(Left) The twin brother founders, Robert and Russell Hughes, with their father, Dr. James Hughes, who lives about a mile away; (Right) Edingsville Grocery Restaurant & Bar opened in a former country store last fall.
WRITTEN BY Sandy Lang
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Peter Frank Edwards
Several things are happening at once when we get to Edingsville Grocery on Edisto Island. The twins who opened the place last fall have brought out the pretty tableware—vintage china, silver, and linens—for a special seating at one of the porch tables. Chef Robert Hughes leans in to let his brother, Russell, know that plates of crab cakes as well as quail and grits are coming out next.
The historical country store, which took them years to acquire and renovate into a restaurant, has quickly become popular. It’s a convivial place, Russell explains, and conversations are in full swing at tables near the fireplace across the room and by the green Formica counter lined with fresh-baked cakes—a carrot-hummingbird combo and a yellow one with chocolate frosting. Four or five people at the small bar in the central dining room sound like they might get a little rowdy tonight. Turns out they’re harmless, just loud talkers and laughers. And just getting settled in at the far end is the brothers’ 89-year-old father, Dr. James Hughes, a retired thoracic surgeon who lives nearby on Fishing Creek.
Chef Robert Hughes greeting guests.
The menu of seafood and red rice, barbecue and burgers, is based on the cooking the brothers grew up with in Horry County and at their family’s creekside cottage on the island—as well as what Robert’s been whipping up professionally in Southern kitchens since the 1980s. That includes years learning beside the late Louis Osteen at Louis’s in Pawleys Island.
It’s our second visit to Edingsville, and Robert steps out from the kitchen to greet us with a saucer topped with just one petite steamed creek shrimp—no seasoning or sauce. That tender, sweet little shrimp was just a hint to all of the fresh Lowcountry cooking we’d be savoring. With friends in tow, we share dishes family-style, trying the crab-stuffed flounder (the chef mixes blue crab into hush-puppy batter for that one); barbecue quail that Robert says he makes the way his mentor Osteen did (“not messed with too much”); and hot-from-the-skillet chicken livers, fried in a dusting of Adluh flour and served with a dipping sauce of sherry, mustard, and cream.
(Left to right) Pickled okra in the Bloody Mary; A shrimp and grits variation, served over rice; Fresh cakes on the counter.
Before we go, I fall into conversation with a local customer who’s just ordered a white wine spritzer. Russell fetches the old-school concoction from the bar, which features everything from a growing wine list to Bloody Marys and Miller High Life in the can. The woman says she and her husband have been returning often to Edingsville Grocery since the fall, especially for the “splendid shrimp and grits. You’re stepping back in time here, and they’ve added their sparkle.”
Location: 1084 Hwy. 174, Edisto Island (at Edingsville Beach Rd.)
Miles from Charleston peninsula: 43
On the Menu: Creek shrimp and grits with North Carolina ham, barbecue quail and grits, crab cakes, pickled shrimp, red rice, and carrot-hummingbird cake, plus beer, wine, and cocktails
Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and dinner, 5-8 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday
Contact: (843) 869-9728, edingsville.com
Nearby Adventure: Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve, Botany Bay Rd., Edisto Island, www2.dnr.sc.gov/ManagedLands/ManagedLand/ManagedLand/57