The news spread as fast as the fire itself must have in October. An e-mail from owner Robert Barber made the rounds: “Today is a very sad day for me and my family. Last night, Bowens Island restaurant burned down. … The restaurant has always been a special place for me, my family and many fine customers, and we are now incredibly saddened by our loss.” The worst part about the fire was that it came right at the beginning of oyster season — when the air gets colder, the days get shorter, and locals get ready to eat piles of steaming oysters.

The burning of Bowens has been, without a doubt, the biggest story in the Charleston food scene this winter. Foodie blogs and forums across the internet have been buzzing, and loyal patrons have been waiting to find out whether Bowens will survive. With this issue of Dish, we’re pleased to include an essay from Robert Barber on p. 78, reflecting on the legacy of Bowens and announcing that they’re back in business, serving roasted oysters, cold beer, and fried fish on the heated back deck.

Another big story, which we touched on in our summer issue, is molecular gastronomy. In the last year, Chef Sean Brock at McCrady’s and Corey Elliott and David Szlam at Cordavi have introduced us to a whole new approach to food, and Jeff Allen, for one, is very excited about it. In this issue, Jeff names his top three favorite restaurants of the moment (can you guess two of them?) and deconstructs the impact molecular gastronomy is having internationally and locally. He also gets his hands on some recipes from McCrady’s and Cordavi, and they are unlike anything you’ve ever cooked before.

Elsewhere in this issue, we explore the ethnic foodscape, sending Sarah O’Kelley out as far as she’ll go to find authentic fare from way, way off. Sarah also used her knowledge to put together the ultimate cheese plate. For other stories, we tapped the passion of T. Ballard Lesemann to explore winter beer offerings, and we woke Sara Miller up early to experience some notable Sunday brunches.

The biggest attraction in this issue, as always, is the dining guide. The list is a critical guide to recommended restaurants put together by Jeff Allen. He also writes about favorite dessert spots, the best places to get fried seafood, and the coolest raw bars around.


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