Eating Hilton Head Island

Let me just say this up front, many restaurants on the island are about 20 minutes from where ever you are staying and not so easy to find. Use your GPS and call the restaurant if you get lost.

Skull Creek Boat House
Skull Creek Boathouse is a landmark waterfront restaurant. It’s casual dining with a great view, especially at sunset! The menu is extensive and a bit overwhelming but worth the wade through.

Our party started with the Point Judith Calamari with remoulade sauce and Cape Cod clam strips. We weren’t joking around, we came to eat seafood and lots of it.

Yeah, I ate that! (the dish pictured above). Four of us ordered the Extravaganza version of the Lowcountry Boil: delectable snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters. It was so good, I had a hard time sharing.

One of our party said the catfish topped with house-made pimento cheese, cajun spices, savannah red rice, collard greens were so good the restaurant should be immediately noted as List-worthy.

Two agreed that the Royal Seafood Sampler of coco seared sea scallops, “salt & vinegar” crab cake, stuffed jumbo shrimp, savannah red rice, seasonal vegetables were superb. They liked the crab cakes, scallops and sauce the best.

One chowed down on the Sea Island Seafood Stew. Shrimp, scallops, jumbo lump crab, clams, mussels, flaky whitefish, corn, okra, green beans, simmered in savory tomato broth, white rice.

The last eater in our group had the Salmon Rockefeller. Atlantic salmon fillet topped with creamed spinach, Pernod, applewood smoked bacon, hollandaise sauce, Yukon gold smashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables.

It’s always a good thing when no one has to take leftovers home because it was so good they ate it all! We had a group of 10 and had to wait a while  They don’t take reservations. A party of four would have probably been seated much faster.  It’s a very popular place with a Jimmy Buffet vibe. Bring a sweater or jacket if you go around sunset or the mosquitos will get you!

The entire party of 10 voted for Skull Creek Boathouse to make Lea’s List of Deliciousness.

Skull Creek Boat House | 397 Squire Pope Rd | (843) 681-3663

Red Fish
If wine is your thing, then you’ll be excited that this restaurant won the Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence.” The wine list is extensive.

Red Fish specializes in cuisine where an eclectic blend of surf and turf combined with Lowcountry specialties. Most of the produce is sourced from their own Bear Island Farms.

If you want to dine early, Red Fish is pleased to offer a complimentary glass of Chef’s selection Red or White Wine. They will also not split a plate or make any substitutions. Early dining is a 45-minute window from 5pm – 5:45pm. The menu is limited and slightly less expensive. Just so you know we did not go to early supper. We couldn’t get our act together by 5:45.

On this night we had five to dinner. One can never resist the grilled Sea Bass. Chilean Sea Bass finished with a wasabi cream sauce and soy glaze served on a bed of udon noodles with wakame salad. He has the Sea Bass where ever we go and he said this was among the very best he has ever had. 

Another had the Duroc Pork Chop. It was a 12 oz. all natural bone-in pork chop, warm potato salad with wilted spinach and house-cured bacon, horseradish-whole grain mustard glaze. After sharing a bite with each one at the table, he wished it came in a 16 oz. portion. I will say it was probably the best bite of pork chop I have ever put in my mouth. 

One had the Red Fish Classic Scallops. Lobster macaroni and cheese, asparagus and crispy prosciutto. Seriously who doesn’t like lobster mac and cheese? It was so rich and creamy!

I had the Seared Jumbo Scallops with olive confit potatoes, roasted cauliflower, tomatoes, arugula and beurre blanc. I am well over my dislike of scallops. Either people have learned how to cook them now, or I am lucking out on some great ones! In either case, they are amazing rubbing up against the beurre blanc. They melt in my mouth.

The Southerner in our group had the Brick Chicken. All-natural chicken, brown sugar and house-cured bacon grits, sautéed winter greens and red-eye gravy. This is a business dinner, and we are all professionals with excellent table manners. We are not out of place at this swanky restaurant but, dang, this guy’s rolled back, and he groaned like a pig in a trough. Apparently, it was the brown sugared bacon grits.

Red Fish made the List.

Make reservations and if it’s dark this place is not easy to find. Call ahead for directions AND use your GPS.

Red Fish |8 Archer Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 |(843) 686-3388

The Old Oyster Factory
The sister restaurant of Red Fin is The Old Oyster Factory. It’s much more casual than Red Fin and is a great waterfront restaurant with a great view of the marshland.

There were a dozen diners to experience The Old Oyster Factory, and I was surprised that all twelve voted for The Old Oyster Factory to make my List. Lea’s List of Deliciousness is getting quite a reputation amongst my colleagues as the “go to” list for restaurants. Because there were so many of us, I am just going to hit a few highlights.

You just can’t go to The Old Oyster Factory without having the oysters. We had oysters on the half shell, both the Connecticut Blue Points and the James River, VA. The Old Oyster Factory boasts of selling over 210,000 oysters last year. They have oysters down!

For my entree, I had the Seafood Medley. Described as a combination of broiled seafood featuring our favorites: Wild-caught local shrimp, dayboat scallops, Chef’s fresh catch, an oyster Savannah, and oyster Rockefeller finished with Chef’s sauce du jour. Served with garlic Parmesan rice and vegetables. Sorry, but I just expect a seafood restaurant to get it right, and they did.

The Key Lime seasoned, grilled North Atlantic salmon was a definite winner with garlic parmesan rice and julienned vegetables, finished with pineapple mango salsa.

So was the pecan encrusted grouper, served with garlic parmesan rice and julienned vegetables, finished with peach beurre blanc and sweet Vidalia onion marmalade. Let’s be real, who doesn’t like pecan encrusted anything. If you have a nut allergy, my sympathies.

The Almond Crusted Mahi Mahi was perfectly cooked. More nut encrusted fish? Yes, please! Center cut Mahi- Mahi crusted with lemon pepper seasoned almonds and grilled, served with garlic Parmesan rice and baby French beans, finished with a Creole honey mustard glaze. 

I am always skeptical of crab cakes because too many places add too much filling. Apparently, that was not the case with the Crab Cake Dinner with its two jumbo lump blue crab cakes, pan seared, served with whipped Yukon Gold potatoes and vegetables, finished with a chili-lime remoulade.

If you are looking for a place to take the family for seafood, this is it. There is something for everyone. If 12 people say it makes the List, it’s gotta be good.

The Old Oyster Factory | 101 Marshland Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926 | 843.681.6040

Yep, another farm/local waters to table restaurant. What can I say? I love farm to table! CQ prides itself on its Lowcountry Carolina take on cuisine. CQs is a neat little restaurant in a house. It has several menus which I thought was interesting. It has an Early Bird menu, a Young Adult menu, and a Kid’s menu. It’s a little upscale but not over the top. You can hang out in the bar and lounge and enjoy some small plates with your friends.

For starters, we tucked into the lobster mac-n-cheese, smothered in Gruyere, Vermont white and sharp cheddar cheeses melted into a nutmeg béchamel. I know! Right? Okay, we shared this dish, but I could have probably eaten a whole serving myself.

We all had the Greens the CQ Way. Red wine poached pears, candied pine nuts, gorgonzola crumbles and artisan lettuce in a  balsamic reduction. Whoever heard to artisan lettuce? Where do you even get that? In spite of my beef with the words  “artisan lettuce,” it was delicious.

One of our diners had the Loch Duart Salmon with roasted tomato and Moroccan couscous, asparagus and lemon crème fraîche.

Another diner had the “Butcher Block” Prime Pork Chop with red skinned mashed potatoes, Haricot Vert, Vidalia onion petals in a molasses demi-glace. Because I am in the habit of tasting everyone’s food (thank God they offer before I ask), I had a bite. It was outstanding. Here’s my question though. Just because you call green beans “haricot vert” and an onion slice a “petal,” does that mean you get to charge more?

There was also a Maple Leaf Farms Duck breast consumed. Along for the ride were a sweet potato and barley risotto, spinach, duck confit and strawberry compote. All very tasty and the duck was juicy and delectable.

I had the sesame crusted, pan Seared Ahi Tuna with edamame hummus, veggie slaw, pickled ginger and ponzu sauce. I love that you can make hummus out of just about anything these days. I love pickled ginger and can eat it by the forkful. It was delicious and just the right portion. I had room for dessert!

We finished off with the Warm Bread Pudding. Warm, creamy, nutmeg goodness! Almost all my dinner parties like to share dessert. Hallelujah for that!

Four happy diners are putting CQ on Lea’s List.

Heads up, you are going to have to pay a toll to get through the neighborhood gate to get to this one.

CQ | Harbour Town / Sea Pines, 140-A Lighthouse Rd Hilton Head, SC |843-671-2779

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