Braised and Glazed, Charleston’s newest pop-up concept is bringing international-inspired meals with a little bit of memory in each bite.
The roving kitchen is owned by Chicago-transplants Adrian and Taylor Ion, who have been in Charleston since 2018. The original concept, according to Adrian, has been on his mind since before leaving Chicago.
Prior to moving to Charleston, Adrian was a chef for Urban Counter, a Chicagoland quick-serve restaurant chain. “I was a corporate chef in the suburbs of Chicago,” he said. “But it wasn’t really creative. It was the same thing, you know, sitting in traffic and dealing with whatever. So in my spare time, I came up with quite a few concepts that I would love to envision as brick-and-mortar, and Braised and Glazed is one of them.”
After a visit to Charleston seven years ago, the couple decided if an opportunity arose to move to the Holy City, they would take it. And in 2018, that opportunity arrived when Taylor received a job offer with TRIO, a marketing agency in Mount Pleasant.
With the many concepts swirling in his head, Adrian believed that a food truck would be the best way to bring one of his ideas to fruition. However, the pandemic shifted his plans and the food truck was delayed.
As the world continued to settle back into its new normalcy toward the end of 2021, though, the Ions started “testing the market” with a residency pop-up at House of Brews in the fall. “I knew in my mind and in Taylor’s mind that the concept does work because it’s food that we love to eat and want to share with other people,” Adrian said.
The main idea for the food at Braised and Glazed is “mixed-cuisine” hand-held eats at an affordable price. “We’re bringing some of our favorite bites from all over the world. From Chicago to Romania, expect new flavors and dishes at every pop-up along with recurring staples, like the Tavern Burger,” Adrian added.
But there’s more to each menu item than what meets the mouth.
“All of our menu options have a physical memory for us,” Taylor said. “So we’re not just creating the menu because we love to eat this food. Each dish has a special memory or background to it.”
The Tavern Burger, for example, is a double patty burger with pickles, onion, American cheese and a special Braised and Glazed sauce, served on a pretzel bun. It’s an homage to the many burgers the couple have shared in the past, and one Taylor connects with the most.
“Adrian and I met in a restaurant where they were selling $5 burgers for lunch, and it was a crazy time to eat lunch in that restaurant,” she said. “But I think the thing that stood out the most to us was that it came on this pretzel bun—and it changed the way you eat a burger. The bun was no longer just a vehicle for putting a burger into your mouth.”
Adrian said his most memorable menu item goes back to his Romanian roots and a food known as mititei, or “little one.” A native of Romania, Adrian moved to the states at eleven years old, and the dish brings him back home. “It’s not the national dish of Romania, but there are these little mini sausages, made with ground beef, ground pork and ground lamb, mixed together with some spices and grilled on charcoal,” he said. “Every restaurant, every biergarten, I mean basically everywhere, sold them in the summer. It’s kind of like the National Hamburger of Romania.
“We’re taking dishes we love and turning them into handheld options that you can enjoy while sipping a beer at a brewery or when we come to your neighborhood. Something you can take home to your family.”
According to Adrian, the menu won’t just hold Romanian-inspired cuisine. You’ll also find meatballs, a chicken salad tostada and a crunchwrap, inspired by Taylor’s late-night adventures to Taco Bell in Chicago’s Wrigleyville.
The pop-up is just the beginning, according to Adrian. The couple is gearing toward obtaining a food truck in the near future, and following that, a brick-and-mortar location.
“Everything just kind of comes together so that it’s not just one option or one type of cuisine, because it can help people connect to our food story a bit more, too,” Taylor said. “Plus it just makes things a bit more fun for us to come up with menu options that mean a little bit more to us than just good food that we like.”
For a glance at the Braised and Glazed menu and pop-up schedule, head to braisedandglazedsc.com.
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