A freshly painted red and white auto repair shop stands out on the quiet streets of Cottontown. There’s no sign, but locals flock to The War Mouth, drawn by word of mouth. Past the old shop’s red doors lies a diner’s escape to unadulterated South Carolinian food.
Former Free Times journalist, Porter Barron joined forces with Charleston chef, Rhett Elliott to open The War Mouth last December.
“We recently turned forty and we decided that it was now or never,” Barron said.
With over $300,000 in renovations, the old shop transformed into a warm restaurant with a glossy wooden bar top, contemporary lighting fixtures and walls filled with images and mounts of South Carolina wildlife. Barron said that Elliott and he picked an unpopular spot to start the restaurant with the hopes of building up the Cottontown and Earlewood communities.
“These are just wonderful communities and they’re been underserved for decades,” Barron said.
“You have a wonderful commercial zone tucked away in a historic neighborhood, which is ideal for our purposes.”
Having both grown up in South Carolina, the duo decided to create a restaurant with a menu driven by nostalgia. Elliott brings the fundamentals he learned from cooking high-end cuisine into his outdoorsy Carolinian food.
Some of the dishes include catfish stew with corn sticks, curried quail with buttermilk dumplings, and brown butter cornmeal cake accented with caramel stewed apples and bourbon cream. The restaurant buys most of its ingredients from local producers, so diners can expect a majority of the produce to stay seasonal. The restaurant also holds a full bar serving an array of wine, draft beer and classic cocktails like Negroni, Bee’s Knees and French 75.
Upon opening The War Mouth, the owners opted to build a barbeque pit behind the restaurant; however, because of Barron’s recently broken ankle, the pit creation is being put on hold. Barron hopes to have the barbeque pit up and running within the next couple of months. With this addition to the restaurant, The War Mouth will accommodate a bar menu that includes smoked turkey leg and a hot dog topped with mustard barbeque sauce, house relish and pimento cheese.
Despite the slow pit building process, The War Mouth expects to have outdoor seating by the spring.
“We’re a work in progress,” Barron said. “We’ve got a lot to do to get to where we want to be.
We hope they’ll (customers) continue to come back and see whatever offerings we have in store.”
Address: 1209 Franklin St, Columbia, SC 29201