Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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Brunch at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen Looks Better Than It Tastes

Good for Instagram. Meh for your mouth.
Kevin Marple

It’s strangely quiet at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen during a recent Sunday brunch. A woman at the marble-topped bar quietly scrolls on her phone as she eats breakfast tacos loaded with chorizo, Monterey Jack cheese, and pico de gallo. A couple seated at a four-top sips steaming mugs of coffee. And a handful of sunglasses-wearing, mimosa-wielding diners are scattered across the street-facing patio. The vibe is chill.

While the Southern-fare restaurant is newish—it opened in mid-February—it’s from the former owners of Grayson Social, which occupied the downtown space attached to the Hilton Garden Inn until January. The mirrored bar is still there, but the scene is now more Charleston chic than Parisian bistro.

Shrimp and grits are still on the menu, but now they are made with blue corn grits. Rich and creamy, they are frankly perfect but get lost underneath charred jumbo shrimp and andouille sausage swimming in oil.

The short rib breakfast sandwich is an Instagrammer’s dream: thick slices of sourdough bread are topped with a yolk-oozing sunny-side-up egg, avocado, and two slices of cheddar cheese. The beef, while tender, lacks flavor, but it is dripping with a rich hollandaise sauce.

A fennel pollen fruit “parfait” is not a layered delicacy, but a bowl with a generous scoop of vanilla yogurt flecked with fennel pollen. It is topped with whole blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries. Next to the yogurt sits a mound of granola. It’s fine, but not fine enough to cost $12.

Like the revamped restaurant, it’s easier to look at than it is to maneuver and enjoy.