Raskin Around: Gigi accolade and Westendorff diner

Brasserie Gigi recently received accolades from Zagat.

In the battle royal to emerge as Charleston's top new French restaurant, Brasserie Gigi has distinguished itself from the pack with a Zagat nod.

The restaurant guide's website this month anointed the second Hank Holiday-Frank McMahon production as one of the "12 Hottest French Restaurants in America." Other ranking restaurants in the Southeast include Nashville, Tenn.'s Chateau West and Atlanta's The Luminary, where the menu includes crispy catfish brandade.

Of Gigi, Zagat.com writes, "Shining a spotlight on his European training, (McMahon) turns out classic dishes like nicoise salad and duck confit, but also nods to Charleston's strong seafood scene with plenty of seafaring options." The write-up credits the restaurant with bringing "a dose of Parisian charm to the heart of the Historic District."

While Charleston diners may suspect the city has reached its French restaurant quota, with five bouillabaisse-and-frites specialists having opened this year, Zagat's team forecasts more French ahead: "A French-food revival is underway in cities all across the country," the site declares, ticking off another four highly anticipated French restaurants from New York to Vegas.

Atlanta chef Anne Quatrano will headline the 2014 No Kid Hungry Charleston Gala, a Share Our Strength benefit featuring more than a dozen of the city's leading chefs.

Andy Henderson of Edmund's Oast, Daniel Heinze of McCrady's, Jason Stanhope of FIG, Jacques Larson of Wild Olive and The Obstinate Daughter, and Kevin Johnson of The Grocery are among those joining chefs employed by Indigo Road managing partner Steve Palmer.

Palmer is co-hosting the Oct. 12 event with Jeremiah Bacon, chef of the Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse.

The dinner at L'Atelier Le Creuset is priced at $200 a person, with VIP tickets and sponsorship packages also available.

Last year marked the debut of the fundraising gala. "We look forward to another amazing evening," Palmer is quoted as saying in a release.

To purchase tickets, go to ce.strength.org/events/no-kid-hungry-charleston.

The owner of Mosaic Restaurant + Catering is reviving plans to open a restaurant on the site of the former C.W. Westendorff & Son hardware store at the corner of Warren and St. Philip streets.

The Westendorff, which will anchor a complex including apartments and banquet space, is likely to serve "a healthier take on breakfast all day, lunch and supper" in a diner-style setting. The project shares an architect with Harold's Cabin, another once-beloved downtown retail institution that's in the process of being transformed into a restaurant.

Although a placeholder website references sandwiches and salads, publicist Annie Byrd Hamnett says owner Steven Niketas is just now hiring a chef and conceptualizing the menu.

Niketas four years ago attempted to open a restaurant in the 1916 building, but the ownership group disbanded for personal reasons. This time around, he's partnering with friend Jamie Westendorff, who purchased the property from his parents in 1985.

According to the deal worked out last year, Westendorff, who was under pressure from the neighborhood association, city of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation to fix up the three-story building, contributed the real estate, while Niketas contributed financing and development.

Currently, the building is being stabilized: A walk-through proposed to The Post & Courier was postponed for safety reasons. But Hamnett expects The Westendorff to open by early next year.

Craig Deihl is best known around Charleston for his elegant charcuterie boards, arrayed with spicy salamis, ribbons of cured beef and flaps of smoked pork.

All of those items will be sold by the pound at Deihl's soon-to-open Artisan Meat Share, but diners who drop by the Spring Street shop for lunch are unlikely to end up with a mere plate of plain charcuterie. According to a menu shared with The Post and Courier, the counter will serve five cold meat sandwiches, seven hot meat sandwiches, one burger and two salads, since Deihl acknowledges "not everybody is a meatatarian." Beer and wine also will be available.

Although there are 15 seats for staying customers, "It's really more of a grab-and-go," Deihl says. In addition to the standard menu, Artisan Meat Share will offer daily specials geared toward the dinner crowd, such as fried chicken.

Because the deli is so compact, Cypress will function as its commissary kitchen, producing eight different breads, including seeded rye for the pastrami sandwich, a Holy City beer bun for bratwurst, and white bread for a smoked ham sandwich with bread-and-butter pickles, mustard and cheddar.

Much of the menu will appear familiar to Cypress fans since Deihl and chef de cuisine Bob Cook have played with many of its underlying ideas there. Barbecue baked peanuts, for example, show up on the sides menu, along with fried cheese grits and breakfast gravy, sweet corn and okra, chopped slaw and chips.

Dessert isn't listed on the menu, but Deihl says there will be selection of picnic-ready sweets, such as "big cookies." As for sandwiches that aren't listed, he says, "The beauty is we have a case we can grab from."

Deihl is aiming to open by the last week of August. Six days a week, the shop will keep an 11 a.m.-7 p.m. schedule; it will be closed on Sundays.

Go to artisanmeatshare.com.