Hilton Head Island
Paul V. Hartman

In response to a diminishing number of requests, the HHI food critic has decided not to stop critiquing HHI restaurants, but to publish reviews less often. Thus, reviews from Athens, Georgia are now stagnant but HHI ponies on.

Page Two

M I C H A E L   A N T H O N Y ' S
37 New Orleans Road. (843)785-6272
Italian. Expensive. Easy parking.
Let me state first that this restaurant is regularly praised by those who enjoy good food. The meals are creative and well prepared, and arrive at the table very nicely presented. And the taste is wonderful. My problem is that there is so much butter and cream used in most menu items that one begins to imagine the coronaries closing down. This is like Italian food from the Southern border of Switzerland: influenced by old school French chefs. Others will no doubt disagree, and some say this is the best food on the island.

The wine selection is very broad, by bottle or glass. Wines in fact are a feature of wall decoration, lying punt-to-cork on shallow racks behind many tables. There is a nice list of up-scale wines which I suspect are kept in an area with good temperature control. Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The wait-staff is knowledgeable and attentive.

The menu listed in the island menu guide will not show fish entrees, as they are announced by the waiter when he comes to your table. I presume that means they select from the best of what is running.

If you like the finest taste, regardless of cost to your wallet or your health, this place rates 5 gems. If you are mainly concerned about your heart, this place rates 2. Thus I settled at 3 and a half.

Dinner from 5:30, Monday through Saturday. Reservations recommended.

T H E   S T U D I O
South island; off Pope, in back of Fed First Building. (843)785-6000
Continental. Moderate. Easy parking.
Here you may dine with live entertainment, and an artist creating an original painting. The menu contains some imaginative selections, such as the starter Wild Boar Andouille with Brie and Shrimp Quesadilla followed by a Grouper with spinach and Asiago. Or vension with Vidalia onions. Nice wine list. Good happy hour from 5:30pm.
Dinner 5:30 - 10pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations recommended.

S E A   G R A S S   G R I L L E
807 William Hilton Pkwy. (Mid island, Plantation Center, next to Santa Fe Cafe. (843)785-9990
American & Low Country Continental; they list in the menu guide as a seafood restaurant. Casual; moderate.
When Charlie's L'Etoile moved to New Orleans Road, the head chef (CIA) and two others remained to launch this interesting restaurant at the old location. Our group of seven ordered all kinds of things and found all of it delightful. If you need the restroom, you must walk through the kitchen to get there, but it allows a peek at the busy staff. A very long and impressive list of wines by the glass - I counted more than 40.
Lunch from 11:30am & Dinner from 5:30pm, Tuesday - Saturday.

O L D   F O R T   P U B
North island, within Hilton Head Plantation. (843)681-2386
Seafood/American; casual; moderate to expensive.
A new staff has improved this always good restaurant considerably. A beautiful view of the Intracoastal Waterway, it's boat traffic, and sunsets. Wide menu choices, seafood and land fare, nicely prepared and presented. I had a poached salmon that was the best I ever had. Most extensive wine list on the island.
Dinner from 5:00pm, 7 nights. Sunday Brunch.

E L A ' S   B L U E   W A T E R   G R I L L
Mid island, harborside at Shelter Cove. (843)785-3030
Seafood/American; casual; moderate to expensive.
This restaurant sits on the South edge of Sheltor Cove Harbor leading to Broad Creek (not the ocean) with views of the Disney Island and the marina. Emphasis on seafood, but beef and other items as well. Attentive staff. Nice wine list. The covered deck is a nice place to watch elegant boats coming and going. Guitarist nightly.
Lunch M-F, 11 to 2. Dinner 7 nights, from 5:00pm.

I T ' S   G R E E K   T O   M E
11 Lagoon Road, adjacent to Coligny Plaza. (843)842-4033
Greek - the real thing; casual; moderate to inexpensive. Easy parking.
What is priced moderately will be a large portion. (I had the Greek Combo dinner and took half of it home.) Mousaka, spanakopita, pastitsio, lamb on a skewer - the things you expect to see, all prepared the way we remember them when we did our two week tour of Greece and the Greek Islands. The wines are Greek and Californian, and compliment the food flavors.
Lunch and dinner, 7 days a week, from 11:00am.

The original location at Mid-island next to Blockbuster has closed. So did Blockbuster.

F R A N K I E   B O N E S
Main Street village, off Hilton Parkway. (843)682-4455
American - Italian; casual; moderate.
A New York City type grill: dim lighting, wide booths, lots of bar space. Sinatra plays in the background. They do several varieties of pasta, chicken, fish, steaks and chops. A nice area - "Main Street", of various shops - to walk around in, after the meal.
Open 7 days a week starting at 4:00pm.

F L O R A ' S   I T A L I A N   C A F E
South Island Square, just South of Palmetto Dunes. (843)842-8200
Italian; casual; moderate.
The island has a number of white tablecloth Italian restaurants, and I would place this one in about the middle of the range for that upper group. (The daily specials suggest that the chef here may be capable of interesting things.) Traditional Italian fare is presented attractively, and the portions are generous. The wine list is adequate; the wait staff is competent. Dean Martin does not play in the background; classical and Italian opera do. There was a good crowd for the Early Bird.
Open Monday - Saturday, 5 - 10.

T H E   S A G E   R O O M       (not rated)
81 Pope Avenue - in Heritage Plaza (843)785-5352
American; casual; moderate.
This restaurant, which many people like, was not reviewed because they have two unpleasant policies as mentioned on their website: A charge of $10 to split plates; a 20% added gratuity to separate checks. They would do better to just announce "no split plates" and "one check for all".

If you are OK with both, visit the website to see if the menu looks appealing.
Open Monday - Saturday, 6 - 10.

This is the SECOND page of Restaurant Reviews at Hilton Head, SC. The First page is

We also like:

Alexanders, casual dining on the lagoon; good early bird.
Crazy Crab, an island thing; she: "sea pot"; he: "broiled platter."
Hudsons, oysters, shrimp, right off the boat. No tuxedos ever seen here.
Hilton Head Diner, open 24/7, enormous menu typical of Greek diners.
Oyster Factory, nice bar, fun for groups, rowers on the creek.
Scott's Fish Market, at Shelter Cove marina; outside music.

Since we don't believe you should pay to enter a plantation, and then
pay again to eat there, we do not review restaurants in Sea Pines Plantation.

If you did not do so already, Click to read "Hilton Head Overview" on the restaurant scene.

Click to see my comments on restaurant WINE prices.

I like the Hilton Head reviews from Boca Raton critic Monty Preiser.
Go to read them.

Can't find a Review which used to be posted here? This island is hugely competitive. We only
concentrate on the top 50 restaurants on the island, of the more than 200 which exist here.
Click to go to our new "restaurant graveyard".

You can read about our procedure for reviewing restaurants
by clicking on the "Restaurant Index Page" icon below.