Enjoy a Meal, Watch the Sunset & Stay For a Show, The Habit Hosts Theme Nights Every Night of the Week
Jeff Walker, Restaurant Review
Step into 213 East Bay Street and you'll step back in time. Not only will you revisit yesteryear, but you'll also discover a place where ambience, charm, and hospitality have been re-purposed. The owners of The Habit, Charleston's newest 'Multi-Tiered Entertainment Experience' are hoping you'll make their place 'habit forming'.
The original brainchild of media bad ass Michelle Van Jura, founder of New York based Intersect Communications, Van Jura fell in love with Charleston years ago, deciding she could oversee Intersect from the Holy City. Entrenching herself in Charleston's food & beverage community, Van Jura formed relationships with several in the hospitality industry, which soon got the wheels turning.
Expressing to a select few, Van Jura imagined opening her own establishment focusing on upscale appetizers, lite bites, signature cocktails, and unique nightly entertainment. Partnering with Zach Dennis and Executive Chef Matt Greene (both with prior Charleston food & beverage background), the group decided a three story building under restoration near the market was an ideal location.
The former home to The Brick suffered a devastating fire in 2013, sitting unused for years until re-construction began several years later. When Van Jura and her partners discovered 213 East Bay Street they knew they found the future home of The Habit.
Fast forward to 2023, whether morning noon, or night The Habit is quickly becoming Charleston's most eclectic and all encompassing hospitality destination. Or as their website proclaims The Habit is fourfold, offering up-scale dining, a refined bar, a hidden speakeasy, with stunning rooftop views. And although they serve food, The Habit consider themselves less of a traditional restaurant and more of an overall entertainment experience.
Open 9:30am until midnight Sunday thru Wednesday, and until 2am Thursday thru Saturday, The Habit exists on three levels. Step in off the street and The Habit Dining room provides a liberal yet approachable variety of shareable bites and handheld edibles.
Dropping by early or mid morning, go old school and enjoy their frosted flake crusted Cinnamon French Toast drenched in blueberry maple syrup or take a walk on the wild side and order a Hash Browns & Caviar complete with a lemon dill creme fraiche (rich & tangy heavy cream) for dipping.
Maybe opt for a dish that originated in Canada but has a certain upscale low country diner feel. Poutine is simply skinny french fries blanketed under succulent braised beef, fried eggs, and cheese curds before being drenched in warm gravy. Talk about a stick to your ribs meal. Over a dozen signature breakfast shareables priced around $15.
Feelin' frisky, perhaps enjoy your popables with a Makin' Whoopie cocktail crafted from Jalisco, Mexico's 21 Seeds Grapefruit Hibiscus Tequila with hints of hibiscus tea and zesty grapefruit soda. Their 1921 adult beverage is a throwback to a classic bloody Mary beginning with Smirnoff's. Both potables easily complement breakfast and are totally stimulating.
Lunch and dinner offer a couple of carry over brunch items, as well as a few familiar menu selections like their Habit Smash Burger (all the rage) crafted from North Carolina's Brasstown Beef and topped with white American and apple-wood bacon on a brioche bun. Brought to your table with skinny fries for all of $17.
Want to try something not normally on your radar, order the Charred Lamb Lollipops. First of all, after one bite it will make you rethink lamb. Four moist and ample lamb chops adorned in herb whipped feta and pine nuts, presented with a honey-lime gastrique (simply a caramelized sweet & sour sauce). Off the the charts moist and flavorsome.
Enjoy a tropical infused dish complements of Hawaii. The Habit's Tuna Poke Crudo (raw) is a splendid melange of fresh tuna, marinated cucumbers, radish, and crispy onions in a swirl of soy and yuzu aioli (slightly sweet, slightly tart citrusy mayo mixture). This bowl is healthy and invigorating.
Red meat lovers will easily enjoy the Filet Mignon Carne Asada Skewers marinated in a medley of toasted garlic, lime juice, coriander, and a savory blend of red pepper & cashew pesto. However, hardcore carnivores will no doubt salivate over the certified black angus 34oz Tomahawk Ribeye (a highly marbled, very tender, flavorful cut of meat). Brushed in garlic compound butter this more than two pounds of prime beef is delicately sliced for the entire table to enjoy. Satisfies six to eight lite eaters, or two to four ravenous appetites. Chef Greene worked at Hall's & Duvall Catering, so he knows how to prepare premier beef.
The menu, although broad ranging is not overly extensive, carrying everything from Crispy Chicken Wings and a Crab Cake Sandwich to Truffle Fries and Blistered Green Beans. The bill of fare is meant to offer items for diners who prefer to play it safe, as well as those who want to tittilate the palate. Aside from the Tomahawk most menu items range between $13 and $30.
Keeping it on the straight and narrow might result in finishing a meal with their Peach Cobbler topped with vanilla bean ice cream. But if you want to explore the road less traveled than I recommend the Chocolate Habit. Think of it as a chocolate charcuterie board, with variety of pop in your mouth edibles covered in either milk, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate, including brandy soaked cherries, espresso beans, nuts, pretzels, petite fours, pretzels, and chocolate dipped biscotti.
There's only two beverages that accompany the aforementioned sweet treat and they are a robust cup of coffee or your favorite fruit of the vine. A nice segue into The Habit's adult beverages. Whereas the lite bites and handhelds are limited, when it comes to libations, The Habit carry a plethora of beer, wine, cocktails, bourbon, ryes, and single malt whiskeys. You can order a single glass, half or full bottle of vino priced from affordable to 'hell yeah let's celebrate'.
Cocktails, they run the gamut. You better believe the Ain't Misbehavin' is ideally named for a hoppin' Charleston speakeasy. A luscious and exotic blend of either high flying Aviation Gin or Grey Goose Vodka stirred with smooth yet dry Dolin Blanc Vermouth and Durty Girl Olive Brine (mixer) before being capped off with savory bleu cheese stuffed olives. Very Holy City sophisticated. Seeking a big city drink with a bit of panache than sip on the Sidewalks of New York crafted with Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and brandy infused cherries. Ultra chic!
Want to take your sumptuous appetizers or classic cocktails literally to the next level, than move up a flight to The Habit's Peacock Lounge. Just like the colorful bird it's named after, this second story cocktail lounge is lush with decadent decor and atmosphere. Take a step back in time when attention to detail and service were a priority. At the Peacock Lounge enjoy an after work happy hour, a salute with friends, or a romantic date night. Damn straight you can reserve this room for a private event.
We're not done yet. Late night (9pm-ish til close) step into V's, a more secluded and intimate nightspot at The Habit. The V could stand for Van Jura, but it definitely stands for 'vibrant & vivacious'. V's is the place to let loose, enjoy live music or offbeat comedy.
While The Habit welcomes patrons of all ages, their theme nights suggest they are proudly serving a more mature audience, those tired of the run of the mill bar scene. Seven nights a week (you read that right), seven nights a week they offer different entertainment themes that revisit memorable decades from the 20th century when folks went out to enjoy great music, a great show often coupled with dance.
Imagine popping in on a Monday night and listening to the timeless songs from Motown. Remember how to do The Hustle, fancy the ageless songs of The Bee Gees (Night Fever) or the Village People (YMCA) than Thursday Disco night is tailor made for you. Can't get enough of Michael Jackson, Madonna and New Wave, I recommend 80's Night on Friday. Hump day Wednesday aka Big Hair Bands turns back the clock to the late 80's and early 90's when the music of Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue ruled night hotspots.
The Habit Roof tops off (pun intended) an extraordinary dining and entertainment experience. One of the last remaining roof top bars offering spectacular downtown waterfront views, The Habit Roof makes for a scenic spot to have dinner at sunset, or sip on your favorite cocktail under a moonlit night. They even offer VIP tables topside.
Let's break it down. Charleston is renowned for its hospitality, offering a bevy of great restaurants. And while the Holy City features equally impressive entertainment avenues, most cater to a younger crowd, or fill a particular niche i.e., a comedy club or jazz club. At The Habit patrons can enjoy unique food & drink, watch the sun go down, and stay for an awesome show, all under one roof, unless you're on the roof top. You get the picture!
One final note. The Habit welcomes casual clothes during the day, but after 8pm they have a dress code in place, which requires collared shirts for men. Don't expect to be seated if you're wearing athletic, gym, or your just walked off the beach look. On the upside they invite patrons coming in for theme night to wear appropriate attire. Men feel free to wear a three piece polyester suits or bell bottom pants on Disco Night. Ladies express yourself in sequin jumpsuits and platform shoes. Dressing the part is encouraged nightly at The Habit.
The Habit has re-invented the whole 'going out experience' and provided a place for older adults to enjoy. Of course families are welcome during the day, and anyone 21 and older late night. As their website suggests they provide up-scale dining, refined bars, hidden speakeasy, and a stunning rooftop.
If you're looking for an ordinary night out you have many options. However, if you're hoping for an extra-ordinary night out the choice is obvious. Make The Habit habit forming. For an all encompassing look into the future and a glimpse into the past visit https://thehabitchs.com/