TrendWire, April 16, 2008

TrendWire, April 16, 2008

Food & Drink

TrendWire, April 16, 2008


The Food Channel Trendwire
April 16, 2008 • Volume 22, Number 8 •

Low Country Cooking Goes Primetime

As the recession looms, people continue to look for quality experiences to spend their eater-tainment dollars on. They may be looking for a blend of comfort food and fine dining that they can’t make at home. Low Country cuisine may be stepping in to fill that gap. Technically, the term “Low Country” refers to the geographic area along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. But it’s becoming the preferred term to talk about the new southern cuisine that’s becoming more popular and refined. highlighted Marcie Cohen Ferris’s book Matzo Ball Gumbo Marcie Cohen Ferris’s book Matzo Ball Gumbo in its recent article on a Southern Style Passover (

These restaurants are just a sample of fine-dining restaurants in the Low Country that are moving the cuisine forward:

  • Peninsula Grill ( in Charleston, S.C., prepares Wild Mushroom Grits with Low Country oyster stew.
  • Elizabeth on 37 ( in Savannah, Ga., Spice Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Veal Reduction Sauce and Low Country Hash.
  • Sea Island Grill @ Wild Dunes Resort ( in Isle of Palms, S.C., serves up a Low Country classic shrimp and grits in a special way. Here’s its description: Local Shrimp and Grits Roasted Garlic Marinated Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Tomato Broth and Stone Ground Grit Fondue.
  • Magnolia’s ( in Charleston, S.C., serves a Low Country Skillet Grit Cake with sautéed shrimp, leeks, and tomato gravy. Limestone ( in Louisville, Ky., added Grits du jour to its menu last year. Its current menu includes entrees such as Lump Crabmeat and Frog Leg Gratinée with grilled asparagus, garlic and Pernod spinach; Sweet Potato Gnocchi with duck confit and andouille sausage; Grilled Fresh Chicken with sorghum laced purée of butternut squash, sautéed kale, red currant demi-glace.


Here are a few restaurants cashing in on various aspects of the Low Country wave:

  • Red Hot and Blue (, a BBQ chain with no outlets currently in South Carolina or Georgia interestingly enough, is offering its Low Country Surf and Turf, 4 ribs and catfish cooked your way, broiled, fried, sautéed or grilled. It also serves other Low Country favorites such as Shrimp and Grits.
  • Highlands Grill ( in Birmingham, Ala., menued Roasted Carolina Quail Porcini and cornbread stuffing with mushroom syrup and sorghum last fall.
  • Restaurants such as Candle Café ( and Outback Steakhouse recently added a baked sweet potato to their menus.


Is a Burger King Whopper Bar Coming to a Strip Mall, Airport, or Casino Near You?

Last month, Burger King ( announced plans to launch a new restaurant concept called The Whopper Bar. The main menu item will be, not surprisingly, the company’s signature sandwich, the Whopper. You can, of course, Have It Your Way® as the company’s tagline promises, but in the new concept, customers will actually see their sandwiches being made, in sort of a fast-casual open kitchen line format, allowing customers to have an employee add or omit ingredients as they wish. Customers could instead opt to visit the build-your-own bar and perform the magic themselves. Dubbed internally as the “Pimp My Whopper” bar, Russ Klein, Burger King’s president for global marketing, strategy and innovation, noted in an interview with the New York Times (, “My guess is, we’re not going to use that language on our menu board.”

These new restaurants are designed to occupy less than 500 square feet, roughly 1/3 the size of the standard restaurant, allowing them access to nontraditional locations such as airports, food courts and strip malls. The company has no plans to abandon its familiar store setup though. Instead, BK is looking to use these new restaurants to expand where its traditional store setup wouldn’t work. And it’s looking to attract an increasingly younger, hipper demographic. The new design is being described as Starbucks-esque by some reviewers.

More complete plans for the stores will be unveiled to franchisees in May, but you can check out a graphic representation of the new restaurant at our website, ( The company plans to open several stores by the end of 2008.

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