story by mary ellen thompson
photography by paul nurnberg
You fantasize about it, you know you do. You sneak a peek at the dessert menu before you order dinner, hoping you’ll save room for that dessert. Lick your lips right now; you are a grown up. You can order dessert first and finish up with a salad or a shrimp cocktail, or just have a second and maybe even third dessert. Go ahead, who cares? My grandmother did it – she ordered a banana split for dinner in a restaurant somewhere outside of Chicago in the 1960’s. I still haven’t forgotten that dinner; she demonstrated such daring, such je ne sais quoi.
What Chefs Beth Shaw and Gary Lang have on Breakwater Restaurant and Bar’s dessert menu will leave you with the same lasting memories. Well, not just the dessert menu, but everything. Be forewarned: if you absolutely love a burger, do not order the Pimento Cheeseburger made with wagyu beef and pepper bacon unless you are prepared to be totally spoiled, and we don’t even have to mention those skinny little potatoes fried to perfection. But here is the hint for those on a diet: skip the bun and eat the fries to your heart’s content. One bun equals fries which is a very decent, if not decadent, trade. Trust me on this.
Summertime is a fun time in the imaginations of Shaw and Lang. There are specials galore starting with cocktails. If you have martini madness then a Sparkling Pomegranate Martini should be on your bucket list: Tito’s Vodka, POM Wonderful, Taste of Florida Lime juice, triple sec, fresh orange juice, and Marquis de la Tour Rose. A very popular concoction is The Prohibitioner which is made with Gentry Bourbon, house-made brown sugar simple syrup, orange and cherry bitters. If you might have the teeniest of sore throats, the Prohibitioner is just what the doctor ordered. (Put some in your flask just in case.)
Behind the bar, Amber, Jen, Sean and DJ are responsible for thirteen tasty creations on the specialty cocktail list. And there are other special cocktails on certain nights; one evening a certain Beaufort mini-celebrity was spotted consuming oodles of the Georgia Mule which is bourbon, rhubarb simple syrup, peach jam and ginger beer served over ice in a chilled copper cup. Fortunately, he lived within walking distance.
So after you’ve had your cocktail and started dinner backwards with with Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie, or Panna Cotta Topped with Kettle Corn, turn your attention to the Southern Fried Shrimp appetizer with the most delicately battered local shrimp you will ever sink your teeth into, or the Tuna Tartare that aficionados will not let Chef Lang take off the menu.
Feeling the need for something green? Butter Bean Hummus with grilled pita, and those bright green castelvetrano olives mixed with feta will do the trick. Or you can take the more traditional approach (if you must) and have a salad; your personal trainer will be pleased with you. Try the Butter Lettuce Salad with bacon lardons (who can resist bacon?), Clemson blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, tossed with southern buttermilk dressing. Don’t drool yet, this is just the beginning!
Summer dinner specials, in addition to the regular menu, are Monday night: moules frites, Tuesday: tacos, and Wednesday: tapas. The tapas include one nightly special and three items from the regular dinner menu that are served in slightly smaller portions. First is Blackened Mahi/aligot potatoes/wilted spinach/ deconstructed crab beurre creole. Next is Scottish Salmon/pan seared/sautéed kale/sea island red peas/quinoa/ sauce vierge. The third is Lamb Meatloaf/aligot potatoes/haricots verts/crispy onion strings/bacon tomato sauce. Who can choose?
Because sometimes, in the summer, our appetites are a bit less in the heat, or we are thinking about how we look in that bathing suit, the good news is that there are also several small plate dinners on the menu. Not to worry if you are as hungry as a bear, you can still order from the main dinner menu and content yourself with Grilled Filet/cauliflower chèvre puree/roasted shallots/green beans & asparagus succotash/wild mushroom & truffle sauce.
You will be happy to know that Breakwater Restaurant and Bar sources as much as possible locally; all seafood comes from Sea Eagle, the vegetables and fruits come from local farms, and ninety-eight percent of the food comes into the kitchen in ingredient form and is made there.
Go ahead and put this magazine down for a minute, before your fingertips get too sweaty, and call and make your reservation for dinner, 843-379-0052. You can make a reservation for the main dining room, or the wine room. Think about all your friends who have invited you for dinner and with whom you need to reciprocate and just go ahead and book the wine room for twelve people. You can close the curtains and pretend it’s your own private club; or you can eat, drink, be merry and be seen. Choose your guest list carefully. In your own little enclave you can order from the menu, have a private wine tasting, discuss and create your own menu with the chefs, make up a specialty drink with your name in it, the possibilities are endless. You didn’t want to have all those people to your house and have to cook and clean, you know you didn’t.
Or, just go and sit at the bar or at one of the high top tables where you can chat with people nearby, drink in the aromas, and take a peek at the tasty creations available for your choosing. Remember that there is a Breakwater Restaurant and Bar in Greenville SC as well.