Quick? Who’s Mary Hays McCauley? And no, she’s not the inventor of the chicken wrap.
Give up? McCauley fought in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Monmouth, working a cannon to fend off the British siege. In doing so, the American heroine earned the nickname, “Sergeant,” courtesy of George Washington, as her efforts greatly exceeded the standard duties – washing and cooking – expected of women during wartime.
She’s remembered for her bravery in Charleston, and at Eli’s Table, a bold, new venture from Charleston Hospitality Group. The restaurant is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 129 Meeting Street.
Most of the lunch dishes are imaginatively named for historical figures such as McCauley, Robert E. Lee, Paul Revere and even Blackbeard, allowing for an epic, culinary romp through history. The theme is appropriate to the neighborhood, as the restaurant sits only a stone’s throw from the world-famous Gibbes Museum of Art. Eli’s makes for an ideal meal either before or after visiting Gibbes, providing delicacies crafted from fresh and local ingredients within the restaurant’s outdoor courtyard or tastefully conceived interior space.
And of course, Eli’s offers some of the finest sandwiches in the city. The chicken wrap ($9.50), as named for McCauley, is a favorite among the staff and regulars. The offering draws mightily from a blend of feta cheese, cranberries and toasted local pecans bound inside a sun-dried tomato tortilla. Blackbeard ($9.50) is on board, too. The pirate presents a traditional ham and Swiss coupling jazzed up to include crunchy, fried green tomatoes dressed with a tangy chipotle aioli over a soft, buttery croissant.
The first governor of South Carolina, John Rutledge, receives prime reference as well. His namesake sandwich is generously portioned like the others, assuming the moniker, BST ($11): bacon, smoked salmon and tomatoes. The Atlantic salmon is smoked – a rarity among Charleston restaurants, and fitted alongside thick-sliced bacon and vine-ripened tomatoes.
Other classic selections – shrimp and grits, penne pasta, fried po’ boy and corned beef sandwiches – also turn up on the menu. Francis Marion, the old Swamp Fox himself, even makes an appearance with a filet mignon sandwich.
In general, these choices hint at what Eli’s does so well. The restaurant capably blends the old with the innovative, creating a new table – your table – to accommodate history and the current-day.