Posted in Food, Travel - USA

Restaurant Review: Bowens Island Restaurant

Charleston is a place close to my heart. My husband proposed to me at Boone Plantation in Mt. Pleasant. For a foodie, you won’t be disappointed with the food offerings in the city. If you read my post in December, I posted about our trip with my sister and my brother who visited from San Francisco.

On our day trip to Charleston on April 16, I told my sister that we had to go back to Bowens Island for their tasty oysters. Since my sister also enjoyed the oysters, she agreed to add it to our itinerary. Bowens Island Restaurant is just minutes away from Folly Beach. On our trip last December, my sister put this on our itinerary as a possible option to experience the beach. When we arrived, the beach turned out to be a river. Since we lucked out on the beach, we decided to enjoy the food.

Bowens Island Restaurant was featured in several of Travel Channel’s food episodes. From Andrew Zimmern, Man v Food and Unique Eats. We learned about this restaurant from Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods America. We wanted to try it out because of the oysters. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday (5:00pm to 9:30pm). The restaurant fills up fast and lines are expected.

As you enter Bowens Island Road, the road is narrow and paved. Halfway to the restaurant, paved road gives way to gravel road. You might be turned off with the restaurant, but I would say just soldier on. When you reach the restaurant parking, turn right to regular parking spaces. Handicap parking is near the ramp heading to the restaurant.

Head up to the ramp till you reach the top floor. Now you may be wondering, is this for real? Yup, the restaurant is not your typical fast food restaurant or fine dining restaurant. It has two floors with a patio on the top floor. No maitre’d to show you to your seats. The patio on the top floor offers you a view of the waterfront. The inside dining on the top floor offers a few tables and chairs with the bar. The inside dining on the bottom floor may not be the nicest tables and chairs you might be offered.

The line which might spilled over to the ramp you went up on will lead you to the cashier. Their you will order your food and drinks before you look for your table. If you order oysters, you will be offered a laminated card with either the words, bucket, tray or 3 tray. They have some fried seafood, chicken and sides. Drinks are either water, iced tea, soda, beer or liquor.

For the oysters, you have 3 options (bucket, tray or 3 tray). Bucket has 12 clusters of oysters good enough for 2 people with medium size appetite. For 2 to 5 people, most of the time they order a tray (24 clusters) of oysters. The 3 tray has 72 clusters of oysters. When I say clusters, it’s not just 1 shell of oyster. It’s roughly 4 to 8 oyster shells in different sizes. The oysters are delicious and tasty! It’s the best oysters I’ve tried so far and good bang for your buck. If you’re not used to shucking oysters, you better learn as that’s the only way you’ll be able to eat them.

Another offering they have there which was featured in Andrew Zimmern’s Bizaare Foods America show was Frogmore Stew. Frogmore Stew has red potatoes, corn, kielbasa, shrimp and seasoning. When we asked one of their staff for food recommendations, he told me he didn’t like the stew.

On our trip on April 16, they added soft shelled crabs to the menu. They offer it as single shelled crab or soft shelled crab platter. The soft shelled crab platter consists of 2 fried soft shelled crabs, hush puppies, coleslaw and fries. I didn’t realize it was that good until I tried it. It’s something to add to my list of food to eat. However, this crabs is part of their seasonal menu and won’t be available all the time.

Other foods in their menu are crab cakes, fried or boiled shrimp, shrimp & grits, fried oyster, fried chicken tenders, fried fish.

Verdict: Highly recommended restaurant when you visit Charleston. Just keep a blind eye on the gravel road, tables and chairs. Get the tray of oysters and the soft shelled crabs when they’re in season. I would suggest opting out of the other platters. If you do like seafood and would like to try their fried seafood options, order a seafood platter. For kids, you can go with the Fried Chicken tenders.

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