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New eats: Haufballs, Irish cream pie, and black bean cakes

Get out there and eat

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Charleston's restaurants aren't resting on their laurels. During the dog days of summer, they're cooking up new and delicious treats just for you. Whether it's a favorite watering hole like Gene's or a high-end dining room like Oak, you'll find some tasty new dishes that are worth seeking out.

Speaking of Gene's, in addition to a new Southwestern burger and a grilled sausage platter, they're introducing Gene's Haufballs, a ball of ground sausage, cream cheese, and jalapeños that is dipped in a beer batter and deep fried. Not for the faint of heart. Paired with a hearty high-gravity craft beer, this might be the best way to end your night; surely you'll want to sleep it off.

Across the street at the Avondale Mellow Mushroom, they've added a couple decadent desserts, which sound scrumptious. New pastry chef Megan Pugh, a Johnson & Wales grad who's worked at Peninsula Grill and Charleston Place, has introduced an oatmeal Irish cream pie along with a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter mousse frosting. A sweet end to a dinner of Philosopher's Pie.

When it comes to our sweet tooth, we've been fans of the milkshakes at Sesame in West Ashley for a long time (we even gave them a Best of Charleston critic's pick for their Crunch Berry Shake). We're glad to hear that they've finally made room for making milkshakes at their Park Circle operation. Owner Casey Glowacki tells us they renovated their kitchen so they can offer the same tasty treats in the North Charleston restaurant too.

Downtown, the cute little Patat Spot on George Street has added a black bean potato cake to the menu. You can top it with the stuff from the salad bar too. It's a nice, light vegetarian option for the hot summer days.

Chef Michelle Weaver at Charleston Grill has added some new, seasonal items to her menu, including an heirloom tomato salad with Vidalia onions, okra croutons, roasted corn, and a creole mustard vinaigrette. We'd probably sit in the bar just so we could order this one dish. Sounds exceptional.

Oak Steakhouse has a new three-course summer tasting menu. Chef Jeremiah Bacon keeps it light with options like housemade pappardelle pasta, a 5-ounce bistro-cut steak, and wilted spinach with potato puree. The three courses cost $36 and includes a dessert of crème brûlée.

If you're looking for a new brunch option, Caliente out on Hwy. 17 near Johns Island has recently opened for Sunday brunch. In addition to shrimp and poblano grits and a breakfast burrito, you can get the rather intriguing cornbread French toast. Brunch is the best meal of the week, isn't it?

If it's Tuesday night, here's a tip: go to Barsa and try out their paella. It takes about 20 minutes or so to make it, so put your order in as soon as you sit down, and then get a couple tapas while you wait. It's a respectable version of the classic Spanish rice dish, which is hard to find in these here parts. We applaud Barsa for their worthy efforts. And we encourage you to get out there and eat.

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