"Hunger is good discipline." -Ernest Hemingway
Apologies for this blogpost not appearing sooner. Settling into two new jobs and trying to maintain a social life have resulted in a crazy busy schedule, but I think I have everything mostly worked out now. I was originally going to include this eating experience in an essay I’m writing regarding my opinions on fine dining, but I’ve decided that I just want that essay to stand alone. The Green Door is the stationary descendant of the popular food truck Roti Rolls. (Which recently made a cameo at Bonnaroo.) I actually ate at The Green Door with my long-time confidante Matt for Sunday brunch when I brought my first load of belongings down before I officially moved to Charleston, so this post is a bit anachronistic. More apologies. I read an article the other day saying that women apologize more than men, based on a study conducted by Canadian researchers. Then I started noticing women apologizing. A lot. That’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.
Anyway, first, we’re going to talk about the atmosphere of The Green Door, because you’re assaulted by the place’s personality as soon as you walk through the door. (Which is green. Duh.) The walls are blue, orange, red, and lime green, and they coordinated perfectly with the costumes worn by the clowns in Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the movie that was playing on a movie projector for their Sunday Brunch Film Feature. (A sequel to this 80s cult flick is currently in the works.) The Green Door is dripping with so much personality that you’ll notice its nuances after you’ve been there for 30 minutes and think that you’ve taken it all in and can’t possibly notice anything new. If you’re like me, it would take you that long to realize that your table top is a green door. Don’t miss out on using the bathroom here. I can’t speak for the men’s, but the women’s is about the size of small closet, it’s dark, and the floor is covered with a layer of pennies. I felt like I’d stepped into the loo-version of a TARDIS.
The appearances of the staff are nothing less than you’d expect from the aesthetics of the restaurant. After sitting down, we were greeted by our server, whose personality would be the African Elephant if it were a land mammal. Meaning the biggest currently in existence. She was friendly and enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the food they were serving though and only elevated the meal. The Green Door felt like it should have been crawling with hipsters, but the clientele was a pleasantly surprising mix of families, businessmen, and college students.
Anyway, onto the main course: the food. I’d describe the menu as an Asian/Southern-Cajun fusion with some Tex-Mex influences. Like everything else about this place, it seems like too much, but they manage to strike a harmonious balancing act while teetering on the edge of the cliff of utterly outrageous.
I ordered the PBPB&J and a Kimchi Bloody Mary. Matt ordered the Waffle Taco and the Adult Lucky Charms Milkshake. The menu descriptions for the entrees are as follows:
PBPB&J: deep fried pork belly, peanut butter, candied bacon, sriracha syrup, roti. $8
Waffle Taco: Sambol fried chicken, waffle taco, sriracha syrup. $6 add goat cheese. $1
You know when someone says “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news, which do you want first?” Well I always choose to hear the bad news first, so I can have something to cheer me up afterward. Makes sense, right? At The Green Door, it’s more like “meh” news versus good news, but we’ll go ahead and get the “meh” out of the way so I can start singing my praises.
The Kimchi Bloody Mary, while not bad by any means, was not the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. (But it receives bonus points for the homemade kimchi.) It tasted fresh, though perhaps a bit too much like celery, if my memory serves me correctly. It didn’t pair well with my PBPB&J, but that was my own fault for wanting to try two different things that didn’t complement one another.
The Waffle Taco was also a bit average. There was nothing super special about the waffle (though I did appreciate that it appeared to be made on a waffle iron in the back), the fried chicken was boneless white meat, the sambol tasted to me a lot like regular buffalo sauce, and the goat cheese didn’t really improve the dish. In my humble opinion. Altogether, did it taste bad? No. But if it had been the only thing I tasted at The Green Door, I wouldn’t have wanted to go back to try more of the menu.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part of writing this blog post:
My PBPB&J was an amalgamation of things that, in theory, shouldn’t really work. Deep fried pork belly (read: fatty pig meat cooked in pure fat), peanut butter (read: fatty pig meat cooked in fat, smeared with more fat), candied bacon jam (read: fatty pig meat cooked in fat, smeared with more fat, topped with sugary, fatty pig meat), sriracha syrup, roti (read: fatty pig meat cooked in fat, smeared with more fat, topped with sugary, fatty pig meat, dripping with spicy sugar, wrapped up in an unleavened Indian flatbread). Even though I was wondering why there wasn’t some acidity to cut through all of the fat, in the face of my menu translation, resistance was futile. I ordered the PBPB&J because it sounded completely over the top and delicious. (And because of my soft spot for peanut butter. And pork belly.)
I was a little ball of bouncy anticipation while I waited for my sandwich to arrive. As I eagerly took my first bite, my teeth sank into the roti roll, and they continued sinking right through the peanut butter. Wait, where’s the pork belly? Let’s try this again… okay. Roti? Check. Peanut butter? Check. Pork belly? Check. Sriracha syrup? Ch-… wait. I think so? Okay, third bite. Still searching for that candied bacon jam… Ah. There we go. A bite where I could taste every component. Even as I was chewing, tasting all of these flavors coming together, I was saying to myself… this is kind of weird… I shouldn’t like this as much as I do… but I did. Peanut butter, pork, and sugar: an unlikely, but undeniably tasty trifecta.
The sandwich is somewhat small. Your tastebuds will berate you for not ordering two, but your arteries will thank you. Because it is so small though, half of mine was gone before I started getting bites with a good proportion of all of the components, and even then, I think I only got 2 bites that didn’t leave me feeling like a component was missing. Even though I wanted a something crunchy to give the sandwich more texture, those two bites were sheer bliss. The roti bread, which they make themselves, are fittingly nicknamed “pillowy pockets of love.” This one sandwich has me itching to go back to try more of their menu.
And last but most certainly not least:
The Adult Lucky Charms Milkshake. Inspired by David Chang at Momofuku’s Milk Bar, these guys let Lucky Charms soak in milk and strain it to use for the base of the milkshake. (Raise your hand if you DON’T love cereal milk. If you raised your hand, you’re not allowed in my club.) They take this milk, blend it with ice cream, Kahlua, and vodka. The alcohol was present but not overpowering, and the milkshake was the perfect consistency: not too thick to slurp through the straw, but thick enough to feel like a milkshake and not a glass of milk. The end result is nothing short of magically delicious.
My PBPB&J came to the table with a couple Lucky Charms marshmallows on top. Maybe Lucky Charms just make everything magically delicious.
Everything at the Green Door feels like the result of good vibes achieved from smoking some good weed, the epiphany of a psychedelic drug trip, or maybe (probably) a combination of the two. (Ironically, The Green Door is also the name of a medical marijuana facility in Seattle, but I’m betting that the Charleston version was named after a popular 1956 song about the mysterious pleasures that await behind a green door.) It’s entirely possible that no drugs played any role in the creation of the Green Door, because it’s obvious that a lot of time and hard work goes into the menu and food preparation. Whatever the explanation is, I’m glad it happened. And if any drugs were involved, I’ll take what they’re having.