As you round the corner on Paris Avenue going into historic Port Royal, pass the Parkers gas station and then stop your car. Right there on the right, tucked into a small two-story grey building with white trim is the restaurant 1635 On the Avenue. There are several tables with red striped umbrellas and enough chairs for all your close friends to join you on the patio. And the parking is easy.
Or, go on inside if the summer heat is too much for you. There you will find a lovely and relaxing palette of grays, and pleasing striped fabric on the built-in banquette. The coastal feeling is enhanced with artwork by local favorite artist, Jonathan Greene, and a few other nautical pieces as well. You will also notice the most important accoutrement to fine dining – there are white table cloths on all the indoor tables and charming mercury glass votive candle holders.
Wherever you choose to sit, peruse the menu carefully because the selection is unlike any place else in Beaufort. If your waistband has been a little snug lately, you’ll be pleased to know that you can sip something and choose from the small plates menu. A glass of white wine paired with the Steamed Mussels, which themselves are steamed in white wine, butter, garlic and served with crusty bread is a good diet selection, as are the Escargot, also cooked in white wine, butter, lemon, Parmesan cheese and served with crusty bread. These are particularly good choices if you happen to be a fan of white wine, butter and bread; but isn’t everyone? If you’re feeling like something a bit more robust but still not an entire dinner, then try the Smoked Gouda Mac which is penne pasta, heavy cream, smoked Gouda and Parmesan cheeses, layered over crispy bacon pieces and, again, served with crusty bread. Or you can have salad: Cranberry Chicken Salad, Roasted Vegetable Salad, or a Large Green Salad, all served with choices of homemade salad dressings. Perhaps you’re more in the mood for the Tomato-Basil Pie which is puff pastry filled with roasted tomato, basil, Colby cheese, and cream cheese mixed with red onions and served with a green salad. A tall, cool, gin and tonic would be a great accompaniment to the Coastal Crab Cake or the Fish Tacos. Of course iced tea, coffee, Coke products, ginger ale and imported and domestic beers are offered along with a full list of wines and spirits.
Chef, and owner, Lorett Hayes, opened this restaurant with some serious background in this business in Pendleton SC. Lorett came into the restaurant business through the back door. “I thought I wanted to be in retail so I bought a building, I quickly decided I didn’t like sitting there waiting for people to come to me so my husband, Randy, had the idea to turn it into an old fashioned ice cream parlor which we named Serendipity. We quickly realized that people wanted food as well so we made Serendipity into a lunch venue.” Lorett recalls, “That’s when I got this passion for what I do. We’re all given a gift, but some of us never find it; mine was food.”
After Serendipity, Lorett and Randy bought an eight room B&B, Liberty Hall, that also housed a dining room with sixty-five seats and a bar also with a dining room. Next was 1826 On the Green; when they decided to retire they sold that business to two of their employees and moved to Beaufort where they had a summer house at Land’s End for twelve years. Although Randy has remained in retirement, Lorett still had the itch and they bought the property at 1635 Paris Avenue, restored it and opened this restaurant. As the only person cooking in the kitchen, Lorett says, “I’m a one girl party!” and laughs.
Ranked #1 in 2016 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Port Royal, it’s clear that Lorett knows what her customers like. “It’s all about the customer; people in the service industry have forgotten that. You need to do everything for your customer.” And she has it absolutely right, from the starched white table cloths to the menu, the service, and the presentation. The dishes are artfully layered or decorated, sauces are swirled and fanned. “When you get a present, if it’s just in a bag, it isn’t as exciting as if it’s wrapped in pretty paper with bows. I believe that people eat with their eyes first.” So Lorett prepares for them a dish that is that is presented like a gift.
In addition to all the above reasons for choosing 1635 On the Avenue, is also one of great significance, and that is the value. You can have a cup of soup and a baguette for $6. The small plates, starters and salads range in price from $7 to $14 and the most expensive item on the full dinner menu is $24 for the Rib Eye Steak which is a 12 oz. steak served with caramelized onions and mushrooms, and comes with a salad, your choice of a rice cake or roasted potatoes, and fresh sauteed vegetables. The pasta dishes can be ordered as a whole or half portion and are served with a salad. And yes, you can order bread with your pasta. A favorite, Fried Catfish is a filet served over smoked Gouda grits, finished with creole gravy and Andouille sausage ($18); Lorett says “This dish is the perfect marriage between smoked grits and fish. People say we have the best catfish they’ve ever had.” But don’t overlook the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and other assortment of seafood dishes, as there is something sure to please every palate.
Open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00. Reservations preferred, so make yours now.