Marsha, and Tom. Yours truly behind
I had a wonderful time making new acquaintances with fellow White Gablers and getting reacquainted with other previous White Gable acquaintances. The conversation was both amusing and informative-ranging from raising kids, to funny life experiences, to solving ongoing social issues. A surprising connection was made when I found out some members of our party were Cleveland Browns fans. Six of our group ended the night across the street at Charleston Cooks, a kitchen retail shop that also offers cooking classes, and from there the Vendue Rooftop Bar. We were in high cotton.
In conclusion, I learned two new things. This was the first time I heard of the name Geechie Boy. The Geechie Boy Mill is local and located on Edisto Island. This keeps with the Lowcountry tradition of using only local ingredients to maintain and achieve the authentic Charleston cuisine and dining experience. The second thing I learned was the proper way to put a napkin on my lap. I never really gave much thought to it. I always just fully unfolded the napkin and spread it across my legs like a blanket, that is, when I even used a napkin. I was instructed to fold the napkin into thirds and then place it on my lap. Thank you Keri, you may yet turn me into a cultural socialite.