Whether through coincidence or intent, Chef Brannon Florie’s revamped Granary menu seems to be living up to the dictionary definition — a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed. The new location — located along busy Coleman Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant — is spacious and contemporary. The parking lot is packed, the interior buzzing, and the waitstaff seemingly stretched too thin. But that’s where any feelings of slenderness end. It’s hard to leave The Granary without feeling a bit like you’ve just been fattened for the slaughter.
Make no mistake, the food is clearly focused on pleasing the crowds. The menu is a veritable potpourri of popular trends and familiar favorites: Pork belly, fried brussels sprouts, and beets with goat cheese mingle with hanger steak, truffle fries, and even spaghetti with meatballs.
I started with the butcher board ($20), a generous display of house-made charcuterie. While the fennel-infused Finocchiona salami and super spicy coppa are excellent, the bresaola maybe needs more time to cure. Still tasting exactly like the beef eye round from which it’s made, it comes across like roast beef with Chinese five-spice elements.
Although I’m not generally a fan of country pâté, its flavors kicked the butt out of the grainy chicken liver mousse. The spread arrives on a heavily stained (beets? red wine?) butcher block that should probably be tossed, and also contains some grilled toast and pickled cauliflower. The accompanying bread and butter pickles are outstanding. Prepare to fight for your share.
The red snapper crudo ($14) is worth ordering for the total WTF moment it inspires. If spicy ceviche and ambrosia salad had a baby, its name would (apparently) be crudo. The fluffy white concoction features coconut, cucumbers, and orange slices — fresh, sweet and, well, utterly unexpected.
The pork belly ($11) features two rich, smoky chunks of swine upon a bed of cheesy red grits, akin to a gritty risotto. Gilding the lily while throwing perfume on violets, the pork belly is about as decadent as they come. Topped with a perfectly cooked over easy egg and dense with Pecorino cheese, there’s no real relief from the fatty richness in every bite.
For a lighter touch, look to R.H. Weaver’s cocktails, where the bright Sage Advice ($9) is served in a highball glass. It’s a cucumber-forward, lemonade-like mix, with a pleasing balance of sweet and green.
Similarly, the Not So Mizuwari ($11) is the rare refreshing bourbon drink. Brightly flavored with blood orange and orange bitters, this is a keeper.
My waitress recommended most of the menu, but particularly championed the smoked pork chop ($23). A ginormous portion with a literal can’s worth of accompanying garbanzo beans, this is a meal for a small family. Deeply smoky, the meat was a little overcooked on the outside, but moist and tender closer to the bone. The accompanying “barbecue spiced sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and kale citrus slaw” arrived all mixed together and had a pervasive taco-esque chili powder flavor. Topped with a few slivers of skin-on, raw Granny Smith apple, some more pronounced contrast to balance the heaviness would be welcome.
Along the way, I’ve met a number of folks with fantasies of opening a restaurant and serving their grandmother’s classic recipes. The waitress-endorsed spaghetti and meatballs ($17) made me think of every last one of them. Once again appearing in portions that threaten your pants button, the giant mound of fresh spaghetti comes topped with four slightly-bigger-than-a-golf-ball-sized meatballs. Made with veal, beef, and pork, the meat is smooth and dense and the dish has a pervasive “like Grandma used to make” quality. While comforting and homey, it seems like such a strange offering on an otherwise upmarket menu.
The Granary also serves a popular brunch on Sunday mornings, and the decadence level persists, possibly even exceeding the dinner options.
Seeing as I’d ignored the urgings of my first waitress, I gave in to the upsell (“our most popular dish”) and started with a bowl of Brussels sprouts ($8) to share. Deep fried, yet still a bit raw in the middle, I don’t get it. They’re pervasively oily, yet bitter, and the surrounding pool of sweet maple garlic broth doesn’t effectively mask that fact. If your idea of vegetables is french fries and tempura string beans, then this might make a perfect hat trick. Otherwise, save your stomach space for the uber-filling main events.
Provided your waitress ever comes back…
Perhaps it was my fault for asking for outdoor seating, but service that morning fell somewhere between scarce and zombie-esque. My no doubt well-intentioned server was confused and slow-paced, as if this was her first day in food service, ever. At both brunch and dinner, the dishes were dropped off by an array of servers, and I was left to my own devices. Need something? Prepare to go inside and ask for it. Even the check took multiple requests before it arrived.
Meanwhile, the Benedict Hash ($15) would make a fine preparatory meal before starting the long journey down the Oregon Trail. Served on a glossy white plate, the bottom layer of dark, greasy potatoes and mushrooms is topped with a generous portion of smoked pork, pickled banana peppers, and hollandaise sauce. On top of that lie two perfectly poached eggs and some inexplicable dry cubes of English muffin, presumably just to make sure the dish fully hits the 2,000 calorie mark. It’s very hearty and the pickled banana peppers help to break up the density, but eating just a portion of this left me feeling I’d had not just a food baby, but food triplets.
Similarly, the French Toast ($12) is not for the faint of heart. Two thick slices of brioche are filled with a decadent blueberry cream cheese. Plated atop a lovely lemon curd, it’s covered with blueberries, strawberries and bourbon maple syrup. Unabashedly sweet, it’s certain to satisfy the cravings of anyone hoping to start the day with a hedonistic sugar rush.
All told, The Granary is clearly pleasing the masses and the menu offers options from a wide variety of cuisines, all with rich, immoderate flourishes. Whether you’re looking to indulge for a special occasion or carbo-load for a marathon, this is upscale comfort food where loose clothing and stretchy waist bands are a must.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.