Earlier this week, Bon Appetit
's 50 Best New Restaurants in America list was announced and Charleston claimed three spots: Little Jack's Tavern, Rodney Scott's BBQ, and Bar Normandy. All worthy recipients, Bar Normandy was real Rudy of the bunch. The small spot operates out of Normandy Farm bakery at night and basically plays by its own rules. Chef Alex Lira keeps the menu not just small, but tiny. Often it tops out at three plates. And that's why we love it. Well, I should say, that's part of why we love it.
The real obsession with this hole in the wall is derived from its irreverent approach to dining. Lira and his second in command, wine mensch and witty repartee ace Philip Michael Cohen, serve sarcasm as a side with every plate of oysters and their laid back approach is refreshing, especially in a city with a growing number of restaurant groups overwhelming the landscape.
But it's hard to really spell out the magic of Bar Normandy without getting a taste of its operators. Short of just dining at the place, look to EffinBRadio's episode this week for more. Hosted by Lindsay Collins and Cohen, Lira joins them for a 25 minute talk about the Bon Appetit buzz, 86ing hostesses, and lactation (yep, that's in there too.)
Here are a few of our favorite Lira and Cohen quotes:
On what he was trying to do at Bar Normandy: "I want to get away from this militant french kitchen. I want to cook with my friends, serve my friends, and I want to get paid for it."
On other restaurants who might want to replicate Bar Normandy's atmosphere: "Try it, fuckers."
On the dizzying cost of opening a new restaurant: "I want there to be a 'who spent the most money to open contest.'"
On stuff that restaurants could get rid of: "There's a lot of fat to be cut out of the restaurant industry — marble, and leather, and hostesses. and that towel that goes over your arm."
On how they determine closing time: "We call it clopen, it's when we can't quite make up our mind on being open or closed."
Listen to the entire episode
Cover photo from @barnormandy19.