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Charleston: Ft Sumter and More

Shall we get back to our Charleston travelogue? Today I’m going to tell you how we spent Tuesday. Or, as Dale called it, Ft. Sumter Day. You may have guessed that a big part of the attraction of visiting Charleston, for Dale anyway, was the Civil War sites and Ft. Sumter was at the top of that list.

The only way to visit the fort is by boat and it’s a really pleasant thirty minute ride. We saw lots of pelicans and jellyfish and even a porpoise. As for the fort itself, well, to me if you’ve seen one fort you’ve seen them all.

Dale, on the other hand, thought this was a really big deal. He wore his East Bridgewater Civil War Roundtable t-shirt and he just loved getting to be in the spot where it all began. I was very glad for him but I was also very glad that the boat left after one hour and that meant we had to go, too.

After our safe return to Charleston proper we headed to 167 Raw for lunch. (You’ll notice I made Dale change out of that EBCWRT shirt. Ahem.) I had read great things about their oysters and they have a restaurant in Nantucket as well so I thought it was fitting for us to visit. Imagine our surprise when we saw that their oyster list that day included Duxbury, MA – the very spot where we often get our own oysters.

We treated ourselves to The Big Boy, a platter that included oysters, little necks and shrimp. That, along with a couple of beers, was just the ticket after our tramping around Ft. Sumter.

By then it was late in the afternoon and we headed back to our air bnb for a little siesta and regrouping. We eventually got hungry again and decided to head to Halls Chophouse for dinner. Halls had been highly recommended by the owner of our air bnb weeks before we visited but I hadn’t been able to get a reservation. We figured we’d give it a shot and hoped we’d be able to get seats at the bar.

Okay, my friends, I’m about to gush so just stick with me. We were greeted at the door by Jeanne Hall. Yes, Jeanne Hall matriarch of the Hall family that owns Halls. She put her hand out to me and said, “Hello, I’m Jeanne Hall, welcome to Halls, we’re so glad you’re here.” I smiled and told her my name and that I was visiting from Massachusetts. And she said, “that’s wonderful, dear, let me check your reservation.” Oh, I thought, here it comes, when I tell her we don’t have a reservation she’ll drop me like a hot potato.

But that’s not what happened.

I explained that I hadn’t been able to get a reservation and that we hoped we could find seats at the bar. She turned to the hostess and said, in her beautiful Southern drawl, “honey, go check those high tops at the bar, I think I just saw some people leave. See if there aren’t seats for this lovely couple.” You could have knocked me over with a feather at that point. I mean, here in Massachusetts, well, restaurant people just don’t treat you that way. Mostly, especially high end restaurants of this type, they act like they are doing you are favor by letting you in the door. That hostess came back straight away and said she had two seats for us at a high top near the bar and would we please follow her and she would seat us.

Amazing. And I have to tell you before I forget to mention it that Mrs. Hall came back to check on us twice and her son, Tommy Hall, came over and introduced himself and asked if we were getting on okay and could he do anything for us. The waitress was wonderful and took great care of us. She helped us with the menu and answered questions and left us alone at just the right times, too. I have never felt so valued and welcomed in a restaurant in my whole life.

As for the food, it was fantastic. Expensive? Oh hell yes. But worth every penny. The steaks are huge and cut to order. We wound up sharing a dry aged rib eye – mostly because 16 oz is a lot of meat and we knew that would be enough for us to split – and also because, well, $56 for a steak isn’t a small amount of money. We also got the creamed spinach and the loaded mashed potatoes, which was really heaven in a cast iron skillet. The steak was out of this world. Seared and crusty on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. Truth be told I think we both could have eaten a whole steak! And you’ll just have to trust me on all of this because, in a completely out of character move, I have no pictures of our dinner.

That’s right. No pictures because it was so good I forgot to take any.

I know.

The only picture I do have is this one of the remnants of the bread pudding we had for dessert. It was loaded with cherries and pecans and topped with a bourbon sauce that was sweet and boozy and wonderful. Our waitress brought us complimentary glasses of port to accompany the bread pudding and it was the perfect ending to a really perfect meal.

In case you haven’t gotten the gist of my post – if you’re ever in Charleston and you’re looking for a wonderful steak dinner in a truly exceptional restaurant – go to Halls. Tell ’em that lovely couple from Massachusetts sent ya.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. I have got to stop reading your posts before breakfast. I am sitting here listening to my stomach growl!

  2. THAT is the difference between hospitality and good business. Hospitality is remembered, and shared with others so word spreads. It is the place you take visitors and loved ones. It’s also The South. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Loved this post today Carole. it’s still early am and I getting very hungry ?

  4. Now I want to head to Charleston just so I can go to Halls! I see a fort with crumbling stone and brick, but I’m glad there are people like Dale that truly appreciate the place, its historical significance, importance, and can educate the rest of us. (Otherwise, I might be one of those people confused about the Civil War and Andrew Jackson. :/)

  5. There really is nothing quite like Southern hospitality, is there? (Y’all come back now, y’hear?) What a great, great meal! And like Bonny already mentioned, it’s GOOD that people like Dale know and appreciate the historical significance of REAL, historical events. (Just sayin.)

  6. Carole, the next time you’re traveling, you must take Dale to the knitting museum lol! Wow–your dinner experience at Halls has to be the epitome of southern hospitality. GReat reason to visit Charleston.

  7. That is southern hospitality and then some! Wow! I’d say they are pretty darned smart, because now a plethora of your readers are contemplating a meal with the super hospitable Halls! Oh, and those meals that you forget to take pictures of? Yeah, I know – they are so stinking good, you can only think about how fast can you get that food in your belly! lol xoxo

  8. We can certainly see what the important part of this trip to Charleston was for you! The food and the hospitality sound beyond fabulous. A fort (no matter how historic) just can’t compete!!

  9. Spending time in the south has shown me that there really is a true difference in many ways…we’re just in such a hurry around here! Sounds like you met THE southern belle! 🙂

  10. Ah, seduced by the southern charm and hospitality! As the only southerner who comments, I love it! It is disappearing some in the south, but it is the best of us, so I hope we never lose it entirely. I have never been to Hall’s, but when I am in Charleston again, I will go. Thanks for the travelogue, Carole! I too struggle with forts, but I have also seen that pile of rocks – LOL.

  11. What a great day – a little touring, oysters, a nap and then a wonderful dinner – thank you for sharing all of it with us. I’m delighted, too, that you experienced real Southern hospitality along with the food!

  12. p.s. I must do a more timely job with comments next round so Becky realizes she’s not the only southerner who comments!

  13. Isn’t that fabulous!?? My sister & I dined at some mighty fine establishments in New Orleans and there wasn’t a disappointment among them… even at Pesche, where we *did* have reservations for two but they were very pleasant & accommodating when we spontaneously invited the lady next to us at the bar to join us for dinner! (That friendly warmth & hospitality must be catchy!) 😉

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