If you’ve been searching for the perfect place to spend an entertaining evening with the family, pack up your little pirates and sail over to The Buccaneer.
Located on cobblestoned Faber Street in the peninsula’s historic wharf district, this restaurant-meets-pirate-museum blends fun for the kids; history for the adults; and platters of fresh seafood, prime beef, and locally sourced specialties that will please the whole gang, all within a stone’s throw of the very waters that buoyed the Lowcountry’s “Golden Age of Piracy” from the 1690s to 1730s.
Owned by a local investment group led by Blackbaud founder Tony Bakker, The Buccaneer is managed by The Neighborhood Dining Group along with sister restaurants McCrady’s and the similarly pirate-inspired Queen Anne’s Revenge. The interior pleasantly surprises skeptics with its tastefully presented collection of artifacts charting the history of piracy along our coast. Original brick walls and gas lantern-lit pathways lead through galleries featuring a treasure chest, handsome model ships, weapons, and paintings depicting Blackbeard and company at work. Meandering dining alcoves and a semiprivate upstairs gallery overlook the pièce de résistance: a 1,000-gallon saltwater fish tank that attracts a continuous parade of visitors. Chef Nathan Richard, a Thibodeaux native who gained experience at New Orleans’ famed Commander’s Palace, lends Louisiana flavor to a diverse menu tailored to all ages. Beer and wine are available along with themed specialty drinks such as the Blunderbuss (homemade cucumber lemonade with Hendrick’s gin) and the Dark and Stormy (Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda rum, ginger beer, and fresh lime), both evoking images of long journeys and tropical adventures.
Following the host through the quiet foyer gallery on a recent visit, we were seated at a comfortable banquette table near the fish tank and soon greeted by a server whose cheerful recommendations and high praise for the chef prompted many questions about the origin of the food and inspiration for the menu. Intrigue led us to order the green tomato fries and the captain’s relish tray, each proving to be excellent choices. The irresistible fries—crisp, hot, and delicious with an accompanying sauce flavored with mustard and horseradish—disappeared quickly. Reminiscent of old-style cocktail parties, the attractive triple-tiered iron relish tray included deviled eggs, pickled green beans, piquant green tomato wedges, and unexpectedly delicious pickled chayote, all flavored with a spicy, vinegar-based marinade. For the salad course, we enjoyed the house selection of fresh tomatoes, romaine, chopped pecans, and cucumber in an excellent balsamic and gorgonzola dressing, as well as the Caesar, which, while pleasant, left us wishing for a little more garlic and anchovy flavor.
Although signature prime cuts sounded tempting, we had seafood in mind and chose the popular fried shrimp platter along with the “Blackbeard- style” catch of the day, pan-seared with Cajun spices and served with fresh pico de gallo. The generous portion of local shrimp was butterflied, battered, and quickly fried, so remarkably light that we agreed, as the last bites disappeared, that our new discovery held great promise for future visits from friends looking for a taste of the Lowcountry. Meanwhile, the catch of the day, wahoo, was dayboat-fresh, expertly cooked, and served over exquisitely textured red rice, pure in rich tomato flavor and clearly prepared by a practiced hand.
Lovely sides of creamy Anson Mills grits and classic collards, nicely seasoned and not too salty, rounded out the meal. After all that goodness, we still managed to share an apple crisp “float” with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and root beer reduction, made in house and just as good as you’d imagine. In addition to the memorable fare, The Buccaneer’s eco efforts amp up its appeal as a modern-day treasure. The first Certified Green Restaurant in South Carolina, it recycles, uses compostable and recycled paper goods as well as energy- and water-conservation methods, and sources a high percentage of vegetables from local farms. So the next time your inner pirate calls and your crew is hungry, feed your sense of adventure and enjoy the best of the coast at this trove of history, entertainment, and cuisine.