CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The sign read "Named Best Shrimp and Grits by Southern Living," so of course we had to try it. If that publication, the diviner of all things Southern, deemed the Mount Pleasant, S.C. restaurant's version worthy of the top honor, it had to be good.
So we ordered the popular Lowcountry dish, and it was good.
Not great, but good.
We preferred a little more spice in the gravy and this one seemed bland. The grits were formed into a wedge and fried until crisp on all sides, polenta style. We liked that translation of the traditionally creamy dish, but other people might have balked.
Taste is subjective.
Which is why this column doesn't hold my opinions on restaurants. As I've told people who ask why we don't do reviews, they should try restaurants and form their own opinions. I've often left a restaurant satisfied with my meal, but then hear somebody else blast the same establishment. Or the food was good, but the service terrible.
So, I've used this space to let readers know what is out there. Although I've looked at a wide variety of restaurants -- everything from pizza joints to fine dining establishments, both local and elsewhere in the state -- I've missed many. I relied upon tips and suggestions from readers and friends for leads, which are much appreciated. There have been a few must-do assignments, but features editor Rosalie Earle has given me a generous berth.
And after five years of writing a weekly food column and eight years as a feature writer, I'm leaving the Gazette to take a position with a professional horticulture association, a job I will relish as a lifelong gardener with a strong interest in the industry.