[image-5] Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect when walking into the Charleston Wine + Food Hipster Cocktail Party on Thursday night. But from the start, they had the location nailed. Lo-Fi Brewing’s amorphous Meeting Street Road property that usually doubles as overflow for the tow lot next door wound up being a fitting container for a group that (stereotypically) doesn’t like being penned up.
We were there as part of a wonderfully on-brand partnership … City Paper was a sponsor. [content-1] By the morning of the event, I’d started hearing that aside from attendees being asked to dress to the theme, that some of the chefs were cleverly incorporating #basic hipster ingredients into their tastes for the night. “CBD brisket” may have been uttered in the CP office, a concept that could only be outdone by anything with “kombucha pickles,” right?
Well, turns out that both of those wound up on the plate by Charleston’s favorite imported cool kid, John Lewis, who I feel like can probably pontificate on hipsterdom more than most, whether or not he cares to admit it. Verdict on the CBD brisket: I mean I didn’t notice anything different, but I know some people say they did. Either way, I self-medicated plenty. [image-1] As the location implies, there was ample local craft beer, which is about as trendy as it got on the drink side of things. We spotted (and sampled) Holy City, Fatty’s, and Frothy Beard. Chef Alex Lira, who’s on the crew bringing Estadio from D.C. to Charleston, did also hand me a porron at one point, so there’s that. And Miller Brewing Co. had a whole table just for their Champagne … of Beers.
Setting the scene were mis-matched coffee mugs, an upright piano adorned with patches, centerpieces of plastic army men and dominos, and a photobooth with props curated by Runaround Sue, the vintage clothing shop by CP‘s own Kelly Rae Smith. DJ Party Dad tended the turntables and Itinerant Literate had their own little pop-up bookshop.
Dough Boyz kept a line pretty much the whole night as they sliced up okonomiyaki pizza. I’ll do a U-turn in stopped traffic for Dough Boyz normally, but this pie with mozz, cabbage, pork, and mayo, all on that well-crisped crust was *OK sign + wink.* [image-4] Short Grain was also on the bill serving up activated charcoal steamed pork buns topped with glitter (of course.) By this point it was pretty dark out, so the marvel of a jet black food item wasn’t quite there, but thankfully Shuai and Corrie Wang were well lit by a bright, branded trailer containing a Rational-brand steamer oven which they seemed pretty pleased with. I’m no kitchen expert, but a Google search showed something similar running a cool $20,000. (Note: This weekend may be some of your last chances to get proper Short Grain fare as they’re currently undergoing metamorphosis into Jackrabbit Filly, their new Park Circle spot with Stems and Skins.)
Local food trucks Roti Rolls, Bacon Me Crazy, and Braised in the South were also on hand.[image-2]From Charlotte, Yafo Kitchen chef Shai Fargian served up a creative layered push-pop take on labneh, a traditional creamy yogurt cheese dish.
Uptown Social chef Jonathan Kaldas also served up a bit of a surprise with koshari, a silky Egyptian-style rice and lentil dish. I mostly know Uptown Social for their pizza and bar food, which is also pretty good, but I guess I’ll keep an eye out for Kaldas’s specials now.
I wasn’t really feeling like sweet treats, though the gold leaf Nutella-vanilla panna cotta by chef Shirley Hughes from Sweet Cheats in Atlanta looked pretty good.[image-3]But I couldn’t walk past the avocado pound cake with candied mushroom, everything spice “soil,” and coffee caramel from pastry chef Kaley Laird out of Rhubarb in Asheville. Described on the menu board as “The Hippest Bitch in Town,” it pretty much lived up to its name.