Last time my parents were visiting Charleston, my father said that he wanted to try she-crab soup, a famous local specialty. Always happy for an excuse to eat seafood, we took him to our favourite place where we have had the soup before... only to find out that they have taken it off the menu. Wah wah waaaah.
This time, however, I was prepared. Determined to find the best she-crab soup in Charleston, I spent all of 0.47 seconds waiting for my Google search results. The answer was straightforward and unanimous: 82 Queen.
We got reservations for Sunday brunch and asked for a courtyard table, which is a must, in my opinion. The place is spectacular! The restaurant consists of 11 dining rooms spread over three historical buildings with an enchanting patio between them. The outdoor tables are set amidst lush greenery, surrounded by palmettos decorated with fairy lights, and pleasantly shaded by a majestic magnolia tree. Some tables are set inside gazebos (with ceiling fans!), but ours was in the open, right under the tree. Such a treat!
Naturally, we started with the soup, our very reason for being there. It did not disappoint! Velvety, richly-coloured from the roe, full of tasty blue crab, with a nice touch of sherry and crunchy little sprouts... yum! Served with customary crackers, although I wouldn't have said no to some fresh bread or a biscuit to mop up the last drops.
After that, preferences were divided between three dishes. D and my mother opted for the pan-seared salmon (they ask you whether you want it medium or well-done), my father and brother went for the jambalaya (pleasantly spicy, full of shrimp, ham, and onion goodness), and I settled on the barbeque shrimp and grits.
I have a strange relationship with shrimp and grits. I always make a point of trying them, even though I'm not such a fan of grits, which are like corn porridge. In the past, I've had plain grits, cheese grits, and grits made into something like corn bread. My opinion always was that there should be a little more shrimp and a little less grits. The shrimp and grits at 82 Queen, however, have won me over. Maybe it was the tangy BBQ sauce, or the bacon... whatever it was, it was good. Maybe the South is slowly seeping into my soul.
I doubt a restaurant that has been running and getting stellar reviews for the past 30-some years needs my approval, but... I approve. Beyond the unassuming façade at 82 Queen street lies a sweet little gem of a restaurant: enchanting, welcoming, and heart-warmingly local. The she-crab soup is only the first course.