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Published: November 26th 2019
The day started like any work day, up at 6 am, shower, coffee, get dressed, except instead of going to work we packed up Tarragon and were off to Penn Station. It was a different feeling leaving on a Monday, typically we leave midweek and I work part of the day. This trip we had the entire weekend before we started the real vacation. It did make packing easier, but kitty certainly knew something was up.
After we got Tarragon in the carrier and everything to the curb, Jerry walked up to Broadway to get a cab and bring it back around. The taxi to Penn station was pretty smooth, except there really is no good, or fast way, to get from the west side to Penn station. But we got there without breaking the bank. Next stage was NJ transit to Newark Airport, post rush hour so train was not crowded and manage to time the drop off at Penn to the leaving of the train perfectly.
There was a bit of a small glitch checking in at the airport. Since we had the cat with us, we could not just do the speedy kiosk and check the bags, we had to answer some health questions about Tarragon, took about 25 minutes compared to the normal 5 or 10 (this was premier check in as well). We arrived a few hours early, because of having the cat with us, but TSA precheck was pretty easy, even with the special room for kitty. We had a couple of hours before our flight left, so we had lunch at the gate. The United wing updated the gate area so you can basically order, food, beverages, etc. right at the gate, not going in to an actual restaurant. The food was ok, Jerry’s pasta arbiatta had just the right kick to it. The fries were not crispy, but it’s the airport so expectations are low, unless you’re in the Polaris lounge.
The flight was uneventful, and Tarragon, keeps me calm because I am more worried about him, so I didn’t even realize we were in the air at takeoff. It was a small plane so you could feel every bump and turn, but there was no turbulence so it all went well. We splurged for car service to the hotel from the airport, had a great driver named Omar, filled us in on the growth of the area and the spots to hit, including Oprah’s favorite restaurant (he was her driver when she was in town) we already had this on our list, so I guess we have the same taste as Oprah.
The first snag, if you could call it that was a check in. I had booked our room via hotels.com, which I often do, when not staying at a Hilton or Kimpton (no not getting paid for the references), problem was it was not in the system. I had read a review on trip advisor that this often happens, so I was prepared. Two weeks before our trip I e-mailed the hotel directly to confirm and received a confirmation from the manager. It came in handy, as it took a while to find the reservation. No worries, the social hour was still going on (although no one was there) so we had some wine while she corrected the situation. Charlie, did a great job and she upgraded us to a balcony room.
Tarragon spent, and still is spending, time checking everything out, under the bed, on the chair, at the moment he is pretty clam, had his dinner. There is a king bed, so he will be quite happy for the 8 days we are here. Not very much more on the agenda to night, just dinner in a bit, then finish this blog. Tomorrow, is a heavy walking day, 4 mansions, but more about that later.
The following part of this blog was not what I had initially typed last night, that entry did not make publication as I was a little angry when I wrote it, because we lost all of our pictures of the day due to technical difficulties.
Dinner was very good, way too much food, but very good. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties with the camera there are no pictures. Stop one for dinner was Halls Chop House, a very traditional steak house, the way you expect a steak house to be. This is one of 8 restaurants that the Hall family own in South Carolina, we just happen to be eating two more of them during our week here. The atmosphere was pretty traditional steak house and they know how to make a mean Martini (great blue cheese stuffed olives) and actually know how to cook a steak medium rare, in fact they make you cut into it after they serve it to make sure it is to your liking. There were two highlights of the meal, the shrimp and grits and the Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce. It was a good thing we had a mile walk back to the hotel after dinner to work some of it off. Tarragon also got a nice piece of shrimp to snack on (back in the room, not in the restaurant).
Normally, I would list out the meal and there would be pictures and dish of the day. But, since there are no pictures all I can do is briefly list what we had, there was a dish of the day, and if you haven’t guessed it, it was the Shrimp and Grits, side dish.
We started with Martini’s, 10 oz pours, so sets your frame of mind quickly in to relaxation. Jerry had a Jumbo Shrimp cocktail, 4 large prawns with a decent cocktail sauce just the right balance of horseradish and tomato. I had the fried green tomato’s (there is a little contest I am having while we here to see you makes the best fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits). They were good, the crab, shrimp bacon succotash was the best part, the fry on the tomatoes was lacking some crunch and, while I understand they are green tomatoes, they could have been cooked a bit more so they were not apple like crunchy.
We split a Caesar salad. You know how hard we are on Caesars. This was actually one of the better restaurant Caesars we have had. Needed more garlic and pepper, but other than that it was pretty good, the crisp of some bacon was a nice touch, and of course bacon makes everything better. Next up was the entrees, Jerry had a perfectly cooked medium rare filet with bearnaise, the bearnaise was good but Chez Josephine’s in Paris is still the hands down winner of best bearnaise. I had a prime rib, at first it didn’t seem seasoned properly but as I got into it, the seasoning was spot on, a perfect cook and the horseradish sauce and au jus, were excellent. With this we had two of their signature sides, pancetta roasted Brussel sprouts (very rich) and the shrimp and grits. The grits were some of the best we have ever had, Jerry finished them off. Eighty (yes that was the waiter’s name) explained that the corn was in fact heirloom corn, this is clearly what made them so good. They were creamy yet and that corn meal texture you expect in good grits. With dinner we had a 2015 St. Emillion (the most reasonable priced wine on the menu and of course one of our favorites) France is always part of our vacation even if we aren’t in France.
We were stuffed by the end and had no plans to have dessert, until Eighty describe the Brioche Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce topped with praline ice cream, who could say no to that. It was very good, not eggy like many bread puddings, it was not really a pudding, more of a really good piece of Brioche covered with whiskey sauce and praline ice cream. The whiskey sauce was stout, evidently Mr. Hall’s theory is if you don’t get a buzz from the whiskey sauce, they didn’t make it right.
Following dinner, we strolled back to the hotel, checking out Charleston at night. Not much going on at 10:30 at night, but it was a Monday of a holiday weekend. Tarragon, did not approve of the shrimp we brought back for him, I think it was a little over cooked for his taste. He does love the bed.
Today is 4 mansions and a lot of walking. Hopefully, I can figure out the picture scenario.
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