How Great Thou Art; James Island’s cozy little room
By Patrick Graham
When I arrived on James Island in the summer of 1999, my first residence was just down the street from the Terrace Plaza in the 1900 block of Maybank Highway. For a little while, I was frequenting this mini-shopping center for its ubiquitous laundromat that seemed to consume all of us washer & dryer have-nots in the area, but I always found the rest of the square to be a curious oddity, one laden with culture in the midst of a community that was evolving from a backwater suburb to one of the more desirable locales in the area. The little art theater and an upscale furniture store anchored the place, and soon the other storefronts began to reflect the spirit of sophistication that was beginning to permeate the island’s western end.
One of the newest additions to the plaza is How Art Thou, a “Café, Juice, & Wine Bar,” as it is written on the frontal signage, the website, and various other advertising accoutrements. Along with the small dining room and bar area, there is a private dining room just left of the front door and a couple of tables are available outside when the weather is cooperating. Just off the bar is a nice food prep area that provides the fruits (and vegetables, and sandwiches, and desserts, etc.) of the lunch and dinner menus.
The first thing my wife and I got a hold of upon entrance was a lovely Oregon pinot noir, one of thirty wines by the glass. Yes, thirty. And there’s thirty by the bottle, too. The designation of “Café, Juice, & Wine Bar” omitted two of my favorite things—sandwiches and beer—but both are in abundance at this establishment. Charleston’s burgeoning craft beer industry is well represented at the tap station, as three of the heavy hitters, Palmetto, Westbrook, and Holy City take up half of the four-tap cluster, and seventy more brands populate this extensive beer list that are of the can and bottle variety. Seriously, if a list of breweries contains Bell’s, Duvel Moortgat, and Victory, sit up and take notice. Also available in liquid form are various juices that are made right in front of you, which includes (but is not limited to) concoctions of carrot, orange, strawberry, apple and blueberry (from local farmers when in season). A friendly barista is always around to create whatever coffee amalgam suits you, from espressos to mochas to macchiatos.
As for the other favorite things, the sandwiches, I must tell you that the main components are top-notch. The meats and cheeses in this house are all Boar’s Head Brand, in my mind the gold standard for such ingredients. Therefore, it should surprise no one that I made a bee(f)line to the “Son of a Beef, That’s Good” entry on the menu. With the Londonport Roast Beef, the horseradish cheddar cheese, and all the fixin’s, I was going to be very happy, and I would also need a mint. My wife chose the “Good Ole (Girl)” with BH Black Forest Turkey and Provolone. The aforementioned fixin’s utilized John’s Island tomatoes and local mixed greens, with local farmers being the preferred (and sometimes exclusive) purveyors. Needless to say, they were both fantastic, as they were served on fresh hoagie rolls with the mandatory deli pickle. Other treats made available to us included a lovely gazpacho that had just enough spice to keep me interested (and was obviously made just hours ago), and chips and homemade salsa that made me want to go experiment a little more with my Cuisinart.
For now, though, I will leave the fresh food preparation to How Art Thou, and if dinner and a movie is your thing, the venerable art house, the Terrace Theater, is a seven second walk away.
How Art Thou Café, Juice & Wine Bar is located at 1956 Maybank Highway, James Island.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10a-10p, Friday 10a-11p, and Saturday 9a-11p. Closed Sunday.
Ph: 843.793.2231 Web: www.howartthoucafe.com