By Author Unknown | There is a staple of restaurants all across America that is indicative of every town; the “Mom and Pop.” Sure, it can have various incarnations, and they aren’t necessarily defined by a particular food group, particular food genre, or a particular type of owners. More than that, they are identified by how the establishment, itself, makes you feel. From the silverware and glasses, to the wait staff, to the clientele, to the names assigned to dishes, the “Mom and Pop” serves a general, special and essential purpose; to offer your favorite meals with a side a comfort and to simply make you feel at home.
And, to me, The Upper Crust on Ladys Island is one of the most pleasant Mom and Pop’s out there.
From the moment you sit down and take a sip of soda or water or sweet tea from your mason jar, you just feel the warm family vibe that is prepared and delivered to your table along with your entrée. The Upper Crust is the type of place that you bring the kids in between never-ending after school activities on a busy weeknight, or on a long summer night when it’s just too hot to use your oven at home. Laughter and smiles are all around from both patrons and wait staff alike. The kitchen seeps with deliciously fragrant flavor while the walls resonate with southern hospitality and charm, so much so that the front door might as well be that worn-out creaky back door that everyone knows is the door to use.
Relaxing in my chair and taking a swig of water from my mason jar, I feel as though I’m surrounded by extended family and friends, and can quickly envision this place becoming a favorite. The buzzing of the happy conversations around me, and taking the time to make a dent in a two-week book (that’s been taking 2 months thanks to a very busy toddler), I let my body become enveloped in my seat and my senses become infiltrated with the kitchens’ best.
A few paragraphs into my read, my Bruschetta arrives; a plate full of deliciously crisp bread, topped with diced sweet tomatoes, juicy cucumbers and potent onions, all topped with various Italian seasonings and parmesan cheese. Definitely not a subtle dish, the flavors of the veggies are dramatically enhanced by the assertive but not overly aggressive seasonings, a move that is greatly appreciated by this foodie. But before I can even blink, over half the dish is gone and I realize that if I’m not careful the rest of my dine-in will be to-go. Hesitantly stopping myself from finishing, I sit back and await the next chapter in this evenings noshing tale; my Roasted Red Pepper Wrap.
As soon as the dish arrives, the intoxicating aromas of Roasted Peppers and cheese permeate the air with both rich flavor and electrifying anticipation. Robust sauce melds with thick, chunky, tender chicken, seeping its juices throughout the layers of meat and cheese, culminating with a slight crunch from the spinach and tomatoes. And while not overpowering, it is obvious that this homemade Red Pepper Sauce is the star of the show and the pride of the kitchen.
But in a surprising co-starring role is the wrap, itself. Not your typical tortilla wrap, they have continued on their homemade streak and baked up homemade dough, cooked crispy, flakey and golden, and takes the gold by elevating an already superb wrap into a class all its own. Buttery and ever so slightly doughy, it practically begs to be eaten alone. It is easy to start picking apart the wrap itself for the carby goodness, but less you want it to completely fall apart, restraint is a must. It’s as if they’ve taken your all time favorite pizza crust and reincarnated it into something equally brilliant and delicious.
And it is at this moment of food euphoria, as coincidentally as ever, my cell phone comes to life with an urgent text message from my husband; BRING HOME PIZZA. PLEASE. Knowing my husband is an absolute nut for the ‘za, I know my mission is imperative. Ordering him a small personal panned sized pie topped with Jalapenos and Pepperoni, curiosity gets the better of me, and I order the same sized pie for myself, with red peppers, mushrooms, and onions, for the subsequent days’ lunch (and midnight sampling, should the mood strike me). Because, after all, how can I go to a pizza place and not eat the pizza!
Arriving home to an, apparently, famished husband, he takes no time and dives in under the cardboard lid, and proceeds to DEVOUR all slices and resulting in my lack of opportunity to either sample or grab a picture. However, he comes up for air long enough to tell me that the pizza is seasoned wonderfully and between the jalapenos and pepperoni, is nice and spicy but not in an overpoweringly, nasal-cavity clearing way. And even though I’m already filled to gills, his description and look of pure elation draws me under the lid as well, just for a bite or two.
And I find that his look is absolutely justified. Now, I will state that I am very particular about my pizza. The majority of pizza out there (not to mention a few pies I’ve sampled around town) normally don’t make the cut in my tummy. And it’s not just me; people everywhere are passionate about their pizza. This is an absolute certainty, just as sure as death and taxes… and Laundry. So it is of a rare occurrence that a pizza actually impresses me. But this pie has done just that. A beautifully crafted thin crust that doesn’t taste dense or hard but crisp enough to stand up against the veggies and cheese, Bolstering a robust and well seasoned sauce that isn’t overly acidic in taste and topped with ooey-gooey cheesey goodness, this is the kind of pizza that you miss terribly when the box is rendered empty, and whose memory quickly comes to mind the next time you contemplate forgoing the cooking. And if my own approval wasn’t enough, my husband further solidified his newfound love for The Upper Crust by ordering a small pizza pie for lunch (quite literally) two days later. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve found our new favorite pizza place.
To have the kind of restaurant like The Upper Crust as Beauforts own “Mom and Pop” is truly a treasure to this town. To be able to enter an establishment and just know that you will be taken care of is a feeling that many aspire to but few truly emulate. The Upper Crust, quite simply, understands; what you need, what you want, and knows how to treat you right. And, not to mention, knows how to deliver on flavor, which is always on the house.
…next up, Beaufort’s new Griffin Market.