I have never experienced anything quite like our meal at Zero George Restaurant + Bar. Sure, I’ve savored some excellent meals around the world, dined atop some of the world’s tallest buildings, inside old samurai houses, and while out at sea on private sailing excursions. However, there was something extraordinary about dining at Zero George + Bar that’s difficult to pin down. Still, I’ll do my best to share why this quickly became one of our favorite meals we’ve ever had.
Zero George Restaurant + Bar
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Address: 0 George Street
Head Chef: Vinson Petrillo
Food Type: Molecular Gastronomy, Lowcountry Cuisine
Dining Experience: Al Fresco
Awards: Conde Nast’s Top 5 Foodie Hotels in the World,
+ Many More
Price: $350+ per Person
Dress Code: Smart Casual +
Special Diets: Gluten-Free (not GF dedicated),
About Zero George Restaurant + Bar
One of the most awarded young chefs in the world, Chef Vinson Petrillo, works in a small professional display kitchen inside the property’s original 1804 carriage house to handcraft more than 600 meals each night, each of which wows guests with striking complexity coaxed from the inherent simplicity of hyper-seasonal, local ingredients. Considering that they’re currently only open 4 hours each night for dining, Tuesday through Sunday, that’s extremely impressive.
We were seated outside on the restaurant’s sprawling open-air porch and presented with a tasting menu and glasses of water. Our server, Nadia, and our sommelier, Kenton, explained the meal courses we would be served that night and arranged our first rare wine pairing course, a glass of Krug Grand Cuvée Brut Champagne, for a welcome toast. As we waited for our first course, we watched the sun begin to set over Charleston through the palmetto trees & magnolias in the brick courtyard.
Since we were dining alfresco, a gentle breeze kept the warm evening from feeling oppressive and kept us comfortable all night long. To further underline the romantic and refined atmosphere of Zero George Restaurant + Bar, we dined by candlelight and the gentle glow of lights hidden amongst the foliage, which was a true pleasure.
Zero George Restaurant + Bar’s Menu & Our Meals
The pacing of our meal was impeccable. We never had to wait without something to eat or drink in front of us throughout the course of our meal, and our servers were exceptionally attentive. As soon as we finished each course and sat back in our chairs, our servers cleared our table and replaced our empty dishes with the following new delight, and yet we never felt rushed. Each new dish wowed our senses and invited us to pace ourselves to ensure that we could enjoy everything to the fullest extent. Here’s some of what we ate during our Multi-Course Chef’s Tasting Menu with Rare Wine Pairings.
**Please note Chef Vinson Petrillo, above, modified my meal to make it gluten-free, and he served us a pescatarian version of the standard tasting menu. The menu also changes frequently to reflect what’s seasonally available. What you order may differ from what you see here.
Left: Beausoleil Oyster from Miramichi Bay, New Brunswick Middle: Warm Prawn Toast Served Over River Rocks Right: Deviled Eggs with Caramel, Truffles, and Nasturtium Leaves
Left & Middle: Potted Plant Right: Liquid Nitrogen Sweet on a Perilla (Shiso) Leaf
Our appetizers were incredible. Nadia brought them all out at once and invited us to eat with our hands and “play with our food. It was indeed a sensory experience. The oysters had an exquisite flavor profile and were a bit tart and a bit sweet. The prawn toast, which was warm and arrived over a river stone bed, was crunchy and savory. Our deviled eggs were delightful, and while they may look like regular deviled eggs, they were much richer and far more luxurious tasting than any other deviled eggs we’ve had.
The potted plant appetizer was my personal favorite. It consisted of a radish buried in a “pot” full of rich, whipped butter, topped with toasted quinoa and seeds, which helped balance out the crisp, zesty flavor of the radish, making it milder and more inviting. My husband’s favorite was the liquid nitrogen meringue atop fresh shiso leaves, which felt cold but tasted sweet and gentle.
The last appetizer was a warm falafel duo covered with a cool yogurt sauce, crushed pistachio, sesame seeds, and marigold petals. Set upon a bed of dried garbanzo beans inside of a hand-woven basket, both pieces of falafel looked and smelled fantastic. This falafel was some of the best I’ve ever had. I could have left after our appetizers and been amazed, but we’d barely scratched the surface of our meals at Zero George Restaurant + Bar!
The Tasting Menu
After our appetizers, we jumped right into our first course, Edisto Island Beets, served with strawberry, anchovy, feta, and Regiis Ova Supreme Caviar. Chef Vinson placed the beet disk atop a pile of creamy feta cheese, microgreens, fresh berry mash, and anchovy and placed a generous portion of caviar on top of the beet disk. The salty, rich flavor of the caviar blended perfectly with the cool, creamy base and bright taste of the beets, making it an incredible dish. If I had to choose a favorite course from this meal, it would be this one. It was positively outstanding and something I can’t get out of my head. It was extraordinary.
We savored a 2018 Phillippe Tessier Cour-Cheverny ‘Les Sables’ from the Loire Valley in France with this dish. This fruity, slightly sweet wine pairs beautifully with the fresh and bright flavors of this first course.
The second course was Lightly Smoked Ōra King Salmon with kale, buttermilk, and coconut. I am a huge fan of salmon, and this was one of the most excellent preparations of salmon I’ve ever enjoyed. It had a light curry flavor to it, and it was such an incredible surprise, as though every bite allowed us to discover more and more of the salmon’s delightful flavors.
This second course was paired with a 2019 Los Bermejos Listán Negro ‘Maceracion Carbonica’ from the Canary Islands, Spain. The notes of strawberry and cherry perfectly balance the rich flavors of the fish and chips course.
Next, we were presented with the chef’s take on Fish & Chips with fava beans, sakura (cherry blossom), and rhubarb. Mine was gluten-free, while Robin’s was made normally. This dish was also so delicious; I couldn’t believe how much flavor the chef had packed into seemingly ordinary fish! The “chips” were Japanese-inspired and made to resemble okonomiyaki (learn more about this dish here), which was one of my favorite dishes we ate in Japan. It was an incomparable pairing.
We enjoyed a 2019 Lise & Bertrand Jousset Chenin Blanc Blend from the Canary Islands in Spain with this fish course.
Next, we enjoyed the Charcoal Grilled Flounder, which was served with ramps, pistachio, and samphire. This fish was so light and yet so full of flavor that I could hardly believe it. It was delectable from start to finish.
Our final meal course pairing for the evening was a 2019 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Young Vines’ from Napa Valley, California.
I only eat sweets when I’m traveling, as I do try to eat healthy as often as I can, but given the opportunity, I would gleefully eat these desserts every day. The dessert on the left was called First Strawberries, which feathered rhubarb, almonds, and goat’s milk, topped with locally sourced bee pollen. The right dessert, Tres Leches, was made with fried honeycomb, one of my new favorite flavors, and young coconut. The photo below shows the standard version, whereas I was served the gluten-free version with pudding instead of cake. Both desserts were positively divine.
Our desserts were paired with a delightful 1999 Domaine des Baumard Quatres de Chaume from the Loire Valley in France. This wine was almost as old as I am, which is a strange thought as I get older, although I have partaken in wine that’s as old as my grandparents. This goes to show that good things and good wine come to those who wait!
It was a charming pairing indeed, which highlighted the tartness and acidity of the strawberry dessert while underscoring the sweeter notes of the tres leches dessert.
Final Thoughts on Zero George Restaurant + Bar
Everything from the service and the atmosphere to the rare wine pairings and the craftsmanship of our meals, created directly by culinary genius Chef Vinson Petrillo, was outstanding. If I lived locally, I would eat here as often as I could make time to do so. Even living so far north in Connecticut, my husband and I are making plans to visit again soon. If you’re in Charleston, you can’t miss out on an incredible meal here, and if you aren’t local to the Holy City, it’s well worth traveling out of your way to enjoy such a perfectly refined dining experience.