If you’ve walked north on King Street lately, hoping to drop into Raval for an obligatory glass of tempranillo, a piquant chile-covered chocolate truffle, and some people-watching amongst the pillows in the back room, then you already know the disappointment felt by Raval’s rabid fanbase. Raval is now Closed for Business.
And in case you were hoping for some semblance of continuity between the two, perhaps even a throwback dish, one of those chocolates or a piece of Spanish ham, you’re out of luck. When Rev Foods says closed, they mean it.
What you will find these days at 453 King completely redefines the space. The sultry little back room is gone. There is enough natural wood in the décor to mistake the joint for a Norwegian ski lodge. They even have antlers on the wall and mismatched wooden tables. But it’s cool, sophisticated. Think of a Moose Lodge with good beer.
And that’s really what C4B aims to be all about. They will serve you good beer in multiple sizes (including huge one-liter mugs). Charging $3.50 for a 16-oz. PBR has quickly become a sore point with the jaded fans of Raval, but it would certainly be a shame not to stop by because you heard the PBR is expensive. This is not a place for casual drinkers anyway. If you like quality craft brews, if you want Hitachino on tap, if you like bourbon, if you want to try a 15-year-old Pappy Van Winkle ($14), this is your spot. It’s for grown-ups; no one under 21 is allowed in after 8 p.m.
Despite the limited menu, C4B will become famous for its food. It will be featured in glossy regional magazines that no real foodie would ever admit to reading. It will be discovered — in fact it’s already starring in a Discovery Channel TV pilot about beer — and it will be lauded. It will become a place for tourists to say they’ve been, and a hang-out for local law students working on the wealthy look. It will draw in the food critics, and the festival crowd at Wine + Food. I’ll be there, and we’ll all marvel at the Pork Slap.
That’s not to say that the burger isn’t good, or the fries don’t deserve to be praised. We shouldn’t overlook the molecular pig skins ($4), which have one-tenth the grease needed to satisfy my palate, but should be just right for the ladies. The appetizers will be overshadowed by the entrées, and the entrées will hold their own. The resplendent fried apple pie ($5) will have people swooning, spooning up bits of sweet dough and ice cream and murmuring through overstuffed mouths. But the Pork Slap ($10) will win the day. It will be what famed Southern food chronicler John T. Edge wants to tweet about this weekend, if he can find a seat.
The Pork Slap will be famous, rivaling the best sandwiches Charleston can muster. Some will think it too heavy, or will call it a rip off. There will be those who can’t bear the brunt of such a monstrosity. They will be in the minority. Most will savor the deep-fried pork cutlet, the soft, buttery bread with that bit of toasted shell that crunches ever so slightly. They will marvel at the genius of pickled okra on top, and the way that the sharp acidity balances against the savor of cheese and meat and “special sauce.” Others will want the original rendition, and I’m with them (add back the Benton bacon, boys). And for those of us who know the Crescent City, we will realize the discovery of a new classic in an old vein, a fresh local genre that will need to be copied in various locales about town — a Charleston muffaletta, if you will.
The Pork Slap should outlast even C4B. They should give awards to whoever came up with the thing. People should flatter the guy by ripping him off, because it might be the perfect bar food, even if it means I have to pay $3.50 for a PBR. I usually drink two with my pork slap, and take a fried apple pie to go.