Enjoyed a delicious 60th bday road trip through South Carolina based in Charleston. i'm adding reviews i have also posted elsewhere from our mostly delicious and fun dining.
here you go:
Fishcamp On 11th-Port Royal
Chose Fishcamp to enjoy some seafood on our way to Beaufort. Off the beaten path in Port Royal but a lovely setting on the water with plenty of outside dining overlooking the small shrimp boat fleet. Staff taking all the right covid precautions. Expected more shrimp options on the menu due to the setting but really had only two. DW chose to skip the protein today and chose the spinach salad with goat cheese, pecans, and dried cranberries. Salad came really under dressed IMO but she enjoyed it. Lot's of goat cheese. I chose the fried shrimp entree which came with fries and slaw. Unfortunately got the bottom of the bowl on fries-not very hot, small, and many over cooked. The shrimp were good size, fresh tasting and cooked nicely but unremarkable. Needed some seasoning in the light breading to give some pizaz. The tartar sauce helped. I'd try them again and order something different next time. I'm sure they do well with other fresh fish options.
Enjoyed a very good meal here to celebrate birthday. Quiet night with just a couple of other tables filled. Staff taking all the right covid precautions. Nice diverse menu of bbq/smoked meat options. Bar makes a tasty peach bellini with a real peach garnish. Chose to start with some skillet cornbread. Though a bit overdone, it had a lovely texture and was greatly enhanced by the large quantity of honey butter. Having learned a bit from our earlier bbq stops this trip, we chose the less is better option and ordered the three meat plate to share. Sausage, wings, and spare ribs were the choices with sides of house made chips and potato salad. Everything is made here including the sauces. The chips were nicely cooked but were covered in just too much spice which I'm pretty sure was the same as the rub used on the ribs. The flavor of the potato salad was delicious with a nice tang. Pieces of potato were quite large though. The ribs themselves were very smoky and flavorful but suffered from being a tad overcooked. Not tough but just a little chewy. The sausage was delicious, juicy and just the right spice level for us. Portion was generous also. The sauces were a sweet tomato base, a vinegar chili, and a Carolina mustard. The tomato based was a nice compliment to the sausage. The others were a bit too strong for us. Chicken wings were the star of the show. Huge, smoky, and tender I think they may have been the freshest of the meats. We were given a small cup of Alabama white sauce to add to the wings but they didn't need it plus it was unremarkable in flavor. We took some home with us so no room for dessert. Poogan's knows what they are doing and for smoked meats it's a great choice. Recommended.
Callie's little biscuit city market
Waste of $ and calories. chose 3/6$. special bday cake-shortbread biscuit with a glop of "frosting" and sprinkles instantly crumbled. Cheese & chive so small even compared to the other two. Fresh tasting but where is the cheese or chive flavor? Blackberry had decent jam filling but again it crumbled on first touch. A good biscuit should not become a pile of crumbs when you try to eat it. Disappointing
Swig and Swine BBQ lunch
Local bbq spot chosen by good reviews. DW ordered the smoked turkey plate with vinegar slaw and baked potato salad. Meat was very flavorful and a nice portion. Potato salad really had the flavor of a baked potato-unlike some others. Slaw strong on vinegar. Ordered the special Whole Hog plate. They had smoked a whole hog and were serving from all throughout the pig. Sides were corn pudding and brunswick stew. Pudding was sweet and fresh but stew was too spicy for me. Server nicely traded it for traditional coleslaw which was exactly that. The meat was good, not really smoky though. And like all other pulled pork I've had, to me it tastes quite greasy and that's not my favorite. The sauces we tried-sweet red and alabama white-both went well with the meats. Started with in house made pimento cheese spread and Ritz crackers. Realized pimentos are a red pepper so DW couldn't fully enjoy. Did have a bit of a kick. Tempted by pecan and chocolate pie but too full. Definitely worth a visit.
Nigel's Good Food
Local charleston soul food fave. Nondescript location in grocery strip mall hides a great food spot. Meat and three-protein plus three sides-a big draw. We both went a different way. I chose the shrimp and deviled crab platter and dw chose the shrimp po-boy. All shrimp were plump and fresh and really good. Sandwich had so many they were popping out. Deviled crab is like a crab cake stuffed into a crab she'll. Very tasty and not fishy at all. The hush puppies may have been the best ever. Light but crispy. Not over or under cooked. Served with maple syrup!! My potato salad was delicious. Obviously homemade a bit heavy on mustard and pickle but still great. The cornbread was also among the best ever- may have been made with added yellow cake mix to get that moist and flavorful. Dessert-incredible bourbon pecan pie and the one misstep was the peach cobbler. Really just a bowl of peachy cinnamon goo with a small but of crust. Highly recommend.
Friday was a big day on the eatinetary. We were going to finally get to the South Carolina bbq icon Sweatmans in Holly Hill SC. I had hoped to get here on our previous trip to SC but unable to fit in. We decided to hit Congaree NP this trip to add to the list so Holly Hill worked well into that path. One hour drive from Charleston. Only open Fri/Sat. It's different here than before Covid as the buffet of sides to go with the meats has been replaced by packaged sides. Very famous for their pork and Carolina mustard based sauce. This made me a little leary because while I like mustard a little will do me.
Covid order set up starts with a table outside the old farmhouse where a nice young man answers questions, shows you the menu takes your order and name then radios into the house to give order to the kitchen. You follow arrows to the back where you wait your turn-6 feet apart-until they call your name and you gather your order and pay. Very simple and civilized. Counter ladies very personable. Limited outside seating.
DW ordered two rib plate with mac & cheese and green beans and I ordered half rack with same two sides. The Mac was definitely homemade-cheesy and gooey and damn good.
Beans were cooked with some chunks of smoked pork that added a nice flavor. DW thought both were too mushy but I was in hog heaven. Ribs, while not being real hot, were cooked to a perfect state with just the right amount of pull-super tender while not immediately sliding completely off the bone. The mustard sauce was definitely tasty. Not so strong of mustard that it overpowered the meat but with an enjoyable flavor profile. Not sure of all the ingredients or even if maybe it was made with mustard powder and another wet base product. Anyway it was much tastier that I was afraid it would be. Followed up my meal with what turned out to be some of the best banana pudding I've ever had. Creamy, full of banana and vanilla wafers. They sell it in containers up to a quart and folks come to just buy that so it must be good. This place is a bbq lover’s dream and is really a must visit if anywhere in the vicinity.
Bowens Island Restaurant
This place makes almost all the lists for do not miss in Charleston area. Famous for local seafood. On the water. Funky dive/roadhouse down a dry potholed road. Very busy when we arrived with line out the door. Good Covid precautions being taken by the restaurant. Old worn looking building. Full bar. Short menu of seafood available fried or broiled. Fresh shuck your own oysters a big draw. DW ordered the shrimp platter. Comes with fries and hush puppies and vinegary slaw. I ordered shrimp and filet platter-flounder-plus a crab cake on the side. Shrimp quite small with breading flaking off but pretty flavorful. Flounder good but a bit of a bland fish. Crab cake pretty flavorless-not like deviled crab at Nigel's. Fries had a nice seasoning but not very hot. Service was a bit slow but it was quite full on arrival. I think keeping up with fresh food for the crowds may be a bit daunting. Me thinks that items are made ahead a bit. Really did not live up to the hype.
Lunch today at highly rated Lewis Barbecue in downtown Charleston. Texas style from a Texas master. Has a place in Austin. Saturday special is the smoked beef plate ribs! Sweet dinosaur bone prime ribs. DW chose the sliced brisket sandwich with slaw and potato salad. Of course I went with a rib-22$lb!- and we shared the sides, neither of which we were fond of. Potato salad was like whipped potatoes with a very strong vinegar profile as was the slaw. Just too much vinegar for us. Sandwich was really tasty-smoky and tender. Meat not over cooked or mushy from holding. Good roll. Beef rib was soooo tender. Meat tasted like smoked prime rib. Had to take some with just couldn't finish. A great meal but not quite up to the standard set by best of West Texas.
Rodney Scott BBQ
Rodney Scott is a James Beard honored chef and pitmaster. His family started Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway and he took the food to new heights at his place in Charleston. Specializing in whole hog bbq. After seeing him in action in a Netflix program we had to get to his place. And we were not disappointed. I chose the whole hog plate-just chopped pork from all over the pig. DW chose the 2 meat plate with ribs and turkey. Potato salad and slaw for her and potato salad and cornbread for me. Place was really busy with both walk in and phone orders. Our wait was about 20 minutes. Meal came and it all looked delicious. Scott’s famous sauce, used while cooking and at the table, is vinegar based and not our thing. 3 other sauces including an Alabama white sauce all lean towards a bit spicy for our tastes. As it turns out the meat really needed no sauce. Turkey was tender and just the right touch of smoky. Was good with the white sauce. My pork was very flavorful and mild without too much vinegar flavor. The spareribs were some of the best we have ever had. Should have asked the pit guy what they season with. Definitely pepper and other spices. Perfectly cooked great texture. Wish I had ordered some for me. Also ordered hush puppies which were fresh and light. Not quite up to Nigel's but real good. The surprise was we were delivered some banana pudding that we didn't order with the meal. It was quite good if a bit low on banana flavor. Nice crispy Nilla wafers-not mushy. Even my DW who is not a pudding person liked it. Just a great meal all around. Highly recommend.
Cahill's Market and Chicken Kitchen Bluffton SC
Highly rated brunch option two hours outside Charleston in Bluffton SC. Funky roadside combo of farm market and restaurant praised for their fried chicken. Brunch menu ranges from usual breakfast dishes, chicken and waffles, burgers, even a waffle with fried bologna inside. Also the southern fave meal, meat and three. Started the meal with a half order of deviled eggs and an order of cornbread muffins with honey butter. The eggs were fresh and tasty with the surprise addition of chopped bacon in the filling. Yum. Cornbread muffins had a fluffy texture, perfectly cooked with delicious honey butter.
DW chose 2 egg breakfast with chicken biscuit and home fries. The potatoes tasted like they had been cooked in bacon fat and were delicious. The chicken biscuit was underwhelming as the biscuit was pretty fluffy but the chicken seemed like a generic chicken strip. My choice today was the meat and three with fried chicken, mac & cheese, broccoli casserole, and cuke tomato salad. Plus an added biscuit with homemade berry jam. Biscuit was perfect vehicle for the sweet spread. The mac and cheese was tasty but had a bit of a granular texture I believe from using real cheddar not some sauce or powder. Broccoli casserole, which I haven't had in a long time, was also very flavorful and cheesy. Very good. The cuke & tomato salad had a nice light dressing-italian?-but should have been called cuke and pepper because there was very few tomatoes and lots of green and red peppers. Still enjoyed. The star was the fried chicken. A breast and a wing of some of the best fried chicken I have ever tasted. Fresh, perfectly cooked not greasy with a light but crispy breading. Just the perfect piece. The portions on the sides were plentiful so I chose to focus on the chicken. Wish I could have finished all but it's just a big meal. While I wish there was a place like this at home I'm glad there isn't. A great place to eat if your anywhere in the vicinity. Highly recommend.
Scott's BBQ Hemingway SC
Today's main food goal was heading 2 hours from Charleston to Hemingway SC to hit the OG of SC bbq, Scott's Pit Cooked BBQ. This is Rodney Scott's parents place where he learned the trade of whole hog bbq. It's a really nondescript part market part bbq house in a tiny rural hamlet. Pretty rundown with home printed/written signs about such things as no credit and no service for slouching pants.
Inside is devoid of much market items except bread, chips, and soda. The smell of burning wood and cooked pork was quite pungent. No indoor seating during Covid. Tables outside though. Menu was basic bbq-chopped whole hog, ribs, and chicken either plates or by the pound. Served with white bread and your choice of beans, potato salad, or commercially produced. We both chose the same meal-ribs with slaw and potato salad. Rib portion was generous, 3 good size pork spare ribs. Sides were small in plastic containers. The sauce here is served on the side and is vinegar based with some chili's and other ingredients kept private by the man who toured us through the pit house. That sauce is also what is mopped onto the hogs during the final phase of cooking-no more seasoning is used in the cook. It does have some "heat" with the chili's but really compliments the meat if used sparingly.
Once seated outside, we were entertained by the resident skinny kitten looking for some droppings. So cute. The ribs were tender as any ever tasted to the point of falling off the bone when you picked up. But this didn't detract at all from the amazing flavor. Smoky from the oak/pecan wood. And just the right amount of spice from the sauce. Some of the best. Sides were pretty low quality but potato salad was okay. The service inside was perfunctory but we met a couple of nice guys out by the pit room, one of whom said if I wanted to check out the inside come on in. After finishing up the meal we went inside. He guided us out to the back where the coals were being prepared by placing the wood above large burn barrels and coals were gathered at the bottom for transfer inside to the pits. These are made from stacks of cinder block with metal grates at the top for holding the whole hogs. Cooked overnight inside downward overnight, then flipped and mopped before picked and chopped. The long time traditional way of SC pork bbq. Off the beaten path but not to be missed in in the vicinity and looking for great local bbq.
Highly hyped seafood spot in downtown Charleston. Small, dark, and LOUD. Don’t let the website photos fool you-at night it’s damn dark inside. Doorman on the sidewalk felt very pretentious. As did the too hip male servers inside. Maybe I’m just old. All the proper Covid precautions taken here. Seating at the front of the house seemed a little cramped. Our table was on the back “patio” next to the bar. Kept nice and warm with overhead heaters but you wouldn’t know you were “outside” unless you looked up through the open space in the ceiling. Chose to start our meal with one of their Frozies-an adult version of a Slurpee really. Similar to the daquiri’s and margarita’s served frozen on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The flavor was tropical and it was the current special but the name escapes me. They kindly split it into two glasses and it was delicious.
One reason I chose this spot was the ceviche on the menu, which I love. Tonight’s version was made with Halibut but it was pretty disappointing. The server was accurate in his description of not being spicy but it was actually bland. And swimming in liquid. Never seen it so wet. I know it’s made with citrus juice but this was ridiculous. And detrimental to the chips that came with. Fish was tasty but the fruit (oranges?) were flavorless as were the red onion. Definitely needs work. For my entrée I chose both a lobster tostada and a fish taco, tonight served with haddock I believe. As I expected DW chose the lobster roll which she will order any chance she gets. One difficult piece of the menu here-at least for me-is they don’t really do a good job of listing things like sauces and ingredients in the dishes. I know you can ask anytime but I think it should be made clear, especially in a place that has very loud music making it difficult to hear conversation. And all the masks don’t help. I am a spice/heat wimp so when my taco came with not one but two suspicious looking sauces I asked our server if they were spicy. He suggested I taste (duh) so I took a miniscule amount of the green sauce on the taco and knew I was in trouble. Server told me if that was not good don’t try the other. He immediately offered to have it remade and I said yes please. The sauce on the lobster tostada was slightly spicy, good for me, and enhanced the delicious lobster very nicely. Taco returned quickly and was very good, fresh abundant fish and thoroughly enjoyed. Lobster roll was the big winner. Great roll toasted and buttered and overflowing with a delicious, fresh tasty lobster salad. She loved it. Came with some obligatory “Cape Cod” style chips. Decided to finish the meal by splitting a Key Lime Pie which disappointed. Just a small, plain piece of pie dumped onto a too large rimmed plate. No whipped cream on or beside the pie, no garnish of any kind. Pie had a flavorful filling but it was somewhat rubbery and the crust was mushy as if it had been around a bit to long. While the seafood was good, I would suggest maybe visiting for lunch to avoid the noise.
Carmella’s Dessert Cafe Charleston
chose to end my birthday celebration here after the many great reviews. surprised to find it felt more like a dark noisy bar rather than a dessert shop. headed toward the light-the refrigerated bakery case at the rear. gorgeous looking cakes and pastries. the cakes are easily more than two people could eat for dessert and leftovers are not easily handled by travelers. plus who needs more calories. why not offer a slice also? so two can share. nope, not an option. also, why refrigerate everything? i know, it's to extend the shelf life and avoid waste. but it deadens the flavor and dries out the cake. why not offer some cake at room temp for folks to eat in and sell the cold ones to people looking to take out or just pig out onsite?
so cake was out for us but they offered some belgian waffle creations with gelato and fancy toppings. not knowing for sure how big they were we asked the counter man-over the ridiculously loud music-what he thought of them. said they were really good and not too big. chose to order the campfire. this included chocolate gelato, marshmallow cream, graham cracker, and whipped cream.
imagine our surprise when i noticed that the waffles are not made to order. probably not even made on site. commercial premade waffles heated i a warming oven! quite disappointing, especially for the price. and unfortunately the counter man seemed to lose track of the timing and they came out a good bit over done.
but let me now say that the finished product was really delicious. the chocolate gelato may have been one of the most delicious and flavorful i've ever had. so rich. add the gooey, runny from the warm waffle marshmallow cream, the whipped cream and the crisp grahams and you really felt like it was a decadent smore. perfect size for two people. we cleaned the plate on that one. so with all the reservations if are looking for something sweet give them a try.
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