There were no acts of piracy when the Neighborhood Dining Group sold the former Queen Anne's Revenge to Holy City Hospitality.
Cuisine: Global seafood
Representative Dish: Cassava crusted grouper; ceviche trio; the Islander Roll
Address: 160 Fairchild St., Daniel Island
Bar: Full service bar
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; bar opens daily at 4 p.m.
Food: 2 1/2
Atmosphere: 3 1/2
Costs: Appetizers $7.99-$13.99; shellfish and raw bar $10.99-MP; sushi $5.99-$18.99; soups and salads $5.99-$10.99, entrees $10.99-$27.99, sides $2.99-$4.99; desserts $7.50-$9.50; children's menu $5.99-$11.99
Vegetarian Option: Limited unless one eats seafood
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Decibels: Inside 72; patio 78 (late in the week)
Other: Private dining space, catering, outdoor patio with misting fans; live music on the weekends. Check website for details. Coming: lunch and brunch; call or visit website for updates.
Conversion was quick and before you could sing a chorus of "One Love, One Heart," the pirate museum-restaurant mutinied into a sophisticated island oasis of cool, calm and charm.
What our stars mean
5 stars: Exceptional; sets a standard for dining excellence.
4 stars: Superior; worth a trip beyond your neighborhood or culinary comfort zone.
3 stars: Solid example of this type of dining.
2 stars: Adequate if you're in the neighborhood or seeking this type of dining.
1 star: Generally disappointing dining experience.
What our $ signs mean
One $: $5 to $15
Two $$: $15-$25
Three $$$: $25-$50
Four $$$$: $50 +
This is no kitschy island-themed restaurant of the 1950s: no shrunken heads, coconut shell mugs and mutant aquariums. No mounted puffer fish, rock walls or coral reefs. The Islander is not an old-school Polynesian place like Trader Vic's or Staten Island's Jade Island but draws its inspiration from the British Colonials. Pale walls eschew the heat and darkly colored furnishing of bamboo, cane and rattan expand and contract in humidity's sultry and languid wash.
The previous dining room serves as private event space and the once gallery of Blackbeard, Queen Anne's Revenge and the Golden Age of Piracy now sets sail with panels of basket-weave linen fabric gathered into weathered wood framing, creating a welcoming atrium of style and sophistication.
Coastal colors of aquamarine, sea glass, linen white and azure blue paint The Islander in the glow of good taste. Aerial prints of the beach life sparkle on the walls, capturing the tempo of Charleston's Island Town.
The former bar and lounge space is now The Islander's dining room. The new bar straddles both interior space and the expanded outdoor patio.
The new patio, framed in lattice fencing and topped with pergolas and open trellises with a generous display of greenery, belies the fact that it overlooks a parking lot and a Hampton Inn. The bar overhangs into the climate-controlled patio with misting fans and a portable air-conditioning unit working hard to keep you comfortable. High tops and dining tables complete the decor of the patio, a popular spot for cocktails and dining.
The Islander is the latest restaurant to open this year under the umbrella of Holy City Hospitality. It joins Michael's On The Alley, Victor Social Club and Vincent Chicco's Italian-American Restaurant. HCH promises "inventive cooking, gracious service, Lowcountry sensibility." On our visits to The Islander, it delivered.
A Culinary Institute of Charleston graduate, executive chef John Whisenant honed his skills at 39 Rue de Jean, The Fat Hen, Grill 225 and the Daniel Island Club. Eric Foor, who managed to keep his career hugging the coast at 11 Center St. (Folly Beach), Wild Dunes Resort and The Lettered Olive (Isle of Palms) serves as general manager.
A full complement of young servers are uniformed in khaki shorts or slacks (another Colonial import) and Islander monogrammed white shirts. They take their cues from Foor, managing the ebb and flow of customers and dishes.
If you are a fan of Coast Bar and Grill and Rue de Jean, you will be pleased. The Islander culls much of its menu from these sister properties.
Whisenant describes his menu as "a tropical blend of island cuisines." Apparently Japan is considered among the cays and keys that inspire the dining options at The Islander, as sushi commands a good portion of the menu.
Their signature Islander Roll stuffed with rock shrimp, salmon, tuna and yellowtail joins the scattered sushi platters called chirashi, the simple two-finger preparations of nigiri, corpulent maki rolls and substantial specialty combinations.
They practiced quite a bit of "catch" with the menu at Coast and "release" on The Islander: salt and pepper calamari, blue crab dip, Buffalo shrimp tacos, fried seafood, and shrimp and grits to name a few. Desserts also find common ground across the multiple HCH restaurants, including key lime pie, chocolate cake, cheesecake and banana bread pudding.
Seafood lovers are rewarded with an extensive menu of shellfish and finfish.
And as fried seafood begins to loosen its hold on our appetites, the kitchen at The Islander prepares grilled, pan-seared or blackened catch of the day.
The hot buttons of local and sustainable were not pushed at The Islander, but our server was well schooled about the day's catch.
Carnivores will find a menu provisioned with classic steaks and chops, a tropical twist with jerked chicken and a 10-ounce burger that can be blackened or grilled.
The Islander is a restaurant with a lot of moving (culinary) parts operating as a raw bar, sushi bar, fish camp and full-service restaurant. The quantity of choices can be a distraction both for the cooks and the diners.
Managing a global pantry of cassava, jerk, plantains, chipotles, salsa, kimchi, chimichurri, beurre blanc and ponzu can put a "con" in the fusion of the style and regions that appear on your plate.
To their credit, HCH is long on expertise, which is why it was hard to explain the spelling errors on the menu: "srirachia," "shitake" and "sautee" - oversights that seasoned operators usually catch - and the diversity of cuisines embraced on the menu.
This is not a kitchen where the foods are powdered, gelled or tweezed. Spice is freely embraced and the tomato-based conch chowder was laced with chiles' pungent warmth.
Oysters are skillfully handled and the baked oyster assortment suffered only from the repetitive use of Parmesan cheese in each preparation.
The roasted kale salad embraces the better-for-you bandwagon and delivers a mouthful of flavors.
This internationally integrated menu tours Jamaica, Argentina, Italy, France, Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, Mexico and coastal USA. There is a price you pay for fresh seafood and a menu with an expansive inventory of ingredients.
And with its cocktail menu that embraces the World Cup with caipirinhas, the Lord's Proprietors with Pimm's Cup or fresh banana daiquiris buzzed on the spot, it is easy to fall under The Islander's spell.
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