Restaurant review: Rosebank Farms Café: The land of milk and honey for vacationers and tourists alike
The land of milk and honey for vacationers and tourists alike
By Deidre Schipani | Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Rosebank Farms Cafe
Cuisine: Regional Southern
Category: Neighborhood favorite
Location: 1886 Andell Bluff Blvd. at Bohicket Marina, Seabrook Island
Hours: Daily. Lunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner, 5-9:30 p.m.
Cost:Lunch: $4-$11; $10 blue plate specials. Dinner: soups $3-$6; salads $4-8, protein toppings $5; appetizers $4-$12; entrees $17-$28; sides $4; desserts $7. Children’s menu: $6 (7 years and under)
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Other: Facebook, Twitter, rosebankfarmscafe.com. Lowcountry Local First; Certified South Carolina Grown. Daily specials; craft beers.
There has been no jumping on trends for Julie Limehouse, the owner of Rosebank Farms Cafe. Her small, Seabrook Island eatery overlooking Bohicket Creek always has been local and seasonal, reflecting farm-to-table.
She does not name farms and purveyors on her menu, but her website acknowledges the fields and streams, farmers and fishermen, beekeepers and dairymen who provide the raw materials simply transformed by new executive chef, Chris Hyler.
Hyler is a Johnson & Wales University graduate who was making a name for himself in Columbia when he came to the Holy City to work with chef Brett McKee. He continued to fine-tune his culinary skills with stints at Saluda’s (Five Points, Columbia) as executive chef and on to Nashville, Tenn., where he opened the Burger Up concept. In 2011, he had the opportunity to return to Charleston and was hired by Limehouse to develop a new menu.
The restaurant interior has not been changed. The tinted glass that keeps out the glare of the noonday sun darkens the space in the evening, and the black upholstered booths do little to illuminate a location that brings food with a view into focus. Sunsets over the marsh are spectacular, and only the bar area lacks a sight line to peaceful Bohicket Creek, where eagles and ospreys and pelicans gracefully glide in the air.
The annotated Limehouse family history provides the cafe with posters, newspaper clippings and memorabilia as well as an eclectic gallery of coastal artwork, Lowcountry silhouettes and remnants of the “Sidi for Senator” campaign.
With a lock on food with a view, the enterprise could take an easy way out when it comes to the kitchen. But it does not. Hyler is an accomplished chef. His food is balanced in seasoning: sparked with habenero, tempered with honey, tenderized by buttermilk and refreshingly served at temperature.
Fans of the fried chicken ($17) still will find it on the menu. It’s brined in buttermilk, sweetened with Big Bees honey and served off the bone. Its succulent crunch never fails to please. Sliders remain $5 for the first, $4 for all others. The veal and bacon meatloaf, the she-crab soup with roe and the homespun desserts continue as reminders that the kitchen did not attempt to fix that which was not broken.
Osso bucco appears as a meaty pork shank. Seafood can be fried or grilled. Rib-eye ($26) and filet ($28) provide carnivores with options.
The nearby waters provide local sourcing at its finest, and the kitchen lays claim to local flounder, mahi-mahi and shrimp, often just hours out of the water before it appears on your plate. That was accurate for the flounder ($18) and mahi ($22) we ordered. There was palpable freshness.
The cafe does shrimp and grits five ways. A classic version ($18); Lowcountry style with crabs, oysters and scallops; scampi ($21) with shrimp, sea scallops and a butter and wine sauce; etoufee with crayfish; and the flounder and shrimp ($18) that I ordered. It was a great dish with the freshness of the catch apparent. The crisp-edged fillet was perched over creamy Geechie Boy grits, and the tomato-based sauce elevated the simplicity of this dish and spoke well of the prowess of the kitchen.
Mahi-mahi ($22) was matched in freshness and tenderness, served simply grilled with a pecan-butter finish. A pureed cauliflower side was first rate, but we found the coleslaw side a bit watery and thinly flavored.
A crab cake ($8) described as “lump” was not, but those who enjoy a “deviled” version will be pleased.
Sauces are proportional, and although Hyler loves to use habanero chiles, he finds the right balance between heat and extreme. His pineapple-habanero remoulade is a winner.
The kitchen has a cheeky way with desserts ($7). S’Mores are fashioned with tiramisu flavors; the bacon-maple brownies marry salt, smoke and sweet with indulgency; and the Krispy Kreme bread pudding with coffee gelato elevates “coffee and donuts” to new heights of satisfaction.
Our server was attentive, and all of the staff at the time of our visit kept up with the crowded dining room. They patiently explained the menu, be it an ingredient like grits or a preparation such as Charleston-style paella.
Limehouse and Hyler promise “Southern fare with local flair,” and on that note they deliver with a delicious effect.