Kramer Returns

We first heard Michael Kramer was coming back to town several months ago, and upon his return the rumor mill started up with a vengeance. He was supposedly seen meeting around town with high-level restaurateurs, brokers, and developers, touring available locations, and cooking up sweet deals with pretty much anybody who’s anybody in the restaurant world. One rumor even had him moving into the old Mo Sussman’s space on Meeting Street (which is no longer even outfitted to be a restaurant, by the way). Kramer, the former managing partner of McCrady’s, left town in 2005 and moved to Chicago — in pursuit of a woman, Sheldon Smith. The two got married in May and returned to Charleston in the fall after a honeymoon spent in Turkey. Last week, over a couple glasses of wine at Avondale Wine & Cheese, Kramer was coy about what he’s been up to and refused to name names or talk details, confirming only that he has indeed been exploring every opportunity available to him. He’s definitely interested in opening a signature restaurant that features his progressive American cuisine, which garnered lots of national and local attention for McCrady’s when he was in charge over there. Back then, he was doing sous vide before sous vide was cool. In the meantime, he’s been auctioning off his skills (an Iron Chef package featuring Kramer and Ken Vedrinski of Sienna fetched nearly 10 grand at Trident’s Night in the Valley fund-raiser), taking on random catering gigs, and clocking nearly 3,500 kilometers on his bike, riding with the Lowcountry Volkswagen cycling team. He promises to call when he’s ready to dish up the details of his next venture. We can only hope that he gets cooking soon. —Stephanie Barna

Doing Time at Fat Duck

Tristan Chef Ciaran Duffy just returned from working at the Fat Duck in London, participating in a “Chef Stage.” He spent two weeks in Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen, considered to be one of the best in the world, where reservations must be made months in advance. He promises to let us know all about it. In the meantime, Duffy will be putting on a Brazilian game dinner in honor of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this weekend (read more on p. 56) and hosting a Night in Margaux and St. Julian with wine makers Emmanuel Cruse and Marcel Ducasse of Chateau D’Issan and Chateau Lagrange of the Medoc region on Mon. Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $70 per person. Call 534-2155 or visit www.tristandining.com to make reservations. —SB

Get Social, Finally

Social was supposed to open on the first of the year, but renovating the old Charleston Chops location proved to be a more arduous task than owner and sommelier Brad Ball previously anticipated. But if all has gone as planned, Social’s doors should be open daily at 4 p.m. starting this weekend. The nonsmoking wine bar/restaurant at 188 East Bay St. will offer nearly 70 wines by the glass. A custom-designed wine cellar holds 4,100 bottles, and a wood-burning oven imported from Italy will be churning out the pizzas. Chef Matthew Dibble will be doling out cheese, nuts, and olive plates along with a menu that complements the wine selection. If the buzz is any indication, the place should already be bustling. —Lindsay Sainlar

Nothing Could be Finer

The finer diner called Uptown is also open for business this weekend. Uptown took over the old Bookstore Café location and completely overhauled the space. Operating partner Rod Ward says Uptown’s menu features sophisticated comfort food like veal, meatloaf, bagels and lox, and pot roast. Located at 412 King St., Uptown is serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays the kitchen will stay open till 11 p.m. Menu prices are comparable to Hominy Grill and Ward says his restaurant’s Sunday brunch will be second to none. —LS

Juanita Gets a Facelift

Those looking for royale nachos will have to go someplace other than Juanita Greenberg’s for a day or two. According to the neon yellow paper taped to a window that’s covered with construction paper, the Mexican restaurant at 439 King St. is undergoing major cleaning and painting renovations. It will reopen on Thurs. Feb. 15 and host new hours of 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. They are also hiring for all positions. —LS

A New Chef Blossoms

After studying his craft at Johnson & Wales University and learning from chefs at Magnolias, Adam Close moved to Atlanta to work as a sous chef for both Pano’s and Paul’s and Veni Vidi Vici, Now he’s back in town, taking over Blossom’s kitchen as executive chef, and he’s rewriting the menu. Favorites like the mussels appetizer and the crab ravioli will remain, but new options like ahi tuna carpaccio and cracked pepper seared wahoo will join the rank and file in this fresh seafood restaurant located at 171 East Bay St. —LS