An avocado dish from Butcher and the Bee. (Audrey Kelly)
An avocado dish from Butcher and the Bee.

Audrey Kelly

On Our Plate: Butcher and the Bee

November 30, 2020


I’ll admit — I’m not the person to go to for food reviews.


Anyone who knows me knows I’ll reject any restaurant that doesn’t sell burgers or chicken tenders, and NO I don’t see that as a negative personality trait. 


But when asked to go to Butcher and Bee, located downtown Charleston, I was intrigued. Looking at the menu, I saw lots of words I did not recognize, but wasn’t repulsed by, which for me is a big deal.


With menu items such as a “messy” veggie burger, celery root pancake, bacon wrapped dates (not sure what a date is but I trust them) and a perfect option for me — a double cheeseburger, I was more than excited to walk in and see what would happen.


What took me off guard was that the experience of the restaurant began in the parking lot. When you get out of your car, the pavement greets you with a little visitor — a bee and his line leading you to the direction on the main entrance. My adrenaline was only enhanced as I followed the little guy around the side of the restaurant and into the hive.


As I walked in, I thought I was teleported to Savannah, Georgia. The ambiance and decor of Butcher and Bee is very similar to the campus of SCAD, with funky art appearing as historic portraits, rustic tables, and hexagons on the ceiling to continue with the bee theme. 


My personal favorite decor was the bench at the entrance. On either side of the cushion was an old fashioned bike with flowers cascaded around the handles — it really takes your breath away.


As for the food, which is the main point of this experience, here’s what I have to say — the presentation, along with the theme and decor of the restaurant, is better than the food.


And here’s why.


Like I said, I don’t eat many things. I’m not ashamed of it but in this instance, I couldn’t just go by myself and review the burger (which was actually very good), I needed to bring more experienced food critics — mom and Sam, my stepfather.


Sam, who has worked in restaurants for his entire thousand year career, got the celery root pancake, chicken shawarma and brussel sprouts with Avocado. None of which was I going to taste, but I supported him nonetheless. 


“A lot of flavors trying to work together,” Sam said as he described the taste of the shawarma. Some dry rice apparently, but overall not bad at all. As for the brussel sprouts, mom and him both agreed were phenomenal, but still overwhelming with flavors.


And here’s the thing — I don’t see how they couldn’t be overwhelming. The ingredients for each dish is honestly impressive, with a simple Caesar salad consisting of smoked celery root tahini and a surplus of “winter greens.”


The presentation is stunning. It reminds me of the decor — sophisticated yet inspired by modern art. You can tell how they carefully place each sprig, how they sprinkle the carrot shavings and the thought they put into the placement of the chicken on the plate. 


It’s truly beautiful.


But it seems as if Butcher and Bee takes more time to make the dishes look like art than making sure it actually tastes as good as it looks.


It’s not bad food — I’m not saying that at all. But when you go out and spend $85 on a family dinner, the least you want to do is be able to finish your meal without getting bored because you ate all the toppings that are placed on top first and are now left with a simple celery pancake.


I couldn’t leave there without trying at least one of their one of a kind desserts. With many creative options to choose from, I went with the red velvet cake, topped with green apple sorbet and apple shavings. 


This is where it got interesting to me for many reasons. One — I love green apples. I could eat one every day and never complain about it. And two — you can’t mess up red velvet.


Well apparently, you can. 


This was not red velvet. This was a dense brownie with apple shavings sprinkles on top. 

Not terrible but not what I read on the menu.


Yes, the ambiance is great. They obviously take pride in their skills when it comes to making sure whoever walks into the little restaurant will be impressed, but they seem to prioritize making random concoctions of flavors instead of thinking about how it will taste. 


So, from the words of my mother, “you need to have an advanced palette of taste buds to like this place,” and clearly, I do not fall under that category.

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