In the heart of culinary exploration, a new star has risen – the experience at Honeysuckle Rose is an enchanting evening where time seems to stand still for three hours. A cutting-edge food-tasting restaurant, it opened its doors in September 2023, offering a gastronomic journey that transcends the ordinary. Under the meticulous guidance of husband and wife Ryan and Kelleanne Jones, the visionary duo behind several acclaimed restaurants along the East Coast, Honeysuckle Rose promises an immersive experience that dances on the palate and ignites the senses.
An Eight-Course Odyssey
I had the pleasure of dining at some of Charleston’s finest restaurants during my visit. However, I underestimated just how extraordinary Honeysuckle Rose would be before entering their premises. It was by far my finest meal in South Carolina.
You will have to prepare yourself for an odyssey through eight carefully curated courses that are not just meals but a splendid of flavours, textures, and aromas. Each dish is a masterpiece, a scrumptious stroke of genius designed to evoke delight and awe. The menu, a seasonal canvas that evolves with the changing winds of nature, is a testament to Honeysuckle Rose’s commitment to freshness and innovation.
What makes the restaurant unique to me is the working dynamics that both husband and wife have created for each other, as I found out during our discussion on my podcast. Kelleanne explained, “We both make each other better. We push each other to be better, and we don’t take offence to, ‘Hey, Ryan, you can make that dish better.’ And he says the same to me, which is very unusual to find.”
Ryan added, “It’s nice to have someone you can bounce off of, especially as a business owner. If you’re a sole owner of a business, you don’t have the option of bouncing ideas from somebody at the same level.”
Tailored to Perfection
Honeysuckle Rose believes in tailoring the experience to suit your desires. As you make your reservation online, the team will follow up with a call, asking questions that will unfold like petals, guiding their team to craft an evening uniquely for you. Kelleanne said, “We make a phone call to know exactly if they don’t want cilantro or onions or are very allergic to this and that. We’re making popover gluten-free, and we make every person feel special, not left out, and able to enjoy a beautiful dessert course.”
Even if you forget to mention your dietary requirements or there is confusion like there was with mine, the team is impeccable in adjusting to your needs, something I have not encountered at many restaurants or food-tasting establishments throughout the world.
Kelleanne added, “I wouldn’t say no tasting restaurant does that, but I would say it’s hard to find a place that does.”
Whether you have dietary preferences or are celebrating a special moment, which the team will honour with something unique, share your desires and watch as the evening unfolds to embrace your individuality.
Wine Pairings: Elevating the Experience
At Honeysuckle Rose, the art of dining extends beyond the plate. The experience is elevated with hand-selected exquisite wines from around the globe, each bottle chosen to harmonise with the flavours unfolding on your plate.
For those who prefer an alcohol-free soirée as I did, you can indulge in, as the restaurant likes to say, “zero beve” mocktails—crafted to perfection. Kelleanne added that the drinks are catered to your needs. “If you don’t drink wine, we are doing these non-alcoholic beverages that are well thought out and that pair with every course.”
These non-alcoholic companions dance in tandem with every course, enriching the experience for all.
The Overture: Greeting by Culinary Maestros
Upon entering the enchanting realm of the restaurant, you’re not just welcomed; you’re embraced by a team led by the culinary maestros themselves—Ryan and Kelleanne, along with their magnificent team.
Kelleanne explained the process to me. “We ask everyone to show up 15 minutes before the start time, and we make everyone wait in the corner – Andrew (Malandro) is the choreographer for that. Then, I come out and seat everybody. We have loud music, and the room is very dark, like a charcoal colour from the head to the floor, with velvet crushy chairs. You will see the shutters are closed, so it is a dark room, popsy colour with art; once you walk in, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”
Ryan added, “It kinda takes you into your own little world; you forget what’s happening outside. You’re blacked out of the rest of the world, and all of a sudden, you’re brought into this dining experience, with it pushed over the top by hospitality, from the moment you’re contacted from your reservation to the moment you leave with a little something special for the next day.”
Under their guidance, the executive team ensures a seamless evening where every detail is perfectly orchestrated.
It's the finest of touches
The finest touches make the restaurant’s hospitality transcend expectations with a warmth that extends to the most minor details. Genuine care was evident, as I’ve highlighted, exemplified by moments like finding my napkin thoughtfully folded on the table upon returning from the bathroom. These gestures create a familial ambience, showcasing an extraordinary commitment to guest comfort and unparalleled attention to even the tiniest nuances.
It was also very delicate where people were seated – I was sitting with someone who had come alone like me, and we exchanged details at the end of the night as we got on like a house on fire. It was almost as if the team knew our personalities would match – not quite a match-making event, just to be clear.
Kelleanne explained the seating, “We’re finding tables sitting next to one another, becoming friends, exchanging phone numbers; it’s very active and social. You couldn’t ask for anything more. That’s hospitality; we try and do what we can.”
The other noticeable thing is you don’t need to tip – which is unusual for a restaurant in the States, from my experience. But both Ryan and Kelleanne explained the reason behind that, with Ryan stating, “Immediately, you’re judging the experience on a tip. We don’t want that.” Kelleanne added, “Instead, you walk out with a hug, goodbye, handshake and a pistachio cake. Then it’s a closure of an experience, not a typical dinner.”
An Evening of Enchantment
Honeysuckle Rose isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a passion project meticulously choreographed. With a history of award-winning establishments, this dynamic husband-and-wife duo have poured their gastronomic souls into their new love.
Since the inception of their first restaurant, The Mill at 2t, where tasting menus took centre stage, Ryan and Kelleanne have been perfecting the art of food storytelling. They sit down with their team each day, scripting the following evening’s experience to ensure every cooking concept is pitch-perfect.
Open Wednesday through to Saturday night, guests are immersed in a world where every bite and sip is a portal to a new realm of taste. The $250 per person ticket covers the entire experience, excluding tax, and the dedicated staff gracefully declines gratuity, as you now know why.
In a time when eating out is considered both an art form and a necessity, Honeysuckle Rose stands out as a shining example of superior cuisine. This restaurant invites you to enter a world where cooking transcends the commonplace and becomes a choir of the senses, all under the careful gaze of Ryan and Kelleanne and their marvellous team. Reserve your seat now, where each evening is a masterpiece waiting to be savoured.
If you are hungry for more global flavours, be sure to check out our Gastronomic Experiences page for additional recipes and culinary inspiration.
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Shebs is a Broadcaster, writer and Podcaster. He is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. He’s hosted a breakfast called Rise & Shine on the only dedicated travel radio station in Africa, Gallivant Radio. Shebs also hosts a travel podcast, Take a Wander With Shebs, which can be seen on his YouTube channel and heard on all major podcasting platforms. Shebs is also the Editor & Commercial Officer for Voyagers Voice. He also runs Shebs The Wanderer Ltd.