Holy City Brewing and EVO make one delicious team downtown at Baker & Brewer (Charleston City Paper) Jul17


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Holy City Brewing and EVO make one delicious team downtown at Baker & Brewer (Charleston City Paper)

Imagine if Holy City Brewing and EVO Pizzeria had a baby.

Oh, wait. That already happened.

Born in the spring, new arrival Baker & Brewer combines the lofty warehouse space and innovative craft brews you love, with the dough-based sustenance you need. Set just off Huger Street in the old DeSano Pizza Bakery building, the adorable offspring is actually a family affair, as little sister EVO Craft Bakery has her own corner, replete with early morning hours and her own separate entrance.

While the industrial vibe, long bar, and beer selection-covered chalkboard evoke the spirit of Holy City’s North Charleston location, the menu is all EVO. Enjoy some Park Circle déjà vu, as all your favorites have made the jump, starting with the wood-fired olives ($6).

Truthfully, like many people, I have a love/hate thing with olives. Although my fridge pretty much always has a jar of meaty, green Castelvetrano or Cerignola in stock, it’s the salty, pimento-stuffed Spanish Manzanillas — workhorse of the dirty martini — I can live without.

The mix offered by Baker & Brewer (henceforth known as B&B) is reminiscent of the marinated Greek assortment found on a grocery store olive bar, with a familiar base of firm green and soft black Kalamata offerings. Tossed in a mild poblano puree, the briny drupes are served sizzling hot and wrinkled. Even if you don’t like olives, be sure to make a grab for a few of the tender garlic cloves nestled throughout. Above all, bring some friends, as the portion is generous and the salt levels certain to inspire some mighty thirst.

On that note, beverage options abound. Along with canned versions of HCB classics like Pluff Mud Porter ($6) and Overly Friendly IPA ($6), there are original drafts brewed only for the new venture ($6). Not into beer? There are also over a dozen wines by the glass ($7-$11) and craft cocktails ($8-$11), plus a full smattering of coffee and espresso drinks.

Service is friendly and efficient, and food comes up quickly. While the appetizer offerings skew heavy, the peach salad ($8 half/$11 whole) is a crisp, refreshing bowl of summer. Made with a base of delicate Kurios Farms Bibb lettuce and pungent cilantro leaves, it’s topped with toasted pecans, pickled red peppers, and juicy fresh peaches. Light and sweet, the only arguable shortcoming comes in the form of the rich, spicy ‘creamy herb dressing,’ entirely too powerful for the otherwise subtle flavors. Squeeze on some lemon or eat it plain, however, and it’s wholesome July bliss.

On the other end of the spectrum, the snap pea salad ($8 half/$11 whole) is a dense, vegetal offering. Low-key koala chow, it’s chock full of stiff Tuscan kale. Along with clove-infused pickled onions, toasted almonds, and meaty speck (think thick-cut prosciutto), the sweet snap peas and subtle ginger vinaigrette barely stand a chance. Not to backseat cook, but perhaps a dressing-based wife swap is in order? I’m into it, for what it’s worth.

On that note, Fidel only wishes he’d gotten his lips around B&B’s magnificent duck Cuban ($11). Toothy semolina bread is filled with decadent confit duck and equally sumptuous speck. With nary a molecule of basic roast pork or simple sliced ham, this is the equivalent to preparing a tuna noodle casserole with lobster. Consider the melted Swiss cheese, vibrant house-made pickles, and luscious mojo aioli, and the results are almost a worthy argument for a Marxist–Leninist socialist state. Almost.

Meanwhile, any fan of the original EVO knows all about the eponymous extra virgin ovens. Wood-fired splendors endure at B&B, where the Margherita ($13) pizza is every bit as reliable as its predecessor. Wonderfully balanced, it’s all about sweet crushed tomatoes and aromatic basil leaves, tempered by the chewy dough and mellow fresh mozzarella cheese.

Similarly, the pistachio pesto ($14) pie is all soft edges and vegetarian dreams. With its soft, thin crust, and simple, cheesy notes, it would probably be kinda, sorta, (extremely) easy to eat the entire thing all by yourself. Should this happen, defend your voraciousness with math and offer to calculate the number of 12-inch B&B pies (circles of radius r) that can fit into an 18-inch New York-style pizza (circle of radius R). In other words, “Yes. I ate the entire thing while you weren’t looking, but that’s roughly the equivalent of three large slices, which is entirely reasonable.” Should this fail, look remorseful and order another one immediately.

Originally born of friendships and shared dreams, EVO Pizzeria and Holy City Brewing have endured thanks to good ideas and better products. A venture so deft, it seems obvious, bouncing baby Baker & Brewer has clearly inherited the best of both parents.