The Chemist’s culinary laboratory is full of exciting and delicious surprises, from craft cocktails served in beakers that bubble and steam to extraordinary cuisine prepared and presented under the molecular gastronomical supervision of Executive Chef Sean C. Thomas. The ambiance is thoroughly scientific, from the periodic table on the floor, elements on the tables and mad scientist-inspired lighting and glassware. Lab assistants wear lab coats of course, and they guide guests through entertaining and photo-worthy meals.
The Chemist’s Food
Chef Thomas changes his menu seasonally to take advantage of the freshest local foods available. This is why The Chemist has South Carolina’s Fresh on the Menu designation, which means at least 25 percent of the ingredients used are certified South Carolina products. Appetizers are amazing adventures, such as Buck Rabbit where toasted bread is topped with wilted greens, Guinness-Cheddar fondue, a sunny side up quail egg and Sriracha caviar. There’s a Charcuterie plate with seasonal salumi, olives and manchego cheese; Tempura Asparagus served with sweet Thai chili sauce; succulent Scallops on wakame with sweet Thai butter and lemon foam; and Poke Ahi Tuna bathed in the flavors of mango, poke sauce and Sriracha that comes with Asian-style chips. One of the most popular appetizers is so simple – Sweet Potato Tater Tots served with spectacular bacon maple dip. Many guests opt for soup and Caesar or House salads, especially since the soup is the chef’s house-made Tomato Basil Bisque that comes with a grilled cheese sandwich speared with a pipette loaded with basil oil. Other sandwiches include crispy Sriracha Chicken with a honey glaze, Cubano with mojo marinated pork, the Chicken Club on brioche, and a Bacon Burger made with grass-fed beef. Chef Thomas’ award-winning cuisine is stunning in his entrees, which are priced $15-$23. There’s a Wagyu Sirloin served with Peruvian potato, deep-fried Bearnaise, vegetables and rich demi-glace; fork-tender Beef Short Rib with fried egg sauce, asparagus and exceedingly creamy creamed corn with a brûlée crust; and Root Beer Sesame Glazed Sous-Vide Lamb Ribs over a texturally delightful artichoke quinoa risotto. The chef earned a first place award for his Char Siu Style Pork Belly over Asian style Brussels Sprouts, and the Shepherd’s Pie comes in a rustic pastry crust filled with tender braised beef, lamb and root vegetables and topped with extraordinary potato foam. Chef Thomas was the 2013 South Carolina Seafood Chef of the Year, and guests understand why when they taste his Citrus Crusted Unicorn Fish with lemon caviar; Shrimp Scampi with lemon foam; Seared Ahi Tuna dusted with coriander over Asian pasta; and the dramatically presented Smoked Atlantic Salmon with shiitake mushrooms and XO sauce over green tea edamame risotto. Some guests come just for dessert and drinks, especially since they can get creations like Brownie Batter Hummus that tastes exactly like rich chocolate brownie batter, but it’s actually made with black beans; and chocolate ganache/wasabi truffles served with whipped cream and mint caviar. During the weekends a culinary bonus is brunch served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The menu includes original specialties such as Blueberry-Lavender Stuffed French Toast, Vanilla Bean & Pecan Pancakes, Cider Caramelized Shrimp & Cheddar Grits with Bacon Gravy, a Chemist-style Eggs Benedict, Omelet Experimentation and much more. The Chemist’s Mimosas are made with freshly squeezed orange juice, the hand-crafted Bloody Mary changes every week, and a unique Beermosa features craft beer.
The Chemist’s Craft Cocktails
The lab assistants take their cocktail ingredients seriously by hand-juicing fruits, simmering pots of berries all day to make simple syrups and even crafting their own ginger beer, starting with a small mountain of grated ginger. When fresh cherries are in season they pit them and soak them with Old Luxardo liqueur, then seal the cherries in jars to use the rest of the year as delicious garnishes. The combinations they’ve come up with are extremely invigorating and entrancing, such as the Molecular Mule with Stoli vodka, blueberry-lavender simple syrup, lime juice and ginger beer; the Periodically Peach Martini featuring Beauregard Dixie vodka, Bols Elderflower liqueur, peach simple syrup and orange juice, served with a sugar rim; and the Moderntini that contains a molecular olive. Science is used to present many of the cocktails in a thrilling manner that makes them steam and smoke like true chemist lab potions! The Chemist also offers 16 craft draft beers that change often and a creditable wine list with savor-worthy choices. Happy Hour is 4-7 p.m. daily with many tempting specials, including half-priced beer samplers where four draft beers are served in beakers.
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