by Jeff Allen
Charleston Grill could have done a lot worse than the massive rearrangement that begin in earnest February, cloistering the space while under construction and initiating a media blitz that would make Paris Hilton proud. Regardless of the constant banter on the radio — Bob Waggoner has been giving out so many recipes and smug soundbites that I half expected to hear about a name change to the "George Foreman Charleston Grill" — the real story is that general manager Mickey Baskt, unhappy with the restaurant's ability to garner repeat business from a local, loyal clientele, initiated the comprehensive facelift to bring a lighter tone to the stuffy and, let's face it, snobbish S.O.B. appeal of the formerly dark, marble clad space. I think Mickey is spot on.
We stopped by Wednesday night for a quick drink before dinner and were duly impressed, before and after Mickey recognized us (is there a better front man in this city?). New drapes and impressive hardwood floors have lightened the space and the menu, which now sports a quartered selection, relegating the touristy "Lowcountry" fare to its own ignorable sector. More compelling are Waggoner's forays into "Fresh," "Lush," and "Cosmopolitan" — and I look forward to seeing these ideas develop over the next few months.
The changes, to the menu and the décor, will continue to change well into May. The new furniture has not yet arrived and the menu not set in stone, but Mickey and the bunch still work the room with the skill of a surgical team. I have an inkling that Charleston Grill will be a hot ticket this spring. —Jeff Allen