Author Archives: Amen Street

Amen Street Artwork | East Bay Street Downtown Charleston SC

If you’re a frequent Amen Street on East Bay Street in Historic Downtown Charleston SC diner, you’ve probably wondered what the story is behind the colorful, whimsical artwork gracing our walls.

The stacks of twirling paintings on our dining room’s main wall are the work of French artist Paul Colin. The lithograph series, called “Le Tumulte Noir” are moments of Charleston history frozen in time. Colin’s artwork depicts the dance craze that took the world by storm in the flapper era: The Charleston.

Jospehine Baker

“The Charleston” dance melded Charleston’s rich history with the fun and wild culture of the 1920′s. The dance originated in Charleston’s barrier island communities with a West African rhythm and exuberant footwork. Not soon after, the dance swept over to the peninsula and found its way to mainstream music, dance halls and stages across America.

Named after our city by the sea, The Charleston was a popular dance during the time of prohibition and speakeasies. “The Charleston” debuted as back-up dancing during a song of the same name, written by composer James Jackson. The Charleston was featured in the 1923 Broadway show “Runnin’ Wild”, making the song- and dance forever popular.

In 1925, “The Charleston” made its debut on stages across the pond, beginning with famous dancer Josephine Baker and her muscial troupe at Paris’ Theatre des Champes-Elysees. Baker and artist Paul Colin were reportedly one-time lovers and life long friends. Colin was so inspired by Baker and this dance craze that he created the lithographs on display at Amen Street. The artwork he created in the 1930′s captures the fun, free feeling we lowcountry residents are lucky enough to experience every day.

Come see them for yourself!

New Cocktail in Downtown Charleston SC at Amen Street

Sailing into Amen Street a new exciting cocktail in Downtown Charleston South Carolina.

Just down the road in the Florida Keys, blue waters and beautiful life along the Gulf inspired Ernest Hemingway to write some of America’s most prized books. Though known for things books like For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises, he was also known for working with a drink in hand. In his honor, we’ve created a delicious new beverage for warm weather consumption at Amen Street.

Though obviously a famous writer, we appreciate Hemmingway for his notorious fishing and drinking habits. Seafood and drinks are afterall, two things that get our gears turning. This spring, Amen Street’s mixologists looked to the colorful life of Mr. Hemmingway and stirred together the Hemingway Mojito specialty cocktail.

This big, beautiful liquor-filled glass blends Florida citrus, tropical tastes and Key West colors. The Hemingway Mojito is light and crisp, made with fresh mint, muddled grapefruit, spiked with Bacardi and sunset-red Italian Campari. Evening out the tangy-taste and buzz of alcohol is a big splash of fresh grapefruit juice and soda water. The Hemingway Mojito specialty cocktail is a lovely twist on a standard sweet mojito. A thirst quencher for the humid days and sunny skies ahead in the not-so-distant future.

Drink enough Hemmingway Mojitos and you might find yourself sprouting a white beard, fishing for marlin and writing classic novels. Meet the Hemmingway Martini, your new pal this spring at Amen Street.

Amen Seafood Charleston SC | See Chef Ollard at L.I.M.E Marti Gras themed Dinner!

Try the best seafood charleston sc for Marti Gras themed dinner party L.I.M.E!
Ah, Fat Tuesday. The traditional last partying hurrah before six weeks of being on your best behavior. Charleston’s not far from the real Mardi Gras, but since we can’t be in New Orleans this year, we’ll party on in true Amen Street style this Saturday, February 25th.
This weekend Chef Stephen Ollard will make a guest cooking appearance for a Mardi Gras themed dinner party. The party is a L.I.M.E  event, an exclusive underground dinner party for Charleston foodies. L.I.M.E stands for “Local, Impromptu, Moveable, Evening”, led by Charleston Chef Renata Dos Santos. Chef Dos Santos models the experience after “liming” or hanging out in her native Trinidad. To ”lime” in Trinidad means to hang out with a group of friends, ”pre-arranged or impromptu and never a hurried activity.”  Liming of course includes food and drink, as well. Chef Dos Santos brought the liming concept to Charleston and keeps it pretty true to its original Trinidadian version.
Chef Dos Santos’ L.I.M.E. roving dinner club experience features the culinary style of local chefs like our Executive Chef Stephen Ollard. L.I.M.E dinners always include fresh, sustainable foods, locally sourced ingredients and perfect drink pairings. For the essence of Mardi Gras, Chef Ollard will prepare a New Orleans Cajun style menu including treats like Cajun Shrimp Beignets and Duck Gumbo. Um, yum.
L.I.M.E. events benefit local non-profits. Chef Ollard’s dinner supports Fields to Families, an organization very dear to Amen Street.  Fields to Families combats hunger in South Carolina with fresh, nutritious foods. The organization gathers crops from local farmers and community gardens to feed thousands of lowcountry families. Fields to Families’ approach to solving the issue of hunger in Charleston is amazing and we’re thrilled to create more awareness. An incredible cause and an incredible dinner, it can’t get much better than that.
Chef Ollard’s menu will be complimented by hand selected wine pairings by Wine Connoisseur Malia Camens. Limers will also enjoy live entertainment from guitarist Gregory Guay. It will be such an awesome evening. The location won’t be revealed until Thursday the 23rd and you’ll have to wait to see the rest of the menu until dinnertime on Saturday.

Learn more about L.I.M.E. and Fields to Families.

Amen Street’s Oyster Tips | Charleston South Carolina

‘Enjoy Charleston SC Best Oyster Tips’

With Southeastern Wildlife Expo approaching this weekend, you’re given the opportunity to have some of the very last steamed oysters of the season. A Charleston rite of passage, oyster roasts are a great excuse to gather around a table, get messy and sip a cold beer. If you don’t consider yourself an oyster pro, there’s a bit of an intimidation factor to tackling a bucket of steamed oysters, or even a plate of raw ones.

If you’re getting prepared for this weekend’s SEWE oyster festivities, take a lesson from John Bil, Prince Edward Island native and Oyster Restaurateur. The waters surrounding Prince Edward Island are home to some of the world’s finest oysters, famous for their Malpeque variety, inspiring Bil to study the craft of oyster enjoyment. He holds the title of Canada’s three-time Oyster Shucking Champion, able to shuck a single oyster in less than five seconds. In this video from Bon Appetit’s blog, he breaks down a few simple steps to popping open an oyster without cutting up your hands and easily breaking the oyster free in one, beautiful piece. Check it out and take some notes (though we DEFINITELY suggest some gloves…)

We’ve got to hand it to John Bil for his talented express-shucking, but we prefer to stick to a Southern-shucking pace for your pleasure. Sit down behind the marble bar, sip a beer and enjoy our shucker doing the work for you. Amen Street offers delicious trays of oysters on the half shell. Choose from a fresh selection of local Gulf Oysters or select a bunch of frequently changing Unique Oysters, hailing from oyster meccas in New England and the Pacific Northwest to name a few. Our oysters are served with fresh, house made condiments like the Amen Street twist on Mignonette Sauce, a spicy vinegar-based companion to our fresh cocktail sauce.

Eating raw oysters can raise a few eyebrows from those who have not yet perfected the art. Let us assure you that there really is no correct way to eat raw oysters. But, slurping is encouraged and so is savoring the oyster. Before throwing it right down the hatch, give the oyster a few chews to experience its unique taste. In a 2009 interview with Vanity Fair, John Bil shared a few helpful tips for enjoying a tray of oysters, including a few descriptors to pepper in to dinner time conversation (read: salty, sweet, briny, gooey…)

Maybe the easiest- and most fun- way to consume an oyster is throwing back an Oyster Shooter. A delicious little delicacy and perfect treat on a Sunday morning before brunch. Made spicy with our house-infused pepper vodka, Bloody mary mix and topped off with an oyster.


There are so many ways to enjoy the oysters at Amen Street’s Raw Bar. Stop in and find your favorite one.

Valentine’s Day Date Downtown Charleston at Amen Street

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Does your evening include a trip to downtown Charleston to Amen Street? Our little fresh seafood restaurant makes a great date spot, for more reasons than one.

First, let’s consider our lovely ambiance. Dark, romantic woodwork, soft natural lighting and chic decor score instant points on the date ranking scale. If you snag a table, a seat in a big booth or a high top spot in our Oyster Room,  you’re promised a comfortable, cozy fine dining experience.

The Amen Dining Room

A great looking dining room is just that- a great looking dining room- without knowledgeable servers and bartenders. Let the Amen Street staff set the mood and help you navigate your way through our wine and beer list. They know the best vino and brew to pair with your meal. They can also fill you in on Chef Ollard’s special daily creations.

If you find your date has an aversion to seafood, not to worry. The Amen Street menu offers choices that seafood lovers and carnivores can agree on. Though our specialty is fresh seafood, we satisfy meat-and-potato cravings as well. Take the Amen Burger, for instance, a juicy patty topped with cheese and bacon- if you please, served with our signature flat top potatoes. Or the Petite Beef Filet, served with whipped potatoes and fresh veggies. Don’t forget dessert- these sweet masterpieces have been known to make a great meal by themselves.

The biggest benefit for choosing Amen Street as your Valentines Day date spot: our oysters. Notoriously known as an aphrodiasic, recent reports also suggest that oysters’ high zinc levels give your body an immunity boost and create a natural calming effect. Very few foods boast the same benefits. You’d have to eat five cups of pumpkin seeds to get the same amount of zinc in just one oyster. Low in calorie, heart-healthy and just plain delicious… and now you can impress your date with oyster trivia.

An Amen Oyster Tray

Make your Valentines Day plans with us! Book your table today.

Amen Street a Delicious Lunch Spot in Charleston

Today I enjoyed a lunch out of my ordinary routine with one of my favorite Charleston writers, Susan Lucas. Chef Ollard prepared us a few of his newly inspired dishes. If you’ve yet to take a lunch break at Amen Street, you’re overlooking this downtown lunchtime diamond in the rough.

First up, we sampled Amen’s re-imagined Ceviche, a dish that swapped the traditional tuna for shrimp. We loved the colorful presentation of pink shrimp, red tomatoes and green cilantro surrounded by a halo of crisp yellow corn chips. The Shrimp Ceviche was light and citrusy, a perfect accompaniment to our plate of Florida Golden Tilefish Crudo. The crudo looked beautiful on its white rectangular plate with a neat row of thinly sliced fish, a drizzle of lemon herb oil and dusting of microherbs and pink sea salt.

Tilefish Crudo

Shrimp Ceviche

The main attraction was Local Swordfish served over Sliced Asparagus, Tomatoes and Mepkin Abbey Mushrooms in Lemon-Herb Oil. Warm, totally mouth-watering and the perfect filling for an empty stomach. Locally sourced ingredients are an Amen Street ”thing.” While the seafood portion of their dishes typically get the recognition, Susan shared a fun fact about the mushrooms.


Little did I know, just up the road from downtown Charleston sits Mepkin Abbey, a living monastery. As long as I’ve lived in Charleston, I’ve never thought too much about the city of Moncks Corner’s namesake.  Now it all makes sense. The full story behind these mushrooms is fascinating. The Trappist Monks of Mepkin Abbey tend to this large-scale mushroom production of the oyster and shiitake varieties. Lucky for us, Mepkin Abbey’s mushroom production is so plentiful, Charlestonians can sample the mushrooms at a handful of restaurants or grab their own at Piggly Wiggly or Newton Farms.

Our lunch featured the Mepkin Abbey’s Oyster Mushrooms, a wonderful compliment to seafood. Grown in clusters, these mushrooms have a hearty taste: similar to a Portobello but lighter. Chef Ollard’s preparation and lemon-herb oil dressing brought out their delicious taste. I think I’m hooked.

I never tire from a enjoying a quick, light lunch in Amen’s sun-drenched dining room on East Bay Street. And a meal is so much better over a great story.

Thank you Susan Lucas for these beautiful photographs!

Chef Ollard Educates Kids on ‘Sustainable Seafood & Fishing in Charleston’

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar’s Executive Chef Stephen Ollard is giving back to our Charleston South Carolina community!  On January 18th, the kids at The Cooper School in West Ashley were treated to an interactive lesson from our very own Chef Stephen Ollard. The kids got up close and personal with some very fresh fish, as Chef Ollard shared tales of fishing and sustainability.  Doesn’t this kind of make you dream of career day and field trips?

The SC Sustainable Seafood Initiative is often referred to as “fishing for the future.” Passing on these sustainable fishing lessons to the children of Charleston is imperative. They are afterall, the reason we work so hard to keep the waterways clean and the fish healthy and populated. By the looks of the pictures, I think Chef Ollard has a few new fans, maybe even found some future chefs and fisherman!

You definitely don’t have to be a kid to benefit from learning about sustainable fishing. The local Sustainable Seafood Initiative, in which Amen Street is a Platinum Partner, teaches how extremely important proper fishing methods are. The initiative works alongside local chefs, passing down knowledge of which fish are “in season”, or most plentiful at certain times of the year, and where to find the best fish selection.The Initiative has taken on a life of its own here in the lowcountry and grown into a movement. All the more seafood for us…!

You can also get your hands-on lesson in fresh fish at Amen Street. When he’s not teaching the coolest science lesson ever, he’s dreaming up new special dishes that best spotlight the amazing seafood selection Charleston offers. Chef Ollard’s menu features seafood and produce from local purveyors, and always offer some kind of fun twist. Stay up to date and check out his daily specials. Updated each and every morning.


Dishing up the Best Seafood for Restaurant Week in Downtown Charleston

Try the Best Seafood Restaurant for Charleston Restaurant Week at Amen Street!

As we prepare one delicious seafood dish after the next for Charleston Restaurant Week, we’re reminded of just how special fish, shrimp and oysters are. Not many culinary destinations are lucky enough to have an ocean or river full of fresh fish nearby, or have seafood sustainability initiatives in place to protect the supply. Our Restaurant Week menu, like our regular menu, is full of fresh options, to make you feel good about eating seafood today and for years to come.

In the spirit of Restaurant Week, here is some food for thought from Barton Seaver, seafood and sustainability expert…

“…The vast majority of consumers do not have a relationship with fish. A fish is a living entity whose value is as a contributing part of an ecosystem. When a fish meets a person, that fish becomes seafood. And it is with seafood that we have a relationship, the value of which is as a part of our sustenance.”

Barton Seaver is a champion in the Sustainable Seafood Movement. He is a major player in the Green Chef Blue Ocean Initiative, an initiative that Amen’s Chef Stephen Ollard also supports. When Amen Street meets fish, we turn that fish into some of the best seafood available in downtown Charleston- for its freshness and delicious, unique prepartion. Since Chef Ollard is an “Ocean Friendly Chef”, he chooses local fisherman and seafood sources whenever possible.

So what’s the most sustainable seafood on our Restaurant Week menu? According to the South Carolina Sustainable Seafood Initiative, all of ‘em. At this time of year, Golden Tilefish, Oysters and Shrimp are all “in season” and sustainable.  Come and try our 3 courses for $30 at Amen Street and experience some of the freshest seafood on the peninsula.

Boost your fish knowledge and check out the Blue Ocean Institute’s Fish Guide.

Restaurant Week at Amen Street: The Winter Edition

Why can’t Charleston Restaurant Week last all year? It’s only day two of Restaurant Week and East Bay Street is teeming with people in search of the best Restaurant Week menu. Look no further than our cozy little restaurant and oyster bar. The Amen Street kitchen is busy prepping for another big night. Chef Ollard created a delicious menu for this highly-anticipated week.  The menu features stews, soups, fresh fish and the right amount of sweet to send you off into a delicious after-dinner haze.

If you’re sticking to your 2012 Resolutions, the Amen Street Restaurant Week menu has something fresh, light and healthy for you: a colorful chopped salad for starters, pan roasted fish, steamed rice and oyster stew- featured in this month’s Local Palate Magazine. If you’re not sticking to your resolutions, go for the rich, creamy She-Crab Soup, move on to Shrimp and Grits and polish it off with the Coconut Pie. And, be sure to add a bottle of wine or handcrafted cocktail to the table.

With our 3 courses for $30 menu, you’ll have a chance to sample Chef Ollard’s tasty appetizers, sustainable seafood dishes and amazing deserts at an all-inclusive price. You’ve got until January 22nd, so find a date, make a reservation and bask in the glow that is Restaurant Week at Amen Street.

You can of course eat off the Restaurant Week menu. Check out today’s daily special menu

Here’s a look at our 3 for $30 menu.

First Course — choose one

- Chopped Salad with Romaine, Radicchio, Cherries, Toasted Almonds and Candied Garlic Vinaigrette

- She Crab Soup with Sherry

Second Course — choose one

- Crab Cakes with Whipped Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Sweet Onion Remoulade

- Shrimp & Grits with Tasso-Roasted Tomato Cream

- Pan Roasted Golden Tilefish with Steamed Rice and Oyster Stew

Third Course — choose one

- Coconut Pie

- Chocolate Terrine

Chef Ollard’s “Amen’s Traditional Oyster Stew” in Local Palate Magazine

There’s nothing quite like standing among friends with a cold beer, muddy, flourescent gloves on your hands, mid chow-down on steamed oysters, saltines and hot sauce. January of course, is peek oyster season and oyster roast season in the lowcountry. These mighty mollusks are never too far out of reach during any other time of the year, but now oyster-filled Januarys are what’s expected– a ray of sunshine on a blistering cold, 50 degree winter day…

Steamed, raw, fried.. oysters are our friend. The Holy City was given one final gift, post-holidays: a 115 page, glossy Ode to the Oyster from Local Palate Magazine. This magazine is a-mazing, with photography so beautiful and detailed, you’re tempted to grab at the picture and take a bite. If you’ve yet to feast your eyes on Local Palate, go grab this month’s free copy. You’ll be greeted with lovely oyster imagery and see the oyster craftsmanship of our very own Executive Chef Stephen Ollard.

Always inspired by local produce, seafood and shellfish, Chef Ollard dreams up one fresh and unique fish dish after the next. A fall newcomer to his specials menu, he created his own version of a lowcountry favorite, Oyster Stew. Local Palate shared in the delight of the rich and creamy stew and invited Chef Ollard to share his recipe with their readers.

Try your hand at creating Chef Ollard’s “Amen’s Traditional Oyster Stew” or visit Amen Street to try the masterpiece. Check it out on page 40 of Local Palate in the ReDux section.

See what’s on the table this weekend at Amen Street.


Amen’s Traditional Oyster Stew

by Chef Stephen Ollard

To cook for 4 people, you’ll Need:

3 Tablespoons butter

1/4 onion, small dice

1 stalk celery, small dice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme

3 1/2 cups heavy cream

6 oysters shucked with liquid reserved

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. In a medium stock pot, saute onion, celery and garlic over medium-low heat in butter until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add flour and stir until golden brown. Add wine and reserved oyster liquid and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add remaining ingredients, except the oysters, and reduce heat to low. Cook soup for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add Oysters and cook for 1 minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Amen, Let’s Kick Off 2012

2011 was good to us, but 2012 will be better. We’re starting off the new year with lots of excitement…

#1- You’re probably familiar with the old wives tale that promises a great fortune when ringing in a new year with oysters and champagne. Just so happens, we have both and it’s working for us. Celebrate with us for a romantic dinner or a low key evening at the bar. At Amen Street, there’s no cover and no annoying crowds. We still have a few reservations open for dinner on Saturday night, check out Open Table to make yours. You can also hop over for a toast at midnight– we’ve got some great bubbly and crisp, delicious specialty drinks.

#2- After a long and fantastic year, we’re taking a little time to polish up. We will close after dinner on Sunday, January 8th and re-open for dinner service on Tuesday January 10th while we do some grooming and maintenance.  It will be easy to control your Amen cravings knowing that…

#3- Charleston Restaurant Week, the winter edition, begins on January 12th and last until the 22nd. Chef Ollard created a delicious menu for this blissful, 10 day event that is quickly becoming one of Charleston’s holiest weeks. We suggest you make your 3 for $30 dinner reservations now (with this menu, you might even need two nights). If you have a holiday shopping and eating hangover, Charleston restaurant Week is prime time to sample our fresh and healthy appetizers, sustainable seafood dishes and a-mazing deserts at an all-inclusive price.

Here’s a sneak peek at our 3 for $30 menu:

First Course — choose one

- Chopped Salad with Romaine, Radicchio, Cherries, Toasted Almonds and Candied Garlic Vinaigrette

- She Crab Soup with Sherry

Second Course — choose one

- Crab Cakes with Whipped Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Sweet Onion Remoulade

- Shrimp & Grits with Tasso-Roasted Tomato Cream

- Pan Roasted Golden Tilefish with Steamed Rice and Oyster Stew

Third Coursechoose one (this is hard, we know, sorry.)

- Coconut Pie

- Chocolate Terrine

#4- Rumor has it that Chef Ollard is among the local chef celebrities featured in one of our favorite new culinary magazines. And it just might share the secret behind one of his newest recipes, which also might be on the Restaurant Week menu.  But we’ll leave it up to you to find it…

Cheers and AMEN to 2012!

Oyster Shells: Recycle, Reuse and Replenish

After polishing off a plate of oysters or cleaning up from an oyster roast, what do you do with your shells? At Amen Street, we used a few for chandeliers, then we thought big picture. Turns out, empty oyster shells should find their way to a recycle bin, not the trash can.

In the Charleston seafood community, oyster shells are a hot commodity. Ahead of the curve in the sustainable seafood movement, many chefs and restaurants work with the SC Department of Natural Resources to recycle shells and help replenish the oyster population.

Many east coast oyster bays are quickly becoming devastated and loosing entire populations of oysters. Sadly, oyster issues are caused by us: boating, polluting, overfishing. The good news is, it’s definitely not too late to turn it all around. Even places like Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay , where less than 1% of their original oyster supply remains, are building themselves back up. 

Decreasing populations not only affects oyster-eating, it creates a huge problem for the underwater ecosystem. Oysters are “filter feeders”. They’re not just sitting back and relaxing, they feed an algae and keep the water clean. Smaller oyster populations and excess algae are causing some communities to build intricate sewage systems. The easy, natural, inexpensive answer is: build up the oyster population.

Thanks to a proactive recycling initiative in the lowcountry, our oyster supply is still abundant. When our shells are recycled, they are planted in a tidal area or creek in need of a replenishment or cleaning. In many places, there are many of  homeless oysters: larvae without shells. Recycling initiatives give the homeless oysters a place to settle and grow. Oyster shells also trap sediment and keep waves from eroding the banks, two very important parts of the initiative SCORE : South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement.

We in Charleston are absolutely in a good place – but with Christmas and New Years oyster roasts looming, grab the shells and take them to the nearest recycling station around South Carolina. It’s a great excuse  to eat more!

The oyster-recycling movement is huge in many communities around the country. Sustainable Seafood power players from share more interesting information on their conservation efforts. Check it out and get involved.

Merry Christmas and Merry Shucking.

Barramundi and Sheepshead on the Menu

Amen Street has some amazing specials this weekend, including a few selections you may have never seen or eaten. It’s a great weekend to branch out and try something new.

First up is Blackened Sheepshead with a Boursin Cheese Grit Cake, Braised Tatsoi and Swiss Chard.

You read that correct. While you may have an initial feeling of confusion, we assure you that it Sheepshead is indeed a fish, and a delicious one at that.  Sheepshead is very plentiful just down the coast from us in both the Atlantic and Gulf waters surrounding Florida. The taste of Sheepshead is likened to crab or lobster. Its taste is so similar, it can even be used in place of crabmeat.

This dish has a little sweetness from the Sheepshead and Cheese Grit Cake. A sharp tasting veggie duo: familiar Swiss Chard with new kid on the block green, Tatsoi, a relative of broccoli and brussels. The fish’s spicy blackened rub rounds out this dish’s full circle of flavor. It’s a really awesome one to try this weekend.

Next we have Pan Roasted Barramundi with Sweet & Sour Peppers and Chef Ollard’s signature Popcorn Rice.

Barramundi is also known as Asian Seabass or Giant Perch.  It is a sweet, mild white fish that “takes on the taste of the water in which it was raised” per the Seafood Choices Alliance. Barramundi is an extremely sustainable fish, which is right up our alley. The pan roasted preparation of the Barramundi brings its flavor out nicely and tastes great with the peppers’ bright pop of flavor.

If red meat is your preference, order the Ribeye this weekend with roasted tomato butter and whipped potatoes.

Mmmmm… Check the rest of our specials out here.

Calamari, Corndogs and Hushpuppies

Sometimes you just crave the finer things in life: fried foods. At Amen Street, you can find surprisingly light, amazingly satisfying fried appetizers and sides. Executive Chef Stephen Ollard adds a unique flair to some fried favorites…

Take Amen Street’s spin on the corndog. This is far from baseball game fare. The first difference would be what’s inside the delicious cornmeal batter. Instead of a hot dog, you have yourself a big piece of fresh, local shrimp. The shrimp is hand bread and lightly fried ’til it’s a delicious golden brown. The Shrimp Corndogs are served with napa slaw, home made yellow Carolina mustard and lemon pepper ketchup. Fried shrimp on a stick: ask yourself if it gets much better than that. 

Amen Street’s Fried Calamari is not a typical presentation of thin rings and twists with marinara sauce. Here it’s served in a beautiful white bowl, piled high with jumbo pieces of tender calamari, inside a crispy casing. The calamari is topped with a creamy lemon aioli sauce, corn, tomato, green onion and bacon. Although this dish is classified as an appetizer, you’ll probably want the entire bowl for yourself. This calamari makes a lasting impression. Just ask bloggers AnnaBeth and Alix (who created her own recipe!)

Lastly, try Amen’s Hush Puppies: flavorful cornmeal balls, rolled to the perfect size and fried to perfection. They are served with local honey; I recommend you skip the drizzle, and go straight to dunking. The sweet honey and savory hushpuppies are the perfect marriage. These hushpuppies are great accompaniment to everything from oysters, salads and platters. What’s a  lowcountry seafood restaurant without hushpuppies?

Stop in to Amen Street this weekend and find your own fried favorites.



front oyster lights

Give the Gift of Amen Street

Something about this time of year makes Amen Street cozier. Maybe it’s our front row view of hungry shoppers on East Bay Street or the shorter days and early afternoon sun pouring through our windows. Chilly, blustery days look better from inside our little nook on Cumberland Street. That cozy feeling is contagious as soon as you walk through the door. You may even be tempted to curl up in a booth and stay all day.

Why not share the Amen Street experience with someone on your shopping list this holiday season?

We make it easy with Amen Street gift cards:  no fees, no expiration dates, just good ole’ Amen Street currency. The beauty of an Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar gift certificate, is whether your budget is $20 or $200, your gift will go a long way. A cold beer and oysters at the bar, a bottle of wine and a crudo plate, doubling up on desserts, even a three course meal with wine pairings. Amen Street gift cards are ideal for singles, newlyweds, families, teachers- we haven’t met a person yet who didn’t love us. Even better, they fit in stockings and slip right into an envelope to mail.

Can’t get much better than that. Stop by, call or e-mail our General Manager, Laura Lovisone (843-853-8600 or to stock up on Amen Street gift cards.


Thanks and Amen

It’s our second Thanksgiving here at Amen Street and we owe every bit of our success to our loyal guests. In the spirit of “Thank-week”, we express our gratitude to those of you who choose to spend your lunch hours or evenings on the town at our cozy nook on East Bay and Cumberland.

Thank you to the seafood-seeking, the adventurous foodies, the parents sharing oysters with their children for the first time, our partners in the sustainable food movement, to our reviewers and their words about our food, ambiance and service team. You keep us going and inspire everything we do. 

Thank you to our Travelocity reviewers for these fabulous compliments! We promise to keep up the good work.


“Amen Street was a lovely find in Charleston! It was a hidden gem. It felt energetic and lively, yet quaint and cozy. The food was excellent, just perfect. We enjoyed the mussels and fresh catch cooked in a scrumptious light sauce. The green fried tomatoes were some of we had during our stay in Charleston. Just a delightful evening. The oyster chandeliers decorated the ceilings and exposed brick on the floors made for a really great ambience with excellent service and food. I strongly recommend this restaurant for an exceptional experience!”- Travelcharm, Minneapolis, MN

“This restaurant was a great find and their oysters were a big hit for our family. We were in Charleston for three days and ate there all three days. The restaurant gives off a cozy and warm feeling. There are big windows looking out onto East Bay St. which allows you to do a lot of people watching at the same time as enjoying the food. We also had their fish taco’s that were tasty… The po’boys sandwiches were good as well. We certainly will go back the next time we are in Charleston.” – dhq77, The Bahamas

“We enjoyed wonderful raw oysters, a lobster and shrimp risotto that was delicious, and a supremely fresh Tuna Carpaccio that was admittedly very tasty (I generally steer clear of raw fish). Service was friendly and prompt without being overbearing or disingenuous. Prices were reasonable. With the wide variety of seafood options in Charleston, I would definitely recommend Amen Street over all of the other restaurants focusing on the area’s copious fresh seafood. “– Tacoma Joe, Tacoma, WA

“I think having seafood is a must when you are in Charleston. At Amen you’ll find a focused, modern menu filled with delicious, fresh and often local seafood dishes set in a modernly restored building. Our waitress was extremely patient with us, providing a great description of each of the oysters on the menu – which were great. Actually, everything we tried was great (lobster and Shrimp risotto, fish tacos and the tuna crudo) including the cucumber infused gin & tonic.”- MLSTacoma, Yakima, WA

“What a great find in a town full of good restaurants. Great FRESH seafood restaurant. The staff was very helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and made us feel at home. The room is cozy, warm and wonderfully decorated. Our meals made us wishing we had another week in Charleston so we could come back every night. Great end to a week of travel, and memorable meals, along the East Coast. Prices were very reasonable for the excellent quality of the food and portion sizes.” – GwenL5, Madison, WI


We love hearing from you! If there’s anything you’d like to see on the menu or behind the bar, give us a shout.   If you are out on this Black Friday, stop in and have a drink with us!

Try the Tilefish

In need of a new fish?

Try Amen Street’s Tilefish. Chef Ollard specially created a hearty dinner for this Friday night by pan roasting tilefish and serving it alongside roasted artichoke, fennel and mushroom ragout. By Charleston standards, this chilly day can almost be declared winterous, so what better way to enjoy than with warm winter veggies and ragout?

Tilefish might sound a bit more exotic than your standard flounder and snapper, but be assured it’s just as delicious and familiar. According to the NOAA FishWatch Facts, the taste of tilefish is likened to crab or lobster. Tilefish are extremely nutrious and low in calorie, definitely an added bonus with a Thanksgiving feast in the near future.

Tilefish have some interesting traits. They are notorious for burrowing into the ground for shelter which create ”submarine canyons” or “pueblos”. In the underwater world they are also referred to as “clowns of the sea” for their neon blue, green and irredescent stripes, white bellies, pink faces and blue eyes. Too bad the name Clownfish was already taken. Some tilefish live to be 40 or 50 years old and can grow up to 50 inches long.

Tilefish faced overfishing in the 1980s, but with new fishing regulations, many more Tilefish lives have been spared, giving them time to reproduce and replish the population.  Over 75% of tilefish are caught by longline fishermen, the rest with standard hook and line or spearfishing even. The biggest Golden Tilefish fisheries are here in South Carolina, so Amen Street is in a short reach from the best selection.

We’d love to see you tonight! Make sure to check out the rest of our specials and reserve a table.


Chef Ollard Gets Fresh Inspiration from the Collaborative Chef Summit

Amen Street’s Executive Chef Stephen Ollard is fresh back from a field trip to New Orleans, where he and other names from the Charleston culinary scene attended the 3rd annual Collaborative Chef Summit.

The theme for this year’s summit is a topic Chef Ollard and Amen Street know very well: sustainability. The “Hands On: Sustainability in Action”-themed, three-day conference gathered together the best and brightest minds in the sustainable food movement. The Chefs Collaborative describes the group of like-minded chefs, foodies, fisherman, farmers and writers as ”changing the sustainable food landscape.” The summit was chock full of fun including ”four butchery workshops and demos, charcuterie and classic cocktail workshops…and workshops on grass-fed beef, Gulf seafood, dead zones, farm worker justice and climate change.”

Honors were given to Fedele Bauccio, founder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company for starting a company “that empowers its chefs to find creative ways to source, develop menus, motivate their staff and educate their customers”; Sal and Al Sunseri of P & J Oysters in New Orleans,  credited in brightening the outlook for Louisiana’s oysters post 2010′s devastating oil spill; and Chef Sam Hayward of Fore Street in Portland, Maine, a man who modeled sustainable food practices in New England. 

Chef Ollard is proud to be among the group of chefs who are changing the way people eat. Charleston is forging ahead in the sustainable food movement with restaurants like Amen Street leading the way, recreating the notion of fresh and healthy food and opening up exciting opportunities for local business and agriculture. 

Grab a table at Amen Street and taste the best of Charleston’s local ingredients and newly inspired daily specials.

Amen Street is a long-time Platinum Partner in the South Carolina Aqaurium’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative. We whole heartedly believe in protecting our fish and waterways with safe, sustainable fishing practices.

Triggerfish the Fresh Catch this Weekend at Amen Street

Abundantly available in South Carolina salt waters this November is the Gray Triggerfish, not to be confused with the flourescent Triggerfish you may have seen in an aquarium. According to the SC Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Initiative, Gray Triggerfish is one of the most sustainable fish to catch and eat during this final full month of fall.

The Triggerfish is a champion of the underwater world. They are designed to play defense with sharp teeth, a trigger-like dorsal fin and hard as nails scales. They hang out close to the ocean floor and nestle themselves inside the holes of coral reef- a great hiding spot for their armor-like bodies. Triggerfish can crack open urchin and crab shells with ease because of their fang-like teeth. They are also known to keep close, aggressive watch over their eggs.  

The fish’s claim to fame and subsequent namesake is its spine. The Triggerfish spine can rise and lock the dorsal fin into an upright position. The only way for a fisherman to release the fin (and avoid getting jabbed) is to press directly behind the raised spine, just like the trigger of a gun. The fin is sharp and painful when in position, to both anglers and underwater predators. The trigger fin sends a clear message that the Triggerfish doesn’t mess around! It is this unique behavior that keeps a greater population alive and able to thrive, making Triggerfish more plentiful and safe to enjoy.

Triggerfish is fresh on the menu this weekend at Amen Street. It makes a very sustainable substitute over grouper and snapper dishes this month. Triggerfish is light and flaky; many list it among the best tasting fish. At Amen Street you can have it prepared in any 3 of Chef Ollard’s special ways (herb grilled, blackened or Mongolian BBQ-ed) or try his featured entrée: Grilled Triggerfish with Braised Spinach, Polenta, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette.

See the rest of Chef Stephen Ollard’s Daily Specials here and check back for daily updates.

Satisfy Your Halloween Sweet Tooth at Amen Street

Starting this afternoon, Charleston has a jam-packed weekend of Halloween events on its schedule. With a city full of college kids, it might be tempting to keep the party moving through next week. The harsh reality? Some of us must leave the costumes and craziness behind to button back up for a new work week.  That 9 am meeting comes way too early. Amen Street makes the perfect spot for a sweet, low-key Halloween night. Costumes encouraged.

I personally cannot think of a better place to fall into a sugar-induced Halloween coma than Amen Street. Of course, you can always stop in for fresh seafood any day of the week, but their desserts and wine pairings are insanely good for this special occasion.

I dream about Amen’s Berry Bread Pudding. It’s so rich and delicious it could actually be a meal itself.

Berry Bread Pudding and a glass of Moscato. Perfection.

Chef Ollard just dreamed up new desserts, featured on Amen Street’s daily special menu. If you’re lucky, you can still get a slice of his Coconut Cream Pie- served with Chantilly Cream and Raspberry Coulis. So delicious! Laura Lovisone, Amen’s General Manager and her awesome staff can suggest the perfect wines to round it all out.

If you’d rather drink some sweetness, or need some hair of the dog, try Grandma’s Milk and Cookies Martini, layered with Godiva Chocolate Liquor, Gran Marnier, Kahlua, Milk . Or sip on a glass of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale. Amen’s bartenders are always pouring decadent dessert drinks and festive seasonal beers.

Happy Halloween, Charleston!

The Proof is in the Pirlau

Hmm, I’ll take the Flash in the Pan Pirlau… Or is it Per-low? Pra-loo? Perla?

Anyway you pronounce it, it’s amazing. Pirlau is a true lowcountry tradition, a dish rising in the ranks among Charleston’s Most Popular Seafood superlatives. 

Pirlau paints a picture of the lowcountry’s history. The roots of the rice dish are traced back to 1800′s, when rice was one of Charleston’s biggest cash crops. The unique salt and fresh water tidal swamps and creeks along the banks of many large plantations became the perfect place to grow and harvest rice. The work was done by the area’s African slave workforce, who created a genius system to farm the rice. The rice crop was so plentiful- and delicious- that the lowcountry moved from exporting it by the thousands of pounds, to millions of pounds.

Rice of course became a staple in many Charleston dishes. The slave force who farmed the rice also cooked with the rice, creating Pirlau as a twist on a traditional African rice stew. When preparing it in Charleston, a few tweaks were made to include local ingredients, mainly the addition of local fish.

Chef Stephen Ollard has his Pirlau preparation down to a science. With his Flash in the Pan Pirlau, you can expect a very traditional recipe, but with an Amen twist. The rice is flavorful and fluffy. Atop a perfect bed of rice are fresh local scallops, shrimp, mussels and clams. It’s a lighter, more adventurous alternative to Shrimp and Grits. And Pirlau is something you really can’t get just anywhere.

Every culture has a rice dish: the Spanish serve Paella, Italians cook Risotto, many Middle Eastern cultures prefer Pilaf. And we Southerners love us some Pirlau.

Andrew Zimmern Films Bizarre Foods at Amen Street

With Conde Nast readers dubbing Charleston the “Best City in America”, it’s no wonder why Travel Channel celebrity and food explorer, Andrew Zimmern would cruise through town. With Amen Street serving the best local oysters, it’s also no wonder why Mr. Zimmern would stop by to sample our raw bar selections.

Just last week, Andrew Zimmern and his crew from Bizarre Foods visited the Holy City, making a stop at some of the city’s best restaurants. While chatting with the City Paper, he praised Charleston for its unique and delicious cuisine. Unique, being the key factor in featuring Charleston on his show. (While raw oysters aren’t a novel concept for Southerners, they certainly are for our landlocked midwestern neighbors and other viewers around the world.)  

Before sampling Amen Street’s oysters, Andrew visited our supplier in Bulls Bay, an area north of Mount Pleasant known for the lowcountry’s best oyster harvest. Because of Amen’s committment to local, sustainable seafood, we regularly feature Bulls Bay Oysters on our menu. Our quick, delicious preparation, homemade condiments, cold beer and chic, unique bar combine for a perfectly bizarre oyster experience.

Thank you, Andrew and the Bizarre Foods crew for stopping in.

Amen Street’s Travel Channel debut will be in the winter of 2012. Make sure to tune in and see Andrew Zimmern shuckin’ oysters at Amen.


Fall Drink Specials from the Amen Street Bar

The Amen Street bartenders have dreamed up an assortment of new drinks inspired by cooler temperatures, fresh ingredients and the beautiful people of Charleston. Each choice is uniquely Amen Street, handcrafted from homemade stocks, fresh fruits, juices, spices, and spirits that this town loves so much.

Another special treat in your cold glass are our house infused liquors. Get a taste of our homemade Spicy Lemon Pepper Vodka in the new “Dirty Spice” Martini with olive juice, a pepperocini and blue cheese stuffed olive. Yum. Another must-drink is our twist on the Gin and Tonic, the “Cucumber Infusion” served with house infused Cucumber Gin.

Laura Lovisone, Amen Street’s General Manager, says you’ve gotta try the “The Old Charleston”. This drink is sure to get you tipsy in true Charleston fashion, with a healthy pour of Grand Marnier, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, and Muddled with Fresh Orange, Cherry, Sugar and Bitters.

Turn your Charleston happy hour into an Amen Hour, or two. Find us on Facebook and tell us what your favorite is.

Find Amen Street’s drink menu here: Amen Street Fall Drink Menu