Here I am, back in South Carolina. Thankfully only for 3 days this time, nowhere near my previous stay of almost 3 years! South Carolina isn’t necessarily vegetarian friendly let alone vegan friendly but here and there are tiny rays of hope in and around the Charleston, SC area. In researching a place to have lunch today I ran across The Sprout ( 627 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, SC).
The Sprout is a raw foods take-out restaurant which also doubles as a juice and smoothie bar. The Sprout is tucked in an unassuming shopping center which houses a gym, various sub shops and the usual grocery stores and nail salons. Walking into The Sprout immediately takes you away from all the hustle and bustle of the outer shell of a shopping center and into a place and tranquility. No there’s no incense burning or Enya playing in the background, it’s the people and the food that immediately ground you.
I walked into The Sprout, took one look at the giant boards of smoothie and fresh juice choices and immediately turned to the left to see a large selection of premade raw foods as well as vegan organic wines nestled between growing wheatgrass (surreal, I know). Immediately the woman behind the counter came to help me with my selections out of the towering case of food in front of me. She carefully explained the ins and outs of each dish from the Sun Burgers and Veggie Burgers to the pad Thai, enchiladas, hummus, desserts, nut cheeses and traditional salads. She explained that their menu is all organic and comes from local farms. The menu changes daily based on what is in season and available. She left me to my own devices and as I mulled over all the choices in front of me another gentleman came to see if I had any additional questions. Needless to say, the customer service at The Sprout is exceptional.
Ok, ok, I know you want to know about the food! I tried the enchiladas (made with a spinach “tortilla” wrap, sprouts, ground sun burger, cashew sour cream, carrots and avocado over a bed of fresh baby spinach), cashew cheese, tortilla chips and the lemon brulee. Although the enchiladas tasted nothing like traditional enchiladas they were incredible nonetheless. They tasted fresh, spicy and scrumptious and although you could tell they were raw it didn’t take away from the essence of the dish. The cashew cheese was zesty, creamy and the perfect “cheese” dip. Unfortunately the tortilla chips fell flat. They were crispy to the touch yet, when I began to chew them they turned into a gummy mess that I literally had to scrape off my molars. Later that night in my hotel I finished the cashew cheese off with some celery and carrots. I would recommend trying the flax crackers instead of the tortilla chips if you have the option. I had two choices for dessert, chocolate mouse and lemon brulee, a long time patron of The Sprout recommended the brulee and I had to admit that it looked positively decadent. I cannot explain the orgasm of flavor that went on in my mouth the moment I tasted the lemon brulee! The lemon brulee was sweet, creamy, rich and the crumble “sugar” topping added a light crunch to round off the crème brulee experience. As I began to eat it I kept telling myself “save some for later, save some for later” but before I knew it I was practically licking the inside of the to-go container in my rented mini-van (yes, a mini-van. Another story for another day).
If you happen to be anywhere near the Charleston, SC area the Sprout is worth the trip. Check their website before you go for events such as wine tastings, lecturers, etc.