Serving It with Style

by Meha Desai
October 2013

Biography

Restaurant

Authors:
Graham Dailey, Melissa Bigner, and Brys Stephens

Difficulty level: 
For the well-equipped, accomplished home cook

Price: 
$ 60

Chapters:
The Story
The Bar
The Wine List
Champagne Bar Menu
The Charcuterie
The Dining Room
The Finish
The Peninsula Grill Culinary Hall of Fame
The Essentials
The Relais & Châteux Experience

A Few Select Recipes:

Tea’Tini, Coconute Cake Cocktail, Lobster Three Way, Argentinean Style Steak Tartare, Duck Rillettes, Le Québécois Veal Chop, The Ultimate Coconut Cake, Court Bouillon

When it first opened in the mid 90s, Peninsula Grill at the Planters Inn in Charleston, South Carolina, was an instant favorite in the local and, eventually, national dining scene, going on to win accolades from Esquire, Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, and Food & Wine. “I wanted to put a Charleston classic in a 165-year old historic inn,” said Hank Holliday, the CEO of Planters Inn.

The restaurant’s resulting coffee table-style cookbook, Peninsula Grill Served with Style, which was published in December 2012, takes their typically Southern food and flair and serves it for anyone who wants a taste. Authors Executive Chef Graham Dailey,, Melissa Bigner, and Brys Stephens present classics, such as Fried Green Tomatoes, Lobster and Corn Chowder, and Planter’s Punch, along with not-so-expected surprises—an Argentinian-style Steak Tartare and Le Québécois Veal Chop. Readers also learn all about the famed Ultimate Coconut Cake, created by the restaurant’s first pastry chef—a coconut cake that eventually inspired its own revolution and was trademarked! There is also a Coconut Cake Cocktail for the truly adventurous cocktail drinker. “This cocktail version of Peninsula Grill’s coconut cake has a loyal following, just like the dessert itself,” says Chris Reynolds, the restaurant’s bartender.

The photographs by Peter Frank Edwards bring the book to life, and stories from behind the scene are plenty—from how the restaurant’s founding chef worked his way to a cook-off on “Iron Chef” to how the current chef and author, guest-starred in the James Beard kitchens.

The book leads the readers through the course of a meal, beginning with a diverse cocktail menu, leading to a spoiled-for-choice wine list and Champagne bar menu, before the charcuterie options are laid bare. Then there are the recipes from the dining room itself—first course, seasonal specialties, options off the grill, sides, and finally desserts. It ends with a look at the essentials—stocks, jus, marinades, and more. You can’t get far, if the basics aren’t perfected, after all. “For many guests, dining at Peninsula Grill is a special event. We’re honored to have them here, and we work hard to create great moments,” says Dailey.