Circa 1886 Restaurant, Charleston, SC – A Review

by artfuldiner on October 4, 2022

in Artful Diner Review, Culinary Criticism, Opinion, Romantic, Wining and Dining

Circa 1886 Restaurant

Wentworth Mansion

49 Wentworth Street

Charleston, South Carolina

(843) 853-7828


Circa 1886 - InteriorTucked away in the original carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, replete with its original pine floors and enchanting architectural accoutrements, Circa 1886, as their website so understatedly notes, “evokes the romance and Old-World charm of historic downtown Charleston.” An understatement, indeed, considering that in 2020 the restaurant was cited as one of “The Most Romantic Restaurants in the World” by Architectural Digest.

Circa 1886 - Ex Chef Marc CollinsBut Circa 1886 offers diners infinitely more than alluring ambience, as the restaurant is consistently ranked as one of the finest the city of Charleston has to offer. For over a decade, Executive Chef Marc Collins has worked with local farmers and fishermen to create an innovative seasonal & local menu that has taken Lowcountry cuisine to new culinary heights… In 2019, he launched a unique four-part menu that takes diners on an historical journey through South Carolina’s fascinating foodways – Tastes of Native TribesFlavors Brought from Africa… Influences from Europe – and how these elements have been fused into a decidedly modern take on Lowcountry cuisine… South Carolina Today.

Needless to say, the menu presented so many intriguing possibilities that it was extremely difficult knowing what to choose. Somehow or other – undoubtedly by pure chance – my dining partner and I managed to put a dent in all four categories. I began with the Foie Gras (from Europe), which, when I happen to spy it on a menu is almost impossible to resist. Mr. Collins version was particularly avant garde, bewitching the palate with such delicious traveling companions as cassava pudding, pomegranate strawberry jam, lime basil oil, and smattering of hazelnuts.

Circa 1886 - Shrimp & GritsCirca 1886 - Rainbow TroutMy dining companion’s Shrimp n’ Rice Grits (from Africa; pictured) was equally au courant, incorporating smoked ham hock gravy, Burden Creek Dairy goat cheese, and tiara of cabbage leaves.

It was a rather warm evening in Charleston, so we decided to take the piscatorial route. I opted for the Paprika Grouper (from Europe). Pillowed on a seabed of leeks n’ kale, it was accompanied by crispy fingerling potatoes and garnished with Manchego cheese and an intriguing preserved tomato & caper crudo… A captivating combo of flavors and textures to say the least. My dining partner’s Rainbow Trout (Native Tribes; pictured), however, was even more thought-provoking. The filet was enveloped in an ethereal sunflower sumac crust and kissed by an enticing corn sauce, with a wild rice porridge, arugula, and cranberry paint in strong supporting roles.

Other interesting items that are definitely worth a try… Butternut Squash & Peanut Soup: grilled scallion lacquer, dried mango; Southern Grilled Cheese: pimento cheese mousse, grilled brioche, Surryano ham, paddlefish caviar, cured yolk powder; Chicken Fried Duck Breast: Hoppin’ John, turnips & tops, orange & grapefruit salad, buttered biscuit gravy; Peri-Peri Pork Belly: coconut red rice, collard greens, red onion piccalilli, guave purée; Sea Scallops: blue corn grits, copper carrots, Brussels sprouts, vanilla bean vinaigrette.

Desserts continued the kitchen’s winning ways with one representative from each of the menu’s above-mentioned four culinary categories: Sweet Corn and Huckleberry (Native Tribes): sweet corn Bavarian, Johnny cakes, huckleberry sorbet, puffed hominy; Coconut Sombi (from Africa): Carolina gold rice pudding, fresh mango, coconut sorbet, benne seed tuile; Mousse au chocolat (from Europe): dark chocolate mousse, caramel crèmeux, pecan profiterole, chocolate sauce.

Circa 1886 - Strawberry Shortcake SouffleOur denouement of choice, however, was the Strawberry Shortcake Soufflé (South Carolina Today; pictured): beautifully textured buttermilk soufflé, rich, decadent Grand Marnier ice cream, and sweet fresh strawberries… Incomparable.

One final note. Circa 1886 also has a fabulous wine list… including a Bucket List Wines by the Ounce, with one, three, and five ounce pours of some extraordinary vintages. And their innovative specialty cocktails are certain to raise a few eyebrows as well as spirits… Like Spring on Wentworth: Vodka, Limoncello, Lemon, Basil; Ladies Man: Glenmorangie, Cocchi Americano, Orange Bitters; or Little Bird Told Me: Spiced Rum, Campari, Pineapple.

Circa 1886 - ExteriorIf you are visiting the Charleston area, Circa 1886 is certainly worth a visit. Check that… a journey.

 Bon Appétit!

Be Safe & Stay Well


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