On the appetizer side of the menu we have Scotch eggs. In case you didn't know, Scotch eggs are a near-perfect food: a hard-boiled egg encased in a mixture of biscuit and sausage batter and deep-fried. CBC serves you two Scotch eggs for $8. The house-made liver pâté is awesome and is served with CBC's best thing ever: the bread and bread-crisps (which are nicely salted, incidentally).
Both the Scotch eggs and the liver pâté are also served with house-made beer mustard that is almost good, but lacks even a hint of creamy texture, being just a pile of mustard seeds in a brine, delivering more of horseradish flavor than that of mustard. While we are speaking of condiments, some of the dishes are served with a spicy chutney made from currants that is to die for.
A signature dish for CBC is the bangers and mash, a reasonably priced ($12) entrée featuring two house-made banger sausages flanking a pile of delicious coarsely mashed potatoes. The dish is topped with an English brown gravy and few peas for color. These sausages are delicious! There is just a bit of acidity that balances the meat perfectly, though I did have to once-again reach for the salt shaker for the potatoes.
The burger seems to garner some controversy with folks either loving it or being underwhelmed. I think the burger is of top-quality, though it needed salt. Chef Gary Needham was overheard telling a patron that they want the meat flavor to shine; I agree, but you still need to use a tiny bit of salt or it tastes like a hospital burger!
The smashed peas with rosemary are a fantastic side dish, but the sautéed mushrooms lacked flavor. The steamed mussels are a no-brainer, just make sure you get some extra rolls to soak up the wonderful broth! The bar also offers a variety of pickled fare such as radishes and eggs, an interesting and welcome addition that helps establish a true pub feel.
So far, I have had no issues with service. The bar staff is top-notch, and the patrons mostly seem to have food in front of them and smiles on their faces, though I know the kitchen can get backed up at times; that's the time to just order another beer and keep that smile going.
The ambiance is boisterous and loud, the latter because it's a brewpub operating under a concrete parking garage. I think some sound-abatement would go a long way toward warming the atmosphere a bit, making it more publike.
I am very happy overall with Charleston Brewing Co., and I know things will continue to get better. Heastings already has a few new beers ready to go, and I am sure the menu will continue to grow and change with the seasons.
For more on the craft of beer, see Rich Ireland's "Beers to You" blog at thegazz.com.