THE NEW AND IMPROVED QUARTERDECK OFFERS 270-DEGREE VIEWS OF HARBOUR TOWN AND CALIBOGUE SOUND.
Story by B.C. Rausch + Photos by Arno Dimmling
Quarterdeck — the all-new restaurant adjacent to Hilton Head’s iconic lighthouse landmark in Harbour Town — opened in April to wide fanfare and quickly became one of the hottest reservations in town.
This dining destination, part of The Sea Pines Resort, has been completely redesigned from its original 1971 footprint by noted architecture firm Hart Howerton and was rebuilt during the past 18 months. Generous indoor and outdoor seating options on an expansive wraparound deck, an indoor bar and dining area on the first floor and a rooftop oyster bar offering 270-degree views of Harbour Town Yacht Basin, the famed 18th hole of Harbour Town Golf Links, and Calibogue Sound are part of the all-new restaurant.
Also new is a casual, walk-up market on the ground level, a convenient place to grab a quick bite or stock up on provisions. The market includes a fresh seafood counter, wines, microbrews, cheeses and grab-and-go sandwiches. And, no surprise, the ice cream counter offering 12 flavors of Häagen-Dazs has been an instant hit.
The wide choice of seating areas allows Quarterdeck to serve guests seeking a romantic sunset cocktail as well as a golf group comparing the day’s scores. A circular bar with soft seating, open-air dining with breezes off the water, an oyster-shucking station and other welcoming features add to the engaging dynamics of this new attraction.
Quarterdeck executive chef Kevin Keogh, who has worked alongside resort executive chef Benjamin Harris, created the new menu. It’s highlighted by a boatload of seafood, from shrimp, fried calamari and the catch of the day, to a raw bar rich with half-shell oysters, Maine lobster cocktail and tuna poke.
The wine list has more than 40 bottles, along with a generous selection of wines by the glass. The all-new cocktail menu boasts by a host of eye-popping (check the garnishes!) specialty cocktails, such as Lowcountry Love (lemon vodka infused with fruits), Leslie’s Marina Mule (named in honor of the keeper of the marina, harbormaster Leslie Whitener) and Sunset on the Sound (a blend of rums, lime and lemon juices, mint and pineapple).
Daufuskie Deviled Crab Dip is an early favorite on the appetizer menu, as is local charcoal-roasted white shrimp. For something a little different, try the Cajun fried gator bites.
Among the Lowcountry classics are she-crab soup, sweet corn hush puppies and shrimp and grits. Chef Kevin has created what are sure to become a new group of classics, notably grouper Rockefeller and the Duroc bone-in pork chop.
Daily freshly caught selections include ahi tuna, salmon and East Coast shrimp as well as five different seafood platters. There are plenty of non-seafood items as well – burgers, prime rib and even fried chicken.
Fresh from our corner of the world
One of the core culinary principles practiced by Ben Harris, executive chef of restaurants at The Sea Pines Resorts, is relying on local sources and vendors.
“We rely on numerous Georgia and South Carolina producers to provide us with sustainable, high-quality products,” Harris said. “These are reflected throughout the menu and really create a point of differentiation when it comes to seasonal variety and freshness.”
At Quarterdeck the menu is based on the most readily available ingredients from these and other local companies:
• Sea Eagle Market, a family owned and operated retail and wholesale market located in Beaufort, supplies local fin fish and shellfish. The Reaves family has been reeling in seafood since 1970, when Laten Reaves started Reaves Brother’s Seafood in Holden Beach, North Carolina. Since then, the family—now in its second generation—has worked in every aspect of the business, from owning shrimp trawlers to shrimp docks to restaurants.
• GrowFood Carolina provides organic heirloom produce, tapping into 85 small-scale farmers to supply wholesalers and restaurants.
• Heritage Farm is an eight-acre garden within the Sea Pines community that grows a bounty of vegetables and flowers. Since 1983 the farm has operated as a nonprofit, with volunteers assisting in the upkeep of its plots and common areas. From in the ground to on the menu, it’s literally less than two miles from Quarterdeck.
• Sprout Momma Breads provide an array of healthy, artisan breads made by a Hilton Head family.
Meet you on the rooftop
While the outside views are among the best on Hilton Head Island, the indoor vibe at the rooftop oyster bar also is not to be missed.
The raw bar offers three varieties of oysters on the half shell, East Coast shrimp cocktail, tuna poke and other favorites.
When checking out the oysters, look for subtle differences that may be discernible from the shell. For instance, East Coast oysters, which are the most popular, typically are tear-drop shaped with a shallow cup. Their flavors are balanced and briny. Ask the expert behind the bar for suggestions.
Watch your shucker to see a true artisan at work, gently sliding the special knife through the opening, then scraping the muscle from the top of the shell.
There are many ways to enjoy an oyster. Chef Ben, a self-proclaimed oyster purist, advises starting with them “naked,” then alternating among lemon, mignonette and horseradish. Add a cold Coast Kolsch ale from local Coast Brewing, and you’re set.
But raw isn’t the only way to savor oysters. Quarterdeck has been fitted with two charcoal-fired Josper ovens imported from Spain. In these ovens, which heat up to 1,000 degrees, local South Carolina oysters are roasted with reggiano cheese, garlic and butter, then served with lemon.
Raw or roasted? What’s your preference? LL