There’s a new seafood eatery in Charleston, and it’s taking the restaurant scene by storm. Tempest, located at 32 N Market Street in the former historic Harriott Pinckney Home for Sailors, is a beautifully decorated 2-story space featuring a stunning stained glass ceiling on the first floor over the bar. Having already been awarded the USA Today Readers Choice for #1 Best New Restaurant, reservations are a must, and there was a cyclone of activity when we arrived.
While waiting for the rest of our party, we took shelter at the bar, and I’m so glad we did! Specialty cocktails are standard these days, but sadly many restaurants throw a few random ingredients together in a glass, and the result is far from special. Not here. At Tempest, it’s obvious that ample time was spent on the ingredients, quantities, and technique, and the results are spectacular. My personal favorite is the Harriott’s, a vodka-based cocktail in which the sweetness of white grape balances the spicy bite of serrano pepper, which blends perfectly with the fresh basil… a typhoon of taste in your mouth.
Before long our guests washed ashore and we were taken to a very comfortable table on the spacious second floor. While my friends perused the curated wine list, I focused on the food. The emphasis at Tempest is on “hyper-local” fresh seafood, and the selection did not disappoint. As each item came to the table, we descended on it like a tornado. We sampled so many exceptional choices, that it’s hard to highlight a few, but I’ll try: the Umami Tuna “Bombs” and Spanish Octopus small plates were outstanding, and the Whole Catch of the Day was a scrumptious spectacle. I loved the Swordfish, and the Local Grouper was so good I wanted to shower the chef with praise.
If you can’t make it to Tempest for dinner, at least stop by for a cocktail and a small plate. While they do have some outdoor seating in the front, most of the space is indoors, so you can get a drink no matter the weather: at Tempest, even when it rains, they pour.
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