[image-1]The evolution of East Bay continues. Almost a year exactly since the closure of grain alcohol slurpie vendor Wet Willie’s, replacement restaurant Pawpaw: Southern Plates (not to be confused with Pounce + Cat Cafe) eyes its opening. On Dec. 20 the restaurant plans to unlock its doors.

Pawpaw takes its name from the pawpaw fruit, the largest edible fruit native to America. Owners Jared and his father Keith Jones (who also owns Stars) loved seeing pawpaws growing in their backyard in North Carolina, so they decided to name the restaurant after the funny fruit that grows from the Great Lakes down to the Florida Panhandle.

Andrew Moore, author of Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit, says pawpaws taste like a cross between a mango and a banana. You can eat them raw, but Moore recommends pawpaw ice cream. And that’s exactly how you might enjoy them at Pawpaw: Southern Plates once the fruit is back in season. Unfortunately, pawpaws are a fall fruit so the ice cream won’t be on the restaurant’s opening menu. But come next October you’ll likely be able to taste it by the scoop, and we’re told a pawpaw Bellini is also in research and development.

As for the accompanying menu, according to a press release, Pawpaw’s Chef Jared Rogers will serve Lowcountry flavors in shareable plates. For example, “entrees include wood-grilled options like hickory-smoked ribs with charred green beans and oven browned potatoes; and wood-grilled shrimp and grits with crispy okra.” There’s also fried chicken, mac and cheese, a pork chop, and something called “Millionaires Cut” ribeye (many millionaires cutting it? Or a ribeye large enough to feed multiple millionaires?), in addition to Rogers’ house-made pastas. Check out the full menu below.

Pawpaw will be open Sun.-Thurs. from 5 – 10 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. from 5 – 11 p.m. Lunch will launch Dec. 26 and brunch service will begin in January. For more information, visit pawpawcharleston.com.

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