Shrimp-and-grits has been a staple at The Grocery since the downtown restaurant started serving brunch in 2012.
On the small and ever-evolving menu, available only on Sundays, chef Kevin Johnson likes to make room for the Lowcountry mainstay alongside “more ambitious” brunch options.
Within the past couple of years, Johnson’s brunch menu has consistently included another, seemingly similar dish: Shrimp-and-rice.
“For visitors and locals, I think grits are obviously a quintessential thing at that hour,” Johnson said. “Less people think of rice even though we are a rice city. We wanted to highlight that.”
While the two dishes have proven to be among the most popular items for brunch, does one outsell the other?
“They both lead the way,” Johnson said. “Across the board, we sell more shrimp-and-grits, but not exponentially so.”
They might be close in name, but the plates are “totally different” from each other, Johnson said.
“I think there’s room for both,” he said. “You can have two dishes with bacon, so why not shrimp?”
The rice plate includes pan-roasted head-on shrimp and dirty Carolina Gold rice, topped with a poached egg and salsa verde.
As far as the shrimp-and-grits, made with Geechie Boy Mill grits, go, Johnson calls his version “very straightforward.”
“We buy really good shrimp and we buy really good grits, so we let that speak for itself,” he said. “Quite frankly, that’s how I think it should be.”
The Grocery recently added another brunch staple: Eggs Benedict.
“We weren’t going to put it on unless we did it our own way,” he said. "So we decided to really go for it."
That includes making their own English muffins and peameal bacon.
“The brunch menu changes every week or two,” Johnson said. “We tend to only keep things that have a strong appeal.”
For now, that includes both shrimp-and-grits and shrimp and rice. Both dishes cost $16.
“I tell people to come with a friend and order one of each,” Johnson said. “That way, you can see how different they really are.”
The Grocery is open for brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.