Q: What’s your best recommendation downtown on a Monday night?
A: Ah, the trickiest night of the week. Restaurant employees deserve a day off after hustling all weekend, which now means Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But their break makes it hard on diners who want to ease back into a more typical work week with a nice meal out.
I'm partial to Melfi's on a Monday, but the traditional go-to is FIG, which is where you might find the above-mentioned restaurant employees enjoying their off-the-clock time. FIG is always unassailable, and the promise of chicken liver pate or tomato tarte tatin surely goes a long way to staving off the Sunday scaries, to use a phrase I somehow just learned recently. (I was also a latecomer to Sunday Funday.)
Another contemporary classic is the 11-year-old Trattoria Lucca, which famously offers a four-course family-style meal on Mondays. It’s currently priced at $48 per person, not including drinks, tax or tip. If you like wine, it’s probably best to plan on spending significantly more, but the communal deal is worth toasting.
And despite the old saw about avoiding fish in restaurants on Mondays, which is based on the belief that kitchens are still trying to unload what didn’t sell on Saturday night, Monday is a fine night for seafood in downtown Charleston. 167 Raw is open, as is Rappahannock Oyster Bar. Heck, you could do an East Bay Street crawl and hit them both.
Hotel restaurants are a sure bet any night of the year, Mondays included. Many of the signature restaurants in Charleston’s newest hotels don’t measure up to the hype which preceded them, but Grill 225 at Market Pavilion Hotel is always a reliable choice for steak. And Barbadoes Room at The Mills House is so much better than its characterless décor suggests. Chef Justin Hunt does a particularly nice job with charcuterie.
Finally, if you can’t manage so much elegance early in the week, Palace Hotel takes perhaps the most casual approach to Mondays. The East Side bar basically pretends it’s still Sunday, and serves egg sandwiches, waffles and breakfast shots for supper. Or for a high-roller meal in a low-stakes setting, you could swing by Mash for its excellent $21 prime rib, served with onion rings and a baked potato. It puts the traditional discounted bar burger to shame.