Frank McMahon, who’s been at the helm of Hank’s since it opened in 1999, is as known for his Irish charm as he is for his prowess with seafood dishes. Now, with the addition of sister property Brasserie Gigi (102 N. Market St.), he’s got a stage to spotlight a broader repertoire of dishes, especially those of his childhood in Europe. McMahon, who will continue to head Hank’s, has worked up a classic French bistro menu that we’re betting will revive the old Mercato nook on the Market. A recent night out at the spot—which was named for McMahon’s wife, appointed by Amelia Handegan, and spearheaded by Hank Holliday—found us reveling in the soupe de poisson, lightly charred grilled squid salad, and a serving of swordfish made bright with a citrus vinaigrette. Next time—whether for lunch or dinner—we’re trying the beef offerings and maybe slipping upstairs to the raw bar, too. brasseriegigi.com
With Charleston it-listed and thoroughly discovered, it can be hard to find a true local hideout. Enter Chez Nous (6 Payne Ct.). Set in a tiny house—18 seats each downstairs, upstairs, and outside, sunshine permitting—on a gravel alley in off-the-tourist-path Elliotborough, the restaurant sports no sign, has only a Facebook page (at least at press time), and offers patrons a handwritten menu that changes daily. Talk about cultivating mystery! With Bin 152’s owners backing the place and Jill Mathias (formerly of Carolina’s) and Juan Cassalett at the helm, the eatery delivers lunch, dinner, and Saturday and Sunday brunch, all with a Southern French accent. We loved the bitter green salad with its light vinaigrette and soft-boiled egg, along with the pan-seared flounder and a lovely glass of Vermentino. Find Chez Nous on Facebook.