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“Stick to Lunch”

Gaulart & Maliclet French Cafe
Ranked #93 of 926 Restaurants in Charleston
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $12
Cuisines: French, Mediterranean
Dining options: Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Late Night, Takeout
Restaurant details
Dining options: Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Late Night, Takeout
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Stick to Lunch”
Reviewed January 19, 2014

We've always loved the eclectic ambiance at "Fast & French". It's a tiny space with communal seating that makes for sociable dining. This has been a local "go to" spot for lunch for a long, long time - I used to be a regular when I worked Downtown in a previous job. So, I thought it might be a fun place to grab dinner before attending a comedy show. If you don't want to wade through the rest of this review I'll cut to the chase: this may be a fine place for lunch, but they fail pretty hugely as a dinner establishment.

The meal started just fine with Goat Toast and Escargot appetizers. The snails were a bit chewy, but yummy nonetheless. Entrees were a complete disappointment. Two of us ordered the Seafood Normandy - fish, shrimp and scallops in a cream and white wine sauce. Sounds good right? Not so much. The cream sauce was stunningly tasteless. Trying to pull some flavor out with salt didn't help. I don't know about you but I expect the scallops to be pan seared in butter or olive oil - especially in a French joint. The caramelized crust that results from this cooking method creates a savory foundation that can be deglazed to create a rich sauce. Instead, all of the seafood appeared to be steamed or boiled? One diner chose to just skip eating this seafood mess. The other person in our party had the Shrimp dinner, which she said was serviceable. All dishes were served with couscous and steamed veggies. The vegetables were not seasoned, that we could tell, in any manner. On two of the plates they were under cooked so that they were difficult to bite into. So, the net effect on the plate was bland seafood with bland couscous accompanied by bland vegetables. We were underwhelmed.

The place isn't really about attentive service - it's a casual approach where it's OK to snag the waiter to ask for something as they go by your table. But on this evening our waiter never showed up at all after the entrees were served. Since the house procedure is to get your tab and pay at the front, this became annoying. Eventually we stopped waiting for the tab and went to the front to wait in line to pay. Not a big deal, but shouldn't the waiter stop by at least once to check in on us after the entrees are served?

I personally feel badly about panning a local restaurant that has been such an icon in the neighborhood. Maybe the owners will read this and take action to do something about the quality of their dinner experience.

For the time being I'll stick to their delicious lunch menu.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank coastaljeff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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572 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“A deceptive cover to this book”
Reviewed December 2, 2013

This restaurant has a very interesting front and curiosity could push you to try it out. We read some good reviews and decided to try it out.
The restaurant has a communal table, which I quite like. My husband and I ordered a bottle of wine. Our server seemed inexperienced, but because I also work in a hotel and was very inexperienced when I first joined, this was the least of our worries. He recommended a bottle of the house wine to us and without waiting for a response asked if we'd like for two glasses! This is not too big a problem and maybe he was just trying to be helpful in his own way. We chose a different bottle and thankfully the server was trying to uncork it within our vision. He was having a tough time opening it and after some time we noticed that the cork was breaking. My husband offered to open it and thankfully managed to do so. The wine was not worth all that effort though. It was quite tasteless. We didn't want to spoil our experience, so we decided to ignore the lack of character. Thankfully, we weren't too hungry so we decided to just order two appetizers. We couldn't have made a better decision. The escargots we ordered were tasteless though the sauce by itself wasn't too bad. We have had escargots at another French restaurants and I would make those a complete meal if I could. Anyway, these were so bad that I couldn't eat more than a couple. We then had some baguettes topped with pesto and shrimp. These were just about okay. You can't really go too wrong with this combination. However, these were served with a side of ham, which tasted like old supermarket meat! We tried really hard to have a good time and not make too much of the bad food, but when you go to a french restaurant, you do look forward to beautiful meal. This was not the case here. The servers were chatty, but the place seemed mismanaged. This was a disappointment!

Visited November 2013
Thank Vasundhara T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
trenton, nj
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Felt like I was in Europe!”
Reviewed November 19, 2013

Someone recommended this after a tour we were on. When we went it, they asked if we wanted to sit at the 'bar' in the front. We declined and they walked us to the back of the restaurant. We didn't realize most of the seating was 'bar' style. We sat accross from two woman who live in the city, and they told us places to go and see. It is really nice to talk to people sitting around a large 'table'. Isn't that part of traveling. To meet new people. The food was excellant. My husband and I just got the soup and sandwich. Both soups were excellant. He got beef barley, I got the cold cucumber. We each got the ham and meltedcheese. He croq' bagette, me croq'monsier. Mine was on sourdough, and we both agreed was a better choice. The bagette was just too 'bread-ey). A cute little place, everyone seemed friendly. Most were tourists, but seemed to all get into the "you're eating with people, be friendly" thing. There seemed to be a couple of private tables in the back. Reccommended.

Visited October 2013
Thank pattiMcD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“loved it”
Reviewed November 3, 2013

We stumbled across this place on our way to a show, and loved it. We shared fondue and a bottle of wine for a light dinner. They were very busy, so we might have wanted a little quicker service, but we would definitely go out of our way to go back!

  • Visited October 2013
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Amelia N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, SC
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Definitely Fast and French”
Reviewed November 3, 2013

I have been here several times over the last two weeks. I keep going back for the goat cheese and olive tapenade baguette. Tiny, but fabulous sums up this charming little French cafe.

Visited October 2013
Thank dmarguglio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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