Just like our beaches, our restaurants often need a bit of renourishment. And this winter the former Station 22 of Marshall Stith and Richard Stoney got a bit of revetment love.
Salt at Station 22
Cuisine: Contemporary Lowcountry
Category: Neighborhood Favorite
Address: 2205 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island
Bar: Full-service bar, cocktail menu, craft beers
Hours: Dinner daily at 5 p.m.; Sunday brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; bar menu Friday-Sunday at 3 p.m.
Food: 3 1/2
Service: 3 1/2
Costs: Raw bar $2-$14; small plates $4-$15; entrees $14-$29; sides $6; desserts $6-$8
Vegetarian Options: Limited unless one eats seafood
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Parking: Valet lot across street from the restaurant
Other: Two private dining rooms, rear ramp for handicap access; saltsstation22.com; email@example.com, Facebook, Twitter, OpenTable, kids menu, daily specials, signature cocktail menu, raw bar, craft beer on tap, $6 split plate charge; 18 percent gratuity for parties of 8 or more
“Raise high the roof beam, carpenters” to quote J.D. Salinger, as light and bright drifted over the darkened landscape of the former Station 22 that opened in 1987.
A spacious al fresco patio greets you at the top of the generous staircase.
Decked out with a bar that can be accessed from both the exterior and interior of Salt, the revamped Station 22 provides a variety of locations to enjoy the handiwork of chef Laird Boles and his team.
The patio is wrapped with a deep rail that works well for enjoying cocktails and small plates outdoors. Inside, the interior bar is framed by high tops. A few steps take you up to the mezzanine where the former wet bar is now the raw bar.
Whitewashed beadboard wraps the structure in an appropriate nautical hue and a border of chalkboard carries out the iconic raw bar look. Here about 10 or so diners can belly up to the bar and enjoy clams and oysters on the half shell ($2-$2.50, shrimp ceviche ($13), crudo, tartars ($12) and carpaccio ($14).
A larger dining room spills out over the space on each side of the raw bar. Two private dining rooms can handle the weekend crowds or they can be secured for your own private event.
The black-and-white local photographs remain: Nostalgic imprints of a simpler time at the beach when gazebos and parades were a part of summer’s party.
Stith stopped by each table and greeted the guests, old friends and strangers, each with equal enthusiasm.
The renovation is not complete, he told us. Tweaking the decor, softening the space, adding more local art and refining the dining space are all part of the Salt punch list.
Salt has brought on board a South Carolina native in chef Boles.
Boles spent time on Seabrook Island, went to school in Florida, graduated from Johnson & Wales in Charleston, worked with chef Bob Waggoner at Charleston Grill and refined his culinary techniques in Orlando, Miami and San Francisco.
Classically trained, with culinary roots digging deep into Southern soil, Boles returned to the Lowcountry with a modernist approach to the local and vibrant food scene that is Charleston.
This chef is doing it all, including desserts. Breaking down the local catch of dorado, snowy grouper and hog snapper; pulling specially sourced buffalo milk mozzarella; patiently crafting scratch sauces, house-made dressings, house-cured bacon, tempering ceviche and crudo.
He makes his own bread pudding, prepares a confiture of apricots for his donuts and churns ice cream. When does he sleep?
The menu will change seasonally. He serves up Block Island flounder, Harris Ranch steak, Zellwood corn; fruits and vegetables from Thornhill Farms, Ambrose Family Farms and McLeod Farms.
Clams come from McClellanville, the grits are Geechie Boy and the list goes on. Boles has an intrinsic sense of the qualities of his ingredients and eschews novelty for its own sake.
Portions are generous and a small plate of excellent scamp grouper cakes ($14 for two) with roasted cherry tomatoes and perfectly emulsified caper-Dijon butter was a meal in itself. Teasing out the meat from the fish’s cheeks and collar, Boles created a rival to a classic lump backfin crab cake.
His local dorado (mahi-mahi, dolphin-fish) and shrimp ceviche ($13) is tossed in leche de tigre, a coconut milk broth sparked with chilies and lime, and finished with cilantro and avocado. My only quibble was the fish was too thick and would be better cured by being thinner.
A salad of Thornhill Farm’s lettuces ($8) was bursting with freshness. Dressed with a buttermilk and chive dressing, sprinkled with corn niblets and softened with avocado chunks, it was refreshing and pretty.
The kitchen offers a classic burger with Fontal cheese and house-made bread-and-butter pickles ($14); roasted chicken with brown butter-flavored sweet potatoes ($23), a bistro steak with wine braised Vidalia onions ($27) along with gnocchi ($13) and house-made linguini with clams.
Pizzas ($13, $15) made with San Marzano tomatoes are thin crusted and shimmer under a drift of grated Grana Padano.
The Salt team has all your appetites covered. Whether it is a pineapple-and-serrano-infused margarita ($7), pretzel bread to dip into mustard and Mornay sauce with a Summer Solstice cream ale, or a side of local fried shrimp ($15), you are in good hands.
And, if available, order the donuts ($7). Orbs of dough are served with a mantle of amaretto mousse; a bright mound of lemon curd and tart apricot preserves ensuring “enchantress” status for jelly donuts.
Salt at Station 22 has a straightforward coastal charm and a kitchen that serves up summer with style.