Restaurant Graveyard

(Reviewed Places That Went Under!!)

Villages of Wexford, South side. (843)785-4850
American. Moderate. Easy parking.
This is "Dinner Impossible" Robert Irvine's island restaurant. The atmosphere is subdued Asian modern, the menu American with some Asian touches. You may begin with at least fifteen choices of small plates (tapas) in addition to the usual salads and starters. The deserts are clever. The wine list has good variety, although the prices are high.
The food here is excellent - we loved everything we tried. It could be the island's finest dining, certainly in the top three.
Dinner from 5:00 pm, Monday through Saturday. Reservations recommended.

A shocker. Highly innovative. But perhaps too expensive.

C A F E'   ST   T R O P E Z
Mid island, in South Island Square. (843)785-7425
French; fancy; expensive.
(Formerly known as La Normandie.) Upscale French cuisine in the classical style - arguably the finest dining on the island. Nice wine list. Attentive staff. We have loved every seafood item they have prepared at this place - obviously they make a special effort in this category. A must stop for visitors.
Reservation recommended.

Note: This couple re-opened off island in near-to-the-bridge Moss Creek Village as "Claude & Uli". 843-837-3336. The above description still applies.

C H A R L E Y ' S   C R A B
North island, Two Hudson Road, on Skull Creek. (843)342-9066
American/seafood; dressy casual; moderate.
Mainly seafood but there are some land choices here and we find none of our guests are ever disappointed when we bring them here. Delightful water views of the Intracoastal and boat traffic. The food is well prepared and the wine list had some rarer choices seldom seen in restaurants. They start you with a free appetizer, something nice like a salmon spread with flat bread. My seafood chowder was heavily over peppered; the salmon roasted on a cedar plank was delightful and cooked to the right temperature. A "whole fish " entre was interesting. The wine prices are high. Also, in season, very noisy from the many children brought here, which should have been taken to Crazy Crab. Outside its waterfront; inside its Mod/Tech. We like this place.
Dinner 7 nights, from 5:30pm.

Charley's Crab did not fail. It was sold. The host company essentially sold all their assets in the South except for two places in Florida. The restaurant is now known as Chart House, and they have launched with a menu very close to what Charley's Crab presented.

J U L E P ' S
South Central island; Gallery of Shops, near Sea Pines circle. (843)842-5857
Continental segues into New Orleans; moderate to expensive.
Interesting variety of entrees, elegantly presented. Try the crabcake with shrimp and scallops on angel hair pasta, or the very nice poached salmon. Large wine list. Reservation suggested.
Dinner 7 nights, 5:30 to 10:00pm.

South Central, near Sea Pines Gate. (843)842-5857
American regional; grill ambience (dressy casual); moderate/expensive.
Menu changes with the seasons. Open kitchen. CIA chef/owner. Food this good is usually served in small portions, but they lay it on you at Stripes. Excellent wine list. (Wine Spectator award). Reservation suggested.
Dinner 7 nights, 6:00 - 10:00pm.

North island, in the Festival Center, off 278. (843)342-2400
American/Continental (German chef!) Moderate to Expensive.
In the spot formerly occupied by the excellent Neno de Toscona resides now "Jaxx - The Restaurant" with the chef from the well regarded Maxx, which former site is now replaced by an Italian theme. Confused? Anyway, the menu features mainly seafood, with preservation of some of the German main courses which made Maxx popular. There is enough variety in this nice menu to make four individuals with varying tastes happy. The dining area is on two levels and there is a wine room which you can reserve to dine in.

Mon - Sat 5 - 10pm. Reservations recommended.

M O S T L Y   S E A F O O D
In Hilton Resort Hotel, Palmetto Dunes. (843)842-8500
Seafood, mostly; casual; moderate.
A highly imaginative chef left here to start his own place, resulting in a menu which is good, but no longer unique. The seafood dishs are well prepared and presented very attractively. Our group loved the penne pasta in a basil cream sauce laced with chunks of lobster. Save room for the dessert cart. This may still be the best hotel-based restaurant on the island.

the new "HH Prime" will replace "Mostly Seafood" at the Hilton.

O L I V I E R ' S
One of several nice restaurants on New Orleans Road (843)686-4553
Continental/French; moderate.
Food Francais predominates at this new European restaurant just North of Coligny. The ambience is attractive, the service attentive, the food impressive and nicely presented. Petite portions are available (a nice touch) and my bride had the crab cake over pasta - delightful. I went for what was described as "Trio" - two lamb chops, two medallions of venison, and a filet mignon. All were properly cooked, the lamb a bit fatty, the venison a bit gamey (but some prefer it that way) and the filet just right. Prior to that, the She-crab soup was superb, but how can it not be when fortified by cream. Very nice wine list. We are delighted to see Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet on the white side and ChateauNeuf De Pape on the red side and this place offers all three.
We caught this place soon after opening and we believe it has improved, since the opening wrinkles are now ironed out.
Dinner 7 nights from 5:30pm to 10:00pm, running later on the week-end. Musical entertainment nightly.

I R O N   W O L F
Mid island, Wexford Gallery (843)341-2467
Chop House; casual; moderate.
You lead off here with several interesting appetizers (such as the Wild Mushroom Ravioli) and six different types of salads (such as Oyster Salad). The chef will prepare the seafood choices the way you like them cooked, and the steaks and chops to the right temperature. Adequate wine list.
Dinner 7 nights, from 5:00pm to 10.

C A F E   A T   W E X F O R D
Mid island, at Village at Wexford, bayside of 278. (843)686-5969
Country French; bistro ambience; moderate.
Traditional French country cuisine. Lamb, duck, rabbit, veal, beef, and seafood. Try the roasted rack of lamb, or the sauteed rainbow trout. The goat cheese stuffed veal chop is especially nice. Full wine list, with good representatives from France and California.
Lunch 11:30 - 2:00, Mon - Fri.   Dinner 7 nights from 6:00pm.

J E A N - L O U I S
North island, in "Main Street" near Hilton Plantation. (843)681-6001
American/French; dressy casual; moderate to expensive.
Two French chefs have taken over this open kitchen restaurant, the former "Brian's". The intent, however is to prepare contemporary American dishes, in which category there are many French influences.Wide menu of mixed European fare, all excellent. Nice wine list. Superb original desserts. Reservation recommended.
Dinner 6 nights, 5:00 to 10:00pm and note that it is Saturday (!) that they are closed.

T R A T O R I A   L A   S P I A G G I A
Heritage Plaza off Pope Avenue (843)341-6633
Italian; casual; moderate.
A pleasantly understated decor highlights this small, traditional, family restaurant near Coligny. There is a nice bar area off the entry. Scanning the menu reviews this place can satisfy two (of the three) of Hartman's tests for variety in pasta offerings: bolognese sauce, and carbonarra. (Canneloni is the missing third.) I had the sea scallops and spinach over a creamy ribbon pasta, which was excellent. Two at my table had Pasta e Fagioli (bean/pasta soup) and pronounced it very good. Unfortunately, two guests with us ordered dishes for which parmesan cheese is the appropriate accompaniment, but the restaurant had run out of it the night before and would not replenish with (presumably an inferior) substitute from a nearby food store! So - two unhappy diners. On the other hand, they obviously stand on principle.
Dinner from 5:00, 7 nights a week. Reservations accepted.

G A S L I T E   2 0 0 0
In Park Plaza, near Sea Pines entry. (843)785-5814
French; dressy casual; formal dining ambience; moderate to expensive.
Owner/chef Serge Prat has been serving upscale French cuisine on the Island since 1977. Unlike their new bistro next door, the dining here is in the classic style. We had Rack of Lamb and Beef Wellington, which were excellent, but the menu was crammed with equally appealing others. Superb French wine list, at a price. About 8 wine choices by the glass.
Lunch 11:30 Monday to Friday;   Dinner from 6:00pm Monday - Saturday. Reservation advised.

Off island, on 278 adjacent to Home Depot in Bluffton. (843)815-7777
Mediterranean; casual; moderate.
This restaurant shares the building, and is a part of, "Vino and Vitto" - a wine and food market. The general ambience of Frescos will remind most of the Caribbean under Spanish colonial dominance (without the pirate flavor), than Mediterranean, though both would share the look of bricks showing through decaying, old stucco walls, wrought iron, and heavy timbers. There is an attractive wine bar with many selections by the glass, also available at the tables. (The ads say "80-100" wines by the glass but I counted far less than that.) The food is interesting here, with combinations not found elsewhere, and the portions are large (even so for the appetizers), so when small plates are available, give them a try when you visit for the first time. Everything we tried was nicely done. Wait staff is attentive. Lunch 7 days, Dinner Monday - Saturday.

L A   M A I S O N E T T E
South island; off Pope, in back of Fed First Building. (843)785-6000
French; jackets for men in cool weather; moderate to expensive.
Small restaurant (maybe 50 can dine together), with three courses prix fixe at $26.95, wine and dessert extra. Nicely prepared main courses, usually 10 to select from. The wine list, a mix of French and Californian selections, has been broadened. This place is a little hard to find the first time - the entrance is off the parking lot at the back of the building, under a GREEN awning.
Dinner only. Closed Sunday. Reservation appreciated.

N E N O ' S
North island, in the Festival Center, off 278. (843)342-2400
Italian; stylish; moderate to expensive.
HHI's best Italian restaurant. Usually a busy and noisy place, but worth it. The staff is attentive and knowledgeable. The "specials" list each night is invariably rather lengthy. The wine list is equally long and varied, with many choices from Italy.
Lunch from 11:30am, Monday to Friday.   Dinner from 6:00, Monday to Saturday. Reservation recommended.

C A F E   M A X X
Mid island, in South Island Square, oceanside of 278. (843)842-8200
Continental, with a German influence. modern ambience; moderate.
The fine food here is best appreciated after 7:00pm, as the crowd which comes for the early bird is extremely noisy. We tried the scallops Florentine, three large sea scallops in a creamy Chardonnay sauce surrounding a small mound of spinach - quite good. This was followed by the veal medallions with morels, asparagus, and spatzle - again, very nice. Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, Rack of Lamb, Poached Salmon, and Roast Duck were other interesting menu items. Adequate wine list, about a dozen choices available by the glass. Nice little bar area in a corner.
Dinner Monday to Saturday, 5 - 10pm.

So what do these disappearances mean?
There are multiple answers.

Sometimes it means that the food was terrific but the price was too high.
Sometimes it means the food was bad. But in this list I cannot imagine that reason.
Sometimes the owners and chef go separate ways. That may explain most of these.