By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer
Last week I had the pleasure of attending Lunch Bunch, a group formed almost five years ago with staff members of The Island News. I started the column as a vehicle to showcase area restaurants and remind Beaufortonians to eat local. It’s been a favorite among our readers, and I’d like to personally thank owners, servers, and patrons for their enthusiasm for the column.
On Thursday, Larry Fries, owner of The Carolina Tavern, hosted the Lunch Bunch for a taste of his menu of southern staples. Formerly Carolina Wings, a national franchise, The Carolina Tavern is now locally owned and operated as an independent restaurant. Located at 1714 Ribaut Road in Port Royal, the restaurant is one of three Carolina Taverns in the state. The other two are in Greenwood and Murrell’s Inlet.
Recently, the restaurant was featured on a show called, The Dish, a local culinary entertainment show that highlights restaurants and filmed in front of a live television audience at the WJBF-TV Channel 6 studios based in Augusta, GA.
The Dish, hosted by TV personality Ana Christina, showcased two of Carolina Tavern’s favorite entrees-The Big Pig and their famous ribs. Lucky for the Lunch Bunch, we sampled both.
Monae was our charming server and started us off with Pretzel dippers and the sampler, complete with fried pickles, zucchini, mushrooms and mozzarella sticks. The pretzel dippers were tasty and unique, topped with more than the typical salt additive. Carolina Tavern dresses their hot pretzels with garlic butter and Parmesan cheese, and our group devoured them. Hope Falls, the layout designer for The Island News commented on the fried mushrooms, “The breading is almost like eating a funnel cake at the fair…yummy!”
Elizabeth ordered the peel and eat shrimp, which included a trip to the fresh and appetizing salad bar. She was pleased with her selection and it was the perfect amount of food to keep her satiated while engaging in her annual January cleanse.
Nikki and her husband, Bubba, ordered the two items featured on The Dish, the Big Pig and the ribs. The Big Pig is a sandwich of pulled pork, applewood smoked bacon, baked ham, smoked sausage and cheddar cheese on a potato roll. The full rack of ribs were slow cooked and sauced to perfection. The couple was delighted with both of their selections. In fact, they agreed that the Big Pig Pig and the ribs were best representative of Carolina Tavern.
Hope Falls, as I described earlier as the new layout designer for The Island News, is also a recent Clemson graduate. Welcome to the paper Hope! Hope ordered the Tavern Salad, a dinner salad topped with turkey, ham and bacon. Hope also asked for grilled shrimp instead, giving her greens a little coastal Carolina accent.
I opted for the beer can chicken, a favorite home dish I like to prepare. But I normally use a Bud Light or even a Coca-Cola…when I’m out of beer and repurpose the entrée to be called a soda can chicken. So I was very interested when I saw that Carolina Tavern’s specialty was marinated in Guinness and slow baked to a golden brown crust. It was simply delicious!!
The Carolina Tavern is still a favorite spot to watch your favorite sports team. Big screen TV’s are everywhere. In any given location in the restaurant, you’re able to watch 3 or 4 games at a time. And, it will be THE spot to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
Thank you to Larry and his wife, Stephanie Fries, for hosting this week’s Lunch Bunch. It was a treat, and we can’t wait to come back. For more information about The Carolina Tavern, please call (843) 379-5959 or visit www.thecarolinatavern.com.