Photo courtesy The Bluffton Room
Contributor Kim Kerr shares a recent visit to the Bluffton Room. Her verdict? It’s undeniably one of the best dining experiences in the American South
Bluffton, a Lowcountry town in South Carolina, is not only one of the fastest growing communities in the South… it might just also be one of the tastiest. Located on the mainland just a stone’s throw away from Hilton Head Island, it’s here you’ll find the world-class Bluffton Room, a well-established restaurant that’s been serving up fine dining experiences to discerning diners for nearly a decade.
Set in Bluffton’s picturesque Old Town, a charming “old South” themed historic square mile that’s become one of the best places to visit in Hilton Head to shop and dine, The Bluffton Room is always busy, its reputation and reviews so good that reservations are a must, regardless the season. With convenient street parking dotted about Old Town, it’s so pleasant a spot to visit that you won’t mind having to partake in a stroll to get there.
Located in the heart of Old Town, you’ll certainly find this one-of-a-kind restaurant is doing its bit to ensure South Carolina shine on any foodie’s radar.
Charming Southern Ambience @ The Bluffton Room
The inspiration behind this beautiful fine dining restaurant in South Carolina came from a desire to create a unique dining experience that was intimate yet had a vibrant atmosphere. This it does in spades, with gracious service and tableside preparations that evoke the feeling of a dinner party with friends or family.
The Bluffton Room certainly exudes a sense of warmth and intimacy, a feeling that’s enhanced by its beautiful décor and ambient lighting in the evening.
The restaurant’s stunning glass picture window is the centre of attention as it’s also part of the bar. On warm days, these large windows open up to a double-sided bar looking onto the patio so you can watch your favourite summer drink or cocktail being made.
A Unique Twist on a Classic Cocktail
But what of the food? The Bluffton room serves classic American cuisine, prepared with locally sourced ingredients including fresh fish, farm raised meats, local fruits and vegetables, as well as locally baked bread.
I started what was to be a fun foodie experience with something that would warm me up on the slightly cooler Fall night we visited: the May River Manhattan. An innovative take on a classic old favourite, it featured Kentucky bourbon and sweet vermouth, garnished with bourbon-soaked cherries… and bacon. It was an outstanding combination made par excellence from a great mixologist. Smooth, rich, complex, and served over ice.
My partner had something a little sweeter: a tasty twist on a classic Paper Plane made with bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and lemon juice. The verdict? Delicious.
Defining the Art of Fine Dining
In keeping with these classic cocktails, my partner and I decided to kick our food choices off with a Caesar salad. it had been a long time since we had one of these classic salads prepared at our table, the way it should be.
We watched intently as our server elegantly placed the ingredients in the large wooden salad bowl: fresh cracked pepper, anchovy paste, garlic gloves, lemon juice, and olive oil, mixing it to a fine paste then adding that fresh yellow egg yolk that makes a Cesar so special. Adding the crisp green romaine lettuce, it’s mixed together perfectly, with a little more fresh cracked pepper on top, this Cesar was simply divine, fresh, crispy and healthy.
My main course was the pan seared Norwegian halibut topped with shingled scallops. Presented over a butternut squash purée on a bed of sautéed spinach with toasted farro, it tasted as wonderful as it looked. The halibut was perfection, the taste simply a delight. I was in my happy place. My partner opted for the filet mignon, which he boasted was cooked perfectly and seemed to melt away in his mouth with each tasty bite
With barely any room for dessert, we forged ahead anyway, choosing a delicious crème brûlée… and two spoons.
Drumroll Please… the Verdict
The Bluffton Room exceeded my expectations on all fronts. From its great cuisine, elegant ambience, chic décor, amazing chef, attentive and knowledgeable waiting staff, and magnificent and talented bartender, the whole evening added up to one superb and extremely memorable find dining experience.
The restaurant’s first-rate team worked together seamlessly, and all seemed to genuinely enjoy what they do, looking after their guests with pride and enthusiasm. One really did feel taken care off. The Bluffton room truly does take South Carolina dining to a whole new level and have indeed mastered the art of fine dining.
I certainly wanted to linger longer. It was a cool damp night, and this comfortable setting just made me want to hang out and wile away the evening with another cocktail. But it was time to leave.
Stepping outside into the rain, we put the umbrella up and looked at each with a big smile and a heart full of gratitude for so wonderful an evening at The Bluffton Room. I can’t wait to go back. This was one of those Culinary experiences that will stay with me for a long time to come.
A final note for those travelling with kids: The Bluffton Room is intended as an adult dining experience, and due to their table-side preparations and the relatively small size of the dining room, children under 13 are only welcome on the outdoor patio area, weather permitting.
Contributor Kim Kerr is a frequent visitor to Hilton Head Island… and a lover of great Lowcountry food.
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