By Kristen Oliveri
Those searching for restaurants adept at pairing the very best of old world Southern comfort with new world cutting-edge cuisine may be surprised to learn they can find it on Hilton Head Island. Gone are the days of lackluster, non-descript beach resort food and bland margaritas. With more than 250 restaurants on the Island, the area has drawn the attention of celebrity chefs like Food Network’s Robert Irvine (http://www.eathhi.com/) who recently opened his flagship restaurant, eat!; a mix between new favorites paired with old-world Southern cuisine. Menu items like shrimp and cheddar grits and traditional bread pudding may warm the heart, but don’t overlook the roasted duck with collard greens and sweet potato fritters, which is a crowd pleaser in its own right.
For more locally and seasonally designed menus enter Vine Restaurant. The chef there is serving up organic and local dishes that support the farmers, fisherman and butchers in the region and with the true meaning of the farm to table movement in mind, the menu changes weekly to showcase seasonal dishes like salads featuring roasted Brussels sprouts, kale and beets. Popular items like Osso Bucco are a big seller, but stewed swordfish steamed with tomatoes and olives served over a creamy polenta is a dish to dissect, enjoy and to reflect back on in almost a spiritual sense long after the meal is over.
Long gone are the plantation owners who populated the island, but their culinary imprint, and those of the native Gullah people, still remain on menus. Naturally, authentic Gullah-inspired cuisine can be found in Hilton Head’s restaurants like Roastfish and Cornbread where the chef presents healthy dining options like vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free alongside those classic dishes he learned in his grandmother’s kitchen and recreates for his guests. The seafood used in the restaurant is brought in daily with a roster of local fish that is astounding.
While the bar and cocktail scene in a town known primarily for seasonal tourism may seem one dimensional, mixologists at restaurants and lounges like Wise Guys are Continue Reading…