Eatery in Belle Hall Shopping Center Serves Up A Good Mix At Lunch, Dinner & Sunday Brunch
By: Jeff Walker
While there are a handful of eateries strewn throughout Belle Hall Shopping Center offering up a variety of fare, Ember Wood Fired Kitchen is perhaps the only dining establishment in the complex that leans more towards the upscale, although their prices suggest affordability. Owned and operated by GlowFisch Hospitality, the brain trust behind Sesame Burgers & Five Loaves Cafe, Ember is a unique blend of California inspiration, Neapolitan style pizza, and wood fired delicacies.
Celebrating two years on the backside of Belle Hall (656 Long Point Rd, Ste G), Ember under the creative eye of Executive Chef Jimmy Owens, serves up lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as Sunday brunch. From their 700 degree wood fired oven diners can feast upon an array of Italian delights (pizza, pasta, calzones), roasted chicken and salmon entrees, as well a delightful mix of locally braised & perfectly seasoned vegetables.
It's safe to say, whether you're a vegan, carnivore, or someone who just craves well prepared dishes, then Ember will captivate your palate. Taking the full tour begins with Veggies & Starters aka appetizers. The roasted Brussels Sprouts swirled in pancetta (Italian pork), balsamic, and brown sugar is a consummate way to kick start your meal. A bit of pungent surrounded by a savory sweetness. If you're only a so-so fan of Brussels sprouts, than an order at Ember will give you a deeper appreciation.
Not to be outdone is the Roasted Cauliflower. Flawlessly roasted with shallots (petite garlic infused onions), coated in a mustard and tahini (sesame) glaze. Just the right amount of crunch. Again it will make you rekindle an admiration for Brussels sprouts often ignored cousin.
You'll be equally amazed with the wood fired offerings of rainbow carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and sweet potato wedges. Go a little rogue and try their Scallops with Butternut Squash. Awesome comes to mind. There is something about wood fire that brings out the full potential of veggies, that cooktops and grills cannot duplicate.
Depending whether you're in for lunch or dinner, there are roughly a dozen appetizers to choose from including a French Onion Soup, Meatballs, Wood Fired Egglant (cloaked in fresh mozzarella & basil), fresh made Hummus w/ flatbread pizza, and the Chef's Board, a nice charcuterie plate teeming with meats, cheeses, mustard, nuts, spreads to top flatbread pizza.
Moving onto the entrees, there are seven signature pizzas as well as three pasta dishes that will arouse your interest. The Plain Jane will satisfy traditional pepperoni pizza lovers, while the other half dozen lean towards designer pies. I strongly urge the Forager. A wood fired crust lathered in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), roasted mushrooms, truffle, and garlic, seasoned with sage, while encircled in goat cheese. Akin of a Mediterranean delight. Ideal for vegans as are the Verde and Margherita pizzas.
I would be remiss not to mention the Triple S aka the Sligthly South of Seacoast pizza. With the main campus of the Charleston based super church just a half mile away, the SSS is 'heavenly scent'. Meatballs, fennel and banana pepper covered in taleggio cheese (semisoft Italian w/slight fruity tang). The Boone Hall layered in sausage and prosciutto, will attract the meat lover in your group. Most pizzas come in at $11 and under.
Five unique sandwiches add to the midday bill or fare. The Veggie comprised of hummus, spinach, zucchini, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, with a garlic aioli spread is quite appealing, served on your choice of multi-grain or pizza bread. Complements well with a glass of wine. The Ember Burger is two 4oz. patties (half pound) of pure beef covered in bacon onion jam and oozing with white cheddar. Need I say more. Of course it goes great with a cold craft beer (more on that below).
Several of the lunch items carry over to the dinner menu. If you bring along a hearty appetite I would recommend the Braised Short Ribs complete with crispy Brussels sprouts, or the all American Oak Roasted Chicken served up with Yukon gold potatoes and carrots. All deliciously wood fired. Seafood lovers might opt for the Oak Roasted Salmon sitting on top of ricotta gnocchi (soft dumplings), fully enhanced with cherry tomatoes, capers, and spinach in a creamy lemon, parsley and butter sauce. Absolutely superb!
A variety of pasta dishes and greens aka salads round out the dinner listings. The Kale Caesar is a unique spin on a popular Italian salad, utilizing fresh cabbage leaves tossed with multi-grain croutons, parmesan, and sun-dried tomatoes in an avocado Caesar dressing. Crunchy, filling, and a tad bit more healthier for you.
For diners who embrace bold tastes I recommend the Beets Salad. A cornucopia of essences exploding on your taste buds, including zesty orange goat cheese, candied walnuts, and lemon vinaigrette over roasted red & gold beets. As an extra measure it's high in anti-oxidants, so it's a nice way to cleanse the body while enjoying a savory salad. Vegans take note, it's gluten free as are the Ember Cobb and Quinoa & Spinach Salads. An eclectic mix for sure. Want to upgrade your salad to more of an ample entrée', than add salmon, chicken or scallops to the greens.
While Ember doesn't serve up breakfast they do offer brunch 10-3pm on Sundays, taking the best of the best from the lunch portion, adding eight signature early morning favorites. Their Ember Shrimp & Grits rival any downtown Charleston eatery, buttery lemon & herb infused polenta (Italian yellow grits) rolled with crispy bacon, capers, and scallions alongside tomato jam and sunny eggs.
If you have a sweet tooth you might want to sink it into the multi-grain French Toast, a gooey confection oozing with Nutella, mascarpone (whipped Italian cheese), and draped with toasted almonds and fresh berries. Going lite, the honey Greek yogurt with fresh berries, granola and nuts will fill the bill. Hungrier types might prefer the Wood Fired Biscuits & Gravy, the Chef's Choice Omelet of the Day, Salmon Cakes, or the familiar Eggs Benedict.
Maybe you have room after dinner for a little dessert, or maybe you just dropped in to have a late night sweet treat. Although the menu is not heavy on desserts, Ember does serve up seasonal desserts, as well as a 3 flavor ice cream sampler that can easily satisfy several in your party.
What has become one of their signature meal finales is the Nutella S'Mores Pizza. Decadent hazelnut cocoa spread blanketed with almonds and toasted marshmallows, with a dusting of powdered sugar. Yummy to the max! I can personally give kudos the latest addition, Strawberry Mascarpone Bread Pudding, topped with vanilla bean ice cream. The title alone makes you whet your appetite. Trust me, it's the bomb!
Far from a sports bar, with one lone big screen TV behind a very welcoming bar, Ember is more of a enjoy your meal and great conversation restaurant. Over 20 craft beers to complement any entrée', including your favorites from Holy City, Westbrook, Two Blokes, Revelry, and Palmetto Breweries. Combine the local and regional brews with specialty cocktails in addition to daily concoctions, and $5 bloody Mary's and mimosas during Sunday brunch.
You've heard it said, 'we eat with our eyes'. On presentation alone your palate would crave nearly everything on the Ember Wood Fired Kitchen menu. When you prepare items in a 700 degree oven you have little room for error, and Jimmy and his staff know when to remove your entrée' from the heat, and dress it up before it hits the table.
Equally appealing is the décor', which reflects a soft industrial look, very clean with a wood tone look. The adjacent covered patio overlooking the lone pond in Belle Hall Shopping Center makes for enjoyable alfresco (outside) dining. The quaint interior bar is ideal for cocktails, weekday happy hour 4-6pm, and ample craft beers to please even most the discerning brew lover. Daily food and drink specials, as well as half priced bottles of wine Tuesday & Saturday. A nice mix overall.
If you're seeking something different, a bit upper crust (pun intended) than I would highly recommend Ember. Pleasant surroundings, exceptional service, and really good food that won't set your wallet on fire. Most lunch items under $11 with dinner entrees $12-$22. Shopping in Belle Hall, catching a service at Seacoast Church, doing business on Long Point Rd., or maybe on your way to Mount Pleasant or Daniel Island on I-526, if hunger hits you, than do yourself a favor and drop into Ember Wood Fired Kitchen. Just two minutes off the exit. You'll savor the visit.
Check out their site at https://www.emberkitchen.com/