Saint Helena Island
This was the dining adventure I wanted to have, on our recent visit to South Carolina.
After reading about Gullah Grub Cafe, I gave a call. A child's voice answered politely. He answered my questions, with the help of a nearby adult. A few days later, Don and I headed for Saint Helena Island, but the sweet little building was dark. I moped like a child and then we headed to nearby Beaufort, in search of lunch.
I grumbled during the 15-minute drive to Beaufort. I was so psyched for some unique southern food, on the historic island.
Then we were suddenly in Beaufort and I was blown away by the charm. The neighborhoods were filled with antebellum homes, all sharing yards with giant live oaks. I was a little torn to find myself drawn to the town. Its southern history was the opposite of Saint Helena's.
Low Country Produce Market and Cafe
By the time we parked and found our way to Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe, my mood had lifted. The beautiful brick building had originally housed Beaufort's Post Office. Until 2010, it was the Old City Hall.
There was an entrance from a small lot in back, but we stepped through the doors near the street. We found ourselves in a white and green space that reminded me of a gigantic version, of my grandmother's kitchen.
Around to the Rear
The place was hopping on that Sunday at 1:45! We were confused at first, then realized we needed to make our way around the counters and cases, to the other side. We passed a curious stairway, that made me want to explore. We passed a cozy eating nook, that made me eager to stay... even if there was a wait.
Samples While We Wait
There was a wait, but we put our names on the list and got busy looking at the counter.
There were free samples of sauces and dips, spreads and baked goods. This was clearly more than a restaurant. We met one of the 3 owners and he filled us in.
Kitchen and Shop
Campbell was behind the counter, happily greeting customers in his pink shirt. (Which looked very good with the cafe's green paint!)
He told us that Lowcountry had been selling products for 20 years and the restaurant had been open for 8. He laughed about his role in the business. "I'm the one who does the talking." He pointed out the kitchen behind and the cases and shelves, scattered about. They sold everything from fresh foods to canned pickles to guest towels.
Colorful Plates of Food
I went for a fun food choice and ordered Frank's Furter. It was a quarter pound, all-beef dog with grilled onions and LCP's (LowCountry Produce) artichoke relish and strawberry pepper preserves... plus broccoli-raisin salad! Decadent! Really. Don was impressed with his Mahi Mahi sandwich and lentil salad. I liked mine better and hardly shared!
We were so tempted to do a little shopping on our way out. There were cases of fresh fruits, pies and salads. What fun to live nearby and shop for dinner, now and then.
Out the Back
We knew the ropes by the time we finished. We headed out the back, just like most of the locals.
Even though I missed out on my Gullah food experience, we ended up with a unique little dining adventure. We ate a yummy, fresh meal in an Old City Hall! The large, sun-lit space felt upbeat and modern. Best of all, the spotless white tile and pastel woodwork really did remind made me of Grandma-Daw's, happy-sunny kitchen. Cheers to a new, fun place and reminders of Daw!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.