SPLENDOR IN THE GARDEN
On any given evening, people pause to peek beyond Peninsula Grill’s wrought iron gate, debating whether to wander inside the beguiling hidden urban oasis. This moment of delicious trepidation was created by Sheila Wertimer, the renowned landscape architect behind some of Charleston’s most elegant gardens.
Peninsula Grill was always meant to be more of an alluring, tucked away destination. To start, the entrance to Peninsula Grill was placed at the end of a meandering historic brick path illuminated by flickering carriage lanterns.
“It’s a bit of a surprise,” Sheila says about the space. “With it not being entirely visible from Market Street, you’re drawn into it. It’s a public space that has an inherently private feel to it.”
For those who do stroll in, a visual treat awaits. Bluestone and brick hardscapes, a calming fountain, historic brick and boxwoods, a mix of potted fruit trees, crepe myrtles, and tropical leafy evergreens fill this popular outdoor living space.
“I think it amounts to the coolest entry to a Charleston restaurant because it invites you into this hidden space,” says architect Dan Sweeney of Stumphouse Architecture + Design. “You walk the streets of Charleston—and everyone does this—and you’re constantly looking down a drive, an alley, or in between buildings and seeing a vignette with a palm tree, a table, a chair, a fountain. You get these glimpses, and everyone wants entry into those spaces.
ROOTS RUN DEEP
Sheila started her career with the City of Charleston’s parks department in the 1980s. After five years there, she branched out on her own and, by all counts, has earned her place as the region’s preeminent designer of outdoor spaces, taking up where her predecessor, Loutrell Briggs, left off after he passed in 1977. Sheila’s signature symmetrical leanings, and play with palms, broadleafs, hardscapes, and water elements are found some of the Lowcountry’s most famed locales—the William Aiken House, the Calhoun Mansion, the Historic Charleston Foundation gift shop grounds, Marion Square, the Gibbes Museum of Art, I’On’s squares, and Kiawah Island’s Cassique clubhouse, to name a few.
Sheila’s sensitivity to Charleston’s uniquely rich historic fabric is on full display with Peninsula Grill’s tucked away entry. While most restaurants angle for maximum sidewalk frontage to promote incoming foot traffic, Peninsula Grill’s hidden urban oasis is part of its mystique.
“The sense of arrival at the restaurant is without peer in Charleston,” says Dan. “You wonder if you’re allowed in there, or if this is like those houses you saw over on Tradd or Church streets. You see the gas lanterns and wonder, and then hopefully you see the understated Peninsula Grill sign and the question gets answered.
When a charming courtyard and a beautifully restored circa 1844 building set the stage for fine wines, exceptional cuisine, and world-class service, the result is spectacular. Want to experience Peninsula Grill? Click here.