The Review: Hucks Lowcountry Table
Beat the heat and toast the sunset from your seaside spot at Hucks Lowcountry
Table, where chef Stephen Harman serves up the best of summer’s bounty from local farms and waters. In June 2008, J.J. Kern opened this popular restaurant in the One-Eyed Parrot’s former digs along front beach Isle of Palms. Ever since, Kern, Harman, and their crew have been drawing crowds to their second-story perch, a rarity on the local restaurant scene for its top-notch views of the Atlantic.
Climbing the stairs during a recent visit, the first thing we noticed was the stained-glass parrot presiding over the front door, a good omen and a nod to the restaurant’s former life. While the food has changed, the atmosphere has retained its lazy summer charm. Guests enter through a welcoming bar area, and comfortable tables and chairs fill two primary rooms. In the main dining area, a large photograph of an exuberant family enjoying a summer day at the beach is so poignant you can almost hear the roar of the waves and feel the sand under their bare feet.
Inside, tables were filling quickly with guests eager to enjoy the view. Oceanside seats on the newly completed outdoor deck were also in demand, offering diners the triple advantage of great scenery, ocean breezes, and live music from the patio of the Banana Cabana next door.
Kern is no newcomer to the Holy City food scene, having worked with Sal Parco’s restaurant team at Long Point Grill in Mount Pleasant prior to opening Hucks. A strong believer in using local food whenever possible, he supports Fresh on the Menu, a South Carolina Department of Agriculture program whose participants have committed to source 25 percent or more of their ingredients from state growers and producers.
Diners will recognize a number of local purveyors’ names on the menu, which features many options for seafood lovers, including fish, oysters, shrimp, and crab paired with fresh summer vegetables, greens, sauces, and chutneys. Caw Caw Creek pork belly is also there along with pasta, burgers, sandwiches, beef, and buttermilk fried chicken that arrives with sweet potatoes, collards, and sausage gravy—a traditional “Sunday dinner” for many Lowcountry families.
Though it may not seem a natural starter for a hot summer day, we couldn’t resist the fried green tomato soup dressed with pimiento cheese and country ham. Laced with garlic, jalapeño, and olive oil drizzle and served with a crowning dollop of cheese and shaved ham, it was spectacular and would have been equally memorable if served cold. Local shrimp hushpuppies with smoked corn aioli and orange pepper butter were pleasant complements.
Inspired by the ocean view, the season, and a penchant for crab, our entrée choices were easy: the griddled Carolina crab cakes and local crab-stuffed flounder, both described as specialties of the house. The two plump golden crab cakes were well-seasoned and delicious, though I did wish for a little jumbo lump in the mix. They were served upon a bed of baby spinach along with luxurious creamed plantation rice that made this dish particularly special. In traditional style, fresh flounder was wrapped around the same crab filling, flashed in the pan to form a golden crust, and served with exquisite roasted beet rice flavored with slivers of red onion.
A variety of desserts, including cakes, pies, and ice cream, are prepared in-house by pastry chef Kara Hollstein. While we enjoyed the lime sponge cake with key-lime mousse, tequila-lime drizzle, Chantilly crème, and strawberry sauce, we were most delighted with the scrumptious sampler of ice creams. Beautifully served brown sugar fig, tart strawberry, and mint chocolate chip versions were good enough to inspire a return visit for them alone.
Kern and his generous staff provide a great Lowcountry beach experience, pairing oceanside ambience with the bounties of the summer simply prepared and presented in lighthearted style. Families and large parties are welcomed but busy seasonal planning is recommended. As an added bonus, half-price bottles of wine are available on certain weekdays.
Huck’s Lowcountry Table, 1130 Ocean Blvd., 2nd Floor, Isle of Palms, (843) 886-6772, www.huckslowcountrytable.com
Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m.
Average entrée: $18.50