In this week’s review of Goin’ Coastal — the new Virginia-Highland satellite of a popular Canton seafood restaurant — I’ll tell you about my efforts at tracking down a recipe.
One of the items on Goin’ Coastal’s menu called Sullivan’s Island Shrimp purports to be a “Low Country favorite.” I didn’t particularly like or hate this thick, tomatoey saute seasoned with curry powder. It might have been better had the seasoning been more layered or if the shrimp were a little less springy in texture, but it was easy enough to eat.
Yet I was unaware of any curried seafood dishes in the Lowcountry repertoire, so I asked chef Zach Kell about it through his publicist, and he responded in an email that it was an “adaptation of a recipe that I came across in a 19th century Charleston League cookbook.”
I called or wrote to several cookbook authors and food writers to get to the bottom of this recipe. Many turned up a dish called “Sullivan’s Island Shrimp Bog” — so called for the saturated, well seasoned rice that is mixed with shrimp but no curry.
This plate of food tasted more like a shrimp version of Country Captain — the curried chicken dish popular around Charleston.
I liked Goin’ Coastal, but it felt to me like a one-star restaurant under our new rating system — in other words, it’s a good neighborhood choice despite an uneven performance from the kitchen. I really liked the simply prepared, sustainable seafood dishes, but on any given night the choices were slim. One night, the only choices of finfish were steelhead trout and amberjack.
On the other hand, the menu offers a number of more complex preparations that needed some tweaking, especially the Lowcountry-style dishes. I think with a little more recipe moxie or fish-market variety this restaurant will hit its stride.
A few more notes: