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Places to eat from a Beaufort SC native.

Having lived in Beaufort SC my entire life, I thought I could give some reccomendations to anyone visiting the area. I've worked and still work the Food and Beverage Industry in Beaufort for many years and have noticed many changes through out. But enough with my ramblings about my life story let me begin. These are the Restaurants in Downtown Beaufort SC.

Sea Is. Wine and Gourmet-Besides Emily's (which I'll get to later) this is easily the best restaurant in town. It's located the furtherst from Bay St. but don't let it hinder you from ever stopping in. Their lunches are superb, the among the top are the Chicken Salad, I know, it sounds weird, but it truly is the best yoiu will ever have, and the Grilled Chicken Club. They also serve dinner on Thursday Friday and Saturday nights and the menu is very unique as it changes every week, they do this rather than running specials. There are a few constants, like the wonderful crab and artichoke dip or the eggplant stack with fresh mozzarella and fontina, but for the most part, it's something new every week! The restaurant also doubles as a retail store, selling gourmet cheeses and dry goods and a fabulous wine selection in the Wine Cellar. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable and willing to accomidate all sorts of requests. They also do special orders and can have them in the store in about 2 days! I highly reccommend this to anybody who is looking for something that is different. The restaurant really feels like walking into someone's house and fitting right in. The tea is the best you'll ever have also, it'a a mango flavored tea, delicious.

Emily's Tapas Bar and Restaurant-This is definitely one of the very best restaurants in
Beaufort. It's a block away from Bay St. which can be a good thing if you want to get away from the busy main street. The food is out of this world, it being the only restaurant in town with a full tapas menu, 28 items to be exact, with things ranging from Oysters rockefeller, softshell crab, and emu steak to escargot, frenched lamb chops and the best french onion and she crab soup in the world. All the tapas are $8 and it's great to just get a few tapas for each person and share. If you are getting dinner, I highly reccomend the Steak Au Poive, easily the best filet mignon in town. The service is excellent and the atmosphere is classy but very casual as well. So don't be embarassed to walk in wearing a fanny pack and a bermuda shirt, or a tuxedo. On Friday Nights, there is a couple who sing and play the grand piano located in the bar side of the restaurant. It really creates a mood for dinner. Also, the Chocolate Cake is the best you'll ever have, it's three layers!!

Saltus River Grill-A bit overpriced but the food always tastes fresh. The atmosphere is very metropolitan with a sense of Southern Hospitality. The Sushi is among the best there is in Beaufort, though the choices of it are very limited. The flat-iron steak is fabulous, service is very good and you are bound to have a good time. It was featured in Southern Living Magazine. While to food is good, it has had a noticable downturn in quality since Saltus was first opened, the portions are noticably smaller, but the prices are still high. www.saltusrivergrill.com

Plums Restaurant-A very nice restaurant, with similar food to that of Saltus, they are owned by the same man, but with a bistro atmosphere and a very casual dress code, the prices for the food would concieveably be reduced. This is not the case. The prices are still higher than should be. Paying $30 for a Tuna entree that is appx 5oz is something that could border on robbery. Still, the food has a fresh and clean taste. And Chef Will's Crabcake appetizer at dinner IS the BEST YOU WILL EVER HAVE!!!! The salad dressings are all homemade, my fav is the balsamic vin. but the deserts are not, don't let them fool you! The lunches are very tasty, with some unusual things on the menu. Try the Factory Creek Shrimp Roll or the Plums Club, or the Grilled Turkey. Also, the ice cream that had made Plums famous, (i.e. Prince of Tides) is no longer available. The company that made the ice cream was bought out, the former owners being the family of the man who ownes Plums. Plums does still server ice cream, It is mostly edy's and haggan daz. However, the other ice cream is still available on Lady's Island in a restaurant called Berry Island. www.plumsrestaurant.com

Nippy's Fish-A great dive where you can get a great fried shrimp roll, or oyster roll. They also have things like homemade chili and a lobster salad. Again the prices are a little out there, It also being owned by the man who ownes Saltus and Plums. It is the perfect type of restaurant for a quick bite to eat. You go in to the counter place your order and wait for it. it comes in a brown paper bag, and you can get a can of coke, a beer, or a Sundrop to drink. The service, well what is there to say, its kind of like a gas station. self-serve. But the food is highly reccommended by everyone and is a great place to get food before work. They also have oyster roasts and shrimp boils every friday night, depending on season and live music outside of the restaurant. It took the place of Bay Town Grill.

Luther's Rare and Well Done-Luther's took the spot of Banana's and they returned the name to Luther's. It was origionally a pharmacy in the early 20th century. This is just a burger joint. The food is excellent but don't expect anything too fancy from them. The entire dining room of the restaurant is surrounded by a HUGE bar, with a few tables scattered around the perimiter of the dining room. They have great burgers and the crab dip is among the best you will ever have. They have a very sports bar atmosphere but still cater to large parties with a big table in the very front of the restaurant by the door. Service is excellent and I usually leave no less than satisfied everytime I go there. The fries are my favorite, along with the buffalo wings. You are beginning to get an idea of the fare they serve.

Kathleen's-Kathleen's took the spot of Ollie's by the Bay a few years back. The food is average, run of the mill food. There is not much going by means of taste. There is a type of atmosphere that surrounds the Restaurant that tends to drive off customers. It is not one of my favorite places to go, and while service is not terrible, the servers always make you feel like you are imposing yourself on them, and that they would much rather be elsewhere. The entire setup of the restaurant, in terms of architecture is obscure. And all I can say, is you have to see it to believe it. This would be a place that I would definitely skip had I the opportunity.

Panini's-It's a type of Italian Mediterranean restaurant. The pizzas they serve thare are fantastic, they let you create your own or you can select from a wide variety of unusual styles. But don't let it scare you, they really are quite good. my favorite being the blanco. The rest of the food-I much prefer the lunch menu to the dinner. All of the dinner food has the same type of cream taste to it that becomes overpowering in a sense, while the lunch food, like the chicken-cheese hogie are fresh tasting and satisfying. The service tries to be on par with the likes of Saltus or Emily's, which I'll mention later, but the servers are not much older than 18 and are lacking in some skill. A running joke is that if you ever have a bad server in Beaufort they must have been trained at Panini's. Panini's took the place of The Bank and subsequently Bay Breeze. There is also a Panini's in Bluffton, near Hilton Head Island.

Hemingway's Bar-It's a great location, underneath one of the old buildings on Bay St. and the outside is surrounded by Ivy and plants. The food, is a little off par with the rest of Beaufort but is not bad, They have a very small kitchen with limited Resources but all in all, it's not a bad place. In the daylight. At night, Hemingway's turns into a full-fleged bar, they only serving lunch, and often it's not uncommon for a fight to break out if you're not careful. I suggest going for lunch but not staying all night.

Breakwater-Is the new name for Bistro 205. The food is very similar to Saltus, and the atmosphere will almost remind you of Starbucks, if you catch my drift. A lot of cool lights and wooden furniture. The tuna tartare is the best i've ever had, but again, as with Saltus, the portions are small and the prices are high. They are only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and it is always packed, this may be because it is a very very small restaurant. The service is excellent and the food is delicious.

The Beaufort Inn-Sadly the Beaufort Inn restaurant Veranda is closing.

I know it seems like I have written a lot, but I simply am trying to give you some reccomendations on where to go and eat. I hope that you have stuck with me and read all I had to say. And I sincerely hope that you will give Emily's, which is only open for dinner, and Sea Island Wine and Gourmet, a try, they are two restaurants that tend to get overlooked that need not be. Happy Eating

P.S. All the Restaurants on Bay St. have porch seating so you can look at the Waterfront Park and the Beaufort River.

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  1. Stopped for lunch passing between Charleston and Savannah and came across Plums. Good sandwich and salad. Place was packed - always a good sign.

    1. Any spots serving Clemson Blue as a staple ingredient on the menu?

      2 Replies
      1. re: JayVaBeach

        none that i know of, sry, u might wanna try closer to clemson for that :) most of the people in beaufort are big gamecock fans!

        1. re: JayVaBeach

          Jay - I heard from the folks @ Clemson that the drought last year and high transportation costs have restricted their production and distribution severely. Hopefully this summer they will get more rain for better cheese production - but even as close as Greenville (where I am) I'm hard pressed to find any Clemson Blue.

        2. Had lunch at Luther's today. The place has definitely slipped since my last visit. The bacon on the hamburger club was near raw. The burger patty was very small, overwhelmed by the bread. The fried dill pickle spears that come with it did not until I asked. Fries were greasy. Service was friendly but very slow. Other than that... the view was nice.

          1. I agree with you that Kathleen's is awful. The one time I was there, the server told us that it was her first day. That being said, she wasn't trying very hard and if I had been the manager, it would have been her last day. It took her over 1/2 hour to take our order. Then she forgot to bring our drinks, which sat on the bar for a considerable amount of time - and please don't make the mistake of thinking she was busy in the meanwhile - she was just chatting. When she finally brought the drinks, she neither brought a glass for the beer nor asked if we wanted one. She brought no silverware or napkins - just plopped the food on the table. When we asked for silverware she stared blankly, finally said "oh- right" and then disappeared. I finally got up and got it myself. She never came back with a bill and when I mentioned how awful the service was to the manager, she said we shouldn't be to hard on her because it was her first day - are they kidding? Plus, their prices are pretty high for some really substandard food. Never again!

            1. Gosh I wish I'd seen this BEFORE I went there. We went to Hilton Head for the first time in October planning to be there a week. After 2 days we FLED and found Beaufort everything we had hoped Hilton Head would be. Loved your town. We even accidentally visited Port Royal on their Octoberfest day. What a treat. We didn't eat at any of the places you mentioned, but did go to Barbara Jeans on Lady's Island. The crab cakes were good, not Eastern Shore, but better than most. We tried to visit the Shrimp Shack, but after that long drive, they were closed. So we went back and ate at Steamers, a dive looking place with a parking lot full of local cars. The oysters were yummy. When we come back we will look into the places you mentioned. Thanks for the ideas

              1. Great summary. I have family in HH and liove to drive to Beaufort for a day trip.

                I passed through recently and noticed that Sgt White's bbq is for sale. Sorry to see that..hope Sgt White is looking forward to a happy retirement.


                1 Reply
                1. re: 9lives

                  Noooooo, say it ain't so the BEST Q I ever ate while in the state of SC was at Sgt Whites. I hope he'll hang around till Dec so I can visit him one last time. Its been over 10 years since I ate there and it made an impact it was that good. I hope Sgt White has a great retirement.

                2. Glad to hear Emily's is still going strong. Had dinner there are few years ago on a "girl's trip" and had one of the great nights of my life - combination of good food, good service, lively atmosphere and great company!

                  1. So what is a good spot for some Carolina BBQ, looks like a favorite, Sgt Whites, has closed (see replies from GailBE and 9lives below). We'll be visiting Beaufort next spring.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: LynnP

                      It's funny because in Beaufort there are two definite places to go for BBQ and half of the town swears by one and the other half swears by the other. The first is Dukes BBQ which is only open on thursday through saturday. It's basically your traditional meat and three BBQ place but is very good and they have been in beaufort for an eternity. The other places is Big Joes BBQ which is very similar to Dukes. It's just a matter of opinion, but I like Big Joes Better. The other places are generally not that good.

                      1. re: beaufortboy

                        Here's my take on Beaufort BBQ:

                        1st. Serious Barbecue in Port Royal
                        2nd. Sgt Whites (great candied yams)
                        3rd. Duke's BBQ (pretty good fried chicken too)
                        a distant 4th. Big Joes

                        1. re: flyingtiger

                          Serious Barbecue has closed (dispute with the landlord). Dukes has also closed. A new restaurant, Smokey Chef's, is open on Sea Island Expressway.

                          My rankings are:

                          1st. Smokey Chef
                          2nd. Sgt. White's
                          3rd. Big Joes

                    2. Beaufortboy, I love you. Seriously. DH and I just moved to the general Beaufort area and wanted a good lunch. Noon found us hot, humid and cranky. Sea Island Gourmet Food and Wine fixed all of that and more. The grilled chicken club was unlike anything we had ever had and we adored the aoili. The tea with fresh lemon and strawberry was divine and revitalizing. Ooh and the desserts! My only disappointment was to learn that more desserts are made throughout the day and I missed the lemon cake. We can't wait to try the rest of your suggestions! thank you, thank you, thank you!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: meremere

                        Just a quick note-Panini's in Hilton Head has tuned into a run of the mill mexican joint called Jalepnos. Not bad but *not* panini's which I really liked. That location is just bad for a resto IMHO. Thanks for the reviews, makes me want to stay a night and try the local places for a quick trip.

                      2. I disagree with the comments on Kathleens Bar and Grill. The service isgreat as well as the food. It is not an upscale restaurant. It is a relaxing restaurant. The atmosphere changes almost nightly. It is a place where you can go downtown and not feel uptight you could go in jeans and a t-shirt they have great local bands and DJ's on a regular basis. Souls Harbour a famous rock band played there for years before they signed there record contract. This is coming from someone who has lived in beaufort for 20 years. The other restaurants listed in here are great as well, but not any better then Kathleens. I love Plums and Luthers...It sounds like the person who wrote thispost had something against Kathleens. Oh well I like it--

                        1. On our last trip to Beaufort, we ate at Plum's - but had a hard time finding it from the street. My wife saw a small sign just as we were about to give up. It was a very pleasant lunch. My shrimp roll was all I could ask for - very tasty. I don't recall what my wife ordered, but I do know that she enjoyed her choice also.

                          Great post! Thank you!

                          1. I ate at Panini's once. Guess what menu item they where out of...all paninis. Can you believe that? A place named Panini's and I couldn't even order a panini. LOL

                            Anyway...wasn't a bad meal...just no panini to be had at PANINI'S. A bit expensive also.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JayL

                              Every member of my family loved Panini's. We went often and enjoyed sitting outside. The waitstaff was young but we had two teenage sons so we liked that. I would drive over to Beaufort by myself sometimes for a walk down those beautiful old streets, then have lunch at Panini's. Their caesar salad was huge and had red grapefruit slices on top. I was really smitten with Beaufort and want to get back soon for a visit.

                            2. See Island Wine & Gourmet. Really good. The deli sandwiches are outstanding. The muffuletta is worth the drive from anywhere. Never a bad experience there. The staff is second to none...and they even have personalities (something many places lack these days).

                              1. please note: sea island wine and gourmet (mentioned above) is now closed...however the good news is the owners have opened a new place across the street called "wren" very chic and same terrific food. plums is great for lunch or dinner and the ice cream is very tasty
                                beaufort is my hometown too

                                1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this! As a local of Charleston, SC, it's nice to hear what you have to say about Beaufort. We're planing an overnight trip down that way and wanted to find a good restaurant. You've given us quite a few to choose from. Thanks!

                                  1. Sgt. White's is still open.

                                    1. wow! i wish someone would do this for every town we visit. we truly appreciate you taking the time to do this and we read every word. visitors really DO listen. we will be trying out sea island or emily's and not wasting our time on the net looking for all the other places. we did read the reviews for the shrimp shack on st. helenas as we read so much about it in the travel books. however, the reviews are awful and so we were looking for another place. thanks.

                                      1. 5 years later from this original post, I am wondering if beaufortboy or others could update on places for lunch. I will be in Beaufort on July 27 for lunch and would be grateful for your input.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Expat1234

                                          Q on Bay
                                          Brick's on Boundary
                                          Moondoggies (Port Royal)
                                          Barbara Jean's (Lady's Island)
                                          Athenian Gardens
                                          Sgt. Whites

                                        2. Just an update....Kathleens and Sea Island Wine and Gourmet are no longer in Beaufort. Some of the other new restaurants in town that have excellent food are:

                                          Papaya Thai and Sushi, excellent Thai and sushi.

                                          Mizu Hibachi and Sushi...again Great sushi and nice atmosphere.

                                          Bricks on Boundary-fun atmosphere with really good buffalo blue oysters and they also have a phenomenal Fried Egg Burger!!

                                          Jasons's Wings and Seafood...Rather a Hole in the Wall but it's clean the food is wonderful! Southern-type fare including Shrimp and Grits.

                                          But we did gain a Restaurant Delivery Service called Cabbie Cuisine Restaurant Delivery service. They deliver about FIFTEEN restaurants in Beaufort so now we aren't stuck with pizza only for delivery.

                                          1. Here is another local point of view (July 2013)....

                                            Sea Island Wine's owners have left their old space and expanded by opening Wren Bistro. Located on Carteret Street in the renovated former Cecil McDaniel Coca-Cola distributorship building.Tasty meals and a nice comfy bar. Upscale but very relaxing. Stylish interiors by M Home and Garden, who have a retail store on Bay Street. Do make a reservation, especially if your group is over 4.

                                            Meanwhile, the former Sea Island Wine building on Carteret Street now houses Griffin. Above average prices for above average fare -as it should be, and a favorite of author Pat Conroy, who wrote a letter to the editor singing its praises. I've heard the same chef is opening up a second venue on Bay Street possibly in the Lipsitz building, I'm looking forward to that!

                                            Kathleen's is now Q on Bay (BBQ) which I haven't tried.

                                            I love love love Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe! its on the corner of Carteret and Craven Streets in the very handsomely renovated original City Hall. Really great food and gourmet groceries set amongst beautiful custom millwork, which I believe was fabricated locally by the Meridian Company. Serves breakfast and lunch.

                                            Old Bull Tavern on West Street, just north of Bay Street feels like a European tavern. Very cool look and feel. Great small plates and daily drink specials. Head in after shopping to get yourselves into an evening vibe. Also a nice place after a day of site seeing.

                                            Plums on Bay Street was always my go to place for fabulous original meals, and although its expansion has taken away the charm (for me) and the homemade ice cream-it still has great food and beautiful views of the Intra Coastal waterway.
                                            You cant go wrong at Plums.

                                            Nippy's is a fun casual tiny little burger and fish joint on West Street. The building is the kitchen-dining is outside. Very casual-fresh food and cold beer.

                                            Speaking of beer, when we are craving a cool Blue Moon or a bourbon, we head to the bar at the back of Luther's Rare and Well Done. You'll see a mix of locals, visitors and Marines. You do not have to dress up. We often reward ourselves with a cool one at Luther's after working on our house or yard. I hear the steaks are good too.

                                            Emily's on Port Republic (a block up from Bay Street) is great for tapas and drinks. Large plates available too. My friends Dottie and Suzie love this place and particularly rave about the she-crab soup.

                                            Across the Wood's Memorial Bridge (Carteret St/Hwy 21) just a few minutes drive from the historic district is Dockside II. This is extremely popular with the locals, and they do a great job with a terrific seafood menu. Perfect for families or a friends night out (there's a nice long bar) I had to try the seafood platter which included lobster (not local- a New England crustacean) just to celebrate finally getting in the door. Itwas delicious, as was the view.

                                            Across from Dockside just down the way is The Original Steamer, which we simply call Steamers. This is a captains table kinda place, with those captains chairs and those captains wafer crackers that kids seem to devour. The tables are equipped with a roll of paper towels and a bucket to throw your crab shells and shrimp peels into. Family place-they also were a favorite of the crew for the movie The Big Chill.

                                            Further out on Sea Island Parkway near Penn Center, be sure to try the Foolish Frog- a local favorite since it opened in 2009. Excellent food-the lot is almost always full of cars. Housed in a old post office building the renovation was done using Green building techniques (one of the owners is a builder/historic preservationist-he also is a musician an if you time it right you'll hear him play)

                                            Make you own dinner: Gay Fish Company and docks are located just before Hunting Island State Park. The seafood is right off the docks-and the shrimp boats are there to prove it.

                                            Check for menus online.
                                            Beaufort offers a variety of fine fresh food along with happy local people in an unparalleled beautiful setting.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: sara carteret

                                              We love the Dockside! It's not just fried fish like maybe people think, their grilled shrimp is fantastic, and broiled seafood platter delicious!

                                              1. re: sara carteret

                                                I have to respond to the recent rec for Gay Fish Co. I followed a chowhound rec and stopped there on the way home from Hunting island this summer.
                                                I was told the salmon was line caught in Canada - and there were only 2 small fillets in the case - so I asked if they could sell me a whole side, skin on.
                                                He came back with salmon sides in a cryovac bag that are the same ones we buy from Sysco foods for our cafe. They are farmed in Ecuador and are not great.
                                                If they are buying cases of salmon from Sysco, then I can promise you they are buying other fish from them also. Not a source I want to patronize, especially in a "local" fish market.
                                                This was probably a good local place years ago before the old owners sold, and now it seems the only thing local and right off the docks is the shrimp.

                                                    1. re: JayL

                                                      It wasn't really cryovac - just a large plastic bag that held sides of salmon. Printed with the brand from Ecuador
                                                      Comes in those big styro boxes - all the large food distributors carry it - Sysco, US food, PFG.
                                                      And it sure wasn't line caught from Canada. or local.

                                                    2. re: cowgirlinthesand


                                                      If your stop at Gay's was based on my prior recommendation on another thread, I am sorry for previously being unclear. We typically only buy shrimp at Gay's. The shrimp boats come right up to their back door.

                                                      On rare occasions, I might buy flounder or a fish likely to be local if it looked fresh and they said it was local. But 99% of the time we content ourselves with the shrimp.

                                                      Depending on where you are going from Hunting Island, we really like Highway 21 Seafood, on, well, Highway 21 on the way out of Beaufort (past Beaufort and just before the big airplane at the Marine base, but on the opposite side of the road). It's a little road stand with coolers on the side. We've been happy with the freshness of the seafood. For example, we've seen pickup trucks drive up with bushels of live crabs.

                                                      1. re: lbamber

                                                        No worries! I knew that the place to get fish was up the road where they had their coolers out. I just had run out of time (too long at the beach) so i gave Gays a shot.
                                                        The only reason i posted here was to let other hounds know to just stick with shrimp to be safe.
                                                        You can go into Publix and buy this same salmon for much less $$$.

                                                        (And we're going for Thai food next weekend thanks to your helpful recs!)

                                                  1. And still no mention of Griffin Market?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: DaleJ

                                                      Yep! See paragraph 2 of my post about Griffin.

                                                      1. re: sara carteret

                                                        Had lunch Saturday at Griffin Market. Vitello Tonatto was the best ever. For Beaufort, a notorious dining backwater (IMO), it is amazing! They must have a million bucks worth of vintage Italian wine in the back room. Its an hour's drive, but I'll do it again, soon.

                                                    2. thx- going this week and will try some of these recommendations..

                                                      1. I was there this past weekend- 10/17-10/20- we went to Saltus late on Thursday-a round 8 pm and were able to get a tabel outside- We weren't too hungry so one of us got seared tuna and the other ordered steak tartar- both were excellent! we went to nippy's for lunch on Friday- i got the shrimp basket- Superb! and my friend had the balckend fish tacos- not a bite left! We cooked in(snapper, peas and squash) on Friday night... Saturday we went to Hunting Island and hit the Seafood Shack on the way back- had the scallops, onion rings and slaw- which i lvoed- not a huge serving but very good. My friend had the shrimp salad and she said it was good. We went to Breakwater on Saturday night- service was excellent- one ahd sampler paltter($17), fried oysters and calarmari appetizer-very very good then 2 had crabcake for dinner and scallops over risotto- all excellent. prices were good and a big variety on prices and food!

                                                        1. I enjoyed your article and would like your advice. Our son is getting married in Harbor Island, So. Carolina and we would like a caterer or chef/cook to prepare dinner for 13 family members (9 adults--of which 2 are vegetarians & 4 children). The date is June 9, 2014 (Monday) and is an intimate family occasion; with a budget of $500 to 800. All are traveling from Austin, TX & Cincinnati, Ohio. Any thoughts on this would be so appreciated.

                                                          1. Has Emily's always been named that? I lived in Bft from 2002-2005 and remember eating at an AWESOME Tapas place, but didn't remember it's name being Emily's. My husband and I were planning an anniversary trip back the Bft (where we met) and wanted to make reservations there as well as Saltus. Help, if you can :) thanks!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Scchic877

                                                              Yes, Emily's has been there since at least 2000. Down the adjacent side street was Bistro Dejong- which may have been your tapas place. It's now The Old Bull Tavern.
                                                              Lots of beauty and wonder still abounds-Have a great trip back!

                                                              1. re: Scchic877

                                                                Yes, Emily's has been there since at least 2000.

                                                                Down the adjacent side street was Bistro Dejong- which may have been your tapas place. It's now The Old Bull Tavern.
                                                                Lots of beauty and wonder still abounds-Have a great trip back!