Laura and I had signed up for a Continuing Education course through Furman. In this case, we were to travel to Bull Island to do some shelling, driving down Friday evening, catching a ferry to the island Saturday morning ,then visiting the SC Aquarium on Sunday.
After dropping by my parent’s house in Prosperity to make sure Dad got home from the hospital OK, we headed south. it was later than we would have liked to start, and we were contemplating dinner on the road. We decided to wait until we got to Chraleston for our meal, and we were glad we waited.
The Central Restaurant and Barroom was right next door to our hotel in Mount Pleasant. It looked quite crowded, but the smells coming from it were quite compelling. Despite the crowds and our lack of appropriate attire, we decided to give it a try.
Act One – The Bar
We were told to expect a 40 minute wait for our table. Our usual Greenville restaurant rule was suspended (Never wait more than 30 minutes for a table) and we headed to the bar for drinks to pass the time. I ordered a so-so vodka martini, and Laura had an excellent Cabernet (Avalon). Though pricy, the drinks were quite generous.
We finally found seats at the bar, next to an older lone gentleman. It was obvious that he was in search of conversation, and our similar martinis were the opening he needed.
Turns out Bob is a fascinating individual. He moved to the area to close down a steel mill, and was still active in that industry. He lives by himself in a condo on Daniel Island overlooking the marsh, and usually plays several games of speed chess over the Internet each evening.
Bob’s family owned a large popular restaurant in Manhattan, and he started out as a jazz violinist, actually playing with Artie Shaw for a stint. Then came college at VMI. He finished up with an MBA from Harvard, then worked for a variety of companies.
Bob had been married twice, each time for over twenty years. He regularly got together with both exes for lunch, subjecting himself to abuse as to why he was impossible to live with. He would occasional slip off to Paris or some other exotic locale with one ex or the other every now and then. Sounded like an interesting life, and before we knew it, over and hour had passed. By then, our table was ready.
Act Two – The Restaurant
The decor is somewhat spartan, with little in the way of artwork. There are clean lines and subtle appealing colors with a touch of understate elegance. The decor isn’t meant to distract from mediocre food or service.
The menu was straightforward and simple, with a selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and entre’s. There were grilled steaks and seafood, and a selection of chef specialties. Prices for the entre’s ran from the mid-teens to over twenty dollars.
We both started with crab and corn chowder. It was simply phenomenal, and would have made a meal all by itself. Laura select crab cakes, and I chose the grouper. Laura declared these the best crab cakes she had ever had, and the taste I wrestled from her confirmed that. It was somewhat sweet, and accompanied with a chilled corn salad.
As good as Laura’s crab cakes were, my meal was actually better. The grilled grouper was topped with pesto and a tomato/garlic garnish served atop mashed potatoes, and accompanied with a side of sauteed mushrooms. Each was perfection. The acidity of the tomato blended perfectly with the pesto and fish, and the mushrooms were bombs of salty heaven.
It seemed a crime to do so, but we had to leave some of the meal behind as an offering to the seafood gods. We just couldn’t finish another bite.
Smooth, efficient, and discreet. The bartenders were especially helpful, providing bread to cushion our drinks, and information on the various wines available.
This sure beats the road options we thought we would be having this evening. I think we might have hit the best meal of the trip, and we will be sure to come back the next time we’re down this way.