Once American chefs got past their fixation on meat, whether for economic, environmental, health or aesthetic reasons, it became trendy for restaurants to tout “vegetable-centered plates.” But Walter Edward and Forrest Brunton plan to take the concept one step further at their forthcoming downtown restaurant, which will feature “herb-forward cuisine.”
Indeed, herbs are so central to their small-plate style that the restaurant at 267 Rutledge Ave. will be known as Chasing Sage.
“Sage is something that’s very approachable but underutilized,” Edward says of the name choice. “We’re not trying to teach people something about food. We’re not trying to make you look at Wikipedia when you get your plate.”
But, he continues, if customers emerge with a newfound appreciation of the “dozens and dozens” of herb varieties that he and wife Cindy are planting on her family’s land outside Charleston, the chefs aren’t likely to complain.
Edward and Brunton until recently lived in Seattle, where the pair worked together “on and off for 10 years,” Brunton says. His resume includes stops at Linda Derschang and Maria Hines’ restaurant groups, as well as a business degree from the University of Washington. Edward served as executive chef at Tallulah’s.
“Being from the Northwest, we really gravitate toward simplicity, but that feeling of Southern hospitality is so important to us,” he says. “We’re really big on people eating together.”
The chefs also plan to stress togetherness with their employees, which they hope will help them surmount the staffing challenges now facing Charleston restaurants. “We’re going to be a really tight-knit crew,” Brunton says. “The idea of family is really important to us.”
According to Edward, the 129-year-old building they’re renting on the edge of the Crosstown struck both partners as the ideal home for the casual, neighborhood restaurant they had in mind.
Its recent renovation, spearheaded by fellow restaurateur Ben Towill’s Basic Projects group, was honored with a Carolopolis award. Still, it’s not quite move-in ready: Chasing Sage is now in the “early phases of construction.” While the restaurant aims to open before the end of the year, Walter is already anticipating delays.
In the meantime, Edward and Brunton are hosting a series of pop-ups at local restaurants, starting with Babas on Cannon on Aug. 26. To learn more, go to chasingsagerestaurant.com, or search for @chasingsage on social media.