Here are some Hilton Head restaurants we visited for dinner last week. Be forewarned: most of them are pricey, but at the same time they were worth every penny!
1. We started with an old favorite -- Ruan Thai. The food here is authentic Thai cuisine. The only concession to western tastes they make is to serve dishes seasoned on the mild side. But they bring to your table a carousel of hot sauces, each one outdoing the last in sheer fire. You get to choose how hot you like it. Another nice touch. Almost every dish comes decorated in some way with intricate carvings of vegetables, or edible orchids, or different-colored rices. If you order ice tea, they even turn the paper straw covering into an elaborate flower for you. Great fun here.
2. Then there was Vine! Even our resort concierge was surprised that we had been able to get a reservation there. (We did it by calling way ahead and settling for Monday night at 5:30 PM.) They have a regular clientele that book their tables months in advance. My dinner that night was a simple veal scallopini, lightly breaded and pan-fried in nothing but butter. It arrived with a separate bowl of rocket greens, shaved red onion, and cherry tomatoes in a simple viniagrette. he crowning touch came when they poured the salad on top of the cutlet. And for dessert? We shared a bacon sundae -- vanilla ice cream topped with reduced maple syrup, whipped cream, and sprinkled with crisp crumbled bacon and crystallized fennel. Sounds terrible? Tastes divine!
3. Another find was Wise Guys -- an elegant steak place. The plates were simple -- perfectly cooked fillet, silky whipped potato, and tiny French green beans sauteed in butter. Dessert that night was a "flight" of Creme brulee -- four small ramekins -- vanilla bean topped with fresh strawberry; dark chocolate khalua topped with a chocolate straw; chambord, topped with fresh raspberry; and cointreau, topped with mandarin orange segment.
4. On our final night, we tried a less expensive American restaurant. It was called Truffles and sported a huge iron pig at the front door. We chose to start with an appetizer this time in lieu of dessert. We had a tub of warm chopped mushroom spread served with thin, hot, lavishly buttered toasts. My meal brought more tiny green beans to decorate a plate of bone-in fried chicken that had been marinated in a soy-ginger sauce and a heaping serving of truffled macaroni and cheese. Grandma never made it so good!
The key to Hilton Head dining? Remember that no one cooks; almost everyone eats out! Call way ahead for reservations, don't snack between meals because you'll want to be hungry, and bring lots of money. And be prepared to be blown away!