Intimate European Dishes in a Petite Historic SettingBy: Amber Chase
Tucked away in an alcove off Coming Street, it could be easy to overlook Chez Nous. A single lantern and small cocotte sign hang by wrought iron against the doorway of the beige Charleston historic home. Yet, while Chez Nous is undeniably petite, their kitchen houses impressive culinary prowess. Striding down the gravel street toward the restaurant is akin to being whisked away to a countryside villa in the South of France.
As would be customary, guests are ushered into the neighborhood restaurant through the building’s side door, wrapping them in homey familiarity as they shed winter coats on hooks by the doorway. From here, seating can be found in the lower dining room across from the bar, upper room, or along the front porch and patio. The details of the 1800s historic home appear to be meticulously preserved within Chez Nous, down to the wide-plank wood flooring and matured exposed brick. These are accented with creamy white walls, antique spindle chairs, and natural light pouring through daintily dressed windows.
Chef Jill Mathias writes the menu by hand each day, keeping to a structure of two appetizers, two entrées, and two desserts (served for both lunch and dinner). The menu is heavily influenced by southern France, northern Italy, and northern Spain and will highlight Charleston-local ingredients allowing the menu to change daily. While Chez Nous is known to post their daily offerings on their social channels, we recommend arriving with a clean slate, eagerly prepared for a culinary journey.
Team members at Chez Nous recall that some of their favorite dishes were those they were least likely to try, namely, a vanilla-infused rice dish or coulotte with bone marrow butter. Entrées will often highlight both land and sea, whether that is grilled octopus, lamb served with a bright pesto, rigatoni with oxtail ragù, or poisson du jour served with a buttery caper sauce. If dining with a companion, we highly recommend ordering each of the daily selections. Do note, this is not an expedited dining experience; be prepared to sit and stay awhile, embracing the pleasant slowness of a curated menu.
While Chez Nous does not serve cocktails, they offer an extensive list of Old World wines from France, Italy, and Spain that seamlessly pair with the daily selection. From a sparkling Lambrusco Grassparossa di Castelvetro by Fattoria Moretto to a Montevertine Le Pergole Torte Sangiovese from Tuscany, the list is fastidious and versatile. Order a bottle to share, or shift glass by glass throughout courses, ending the meal with an espresso.
Elegant and romantic, Chez Nous transfigures a historic home on a bustling Charleston street into a culinary respite for long conversations, slow sips of wine, and dishes that feel exclusively and intentionally refined.