There always seems to be that one new restaurant that opens up and instantly becomes part of the neighborhood. Places like Berkeley’s in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood, Cold Shoulder in the West Ashley Northbridge area and Vern’s in Cannonborough-Elliotborough all opened since last summer, and have made their impact in the community. These establishments are just off the beaten path of tourist destinations and right in the heart of local communities.
For a place like Berkeley’s, diners can walk up to the outdoor patio after a stroll through Hampton Park. Vern’s is just outside bustling King Street on a quiet corner, and Cold Shoulder sits in a quiet West Ashley strip mall just off of Old Towne Road. These are places you wouldn’t necessarily stumble upon unless you’re exploring the neighborhood or call the area home.
Berkeley’s opened at 624½ Rutledge Ave. in June 2021, and has already become a staple for many nearby residents. Owner Marc Hudacsko said he feels fortunate that the neighborhood has accepted Berkeley’s with open arms.
“We’re lucky enough to have some people who I’ve seen more than once a day,” Hudacsko said before pausing the interview to greet one of them.
One of the goals when opening Berkeley’s, he said, was to become a neighborhood restaurant and not a “one-year anniversary-type” of restaurant. To achieve this, the dining experience is immersed in the neighborhood, tucked on the corner of Rutledge Avenue and Huger Street and a block away from Hampton Park. Berkeley’s greets you with an outdoor patio and an indoor-outdoor bar. Patrons can walk in or pass by and see friends enjoying a meal on the patio. Diners can watch the neighborhood around them live their daily lives of checking the mail, walking the dog or going for a jog.
Berkeley’s also curated its menu to include a variety of items from small plates and salads to sandwiches and pasta dishes, so there’s always something for someone. The sandwiches are a mixture of classic offerings like a traditional cheesesteak (or a mushroom cheesesteak) or chicken cutlet sammies. More unique offerings include a salmon BLT and fried artichoke sandwich.
Bring your family or friends along to share small plates like smoked salmon dip with scallions or calamari, “something almost everyone gets to share,” Hudacsko said. But if you’re feeling really hungry, these “small plates” are also big enough to fill your belly, especially the spicy shrimp with Calabrian chili cream. Tail-on shrimp is served atop a large bed of polenta, submerged in a sweet and spicy sauce. The creamy texture of the polenta is contrasted with the crunchiness of cashews. Fingers may get saucy as you separate the shrimp from the tail, though.
For a bigger bite, diners can try entrees like the cavatappi cooked with wild mushrooms, feta, greens, tomato and cream or pan-seared salmon served with fried bread and topped with roasted tomato, olives, feta, arugula and citrus vinaigrette. Classic chicken cutlet sammies are also available for those seeking something quick and simple. Cutlets are served in three different flavors of classic, parmesan and buffalo. Chicken parmesan is a fan-favorite according to Hudacsko.
Hudacsko said the secret to keep customers coming back is the staff: “When we hire people, we try to hire people that we think are going to be great ambassadors of [connecting with customers],” he said. “I would love for them to know everything about the wine and everything about the food, but really, what I want is can you be attentive and friendly? And can you get to know the people who come in here every day? Because that’s important to us.”
Berkeley’s is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Owner and solo sandwich-maker Craig Edmunds runs his little sammie shop by himself. Edmunds is behind his meat slicer every morning at 5 a.m. to crank out as many sandwiches as one man can make before opening at 8 a.m. Some days he sells out by 1 p.m.; other days (like on Labor Day), he’s sold out by 9:30 a.m.
For those who know about Cold Shoulder, know to arrive early. And for those who don’t, Edmunds says, “Don’t be mad, be early.”
“I’ve just been getting so much love from people coming out,” he added. “Other food and beverage members get excited to come and that gets me pumped. It makes me happy to come into work every day.”
Every morning, especially on holidays, a line of hungry customers forms out the door, all eagerly waiting for what some have called “charcuterie in a sandwich.” Using meats from Smoking Goose Meatery in Indiana, local vegetables from up-and-coming hydroponic farm King Tide Farms, homemade truffle cream and imported cheeses, Edmunds make all of the sandwiches by hand or to order if all the premade ones have sold out.
His most popular sandwich, the Something Spicy, is made with nduja (a spicy, spreadable pork sausage), Toscanino piccante salami, greens, parmesan, truffle cream and truffle hot sauce. The spicy cured meats are cut with the richness of the truffle cream and herbaceous focaccia bread, so even if you’re not a huge fan of spice, it’s worth checking out. Other sandwiches, like the Something Gourmet, add a little sweetness with truffle honey to the prosciutto, Parmesan and local greens combo.
Other sandwiches include the Something Classic, Something Else, Something Simple, Something Sweet (Nutella and powdered sugar), Something Vegetarian and Something Vegan, all served on fresh-baked focaccia bread from Saffron Bakery.
Some days, when Hamilton Horne from King Tide Farms brings unique produce to Edmunds, like red vein sorrel (a citrus-forward vegetable), Cold Shoulder will run weekend or daily specials. Other days, Edmunds gets hit with a spark of creative energy and creates specials based on what he has in stock or what he can get. His latest special, offered Sept. 8, was a sandwich stuffed with gorgonzola tosi (a creamy blue cheese), capocollo (a cured pork cold cut), truffle honey and fresh greens from King Tide.
Cold Shoulder also offers snack items and drinks to pair with the gourmet sandwiches. Items range from local places like pastries from Nonna Bachi or Lowcountry Kettle Chips to imported items like Hattie B’s hot chicken skins or The Red Seed’s Toasted Corn.
“I’m extremely humbled,” Edmunds said. “For someone like me to come in and be so wildly accepted by actual Charlestonians and not just transients or college students, it’s amazing.”
Cold Shoulder is open at 8 a.m. Sunday through Monday. Keep an eye on Instagram @coldshouldergourmet for specials and updates on when the sandwiches sell out.
Husband and wife duo Daniel “Dano” and Bethany Heinze officially opened their new American bistro Vern’s at 41 Bogard St. July 15. Less than two months later, Charleston foodies and tourists have been raving about the new downtown spot.
“Starting with our opening night, I felt like it was a large majority of people within this direct vicinity of downtown,” Bethany said. “Being tucked into a neighborhood, I feel like having that sort of charming corner location really speaks to being this neighborhood restaurant.”
The contemporary American restaurant took over the space that formerly housed Trattoria Lucca, an Italian restaurant.
“We felt very grateful and lucky to take over a second generation restaurant space that had a really positive connotation and a lot of memories to associate with it,” she added. “It’s fun to see people kind of walk in and be like, ‘Oh, man, I loved Lucca. I’m so excited to be here again,’ and then try out a new restaurant.”
The dining experience is meant to be family-style, with everyone at the table digging into dishes like gnocchetti sardi with walnut pesto or the bavette steak with balsamic and horseradish, which can be served for brunch with a sunny side up egg or dinner with some shallots for some extra sharpness.
Other brunch highlights include the sesame seed pancakes, a fluffy and airy three-pancake stack with whipped ricotta and local peaches and peach jam. Dinner menu items include skewered lamb shoulder with red vein sorrel for a balance of umami and acid.
The kitchen is helmed and thoughtfully prepared by Dano, who was the chef de cuisine at former Charleston establishment McCrady’s. However, the drink list, helmed by Bethany who was the bar manager at McCrady’s, prepared an extensive and detailed wine list to pair with the New American cuisine.
The wines are categorized by sparkling, red, whites and more, and break down even further to specific flavor notes. There’s more than just wine to pair with the food, though. Vern’s offers low-abv drinks like the seasonal vermouth highball, currently made with the vidte blanco, mint and lime leaf for a refreshing tarty cocktail. Beers, teas, espresso and sodas are also available.
Vern’s is open from 5-10 p.m., Thursday to Monday with brunch available from 12-2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Love Best of Charleston?
Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.