As many beloved Charleston restaurants have closed their doors amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, there are many new restaurants that have taken their place in the recent weeks. One of those restaurants is Handy and Hot, which opened their doors just this week in the lower level of the Rennaisance Hotel on Wentworth. Handy and Hot is the brainchild of renowned North Carolina chef, Vivian Howard. If you’re a foodie like me, you may rememeber her from the PBS cooking show, “A Chef’s Life”. Vivian started Handy and Hot as a pop-up bakeshop in Kinston, NC, but decided to branch out and bring her bakeshop to Charleston as a permanent pop-up.
I was quite eager to try out Vivian’s southern delicacies, so of course I was there on day 2 of their opening. The shop is quite small, but has a small space for outdoor seating. You can also place your order online and they will have your order waiting for you upon your arrival. Curbside pickup is available as well, if you prefer. I placed my order online for the butterbean hummus, a biscuit with strawberry black pepper preserves and parmigiana reggiano cheese, a protein bomb, and a warm jammy egg. When I picked up my order, I realized they had given me their spiced-pecan pimento cheese instead of the hummus, but they graciously gave me the hummus I ordered and let me keep the pimento cheese as well, so I got a bit of a bonus. My entire order only cost me $20 with tip, and I still have leftovers after almost 3 days. Yep, I may be soon becoming a regular.
The biscuit was absolute perfection. Yes, Charleston has a lot of great biscuits, but this one really seemed to stand out to me. It was sweet, salty, and the perfect size. It wasn’t overpowering or too rich. It was perfectly moist and seemed to melt in my mouth. I savored every bite! My other favorite was the spiced-pecan pimento cheese. I can honestly say, its probably the best I’ve ever had in all my years of living in Charleston. It was incredibly creamy and the spiced pecans added the perfect crunchy texture to take it up a notch. I also loved the jammy egg with the pickled tomato relish smothered on top – the perfect addition to a 6-minute egg I never knew I needed. The butterbean hummus was extra creamy and the flavor was enhanced with a garnish of pickled sweet potatoes. Yes, I was eating it by the spoonful. The dips are served with either vegetables or freshly fried pita chips. I got the pita chips and boy were they delicious. They had the perfect mix of crunchy, yet chewy-on-the-inside texture. Finally, I rounded out the meal with a protein bomb, which was essentially an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie rounded into a ball with chia seeds mixed in. It was delightfully chewy and had delectable hints of cinnamon mixed in.
Hot and Handy will definitely have you coming back for more in no time. It’s no wonder Vivian Howard is considered one of the best Southern chefs! Next time, I plan on indulging in a hand pie and a life-raft treat!