Johns Island Brunch Style Eatery Offers Everyday Menu Items With A Twist
By: Jeff Walker, Business Review
Taking a few notes from their wedding, Tim Wickey & Leslie Mastranunzio opened KISS Cafe with a similar mindset ‘keep it simple stupid’. Although that might not be the wordplay for their Johns Island restaurant, it is the acronym for ‘Keep It Simple & Sunnyside-Up’, a growing trend of breakfast, brunch, and lunch eateries that have sprung up over the past few years in Charleston.
While most morning and midday fare cafes are chains or franchises, KISS Cafe located at 1802 Crowne Commons Way (essentially Maybank Hwy) is the lifelong dream of Tim. Working in kitchens for nearly 30 years, Tim honed his trade as a teenager growing up in New York City, before attending culinary school which lead him to become a chef at a country club, after running a cafe in Charlotte. He brings over three decades of blood, sweat, and talent to KISS Cafe.
With Leslie as KISS’ self appointed ‘chief cheerleader’ and marketing guru, Tim on the other hand spends six days a week in the kitchen, preferring to put his signature touch on all the dishes. Perhaps not a perfectionist, Tim admits he is concerned regarding two things, overall taste and presentation. The lone day Tim does not oversee KISS Cafe is the only day they are closed, which is Monday.
Their website describes it best. KISS Cafe offers a casual dining experience for food lovers who crave an awesome breakfast or lunch menu. Have a hankering for breakfast, try one of eight classics with a twist, basically egg dishes taken to the next level. The Muscle Me Up is a three egg white omelet teeming with peppered turkey bacon, spinach, and provolone alongside your choice of toast.
The Hash It Out has become an early favorite at KISS. Two eggs fried up any way you choose, served over an ample blend of herb infused potatoes, and house brined corned beef, topped with creamy grain mustard. Incredibly filling and the taste if off the charts. Strongly recommend!
Maybe you’re not a hearty morning eater, than the Lighter Fare or the Flip Side will provide another eight signature dishes, including the Sloppy KISS Grit Bowl, complete with Anson Mills Stone Ground grits, seasoned with sea salt, green onions, creamy butter and your choice of three additional toppings. I would opt for Tim’s home-made pork sausage, or maybe egg any way you like it.
To say the sausage is freakin’ awesome is an understatement. Great on KISS’ home-made biscuits that present more like a muffin or yeast roll. Light and fluffy, the ideal blanket for the ever popular Chicken Biscuit or an old school Biscuits & Gravy, smothered in house made cream and corned beef, seasoned with black pepper.
The Belgian Waffle w/ A Twist is a plump scratch made waffle overflowing with berries and drenched with orange maple syrup. It easily satisfies your sweet tooth. You can get anything on the menu anytime you want it, including create your own omelets. The French KISS, ideal name for their serving of french toast is crafted with egg-battered brioche, cloaked in powdered sugar and dripping with orange maple.
Coming in hungry in the middle of day, not thinking traditional breakfast fare, KISS Cafe offers up an array of soups, salads, and sandwiches that will excite the taste buds. Eight signature sandwiches which they playfully list on the menu as ‘Between The Sheets’ aka ample amounts of meats, cheeses, veggies, and home-made spreads between various types of breads, hard rolls, and buns.
Among the sandwiches are several classics with a KISS twist. Maybe you’ll fancy a Cheesy Goodness Melt decked out with four cheeses. The JI (Johns Island) Reuben is their own version of the New York City staple, an open face rye bread lying under mounds of house brined corned beef and sauerkraut, oozing with Gruyere (fancy Swiss cheese), all surrounded by tomato jam and creamy mustard. Hell yes, it’s mouth watering!
Charleston natives might opt for the go to Southern Charm Fried Chicken sandwich. Breaded plump white chicken fried to perfection, blanketed in a grilled ciabatta roll and dressed up in seasoned bacon, pickled onion, tomato jam with sliced avocado, with a heaping helping of creamy lime spread. With or without a side, it will fill you up. But the HM Salt & Vinegar Chips or Garlic Spicy Pickles act as a nice complement.
KISS Cafe is an ideal blend of roadside diner, NY deli, and low country cafe. They offer old school favorites with a twist, with a smattering of modern day dishes to delight contemporary palates. What is a satisfying breakfast without a wholesome cup of coffee. KISS serve up King Bean creations (hot & iced) as well as fresh brewed teas (Charleston Tea Plantation), and Coke products.
And what is brunch, whether you enjoy it on Wednesday or Sunday without a little bubbly, a nice glass of wine, or a mimosa. Maybe you ordered the eight ounce KISS Burger, it goes great with several of their local craft beers. Tim and Leslie have made greater Charleston their home, and they do their best to use as many local products as possible.
Quality and quantity are on the menu at KISS Cafe. Most breakfast items come in under $12. From the lunch side you can get several sandwiches under $13, with the burger going for $12. Small or large salads just $8-$10, with the home made Green Chicken Chile soup bowl just $5 or $8. The food might taste scrumptious and border on everyday fancy, but you can come as you are. The only real rule at KISS Cafe is enjoy every last bite! I certainly did!
For more on KISS Cafe visit their website at https://www.kiss-cafe.com/ Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. They do take call ahead orders and onsite takeout. During the pandemic they are currently open Tues-Friday 9-3am, and 8-3pm on Saturday and Sunday.