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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Beach eats: Hilton Head Island

oysters at Robert Irvine's eat!

oysters at Robert Irvine's eat!

Okay, who was on Hilton Head Island with me last week? I’ve never seen so many Fulton County license plates there at once. Let’s share tasting notes. Where do you like to eat on the island?

We went to our usual haunts this year but stopped in a few new places, too. Of course, the original Truffles Cafe was on our list. Who can resist a tall glass of orange-spiced iced tea and a bowl of tomato-dill soup with a swirl of sour cream after a day at the pool?

We’ve also made it a tradition to stop in Flamingo’s Doughnut Cafe once during each Hilton Head visit. Flamingo’s is a design-your-own doughnut shop with cake doughnuts that are made-to-order. Customers choose from a list of glazes such as orange, peanut butter, caramel or lemon and then add toppings like nuts and sprinkles. I only wish there were a few savory options. I’d love to add salty bacon to a doughnut with caramel glaze…

My daughter chose a super-sweet strawberry glaze with poppy seeds and my son settled on chocolate glaze with mini M&M’s. (At no other

Flamingo's

Flamingo's

point will mom allow M&M’s for breakfast!) We also ordered a few predesigned selections to share. We tried the overly sweet “peach cobbler,” which has a chunky peach glaze nestled under pecans, graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon sugar. I prefer the simple “french toast” doughnut with maple syrup and powdered sugar. The simple ingredients highlight — not overwhelm — the lovely fried cake doughnut. We’ll just pretend that we go to Flamingo’s for the kids…

We also checked out One Hot Mama’s for the first time. This barbecue joint happens to be owned by Orchid Paulmeier, a frontrunner in the current season of “Food Network Star” (competing against our own Justin Balmes). The ribs, brisket and pulled pork are all solid at One Hot Mama’s and I guarantee you won’t leave this place hungry.

Coincidentally, our current island favorite is owned by an established Food Network star: Robert Irvine. Friends recommended Robert Irvine’s eat! (no, that’s not a typo) to us last summer and we devoured our meal there. There was no question about going back this year. While the menu offers traditional entrees, my money is on the lengthy list of tapas.

HHI Robert IrvineDon’t miss the bacon, shallot and parmesan topped oysters, which will have you considering a second order. Instead, turn your attention to the foie gras with a dijon-bourbon sauce (actually from the sides menu). The foie gras achieves the melts-like-butter status and you must fight plate-licking urges. As a small consolation, you can use the toast point to sop up any remaining traces of the foie and sweet dijon-bourbon sauce.

As good as these two dishes were, we tried six or seven more that were nearly as scrumptious. And as full as you may be, resist the temptation to skip dessert. Order the sweet potato bread pudding with tabasco ice cream. It may sound like a gimmick but this tabasco-cinnamon ice cream has a kick on the back end that will wake you from your full-belly coma. And it pairs ever so nicely with the bread pudding — Thanksgiving on a plate. So, when do I get to go back to the beach?

Where do you eat when you’re in Hilton Head? It’s the prime place for little undiscovered hole-in-the-wall gems. What have you discovered?

Jenny Turknett, Southern and Neighborhood Fare

Jenny Turknett, Southern and Neighborhood Fare

–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

14 comments Add your comment

PJ

June 7th, 2011
8:36 am

eat! is definitely my favorite place for adult dining in HH. I, too, love the small plates there as well as the sweet potato bread pudding dessert. I am not a sweet potato fan in the traditional sense, but this stuff is amazing. The cooking classes there are fun too – Irvine’s head chef, Chef Lee, is a great instructor and I use his advice for keeping a freezer baggie full of leftovers to use to make chicken stock. The Salty Dog has struggled with its signature recipes over the years, but seems to have finally nailed the crabcake with big lumps and little filling. We always go there since our place is across the street. A new favorite is Hot Dog Harbor in Coligny. So many choices on the predesigned hot dogs and a huge list of toppings for design-your-own. I chose the Red Head Dog – topped with chili, mustard, onions & pimento cheese – it did not dissapoint. In fact, I was wishing I ordered the larger dog since there are 2 size options, though the junior was plenty filling. We’ll be back at least 2 more times this year & will have to finally give One Hot Mama’s a go.

Foodie wish

June 7th, 2011
8:56 am

its been a couple years since I was in HHI after going for 25 years to visit my grandparents. So glad to hear the food scene has gotten more exciting than The Crazy Crab & Hudson’s!

MBS

June 7th, 2011
9:10 am

A do-not-miss: Hilton Head Icream shop. Best housemade ice cream ever.

Reds

June 7th, 2011
9:13 am

I’ve not been to HHI, but I <3 Robert Irvine. :-D

SP

June 7th, 2011
10:49 am

Yum, yum and yum! I may have to make a trip there to check those places out.

BarryLee

June 7th, 2011
12:40 pm

One of the best meals I ever had was Potato Encrusted Grouper at the Boathouse. I always love to go to Hudson’s where the food is pretty good, but man I can eat those hush puppies by the basket full. Also, love the little bakery in Coligny Square for a croissant and juice to take to the beach for breakfast. Salty dog is great place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere, but the food is spotty at best. Always enjoyed the King Fisher, but just don’t get there that often. The Old Oyster Factory has probably the best view on the island, but not really a fan of the food. Also, enjoy having lunch at Sam Miguel’s on the water at Shelter Cove. If you want pizza check our Giuseppi’s near the mall.

John Kessler

June 7th, 2011
2:39 pm

Listen to MBS. She knows her stuff!

PJ

June 7th, 2011
3:48 pm

I agree on the Hilton Head ice cream – though we mostly get ours at the ice cream window at South Beach Marina, my favorite is the Ice Cream Cone in Coligny where they serve the best no-sugar-added flavor I’ve ever tasted – Almond Amaretto. My son’s new favorite is Cookie Monster – blue vanilla with cookie dough & Oreos.

Bailey with Palmetto Dunes

June 7th, 2011
5:00 pm

BarryLee, we’re so glad you enjoyed San Miguel’s in Shelter Cove Harbour. Also make sure to try Frosty’s for a cool treat while shopping or watching Shannon Tanner play!

BarryLee

June 7th, 2011
7:21 pm

Yes, good ole Shannon Tanner my nieces kind of grew watching him. Funny I always wondered when they might out grow the show, but I guess it really is ageless because even as teens they still enjoy it. We get to see him a few times every year, but wish the show went a little longer into the fall since we like to go over in October.

ATL Montrealer

June 8th, 2011
1:26 pm

we were there for Memorial Day weekend. Had a great meal at Truffles Cafe (on Pope) and really enjoyed the Sunset Grille as well, great food and wine and of course an incredible sunset

Dawg

June 9th, 2011
8:29 pm

It is a hole in the wall, but recently people have found out about it. The “Sea Shack” is your tranditional southern fried seafood, but better. If you find it, somewhere near the Sea Pines loop, you will notice a line that is as long as the Soup Nazis.

G

June 12th, 2011
6:51 pm

We love the Frozen Moo at Coligny. It isn’t home-made, but he does a great job of finding excellent and unusual flavors to try. Plus, the kids love the big cow that moos occaisionally.

G

June 12th, 2011
6:52 pm

The Frozen Moo is for ice cream, by the way!