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The Grill Returns

The Charleston Grill closed down in January to renovate its space while Chef Bob Waggoner focused on revamping the menu. The decor has been updated and lightened and will continue to undergo some refinements over the next few months. The menu will be tweaked, too, with a new layout that features four sections designed to play to Charleston Grill's and Bob Waggoner's strengths. The "Pure" section focuses on simple dishes and clean flavors -- chilled Maine lobster salad, Osetra caviar, and Atlantic salmon. "Lush" is where you'll find Waggoner's French flair, with items like foie gras, sweetbreads, duck, and antelope chops. For "Cosmopolitan" flavors, Waggoner incorporates worldly dishes such as paella, sashimi, and Hawaiian kampachi. And, of course, they wouldn't be doing their job (i.e. catering to hotel guests) without a representative "Southern" section with crab cakes, catfish, and the like. They've also expanded their live music offerings with the incomparable Quentin Baxter Ensemble playing every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We can't wait to stop by and check it out. The new bar menu might be our first stop. General Manager Mickey Bakst has been eager to attract a local crowd into one of downtown's most revered restaurants, and this revamp will surely pique everyone's interest. Lord knows, Waggoner's food has always done a good job satisfying the crowds. --Stephanie Barna

FOOD + WINE FOLLOW-UP

We spent a lot of time at the Charleston Food + Wine Fest two weekends ago. Because of last week's special Best of Charleston issue, we weren't able to publish a follow-up, but we did blog all about it. If you'd like to read a couple of informed opinions about the festival and how it went, visit our website at www.charlestoncitypaper.com and go to the cuisine section. We also provide links to Tyler Florence's blog and other folks who wrote about the event. --Stephanie Barna

CUE THE SAUCE

How does one become an "esteemed barbecue expert?" Where's that graduate program? Because a bunch of barbecue aficionados just awarded Summerville's Smokin' Cole's Original Barbecue Sauce the 2007 National Barbecue Association's People's Choice Award. This is the first national award for Kristen and Russ Cornette's Bayou Barbecue company since they started giving people another reason to use moist towelettes last April. The National Barbecue Association's Annual Conference in Raleigh, N.C., liked the Cornettes' sweet and tangy, citrus-y and peppery sauce more than the other 32 entrants'. Could be worth the trip to Summerville, or a trip online, at least, to www.smokincoles.com. Call Kristen at 743-9087 to place an order. She's the one who thought of the "to-die-for" family secret ingredient that makes their barbecue sauce the best. --Lindsay Sainlar

CULINARY EXPERTISE

The culinary department at The Art Institute of Charleston has appointed a leader who looks great on paper. When the new art institute opens at 24 N. Market St, in the Carroll Building (near East Bay Street), Chef Susan Wigley will be in charge of the food-heavy education. She taught at Johnson & Wales University for 18 years, and she's worked at her share of high-end kitchens. This new, post-secondary education facility will provide Associates' and Bachelors' degrees for fledgling students in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary arts. The Art Institute of Charleston will occupy approximately 48,000 square feet with classrooms, computer labs, a library, and office space when it opens for its first spring quarter on April 2. In case you're wondering, it is accredited. Visit www.artinstitutes.edu/charleston for more information. --Lindsay Sainlar

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