Grits are a staple of Lowcountry cuisine, but few restaurants allow diners to explore as many flavor combinations as The Grit Counter in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Delicious wholesome ingredients, fun combinations, great service and the satisfying comfort of excellent down home southern food makes this casual restaurant tops in our book!
Upon walking into the light-filled, modern eatery, a team member greeted us and guided us across the room to the cash register, where we had the tough decision of choosing our entrees out of a variety of Signature Grit Bowls like the BLT, which features pimento cheese grits, house bacon, lettuce, heirloom tomato, fried green tomato and green tomato bacon jam, or making our own concoctions with the seemingly endless number of ingredients listed on the Build-Your-Own Grit Bowl section of the menu.
To build your own grit bowl, you start by selecting a grit base – traditional, smoked gouda, jalapeno cheddar, local brie, smoked tomato, pimento, apple pie or the grit of the day. Farro rice can be substituted for grits, but when in Charleston, trust me — just eat the grits.
Next up, you can add two fixins’ – fried Brussels sprouts, fresh spinach, sautéed kale, collard greens, butterbeans, caramelized onions, scallions, heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn, green tomato salsa verdé or kalamata olives.
Then, it’s time to get saucy. Options include red eye Tasso gravy, Brussels pesto cream, hot honey, smoked jalapeno sauce, gouda mornay, green tomato bacon jam and, for a $3 upcharge, she-crab.
Finally, you choose from a fried green tomato, grilled or fried chicken or local shrimp, fried oysters, smoked sausage, bacon, house chorizo, salmon or the local fish of the day.
After staring at the menu for a couple of minutes, we decided to order a flight of grits, with smoked gouda, jalapeno cheddar, pimento and the grits of the day – red beans and rice. For our entrees, we selected two of the Signature Grit Bowls, the Shrimp N Grits and the Self-Respecting Southerner.
The grit flight was filling, but with this being our first visit to the Grit Counter, we were glad to sample different flavors. All of them made quite the impression, but I favored the cheesy consistency and spiciness of the jalapeno cheddar. My husband preferred the Cajun red-beans-and-rice-style grits.
When our entrees arrived, we were impressed by the flavor and freshness of the shrimp, peppers, onions and scallions and the savory, rich taste of the Tasso gravy in the Shrimp N Grits. Also, the gouda grits complemented the other parts of the dish without taking away from them.
As one might imagine, the Self-Respecting Southerner consists of ingredients you would expect to find in your Southern Granny’s kitchen — slightly sweet, smoky pecan grits topped with fried chicken with the perfect amount of crunch, collard greens and the unique green tomato bacon jam. Prior to eating this dish, I wouldn’t have considered eating pecans in grits, but now I am game for trying anything the Grit Counter serves up.
Word from the wise, go to the restaurant hungry and plan on having leftovers. We enjoyed ours for breakfast the following day, and it was a nice treat before hitting the beach on nearby Isle of Palms.
On our next visit, we plan to experiment with the Build-Your-Own Grit Bowls and bring our sweet fur baby along to enjoy lunch on the umbrella-covered dog-friendly patio.
The Grit Counter, located at 320 Wingo Way, Suite 101, Mt. Pleasant, is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit their website.