EVO delivers a locally focused New Year's Eve

Image by Timmons Pettigrew The menu.

For those of us too old, low-key, or married to brave the wondrous danger that is Charleston's New Year's Eve nightlife, a great meal seems like the right way to ring in the new year.  There is no shortage of choice when it comes to food around here, but we settled on EVO in North Charleston.

I've visited EVO many times, and their focus on locally grown ingredients, nice rotating craft beer selection (tap and bottle), and casual-yet-upscale atmosphere keeps me coming back.  They promised a special New Year's Eve menu this year, so my normally high hopes for a great dining experience with them were extra high going in.  Posting the menu on their website in advance only propped them up more.

After picking up some always-delicious COAST pints at the bar, we took our seats and took in the menu.  I had already planned to pull a Mr. Creosote and just "have the lot," and some quick glimpses at the food others were being served indicated this was the right move.  The server helped us plan out the order, gave us complimentary glasses of champagne and we were off and running.

First up, country pate & clams rockefeller.  Here were two great examples of EVO's ability to put something on the menu that sounds like an odd combination (black-eyed peas and cream?), or something that looks odd (the pate resembled olive loaf), but tastes fantastic.  In both dishes the flavors married together very well, with the bacon playing off of the greens and the spicy mustard complimenting the pate.  After being wowed by butternut squash pizza months ago, I've learned it's best to just buy the ticket and take the ride with these guys.

The she crab tomato bisque was next, and it again was fantastic.  After reviewing the menu more closely later, I realized it was the house-made Old Bay butter that added a perfect kick to the local crab and tomato.  Our heirloom lettuce salad was also very good, and my first foray into heirloom lettuce.  After the wow factor of the soup, this was a great cleansing follow-up, just a nice combination of local greens.  I had to ask what one of the ingredients was, and I learned then that there's a vegetable called a watermelon radish?  Who knew?

The pizza was quite nice, the highlight definitely being the house-smoked salmon.  It had the velvety melt-in-your-mouth texture of sashimi, something you don't experience with smoked salmon packaged in oil.  The arugula was a little hard to navigate thru, but provided a bitterness that went well with the salmon and both cheeses (house-made mozzarella and local chevre).

Last stop, a new candy bar from Sweet Teeth called "cinnapsis."  This thing was bonkers.  I'm still trying to figure out when Eric Battles made a deal with the devil, and what he traded for his magic touch with chocolate.  How else would you figure out to put dried apples, cinnamon, and pecans into a candy bar?

All in all, a great night and a great meal.  The standouts I'm still thinking about today were definitely the soup and the candy bar, but the rest of the menu stood strong as well.  It's obvious that if EVO cares about one thing, it's their ingredients.  Each is sourced, handled, and presented with unpretentious care.   As the food and beer menus rotate with the seasons, it really never gets old.  If you've been, you know, but if you haven't, just order the special without looking.

Pictures from the meal can be found at my Flickr page.