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A LA CARTE

News and notes about the Charleston food scene.

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A Bowens Rebirth
Three months ago, the hallowed Bowens Island Restaurant suffered a fire and had to shut its doors. Since then, the kitchen's been rebuilt and owner Robert Barber is ready to resume serving oysters and cold beer to his customers at 1870 Bowens Island Road (take Folly Road out towards Folly. Bowens Island is on the right before you get to the beach). For now, only the heated deck will be open for seating. The dining room is still undergoing reconstruction. Barber advises calling 795-2757 for reservations. He expects to be busy. --Lindsay Sainlar

Smoke-Free in 2007
Charleston city workplaces will go smoke-free six months from now. This is good news for nonsmokers, restaurant hostesses who will no longer have to ask hungry people which section they'd prefer, and those who hate smelling like a smoky bar. The bill was passed with food and beverage employees in mind; City Council wanted to protect their health. So smoke 'em if you got 'em -- the clock is ticking. --LS

Grill Gets a Redo
Charleston Grill closed Sun. Jan. 28 and won't be back on the market until March. The swanky restaurant in the Charleston Place Hotel is getting an extreme makeover. Manager Mickey Bakst says the Grill will look and feel completely different. It's shooting for a comfortable, feel-good restaurant atmosphere that patrons won't seek out just for special occasions. There will be a different menu, but during the facelift, its neighbor, The Palmetto Café, will be serving everything from Charleston Grill's old menu. --LS

Sam is too the Man
Sam Talbot may have been your frontrunner for Top Chef, Bravo's reality TV competition, but the producers must have wanted a mano y mano match between Ilan and Marcel. What else could explain the ouster of Talbot, who spanked the competition with ease on a week-in and week-out basis? No worries, though. The guy who once worked at J. Bistro in Mt. Pleasant will go on to bigger and better things. Indeed, he will even be making a trek to Charleston in March for the BB&T Food + Wine Festival, during which he and Tom Colicchio (Top Chef judge and a consultant for Voysey's at Cassique on Kiawah) will go head-to-head against pretty boy celeb-u-chef Tyler Florence and Bluffton-based The Inn at Palmetto Bluff chef Scott Pikey at the Culinary Village Cooking Competition on Sat. March 3. Get your tickets today at www.charlestonfoodandwine.com. --LS

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