Raskin Around: Five Loaves expands, Roadside Seafood finds permanent home

Roadside Seafood is now a fixed kitchen.

Another Charleston restaurant is opening a Summerville location, with Five Loaves Cafe announcing plans to take over the former Farringdon Bistropub.

The news came just days before Toast of Summerville, a spin-off of the popular peninsular breakfast spot, opened on Trolley Road.

Five Loaves owner Casey Glowacki is projecting an October opening for his restaurant, which will offer the same menu as the downtown and Mount Pleasant locations. Like the Mount Pleasant location, the Summerville location will feature a full bar and Sunday brunch.

Stumphouse Architecture + Design will help design the restaurant. According to Glowacki, the building at 214 N. Cedar St. needs to be completely gutted before remodeling can begin.

Earlier this year, the company that operates Five Loaves, Sesame Burgers and Beer, and Serve the People Catering hired Jason Ulak as its first corporate chef. Ulak, who served as Caviar & Bananas opening chef, previously worked for Rivertowne and Snee Farm country clubs.

"He brings a lighter, farm-to-table approach," Glowacki says. "He's bringing in a ton of great new ideas."

After I raved about Edmund's Oast, Eater Charleston remarked that I was "perhaps the only restaurant reviewer to ever use the word 'Dickensian' in a food evaluation."

Perhaps. But I'm not even the only one in town to use the word in a culinary context. Edmund's Oast (who else?) recently put a cocktail called "Dickensian Punch" on tap.

While I wish I could take credit for inspiring the drink, the nomenclature has nothing to do with me: According to beverage manager Cameron Read, the name was chosen long before my review was published. And the original recipe is older still: "(It) was actually written down by Charles Dickens and sent to a friend of his in a letter," Read writes.

Dickens' recipe, reprinted in British author's David Wondrich's authoritative "Punch: the Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl," calls for lemons, rum, sugar, brandy and fire. Edmund's Oast plans to prepare the punch in a similar fashion, making it genuinely Dickensian. Sounds like the perfect thing to quaff while reading "The Pickwick Papers."

When a food truck strikes an item from its menu board, patrons are apt to write off the inconvenience as just another entertaining idiosyncrasy of eating far from a fixed kitchen. As Sean Mendes has learned since he last month opened a permanent location of Roadside Seafood, it doesn't work that way in restaurants.

"People don't expect you to run out of everything," he says. "I've been doing three or four batches of she-crab soup."

The she-crab clamor is understandable, since Roadside, which got its start two years ago as a food truck, produces one of the city's best bowls. Based on Mendes' grandmother's recipe, the soup bears little resemblance to the flavorless, overworked bowls of thick cream that have caused plenty of Charleston eaters to dismiss the dish as tourist pap. It's almost more of a chowder than a bisque, crammed with picked crab and flecked with onion and celery.

The soup is a carryover from the truck menu, along with the tacos, sandwiches and fried seafood baskets, but Mendes is looking to add a few more elaborate preparations, such as shrimp and grits and lobster mac-and-cheese.

Mendes' father is from Rhode Island, so Mendes is as fluent in lobsters and littlenecks as shrimp and soft-shells (which he's putting on special this week). The vinyl tablecloths in the spiffy dining room, which seats 40, are patterned with New England newspapers and lobsters.

"I'll eat anything that comes out of the ocean," Mendes says.

Roadside Seafood was Mendes' solution to his local seafood disappointments: "What I wanted, I couldn't find," he says. "If I was wanting to go and get a crab cake, everything was imitation stuff or the portions weren't right." The truck was so successful that it frequently strayed from its parking spot at the True Value Hardware on Folly Road for various special events and catering gigs.

"People over here were mad at us because we were never here," says Mendes, who was also anxious to relocate his operations from a Duvall Catering kitchen.

"How great would it be to have a home base 10 minutes from my house?" he remembers asking himself when he realized the building at 807 Folly Road was available. Mendes says he used as many local suppliers as possible when designing the space, an approach that also guides his cooking. His spices come from Charleston Spice Company and the bread's baked by Ashley Bakery.

The truck will continue to operate, but Mendes says the restaurant "is here to stay."

Roadside Seafood is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

For more information, call 754-5890 or go to facebook.com/RoadsideSeafood.

There's little doubt that Blend, the brand-new juice bar in Mount Pleasant, takes its "putting the fresh in refreshing" slogan seriously: When I recently rang up the store to learn more about its plans, my call was politely declined by a staffer apparently busy chopping vegetables.

"We're in the middle of prep," he told me after consulting with the owner.

According to its online menu, Blend is serving a wide range of juices and smoothies. Although customers are given the option to assemble their own juice combinations, there are eight "signature juices" on offer, including a pair of juices spiked with cayenne and jalapeno peppers.

The signature smoothies have a similarly savory bent: The coconut water-based "Solar Power" features avocado, kale, cilantro and hemp hearts. There's also a smoothie of oatmeal, dates, raisin, cinnamon and banana for eaters who like to sip breakfast through a straw.

Prices range from $6.95-$8.95.

Blend is at 320-E W. Coleman Blvd. For additional information, go to theblendco.com. (You could also call 884-6161, but perhaps not during prep time.)

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