Monday, June 3, 2013

Jestine's Kitchen, Charleston, SC

We were in Charleston, SC over this past Memorial Day Weekend and of course ‘just had to try’ Jestine’s Kitchen … well it came highly recommended by Rachel Ray of the Foodnetwork and a friend of a friend … sorry Rachel but you won’t like what I have to say about the place.  Oh and we were told by a couple 'locals' that this place wasn't that great (tourist trap) and suggested we try another (Martha Lou's) but we didn't listen.

First off you have to wait in line “around the corner” to get into this tiny little restaurant … décor was cute and it was clean … but the food?  Well none of us four would ever return even if it was free!

Here’s the deal:

Before we ever ordered a thing we all noticed the table of 4 next to us, who were asking for their bill, hardly touched their Fried Chicken … I mean it looked as if each had maybe taken a bite or two, seriously!  Nor had they touched their sides much either … lets just say … there were 4 plates full of food that was going to get trashed.  We debated on asking them why but didn’t (wish we had).

First up ~ drink orders … we all had water with lemon except for Anthony, he loves his Sweet Tea and Jestine’s apparently refers to theirs as the ‘House Wine’.  I just had to have a sip (I gave up Sweet Tea over 4 years ago but I do know what its supposed to taste like) well that should have been a big indicator as to how the food would be because let me tell you McDonalds knows Sweet Tea (and I’m not a fast food eater either) and well … Jestine’s does not.  Weak and just sweet enough to say there was some sugar in it.

That's some weak looking Sweet Tea, now ain't it?
Next came our ‘free’ appetizer … a small bowl full of cucumbers soaked in watered down vinegar … they were okay (and we were hungry) but how in the world can you mess up marinated cucumbers???

We ordered one appetizer to share … Fried Green Tomatoes and yes they were pretty good (thanks to the salsa on top) BUT they were sliced so thin (and there were only 5 slices on the plate) that one tomato would make about 4 plates of Fried Green Tomato appetizers … seriously they were that thin!!!!  Talk about cheaping out!!!

Sorry ya'll I had almost eaten all of my portion before I realized I didn't take a pic.
You can tell how thin they are from the pic though.
I ordered the Meatloaf with Gravy, Mac n Cheese and Greens and buddy let me tell you … this was not Southern Cookin at its finest by no means.

The Meatloaf?  The texture was as if it was held together with gelatin (and it probably was in order to stretch that hamburger meat cause I could hardly taste a thing) … Thank Goodness for the gravy, which, by the way, was pretty darn good, cause otherwise I’m not sure I would have eaten it and believe me we all went in very hungry … it had been a while since brunch.

The Mac n Cheese?  Well if any of ya’ll have tried My Mac n Cheese Recipe then you know I’m pretty much a connoisseur on Mac n Cheese … so putting it lightely ... this was one of THE worst I’ve ever put in my mouth!  The pasta tasted as if it was boiled and boiled and boiled til it was about as full of water as it could get without turning to mush and then a bit of cheese was sprinkled on top before it was popped in the oven.  Yep … that’s a perfect description.   

The Greens?  Inedible … I’m not sure what, if any, seasoning was cooked in them but they were NOT good at all.

Anthony and Scott ordered the Fried Chicken … ‘their Specialty’ supposedly.  Both were disappointed big time … the skin, which is usually the best part of Southern Fried Chicken was the worst part … first of all (and I wish I’d gotten a picture of it) it was sorta black looking or darker than any Fried Chicken I’d ever seen and secondly … it tasted as if it had been fried in very old grease … not grease that had been used all day … or even for the past week … I’m talking grease that had been reused for months and months on end.  Scott was really worried that they might end up getting sick so neither ate the skin … only the meat and not all of it either.  As I said already … we went in hungry so we did eat some of what was on our plates.

Kay ordered the Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast and thought it pretty good … seems it was baked instead of fried so none of the nasty greasy mess.

None of us were impressed with any of our 'Southern' sides …

Bottom line ~

We would never recommend this restaurant to anyone and would definitely never return.  If someone eats here that has never had Good Ol’ Southern Food but because they are in Charleston they want to try it … well they would think there was something very wrong with Southerners!  I’m just saying!

Regarding Rachel Ray recommending this restaurant ... hmmm maybe she ate there on a good day, when they knew she was coming so they could change the oil.  


  1. Now this was a great idea Carboni!!! I enjoyed the whole critique/blog. I however, must be ye of little faith...because I listen to other people far too often..and would have never gone in. But at least you did...and may have saved a lot of people a lot of money...AND saved the from hunger!

  2. Both chicken dishes are fried, and in the same oil= fact. Regardless you wont find me there

  3. We loved the chicken but hated the staff. Bunch of arrogant snobs! Wanted to physically hurt one of the wait staff for being such a complete jackass to my wife.

  4. Interesting. I have not eaten at Jestine's in the last year and a half since there are so many other places that have to be tried when we travel to Charleston, but for many years it was our Sunday brunch tradition when we were there. Oddly enough, EVERYTHING you pointed out was contrary to what our experience had always been there over the course of many years of patronizing the place. The meatloaf was always excellent, and the very reason that we kept going back. We never once had a bad item or complaint of any kind, but maybe something has changed in the last 18 months or so. I will agree with you on the's not the traditional Southern iced tea and never has been, but I always attributed that to the fact that with so many tourists coming through, they didn't want anyone not used to our traditional tea to fall over into a diabetic coma, LOL. And I'll also throw anonymous poster above a bone...the staff is not always the most welcoming there, but I've never had them be rude.