Well, after our arrival on Tuesday we survived a couple of rainstorms, Connie did some work, Neil went on a couple bike rides, and Neil repaired our water supply hose. On that the connection on both sides of our water filter setup started leaking; he tried replacing the hose washers but that didn’t help much so he ended up buying a male and female replacement fitting and after installing those the leaks stopped. With all that going on…pretty soon it was Friday and since it’s Lent we needed seafood so where else would we go but to Bowen’s Island Restaurant. I gotta tell ya’…Guy Fieri would really love this place…although he would have loved the old one better as it was much more dive-y. Back in the day…Bowens was a little concrete block building with about 300 square feet of non kitchen area and an outside uncovered porch for customers to eat. You pretty much ate what they caught that day…it was all fish, crab, oysters or shrimp…and it was pretty much all fried. They had soda and beer in the can, paper boxes for your food and precious little of anything remotely approaching atmosphere. However…the food was really, really good…and was pretty cheap to boot.
Fast forward 35 years after our first visit and about 10 since our last visit and a lot has changed. First off…the old building burned down a year or two ago and has been rebuilt. Unfortunately for the charm that the former dive had…it’s 2 stories with a large bar and enough seating for probably 300 people between up and downstairs. There’s also a line since it sort of got famous in the tourist rags and hence it isn’t just a locals only joint any more. They’ve also seriously upped the menu selections…before they had oysters fried but now they also serve steamed (well, more boiled than steamed actually) along with a bunch of other dishes including non seafood.
Nonetheless…we got in line and Connie got us a couple of Palmetto Ambers (a local brew—SC is the Palmetto state so that’s where the name comes from)…and ordered a tray of steamed oysters and a fried oyster dinner. Connie sat out on the porch and held a table while Neil ran downstairs to get the oysters. Envision a lunch tray like you used to get in the cafeteria in 5th g race piled 6 inches high and you would be about right. These were not shucked like they would be in a higher class joint but came with a dish towel to hold them and an oyster knife to shuck them yourself. There must have been 2 dozen or so total for $14.95…worth it but we were glad we didn’t pay the extra 7 bucks for all you can eat. About halfway through the tray our fried oyster dinner showed up and we split that as well (well, the oysters and fries anyway…Neil ate the hushpuppies and Connie the cole slaw).
Verdict…the steamers were OK but not outstanding…if they had been shucked they would have gotten a better grade but since neither of the adults are highly proficient oyster shuckers they took longer to eat than they should have. The fried ones were outstanding; although they were more of a light tempura like batter rather than the cornmeal that we fry them in over on the Gulf Coast. The beer was cold and tasty albeit a little hoppy.
We also met some new friends…Jason and Kristin and their young son Brody. He’s in the Air Force stationed here and they are transferring shortly to Oklahoma. They were at the table next to us on the veranda and we chatted while we ate about life in the Navy, AF, and Japan. Here’s a picture of the family we took as they were leaving.
Connie had taken a picture of them before but since he was smiling in this one they quickly had us grab another one for them. They then headed off followed shortly by us and we made our way back to the house.
After that it was TV until bedtime. Tonight we’re headed off to the Summerville SC Elks Lodge for beer and bar snacks for dinner. Tomorrow we’re off to see the salvage wrack of the CSS Hunley…which made the first successful submarine attack on an enemy warship in an attempt to break the naval blockade during the Civil War. Then we have a couple of hikes scheduled for this week as well as dinner at High Cotton…our second favorite real restaurant in this area (the favorite one closed some years back when Robert the owner/chef retired).
Then…Friday we head off on a 2 day travel segment to the Northern Virginia area. We were going to stop and see our friend Stu and his wife…but turns out they’re out of town this weekend for a race up in the DC area so we’ll just catch them on the next road trip.