Sesame made the news this week with the opening of their new location near the food court in the Citadel Mall. As a big fan of what they've established in their original location, I paid the new spot a visit Saturday night.
As with any local restaurant with staying power, there are lots of little things that come together to make their Park Circle location what it is. They have prohibition-era photos, funky furniture (including a table made out of an old door), a friendly staff that knows their regulars, tons of house-made touches on the menu, etc. But for me, there have always been two key components that keep me making that drive: in-house meat grinding (so you can order a burger at sub-burnt temperatures), and at least one tap always devoted to Coast Brewing.
Going into the new Citadel Mall location, I had these two things foremost in my mind, and was not disappointed on either front.
In fact, they have brought the best parts about their original location into the new one. The food menu is identical, no casualties there. The bottled beer list looks like it was cut in half but retains most of the highlights. Many of the same framed photos are hanging on the wall. The overall decor is a little more modern, with dim red-accented lighting and more stainless steel, but they still retain the casual "seat yourself" attitude. Two fun new additions are a community-table with bar-style seating, the other side of which acts as a server station, and a completely open kitchen.
Now, a medium-rare burger is a fickle thing. There is a very fine line between perfectly medium-rare ground beef and raw ground beef wrapped in a cooked beef shell. In my years visiting Sesame I have had both, but it's always worth ordering because when done right, it's a beautiful thing.
My Park Circle Burger ($6.90) was done just right, as were the juicy battered onion rings ($2) that came with it. I mean these things were pristine. My wife had nothing but good things to say about her Mahi Tacos ($7), and we scarfed down our Fried Dill Pickles & Coast Beer Mustard app ($5.50) as usual.
The only thing I can even pretend to complain about is the lack of any menu specials, as those have become increasingly adventurous at Park Circle, but with the entire regular menu laid on a new kitchen staff, this is excusable on only their second night in business.
This might sound like a glowing review, but the fact of the matter is that Sesame has expanded successfully. They made into the mall without "malling it up." After countless meals at their original location, this meal at their new one was as good as its ever been at Park Circle. If they can keep the quality up (especially after the head honchos aren't there looking after things), then West Ashley and my odometer are both in for a treat.