Let me set the scene. It’s a Saturday night and my wife and daughter have a prior engagement, which gives me the perfect opportunity to seek out something new to me.
Scanning a few options, I came across one name that has seemingly been flying under the radar. Free from recent internet praise or complaints, I decided to head to Charleston Bistro, Sweet Shoppe and Wine Bar, 900 Ryan St., downtown Lake Charles.
As you enter the building, your first impression takes you back to the days of fancy when the historic Charleston Hotel first opened with a period-correct glamorous hallway. A few more steps, and you’ll find the restaurant situated in the lobby — an open space with a mix of historic workmanship, modern displays of glass art and a second story ballroom.
With one large table occupied in the center of the floor and nobody to greet me, I decided to head to the bar to take a seat and order a glass of wine. This was odd. The stool-to-bar-top-height ratio was uncomfortable, and to avoid an awkward eating display, I felt I had two options at this point. I could ask for a booster seat or relocate myself to another table.
I chose the latter and found a nice viewing area in the high-top section.
My waitress was kind and pleasant as she asked for my order. I’m going to back up for a second. Before I choose a restaurant, I like to at least glance at the online menu and maybe see some visuals of what I might expect. So, going into this, I pretty much knew what I was going to order, unless a nightly special caught my attention. I have to assume there wasn’t any type of special this evening as I was not made aware of any.
I stuck to my original plan: the appetizer, Nana Jett’s crab-stuffed mushrooms, and, for the entree, the Charleston Pasta, which consisted of bowtie pasta, chicken and grilled shrimp with a butter cream sauce.
As the plates came out, they were visually exciting. They looked as good as, if not better than, what I had anticipated.
But that was the highlight. The mushrooms lacked any pizzazz in the taste and the jalapeños were so mild they were not detectable. The biggest letdown of the whole dish was the mushrooms were lukewarm at best, and yet I pushed through. The entrée, although warmer, lacked any kind of flavor. I don’t know how you can get grilled shrimp and chicken not to have flavor, but they managed. After three bites, I decided to cut my losses, ask for my little to-go box and maybe doctor it up at home.
While I am not completely writing off the Charleston Bistro, I can only hope this was one of those off nights for them and other patrons can catch their full potential at another time.
An Extra Dash
Located inside Shorty‘s convenience and variety store is a tiny little kitchen that’s offering up some really good food.
From beefy $1 Taco Tuesdays, to full plate meals like enchiladas and burritos or bacon cheeseburgers, this is a really good stop. Everything is literally made right in front of you. Fresh salsa, sauces, chips, tacos and more are assembled — and they’re cranking it out as fast as they can.
Eat in; grab it and go to a park; or take enough to spoil the office, you won’t be disappointed in Casa Sabroso. It’s located on the corner of Enterprise and Alamo, just north of 210, in Lake Charles.