J Paul’z is another installment in my vacation reviews from a recent trip south to Folly Beach and the Charleston, South Carolina area. (And save it, Stanton, we all know how you feel about out-of-town reviews…you insist on repeating yourself every time we post one.)
Located on James Island between those two cities, this restaurant was high on my list of places to try. In fact I wrote a note on the menu I printed from the internet and placed in my Vacation Folder which read: “I WANT TO GO HERE”. (If you only knew how geeky I was about planning and researching for trips…it drives Ron crazy.)
The exterior resembled a newish chain restaurant in a strip mall-type setting. Brick building, stand-alone, plopped down on an asphalt parking lot. I was nervous already. The interior boasted an Asian-influenced contemporary feel with benches covered in pillows and low lighting that made taking photographs of the food nearly impossible. I liked the interior décor.
I had already studied the menu and predetermined that I would try the duck confit flatbread for $11. But I had to ask some questions anyway. I inquired about the tomato pie…was it really a pie crust? Indeed it was a mini pie, complete with crust, containing tomato sauce, onions and cheese. That was tempting and I should have taken Hope’s advice when she tried to get me to order the pie. I asked about the flatbreads – how big are they? They are actually a pita utilized like a pizza crust. Hmmmm…. that was not really what I expected when they said “flatbread” on the menu, but I went ahead with my original plan. Oh, and a glass of Toso Brut. Sparkling wines are the perfect drink for vacations.
In the meantime of me fretting over a decision, Hannah ordered the Truffled Macaroni and Cheese for $6 and Hope ordered buttered pasta for $4.
The sushi Ron ordered was first to appear, along with Hope’s pasta. The dynamite roll ($12) was pretty tasty. It was presented on a long wooden board that reminded me of a paddle or a cutting board. An orange sauce was drizzled in a wavy line and the bites of sushi placed atop the sauce.
I sampled Hannah’s mac and cheese, too. The spiral noodles were coated in a creamy cheese sauce that tasted like a dozen other versions of that dish. It was good, but did it really have truffle oil? Who knows.
My flatbread was indeed a pita dressed with toppings. Baked and cut into fourths, each fourth was then layered upon the fourth before it in a line down the center of another “cutting board”. I liked the presentation. I don’t know if pita has ever been so dressed up before. It looked a whole lot better than it tasted, however. After the first piece, I had to force myself to keep going so Ron wouldn’t be able to say “I told you so” when we got back in the car. This was not his kind of restaurant and I knew he wasn’t enjoying himself. I had to put on a brave face and keep chewing.
I picked off half of what I think was the duck confit. The lettuce was all wilty by the time I got to the third piece. The cheese and blueberry reduction couldn’t conceal the gamey flavor of the meat. I have had duck on several occasions without experiencing this odd taste. Maybe “gamey” is not the right word. I’ll put it this way: I did not enjoy it.
To try to cleanse my palate I turned to dessert. Tiramisu, specifically. We ordered one slice for $7 and I cut into three smaller pieces, one for each of us girls. Hope tasted it and gave hers away. No way was Hannah giving hers up – she ate it all and declared it was good. For me, it wasn’t the best tiramisu I’ve tried, but it wasn’t the worst, either. It was a generous helping of cake layered with cream filling and dusted with cocoa. The construction was a bit messy but it certainly ended my meal on a sweeter note.
I have no complaint about the service and the prices seemed to be in line with other local establishments. An average meal for the four of us cost around $70 all week long, no matter if we ate burgers or seafood it seemed. So why did I feel ripped off?
In describing my meal, I have failed to convey how I felt about the experience. When I read a menu with descriptions like “House-cured duck, caramelized local spring onions, asiago and gorgonzola cheeses, local arugala salad, blueberry reduction” I expect an artfully created dish with surprising flavors like SHMC. I think of places like the Vandalia Grille when I hear “tapas”. Being from under-appreciated West Virginia, I also expect that coming to a larger metropolitan area like Charleston South Carolina means I’ll have even better meals than I get at home. In the end my meal wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, so I left disappointed.
With so many other better places, I would not choose to return here in the future. Proof yet again that you should not judge a book by its cover, J Paul’z lured me in with enticing menu descriptions and attractive décor, but could not live up to the expectations created by them. TWO FORKS.
Ron Says ~
This Place Sucked
First just let me flat out say, I had to ask Susan what the hell “Tapas” was/means/is… pick your word.
I didn’t know. I honestly thought it would be a place that I got little bowls, we sat around on the floor and sipped each others dishes. She tells me that basically the food is designed or presented in a way that it can be shared.
Well… what if I don’t like what you order? I know I sure as hell do not want to share any of Macaroni and Cheese or Pasta. I don’t care if it is or isn’t Kraft, either.
I don’t know how or why she picks these places.
Well you want to know what the food was like:
First – I ordered the Sushi Roll – Dynamite… is there a standard for what a Dynamite Sushi Roll must be? If not, that’s ok, this was the only good thing I got at this joint. Probably the best Sushi Roll I’ve ever had to be honest. But you guys all know my Sushi expertise, is basically what I can pick up at the Quincy Krogers.. Which means I don’t know shit about Sushi…
But I liked this, it had a slight crunchy bread coating on the outside, which I don’t recall getting at Taste Of Asia. It was good……
for an appetizer.
My main dish was some Shrimp Flat Bread….. I’m thinking this is what I’m going to have to share…. I order shrimp because the kids won’t eat it, thus I won’t have to share it….. I asked Susan what Flat Bread was (not that I couldn’t deduce that from the title) and she informed me that it was indeed “flat bread with stuff on it”…. I say “Like A Pizza?!” To confirm my hilljack deduction, she says “yes, like a pizza”…. I do not think she wanted to go into the exact differences between Pizza’s and Flat Breads and for simplicities sake, she left it at that.
Well my pizza came out, instead of round, they had cut it in four individual slices, and presented them on a board (cedar plank??) arrayed like fallen over dominoes.
Pretty I admit.
Well, I’m sure a good chef could pretty me up a dog turd also. This meal reminded me of some Lean Cuisine Pizza, the crust was microwave spongy, the cheese was not mozzarella, but was instead more along the lines of a sharp cheddar. The menu may have said it was, and if I overlooked it, well that is obviously my fault. But I don’t like cheddar, and I went into this thinking pizza.
Susan’s right when she says the service was good, it was quick and friendly. When I walked in, I felt it was more of a sports bar. You see a “in the round” bar pretty much as soon as you walk in, and there is no one sitting around it, with some high def TV’s here and there…. then you move into the main dining area..
Very Olive Gardenesque….
Back to the food… the sushi good, my pizza sucked. The beer was on the high side.
One Fork…. you may like it if you think you’re an upscale pretentious ass individual, but coming from my Appalachian Hill Jack Perspective – it sucked One ForkJ Paul’z 1739 Maybank Highway Charleston, SC 29412 843-795-6995 P.S. Look for an upcoming post from Susan entitled “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Confit”.