Melissa Bigner

Correspondent

  • Charleston, North Carolina, USA

Melissa Bigner is a correspondent who lives in Charleston and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. The North Carolina native writes, edits and styles photo shoots that celebrate all the Lowcountry has to offer. After graduating with a journalism degree from Northwestern University, she worked on staff at Southern Living, Southern Accents and Weight Watchers magazines; wrote books for networks like TLC and HGTV; authored, styled and produced coffee-table tomes; penned decorating “bookazines” for Better Homes & Gardens and Coastal Living magazines; and researched travel guides for Fodor’s, Moon Handbooks and more. These days, she serves as the editorial director for Charleston Weddings magazine and does freelance work. She lives downtown with her pug-Boston mix Oscar and her Italian sweetheart from New Jersey.

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  • On December 20, 2013
    Melissa Bigner answered the question: Melissa Bigner

    How do I get a reservation at Tristan?

    If you are planning to dine at Tristan during any major holiday, Valentine’s Day or New Year's Eve, or if you are in town for a large annual event (such as Spoleto Festival USA, The Cooper River Bridge Run, Southeastern Wildlife Expo, or the Charleston Wine and Food Festival), you will need to make reservations as soon as possible — it’s best to book a table weeks out. During off-season weekends and weeknights, walk-ins are welcomed. If you do plan ahead, you can call the restaurant at 843-534-2155 or book your reservation via OpenTable. For parties of six or more, be sure to call the Charleston restaurant in advance.
  • On December 20, 2013
    Melissa Bigner answered the question: Melissa Bigner

    What is the menu like at Tristan?

    In a city that has embraced the farm-to-table movement with a serious Southern accent, Tristan’s menu offerings are a breath of fresh, mod air. Sure, you’ll find regionally sourced ingredients like Carolina quail and Berkshire pork, but in the spirit of an urbane restaurant that could be set in any number of metropolises, Tristan offers decidedly postmodern options of these old favorites with clever twists and of-the-moment accoutrements. Amuses like boiled peanut soup with puffed Carolina Gold rice in a baby tureen are an unexpected delight, while an entrée of perfectly cooked duck comes with cracklings and its own reduction served in a tiny beaker. A nightly tasting menu offers mini dishes such as lobster and carpaccio, scallops, tannarelli pasta and heritage pork pavé. Add sides such as ember-roasted carrots; accents like foaming reductions; plating that is both meticulous, artful and sometimes quirky; and a dessert menu starring an amazing smoked chocolate ice cream, and it all equals a true culinary gem. 
  • On December 20, 2013
    Melissa Bigner answered the question: Melissa Bigner

    What is the dress code at Tristan?

    Tristan, a fine-dining restaurant located on the ground floor of Charleston's French Quarter Inn, is an upscale spot with a relaxed dress code. Although ball caps and shorts are discouraged, Tristan encourages guests to be chic but also comfortable. If you need some guidance, the city’s unofficial uniform for gentlemen consists of khakis, loafers and either a polo or oxford. Women favor stylish shifts and casual cocktail wear. As Tristan is the sort of place where one goes to enjoy a secluded date night or celebrate a special milestone, feel free to wear anything from denim and a nice shirt to a suit. Need a wardrobe boost? Stop into the Shops at Charleston Place (less than a block away from the farm-to-table restaurant) for his-and-her options.
  • On December 20, 2013
    Melissa Bigner answered the question: Melissa Bigner

    What are the operating hours of Tristan?

    The dining room at Tristan, located inside Charleston’s French Quarter Inn, welcomes guests from 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The kitchen serves dinner until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For those who want to get a jump on the night, Tristan’s bar opens at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and hosts a happy hour with live music Thursdays until 7 p.m. While both the dining room and the bar are popular with a well-heeled clientele, Tristan’s tucked-away location makes it a quiet getaway in the midst of a very crowded local dining and bar scene. Occasionally, special meals are offered (like the Mother’s Day brunch and Thanksgiving feast), and very often there’s a dinner-and-a show menu for those wanting to catch a performance at the nearby Dock Street Theatre. The Charleston restaurant is closed for dinner service on Sundays, as it gives its high-caliber staff a break to recharge.
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    Where is Tristan located?

    Tristan restaurant is located in downtown Charleston, inside French Quarter Inn. Nearby is the City Market, where starting in 1790, locals gathered to shop the bounty of outlying farms. In more recent decades, the remaining string of open-air hangars offers handmade crafts (like indigenous sweetgrass baskets), souvenirs (such as the city’s best coffee-table books and silver charms), and foodie favorites (muslin sacks of heirloom-strain Carolina Gold rice and stone-ground grits). In 2011, the market underwent a massive renovation, the result being that area residents have returned to shop and dine in the vicinity just as often as the some 4.5 million tourists who flock to the greater Lowcountry vicinity annually. As for Tristan, it’s set on the ground floor of the charming French Quarter Inn, where it’s as tucked away from the hubbub of the market as a Charleston courtyard garden is from the city streets.
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