Hello everyone. It’s been awhile and I know you’ve missed me – and I’ve missed you as well! With the fall migration south underway we don’t want to miss the opportunity to share a few great food stops along the route. We’re sure at some point you’re going to get hungry! Don’t forget to check out our past Seefare reviews of restaurants for stops on the Chesapeake and in the Carolinas. If you haven’t gotten to South Carolina yet, there are a couple of joints you should definitely consider if you are looking for great food and great service. Click here to be transported to Part One of our culinary exploration of Beaufort, SC.
Saltus River Grill — Beaufort, South Carolina
Saltus is that place to go for a special dining experience. It sits just behind the main street on the beautiful Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park and is a short walk from the Downtown Marina. If you are coming by way of Port Royal Landing Marina (which is where we love to stay), grab their loaner car or a taxi for a short ride to town. We arrived to a festive firepit at the entrance to this beautiful old renovated building. The warm and inviting interior is an impressive space. The décor is industrial chic with high ceilings and large sepia-toned, vintage nautical prints. Their menu is a wonderful mix of sophisticated fare and Lowcountry favorites…and that inevitably means a killer shrimp and grits! Mercy!
Our night began with a perfect margarita and their evening appetizer feature, a sushi roll stuffed with crab and avocado, topped with Ahi Tuna, Tempura Crunch, Scallions and drizzled with Sriracha Cream Sauce on a plate with delectable smears of mango and Thai chili sauce. The combination of flavors was so good we were tempted to order another.
Instead, we went with the Pomme Frites with Parmesan and White Truffle Oil and it was a very good thing. How did we go from sushi to French fries you may ask…we cleansed our palate with a sip from our second margarita, that’s how!
Time to move on to the main event! A.J. had a hankering for fish and luckily for him their entree feature that night was lightly fried, freshly caught local Red Drumfish with Smashed Red Fingerling Potatoes and Crab Gratin and Roasted Brussel Sprouts. The fish was flaky and light. The smashed potatoes were cooked to perfection with just a bit of texture from the skin and the blend of Crab Gratin was almost decadent. The roasted sprouts, not too soft, gave a nice texture to this delicious dish.
A.J.’s dad was along for this experience and as you may have read in some of my posts, he and I tend to be drawn to the same flavors. So when I asked if I could get the Sea Island Shrimp & Creamy Stone Ground Grits with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms, Scallions, Bacon Lardons, Garlic Confit and Chicken Pan Jus without the Bacon Lardons, Poppa got a grin on his face. When our Five Anchor Server, Devon said absolutely, he famously chimed in with… “And who said no?” We congratulated each other on the perfect choice.
This dish is tough to describe because in truth it looks a little bit like a heap of everything, but the individual flavors created an amazing dish. The grits were almost fluffy even though smothered in glorious chicken pan jus – a gravy of sorts that absorbed the earthy, smoky flavor of the roasted shiitake Mushrooms. The garlic confit (garlic cloves covered in olive oil, heated until just a simmer and then reduced down) gave a layered richness that added to this mouthwatering dish. And, the Sea Island Shrimp were plump, crisp and made me wish I was a local! Many, many years ago I worked with a woman named Ms. Wells. She was a lady of southern descent who could make grits like nobody’s business. I wanted to surprise her, so one day I made them for her. She took one bite and exclaimed loudly, “MERCY! Child, it tastes like you put your foot in it!” I went immediately pale until she told me (after laughing at my reaction) that it was a huge compliment because it meant I had put everything into making it right and that there wasn’t a thing she’d change about my grits. When I took my first bite of this dish at Saltus, the words of Ms. Wells fell right out of my mouth. MERCY!
Check out saltusrivergrill.com to see what great offerings they have on their menu.
Old Bull Tavern — Beaufort, South Carolina.
Old Bull Tavern is about a hop, skip and one minute stroll from the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. They call themselves a friendly neighborhood gastropub and it’s a hoppin’ place where reservations are a good idea. And they are indeed friendly. We were a party of six and mistakenly booked a table for four (the Captain was in charge and I think he had been calculating fuel burn all day and spaced out!) The place is cozy so we couldn’t just add two extra chairs to our four-top. They quickly shuffled a few things around and had us seated in no time.
Once again we had a Five Anchor Server, Ashley who really went above and beyond to take care of us. Our drinks came quickly and the Classic Manhattan was made with Makers Mark, Dolin Vermouth and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry was my favorite.
Their menu is a single sheet of paper and their fare is a creative mix of interesting combinations and comfort food done right. They also have what they call “middle plates” which is terrific if you want to try a few things rather than just one main entrée.
We started with the cleverly titled Green Eggs and Ham – these wasabi deviled eggs with prosciutto were a tangy treat with a flavorful, salty finish! They went quickly.We also tried The House Smoked Mullet Spread with Ritz Crackers and a Black Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese – both were hits at the table.
When our middle plates came we shared our choices. The Housemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Wild Caught Shrimp, Tomato Sauce and Basil was excellent. The Gnocci was pillowy and tender. The bite-sized shrimp were crisp and sweet, absorbing the flavor of the hearty red sauce with chunks of tomato that was reminiscent of a sauce you’d find in Southern Italy.
The Duck Confit with Butternut Squash Puree and Apple Jus was perfectly cooked. The duck was tender with the skin just crisped. The butternut squash melded well with the apple jus and if you are a person who mixes flavors and textures, a bite of duck with a little squash was quite nice.The Grilled Black Angus Shoulder Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Butter was ordered medium rare and grilled just right. The picture tells you all you need to know if you are a steak lover. The gorgonzola butter was truly decadent with a tang that fused nicely with the mashed potatoes beneath it. The Grilled Chicken Thigh with Andouille Sausage was ordered over mashed potatoes. It was simple but flavorful and hearty. As I always say, it can be just as difficult to get the less complicated dishes right and this also hit the mark. It did not disappoint. The house side was a grilled root vegetable mix with green beans. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience there and appreciated the care in preparation, presentation, and flavorful offerings.
Check them out online at oldbulltavern.com.
Again, there’s more fare to see in Beaufort and Port Royal, SC. Part One can be found here.
Until we eat again, Sláinte! — Your SeeFaring Admiral
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