what: Iberico “Au Poivre”
where: Black Rooster, 201 Meeting St., West Columbia, blackroostersc.com
The time for Black Rooster is now. West Columbia’s new, self-described “Frenchish” restaurant is here just in time for our fall(ish) season.
The restaurant boasts a view of the Columbia skyline, available at the rooftop bar and inside the downstairs dining room thanks to the glass-paned, garage-style door which is open when the weather allows. There’s also a ground-level patio close enough to the river to catch a little breeze. So put on your favorite summer look in fall colors, like we do this time of year, and grab the cardigan you pretty much never wear, because in this chilly, 80-degree weather, you might actually wear it. The food and drinks are so good, you’ll stick around after sunset for sure.
Order a cocktail — I recommend a classic French 75 — to sip as the sun goes down and the temperature drops into the 70s. Enjoy an appetizer with your cocktail — the tinned razor clams are perfect. But don’t just eat them with a fork; spread a piece of the accompanying grilled bread with lemon aioli, add a bit of house-pickled vegetable, and top with a razor clam. Bon appétit, indeed.
As for the entree, there are numerous solid contenders, but the Iberico Iberico “Au Poivre” is it. The impossibly tender Spanish pork tenderloin with a crispy pepper crust is served with a delicate potato purée, Cognac cream and roasted vegetables. Since okra and tomatoes are in season, we had okra and tomatoes, which were delightful. The dish is so good, you’ll feel like you’re on a patio somewhere in Spain. When I asked for a white wine recommendation, owner Kristian Niemi recommended the Muscadet, delightfully minerally and flavorful enough to stand up to the pork.
When it’s time for dessert, don’t miss the Vietnamese coffee flan, a silky treat that’s coffee and dessert all rolled into one.