It’s sexy Next Door; the lighting is low, the booths are embracing and the food is sure to illicit sounds of absolute delight. Ben Berryhill’s newest culinary endeavor– you guessed it, basically next door to Red Drum– is my new favorite place I can’t wait to go back to.
I hate to use the hackneyed term “casual elegance” to describe Next Door’s atmosphere, but that’s exactly what the Mount Pleasant bistro offers. The vibe is relaxed but not subdued. There’s a subtle hum of confidence, energy and fun that emanates from the staff, the plates the kitchen produces and the bartender’s faultless musical choices. You’ll want to stay here through multiple courses.
Our waiter was impeccable. There’s something to be said for a server who strikes a balance between being making you feel like an inconvenience and watching you like a hawk. He seemed to enjoy our meal right along with us, guiding us through the wine list and the menu, pointing our favorites and “must try” items.
Next Door’s menu is crowded with delicious items, many of which use locally sourced produce, seafood and proteins. Of course, this means the menu changes frequently, so if you hear of a dish your friend loves, best head Next Door as soon as possible.
The salad of baby beets, watermelon radishes, baby carrots and house made mozzarella ($8) with a lemon vinaigrette was like a run through Mr. MacGregor’s garden with a lemon twist. So refreshing, so balanced and so delightful. Who says salads need be boring? The root vegetables, roasted, were tender but still satisfyingly crunchy. The mozzarella served as a creamy foil to the salad’s purity. Definitely a must order.
There’s something about cutting into a poached egg, and how its liquid gold seductively pours from its tender white albumen cradle. Pair that with freshly made pasta, house made ricotta and nutty brown butter and you’ve got the makings of a decadent yet simple dish. Next Door’s poached egg, ham, and ricotta raviolo ($14) is rich and satiating in its sea of nutty brown butter, though definitely one to share.
Eating Next Door’s seared duck breast with kale, turnips, duck jus and soubise is tortuous. With each bite there’s less to enjoy, without another bite you feel deprived. Earthy, salty, tender and complete with crisp, seared skin this is how one should prepare duck. The Lucinato kale greens are a substantial partner to the game-like bird, maintaining the dish’s natural flavor profile. The turnips provide a sweetness and necessary textural juxtaposition to the tender duck breast and sautéed kale. The duck jus is intense with solicitous sweet and umami flavors and the soubise (béchamel sauce with puréed onions) serves as nice creamy accent. This, too, is a must-order.
Next Door is simply fabulous. The atmosphere, food and staff make this venue a beautiful location for a romantic dinner for two, or, alternatively, a fun outing for a sophisticated group. Expect entrées to be priced between $15 and $25, starters below $15– though each dish is worth every penny. The wine list is interesting in the best way possible. Ask your server for suggestions.