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Jul 30, 2009 08:39 AM

Hilton Head, SC Report

Still mid-trip, but wanted to write a few things up before they're forgotten. We're traveling with a large group and a baby, so we're not getting to any of the more formal, better reviewed places that we'd *really* like to eat at... but here are a couple of notes that I hope will help other folks make more informed decisions.

1. San Miguel - Mexican - in Shelter Cove.
I'm baffled by the long list of good reviews of this place. Completely overcooked and poorly seasoned steak fajitas, some of the worst fish tacos we've ever had and dried out enchiladas with no sauce. The only positives in the meal were the good service and the freshly fried tortilla chips that came with the mediocre guacamole appetizer. Wish I had a better suggestion for Mexican on the island, but alas, no.

2. Charley's Crab
Had a nice meal here, though some dishes were misses. This was probably the only nicer place we got to, as we ate here the night before the bulk of our party arrived on the island. My wife had a really nice lump-crab meat, avocado and mango salad to start and I tried the lobster spring rolls, which were well executed, but served with a spicy mustard sauce that didn't really work for me. My wife's dinner was a delicious scallop dish with bok choy in a really nice, light sauce. I had a shrimp dish "crusted" with Parmesan (not really crusted, more like heavily battered) paired with a pasta, which was in a rich, creamy, pink (vodka?) sauce. The shrimp alone were too rich and paired with the sauce it was a little much. Everything became a bit more palatable when I took the lemon from my water and doused the plate with it. Service was very good and we ate outside near the docs, making for a nice meal, in spite of my less than wonderful plate. Our 10-month old felt like this place was pretty kid-friendly for a semi-upscale restaurant. Lots of other families were eating here.

3. Steamer Seafood - coligny plaza
So we set out to try the Sea Shack. Arrived there at 5:45 on a Tuesday to find a line half way across the parking lot. We piled back into the van and set out to find ANY place to eat dinner nearby. Ended up at Steamer Seafood at coligny plaza. Food was as expected for this kind of touristy, seafood joint. Everything was "fine" and the service was very good. Surprisingly, one dish actually was great; the Voodoo Skillet (I think that was the name)... which was a Shrimp, Scallop and Andouille sausage plate with very nice (and hot!) creole seasoning.

4. Ruan Thai
Mediocre at best. I'm a huge thai fan and this place missed the mark on many notes. Red curry was thin, too mild and underseasoned. Lemongrass chicken was a variety that we've never seen - just grilled chicken with some sauce thrown on top, and not very good at that. Only win here was the Salad Roll appetizer, which was much more akin to a Vietnamese summer roll than anything that I typically see on a thai menu. Last gripe that I'll write about this place... they had a special appetizer on the menu. Something to the effect of "Crab Meat in golden puffs", which sounded great to me, so I ordered it and it turned out to be CRAB RANGOON; that garbage bag of a chinese appetizer which is essentially a big scoop of cream cheese with a minute, invisible quantity of crab dropped into a wonton skin and deep fried. Yuck.

5. It's Greek To Me
Nice meal here, good service. Some hits, some misses. Calamari was well cooked, but HIGHLY oversalted (we think they may have salted it, then forgot that they salted it and hit it again - If I'd been on my own and not in the middle of a larger party, I definitely would have sent it back). Roasted garlic appetizer was delicious and greek salads (that come with entrees) were very good. I had the souvlaki and gyro combination. Everything tasted good, but the gyro was of the frozen variety. My wife had the grilled salmon, which was very overcooked and another of our guests had the Shrimp Santorini, which she said was very good.

6. Various brunches and breakfasts...
Mostly we ate breakfast and lunch at our hotel, but the few times we ventured out, we were not disappointed.
Skillet's cafe (Coligny Plaza) and the Plantation Cafe right near there were both very good for brunch and very reasonable.

That's all I've got for now. Hope this helps other chowhounds...

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  1. BRAD: I live here. If you want one good meal you can't miss at Riviera Oaks on New Orleans Road. I'm behind the martini at 5:20 PM.

    BTW, the best pizza on the island will be found at Il Carpaccio in PIneland Station. Carry out too, if you wish.

    OMG, stay away from Coligny!

      1. I wish you would visit Beaufort. It is so beautiful, so perfectly Southern. You can find recommendations on this board but we enjoyed dining outside at Panini's.
        We had fun hanging out at Harbour Town. I remember seeing many babies in strollers there.
        Also, it would be a shame if you missed The Salty Dog for a t shirt and the view and a beer.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Lewes17266

          I will be in Beaufort in August for one night but that happens to be my birthday. I want a nice place to eat -- not necessarily fancy but good food and a nice atmosphere. I see your post is a year ago so any ideas about what you would recommend now?

          1. re: esmemom1

            I would go to Emily's for fine dining open for dinner only. I would also go to Kathleen's open for lunch or dinner.

            Emily's Restaurant & Tapas Bar @ 906 Port Republic St., Beaufort, SC 843 - 522 - 1866.
            Kathleen's Bar and Grill @ 822 Bay St., Beaufort, SC 843 - 524 - 2500.

            I would also consder Beaufort Grocery for lunch for dinner.

            I would be tempted to have my birthday at Breakwater for the tapas, sliders, fresh fish, steaks and pork chop.

            Breakwater Restaurant & Bar @ 203 Carteret St., Beaufort, SC 843 - 379 - 0052.

            Beaufort Grocery @ 117 Queen St., Beaufort, NC 252 - 728 - 3899.

            1. re: esmemom1

              esmemom1, Definitely consider Saltus! You can sit outside and enjoy the view of the river.

              1. re: Sensuous

                I enthusiastically second the Saltus recommendation.
                I just suggested Saltus to two friends with sophisticated palates.
                They listened.
                They loved it.

                1. re: UrDaddy

                  I started to recommend Saltus. I went there 20 years ago and then again a few times since but I thought these new places had taken over. I guess not. Next trip I will go back to Saltus. Good luck.

          2. there's a good mexican place VERY authentic on the off road if you trying to skip the one main circle (i am NOT going to describe this well). i would use it to cut back from the CVS off the road down to coligny and forest beach to where the alligator grille and flamingo house of donuts is. it's hidden back in there. actually try all 3 of those places! :)

            sorry - i drive HH by feel since i've been coming once a year since i was little and no KNOW names of roads! :)