A report from out-of-town-but-not-too-far:
• The Macintosh, in Charleston. Chef Jeremiah Bacon, who also heads up sibling Oak Steakhouse and turns up frequently on best-Southern-chef lineups, is a native of nearly Johns Island, and brings that Lowcountry cred (along with a Culinary Institute of America background and a resume dotted with Per Se and Le Bernardin) to the Southernisms here. There’s also “Bacon Happy Hour,” offering a rotation of pork-based bites and drink specials 5-7 p.m. weekdays!
Don’t miss seafood charcuterie, novel but also tasty (especially the pile o’ crabmeat-like grouper head terrine and swordfish bologna), served with pickled pepper tartar sauce and a few fried pickles (though they’re battered too heavily for the lightness of the rest of the board) and the poulet rouge.
This heritage chicken comes with light sweet potato gnocchi, made Parisian style (meaning a choux paste base, rather than the Italian way of just potato and flour, sometimes egg) and a marvelous supporting cast: country ham, kale, pickled mushrooms. The menu shifts daily, but these, I’m told, are fairly regular.
The setting is handsome in that King Street woody, simple way (as is the upstairs Cocktail Club, also creative without being crazy and also an Indigo Road restaurant-group business – which did no favors to Charlotte with the awful and short-lived 15 North, but whose Charleston stuff I’ve tried has been well-done).
Bacon gets around, too; at the end of this month, he’s guest-cheffing at Kevin Gillespie’s (you may remember him from “Top Chef”) Gunshow in Atlanta.
479B King St., Charleston; entrees about $25 to $31; 843-789-4299; www.themacintoshcharleston.com.
• Crafted: The Art of Tacos, in Greensboro. I’ve been trying to get here forever, and not just because of the refreshing subhead: “We are not a Mexican restaurant. We Are a Taco Joint!” Chef-owner Kristina Fuller ran (with her mother, Rhonda) the fine-dining/fusion Bistro at Adams Farm for several years before opening this, and word is there’s a new “Crafted: The Art of ... ” coming, the subject of which (not tacos) is a secret even from the staff. The Triad City Beat paper has reported it’s to open Jan. 1, in conjunction with a new Preyer Brewing Company brewery.
Here, Fuller plays with all manner of influences, from Korean and Middle Eastern to a slew of Latin American cuisines.
The pulled pork taco with Korean red sauce and sparked with red onion relish (“The Wayfarer”) is a winner, as is “The Messenger”: chorizo with scrambled egg, potato and avocado, with plenty of queso crumbled on top. You can opt for build-your-own, but let Fuller’s palate guide you if you’re adventurous. My only wish: that the custom tacos came on corn tortillas rather than flour.
The place is attractively rough around the edges, from a long, spare entry hall – where you can watch meats cooking, tacos coming together and dishes being washed all at once in the galley to your left – to the custom-cut T-shirts staffers wear, to the colorful artwork and chalkboard listing a nice range of beers on tap, and a by-the-way note at the bottom next to the PBR: “Buy a round for the kitchen for $6.” Do it.
219-A S. Elm St., Greensboro; entrees about $6 to $12, and the place just started serving lunch as well as dinner; 336-273-0030; craftedtheartofthetaco.com.