Heading over the F.J. Torras Causeway, just before crossing onto Saint Simon’s Island, hidden on the right in Morningstar Marina, sits a delicacy known as Coastal Kitchen, and Raw Bar.
I’ve heard about this place, but never taken advantage of it’s location, good food, and great patio. Not to mention, it’s full on list of libations- including:
The Dark and Stormy – Goslings Bermuda Black Rum and Ginger Beer
Fat Ass Rita – Fat Ass Blanco 100% Agave, Grand Marnier, and fresh squeezed lime juice.
The 9 Dollar Rum Drink – tropical blend of 3 types of rum and juices served in a mason jar for a true island vibe. (One of the guys in our group, Lesley Cook, ordered two of these and then wanted to buy a boat.)
The gal in our group, SaltwaterChef, who has an over-love of all things ginger, ordered the Spa Cocktail – Rain Organic Cucumber Lime Vodka muddled with fresh ginger, cucumber, and lime. Yes, it was delicious.
The raw bar at Coastal isn’t like the raw bar at Acme Oyster House, they keep it classier. You can get your 1/4 or 1/2 pound of peel n’ eat shrimp, or your half dozen or full dozen oysters, raw or steamed. The oysters are not only delicious, but they are fresh. Not freshly-frozen, freshly shucked. You can tell around these parts who has fresh oysters and those who use IQF ones. Ok, but fresh oysters are delicious everywhere, right? Well, this is only the second time I’ve ever been to a restaurant that served a mignonette with freshly shucked raw oysters. (The other being The Sunset Restaurant in Malibu, Ca)
Mignonettes are such a different way to eat oysters aside from cocktail, cracker, and horseradish. It makes the oyster really come alive on your palate. I don’t know all the ingredients in this one, but the vinegar really adds to the flavor of the oyster. I like a mignonette with champagne vinegar, shallots, fennel, cracked black pepper, and a chopped herb like parsley just for more texture.
Coastal has two appetizers that I really enjoyed as well. Yes, I eat a lot of food. The lesser of the two greats was the Fried Calamari. Don’t jump on me, it’s completely unoriginal to love fried calamari, but not fried calamari that is already tossed in an awesome Asian glaze. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I have a fetish for Asian food. A lot of people prefer the “Sauce on the Side” but quite frankly, that pisses me off. If the chef wanted the sauce on the side, they would have put it there. The calamari was nicely coated all the way around and didn’t get soggy as it sat there while I picked at it.
If you’re looking for a ‘different’ appetizer to try, you have to check out the Lobster Nachos. The only description on the menu is Guacamole and Spicy Sour Cream, but there are many more ingredients- they aren’t you’re average nachos. On top of tri-colored tortilla chips, sit halved cherry tomatoes, melted queso fresca (yea, I’m guessing that’s what the cheese was), thinly sliced red onions, a heap of homemade guacamole, a reasonable portion of minced lobster meat (and maybe a little crab), and spicy sour cream drizzled with luxury across the dish. Halfway through this appetizer, we began to wonder if we even had room for an entree.
Just to set the record straight before it seems like I’m just complaining- the lunch entree was my least favorite dish. It wasn’t bad by any means, I just expected it to look different; I felt the presentation was lacking. The “Salmon Watkins”- champagne poached salmon, green beans, risotto, lemon dill cream. Doesn’t that sound delicious and fancy for a lunch entree? The salmon was cooked to perfection. It was seasoned well, it wasn’t over cooked (it’s very easy to over-cook salmon); however, because it was poached, the color was very bland. When you grill salmon you get nice grill marks that are aesthetically pleasing, it almost makes you salivate. Giving any fish a hard, nice sear makes it look more delicious. Hell, blackening seasoning that hasn’t been over used gives a great color to a cooked fish. However poaching just cooks the fish and doesn’t add any texture or eye-intrigued pleasure.
So this perfectly cooked piece of salmon was delicious, but it was almost ugly being so plain. I’ll show you a picture of what it looked like, but I’d rather try and paint the picture for you. The salmon sat on risotto that was good- not great, but just good. It needed something else in it that I couldn’t put my finger on. Oh, wait, I wish the green beans were either chopped up in it, or placed on top of the risotto. My last complaint was that the sauce was just poured on to one area of the plate.
I understand that I have my own perception of food and the way I like to eat, but it just didn’t make since how they plated it. It looked tasty, but it could have looked TASTIER. Imagine…a nice round but flat-top pile of risotto, the green beans placed either in a nice pile on top or in a tee-pee shape going around the risotto, and the salmon rested light on the green beans, with the sauce drizzled over. There it is.
There is that twitch of excitement that reminds me why and how much I love food. A plate that is dressed like a courtesan, begging me to throw money at it and dive in face-first. Where with the use of two simple utensils, a knife and a fork, and with two simple, quick motions you have a mouth that is full of each ingredient- their individual flavors and textures partying in your mouth like it’s 1999. That’s what I expect, and that’s the experience I want everyone to have when they dine at my restaurant.
The green beans were great, the lemon dill crema was divine, but I’m so spoiled to what I want I hate to have to fight for a piece of each ingredient and watch it falling off my fork as I try and drudge it through the sauce that has apathetically been thrown on the plate.
It was over all a very pleasing experience. There isn’t a dish that is more than $13 and for the ambience, view, and service – that is a very reasonable price. Other menu items are Chicken Gumbo, Oyster Popcorn, Ham and Brie, Crab Cake BLT, and six entree salads to decide between. The lunch entrees include their Shrimp and Grits (you have to choose a style, Old School or New School), Fish and Chips, Shrimp Quesadilla, and Fried Shrimp. The also have separate dinner and brunch menus. It’s a great establishment I would highly encourage to check out.
Here are a few pictures of the inside of the restaurant.
All photos have been enhanced using Instagram.
Happy Leap Day,