story by Cindy Reid
photos by Paul Nurnberg
Among the many heady changes coming to Port Royal, one is the new restaurant Madison’s, located in the heart of the village at 925 10th Street. From the retro funky sign in the front of the building, to the wonderfully restored and enhanced historic building, Madison’s certainly has the right look and feel. But it is their food, the local sourced and family farmed food, their inventive and original menu, that will make Madison’s your new favorite restaurant.
Owners Evan and brother Brent Hallinan were born and raised in Charleston, making them authentic Southerners, and like all (yes all) Southerners they know their way around a kitchen. Brent says they have thirty eight years of restaurant experience between them, with Evan as chef and Brent in restaurant management. When they were ready to open their own place, they looked downstream from Charleston and searched Beaufort county for the perfect venue. The decision was made easy when Evan found this location (the former “Moondoggies” restaurant). Evan says, “This was a beautiful property and it was in great proximity to Parris Avenue, which we liked. The live oaks and historic charm reminded me of the Charleston of our youth.” They closed on the building in December 2017 and haven’t looked back.
Serving lunch and dinner, as well as a full bar menu, Madison’s covers many bases while sticking to their lowcountry culinary roots.
Evan says,”We are a ‘from scratch’ restaurant, because everything possible is made from scratch. We are also using locally sourced seafood and family farmed food as much as possible.” Brent says, “being here lets us take advantage of the coastal environment. Our menu can be considered ‘seafood heavy,’ as we offer shrimp, oysters on the half shell, she crab soup, mussels, scallops as well as salmon, grouper, tuna and mahi-mahi.” Evan says, “We have created a seafood restaurant that we would want to eat at.”
There is a distinct Southern classic flavor profile at Madison’s, from their take on shrimps and grits (local shrimp, pork belly, mushrooms and tomato in shrimp gravy over smoked cheddar grits) to banana pie (vanilla bean pudding with shaved chocolate and caramel). Accompaniments such as tomato jam, devilled eggs and pepper jelly let you know you are in the lowcountry and bring the Southern charm to your plate.
Conscious of dietary needs and choices? Madison’s has a gluten free kitchen (they use rice and cornmeal in frying) and very few menu items contain any gluten. They also offer vegan and vegetarian choices and have a sweet children’s menu ‘Maddy’s Corner.’
Let’s start with the Happy Hour menu. It is served from 5-7 PM and is a preview of the type of food you can expect from the much larger lunch and dinner menus. It will change seasonally, so for now highlights include:
Spicy Shrimp Martini – battered whole local shrimp with fiery jalapeno-ginger jelly
Watermelon Salad – cucumber, shaved red onion, crumbled blue cheese, herbs, candied pecans and sweet & sour pepper jelly dressing.
Pork Belly Sliders –braised Keegan-Filion Farms (Walterboro, SC) pork belly with caramelized fig & onion, tomato jam, kohlrabi slaw, and house pickles.
Chicken & Waffles – Springer Mountain Farms ( Blue Ridge Mts, GA) brined fried chicken wrapped in thin Belgian waffles with sour apple, green onion, alfalfa sprouts, and maple dressing.
Speaking of Happy Hour, there is a new custom made bar with good bar stool seating and a bar porch area. On tap are three local flavors from Salt Marsh Brewing, Bluffton, as well as a twenty bottle selection of beer. Full liquor and a good wine list complete the bar offerings. The bar will be open until 10 PM (the kitchen closes at 9 PM)
Lunch has got it going on. It really does do it all. Appetizers, salads, seafood baskets, sandwiches, burgers and sides. And a raw bar. And entrees. Here are just a very few highlights, including a nice touch of tradition:
Devilled Eggs- artesian sampling of southern classic, oyster and fennel, pickled shrimp and spicy crab.
Moon Doggie –house roasted, shaved prime rib with horseradish sauce, kosher salt, caraway and au jus.
House Burger- custom blend of brisket and short rib grilled with pimento cheese, bacon and tomato jam.
Seafood Basket – choice of local shrimp, oyster, flounder or scallops. Choice of fried or broiled and served with hand cut fries, coleslaw and hush puppies.
Bacon Melt- griddled whole grain bread, crispy bacon, sliced tomato, smoked cheddar and garlic aioli.
If you thought lunch was good, well take a look at dinner. It is a gorgeous selection of updated classics and inventive newcomers. (Kind of like Madison’s in general!) Check these out:
Crab and Artichoke Fondue – blue crab, artichokes, green onion, lemon and cream cheese w/ pita chips.
Tuna – pepper and herb crusted and seared rare with tomato jam, fried Brussels sprouts and sautéed mushrooms.
Ribeye- 14 oz hand cut certified Angus ribeye, chargrilled and broiled with “beef butter,” asparagus, potato puree and roasted demi glaze.
Seafood Tower –oysters and clams on the half shell, steamed mussels and shrimp, seafood salad, pickled shrimp, horseradish, cocktail and lemons.
At dinner, you can choose to create your own plate, starting with a choice of salmon, grouper, tuna or mahi- mahi. Then choose a sauce, such as shrimp gravy, lemon beurre blanc or shellfish cream. You have a choice of two sides, which includes classics (hand cuts fries, coleslaw etc), as well as Brussels sprouts (fried crispy with lemon vinaigrette) and mushrooms with black mission figs among many others.
Regarding dessert, there is a very nice choice of Banana Pie, Cheesecake, Ice Cream Sundae, Cream Brule or Beaufort Bread Company‘s Chocolate Mousse cake. Just the right touch to enjoy with a glass of wine or fresh brewed coffee after a lovely meal.
Come as you are from the Sands, the boat ramp, or dressed up for a night on the town. Call for reservations or drop in, all are welcome at Madison’s. It is a pleasure to welcome new ideas and new business to our beautiful corner of the world, especially when they can cook like this! See you there at the Port Royal renaissance.