scallops

Have you been to McCrady's lately? If not, now's a pretty good time to revisit the restaurant, which earlier this month introduced a new menu format.

I last sat at McCrady's bar in the fall, and the culinary portion of my experience was kind of a mess. The fried snacks available to pair with our cocktails tasted like afterthoughts: Compared to the food we'd had along with an earlier round at The Gin Joint, the fritters were lacking in flavor and panache.

Now, though, McCrady's has done away with its dedicated bar menu, as I discovered when I recently dropped by for a drink. The restaurant's struck a la carte entrees from its menu, too. The prix-fixe program, which has always been the source of the kitchen's best work, is now the only option for McCrady's guests.

According to head bartender Ryan Casey – who's tantalizingly developing his Negroni theatrics — the paring-down of the menu will allow the restaurant to focus its energies on high-level execution.

trout

The only exception to the four-course rule is enforced at the bar, where patrons can individually order items off the $65 prix-fixe menu (there's also a $20 five-item snack palette.)

That's a great way for eaters skeptical of dishes such as beef tartare, hay roasted beet, farro and lichen to familiarize themselves with chef de cuisine Daniel Heinze's composed cooking  (“that looks small,” a diner with a British accent sniffed when I commented aloud how good the calico scallops looked) – or just jump to Sean Ehland's desserts. Get the strawberry Pop-Tart doppelganger while you can.

If your wallet can stand it, though, I'd suggest going for the full meal. I hadn't dined at McCrady's since Heinze last year took over from Jeremiah Langhorne: Based on my dinner, he's doing an excellent job of upholding the restaurant's reputation for detail-oriented dishes that are unique in Charleston.

Everything I tried was impressive, from a flotsam of scallops; peas; seaweed stalks and begonia petals which so convincingly conjured a natural landscape that I was tempted to eat it with my hands, to a crisp-skinned slab of trout with fat jolted awake by a bright fava bean sauce. And nothing in the bunch was fried.

McCrady's, 2 Unity Alley, serves dinner daily, beginning at 5 p.m.