Southern Eats: Butcher & Bee

A restaurant review by Nick DeSantis

Butcher & Bee doesn’t have the most inviting entrance. Set far back from the road on 654 King Street past a barbed-wire fence, the sandwich shop’s humble exterior would be easily missed by a passerby if it weren’t for the restaurant’s circular logo unassumingly painted right above the door.

Those that stroll through the entrance, however, are instantly greeted with a relaxed, stylishly hodgepodge atmosphere. With no two metal seats looking like they match, the décor seems as if it were cobbled together from a scrap heap of chairs, stools and large, wooden tables of assorted heights.

In fact, the space’s high-ceiling and weathered interior makes it seem as if a sandwich joint popped up within an old factory. There is not a single whiff of high-brow pretension about Butcher & Bee (right down to the rolls of paper towels provided in lieu of napkins), but make no mistake: the food is truly premium, gourmet quality.

Butcher & Bee’s focus on fresh, local ingredients is evident in their curated menu, which is carefully scrawled out daily on a wall-sized chalkboard. It offers a limited number of eight sandwiches for lunch, but the selection changes daily and definitely slants more towards the unique rather than the familiar.

The Chana Masala sandwich, for example, brings together spiced chick peas, coconut jam and tomato curry within two halves of a deliciously brittle ciabatta roll to create a dinner plate sized Indian inspired sandwich that packed a spicy kick even when a bulk of my bites proved to be a bit too bready.

The best bet on the menu at the time I visited (12:30 p.m. to be exact, before the lunch rush, but after four sandwiches had already sold out), was the Korean Shortrib. It was a messy endeavor, with juicy short ribs slathered in spicy slaw and crowned with a fried egg within a spongy, absorbent brioche roll.

The sticky hands and balls of paper towel required to down this thing will be forgiven once the explosive flavor of the first taste is experienced. It’s even worth its rather hefty $12 pricetag, which will sadly be responsible for relegating this selection as an occasional indulgence rather than a lunchtime standby.

A selection of quirky beverages (like a surprisingly good cucumber soda), and simple, flavorful side dishes like a tasty asparagus and garlic and a fresh kale slaw round out the abbreviated menu, earning Butcher & Bee all of the local raves and national accolades it has received from publications such as GQ, New York Magazine and Food & Wine since it opened only 2 years ago.

Tourists and locals with plump wallets looking to reward their midday hunger with a unique Charleston original will find their lunchtime salvation with Butcher & Bee.

Festivals: They’re for the dogs

No, really. It’s not just people from around the country who flock to Charleston for Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto.

And here to prove it, the Dogs of Charleston blog:

Dogs of Charleston

 This blog is the brainchild of Greg Cwik, one of the Goldring Arts Journalists in town covering the festival. As Greg and the other reporters travel about the city, they capture photos of and facts about four-legged festivalgoers for your viewing pleasure. Dogs like Lucy:

Lucy the golden retriever

So check out Dogs of Charleston, and, if you’re feeling ambitious,
submit your own Spoleto-pup snapshop!

Following the Festivals on Twitter

If you’re planning to follow along with the Spoleto USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival on Twitter this year, be sure to check out our list of must-follow accounts so you get the most up-to-date festival news right in your Twitter feed.

Twitter Bird

For local coverage of the festival, follow the Post and Courier at @postandcourier, and its designated Spoleto account, @spoletochas.

A group of 15 arts journalism master’s students from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School are in town covering the festivals for the Post and Courier. Follow them here: Josh Austin, Nic Bell, Lucia Camargo, Paige Cooperstein, Greg CwikNick DeSantis, Melanie Deziel, Joseph DiDomizioXiaoran DingVinny Huang, Zach Marschall, Alyssa Nappa, Eesha PatkarBriana Prevost and Christina Riley.

You can also subscribe to this Twitter list containing all the arts journalists.

Festival announcements and information will come from the official accounts of Spoleto USA (@SpoletoFestival) and Piccolo Spoleto (@Piccolo_Spoleto).

If you’re looking for other information about the city while you’re in town, follow @CityCharleston@EventCharleston@ExploreCHS and @HistoricChas. To get the weather forecast for Charleston right on your Twitter feed, try CharlestonWeather at @chswx.

 Got another suggestion of a festival must-follow account?
Tweet your suggestions to @spoletochas!