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16 November 2011

Tonight's Episode: Dinner Possible

           I have had a long fascination with Food Network star Chef Robert Irvine. Not because he is built like Mount Blanc. Not because my half brother and sisters grew up in England and are named Irvine. Not for the care he shows when piecing back together the shattered dreams on his latests show. No, it was his cooking. Simple and elegant, Chef Robert seems to take ordinary ingredients and amp them up. Question is, does his cooking live up to the TV hype?
            The Girl and I took the two-hour trip down to Hilton Head Island to try Robert Irvine's Eat. Hidden in a strip mall is a dark, warm, and red-hued restaurant. Massive sun fire chandeliers dominate a space full of half-circle booths and open tables. The atmosphere is relaxed, though the decor is higher-end. This is the kind of place I would feel comfortable bringing business clients or relaxing in jeans.
This picture doesn't do the size or deep red color of the chandelier justice

The Bar area: Robert Irvine's Drink

           Eschewing appetizers in favor of tapas for starters is a smart move in this beach/vacation community. You are able to bring your family and friends and swap around small plates. Or be like us and just eat them as appetizers. The Girl went with the She-Crab bisque ($6). This was a fairly substantial bowl of creamy smooth bisque, plenty of crab, and a nice hint of pepper. Balance is always key with the usually cloyingly sweet she-crab, and this one nails it dead-to-rights. Easily one of the best either of us have ever had.
          For my starter, I went with the Korean Ribs ($8), soy-ginger marinated, flash grilled, and served with pineapple kim chee. It has been nearly a week, and I can't get the flavor of the marinade out of my mind. I kid you not, slap that glaze on Goodyear tires and we wouldn't have to worry about recycling them. The sweet and hot pineapple kim chee is a fantastic update to a classic dish. Flat-out one of the single most memorable dishes I have ever had. Simple, elegant, and tasty.
I wish this blog was in Lick-o-Vison
     The Girl surprised me by by ordering the Pan-Roasted Free Range Chicken Roulade ($22), stuffed with pork sausage, with a Yukon mash and pan jus. She NEVER orders chicken when we go out. We are both glad she did. Topped with crispy-fried leeks (which I snacked on throughout dinner), the chicken was not only moist and flavorful, but pairing it with the sausage brings a depth of flavor even the best chicken lacks. Actual quote from The Girl: "This may be the best chicken I've ever ordered." The best part for her: there was so much to eat she didn't have to eat the meat around the Frenched bone (she has a bone-in phobia, I think the term is Cookedproperlytoextractmaximumflavorphobia).
Forget Turducken, I prefer Porchickleek

      For my main, I went with the special, an Indian inspired pork Ossobuco with curried pumpkin. You look at this the wrong way and the meat falls off the bone it was so tender. The curried pumpkin has a bright sweetness that just made me smile. The rich, thick, and down-right tasty broth is so good I wanted to pour it into a mug to sip on during the cool, wet days of winter. Half way into me plowing through the spot-on shanks The Girl pointed out that with every bite I took I was humming. Embarrassing, but I didn't care. My taste buds were waltzing away the evening.
I wish the light wasn't so red, the pork has such a wonderful color

         The Girl tapped out at this point. Even the massive Chocolate Ridiculous Cake couldn't convince her to go on. I, on the other hand, have a duty to report an entire meal to you. That is what I will tell my arteries, at least. So I ordered the Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with tabasco ice cream. The ice cream is a dead ringer for the Red Hot candies. The bread pudding itself is rich and decadent, with a beautiful light caramel. I force down the last few bites, hating myself but loving Chef Robert's recipe. 
       This is a wonderful restaurant. The relaxed feel and simple yet upscale food can satisfy everyone at the table. The service is almost effortless and as professional as at any $300 a plate restaurant. Our next trip will likely be tapas and dessert, as the entrees are just too massive for the two hour drive home. Maybe we should just get a room on the Island next time out.

The Scores:
Ambiance: 4/5
Food: 9/10
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5 Casual-elegance at affordable prices
Robert Irvine's Eat! on Urbanspoon


  1. I don't like reading reviews like this because it makes me want to get in my car and go there!:-) I'm not that far so maybe we can do HH the next time we go to the beach. I just drove up 95 past HH at lunchtime two weeks ago coming home from Disney and if I would have read this review before that trip I would have made my husband head east to go here. This sounds wonderful. Doing the tapas/dessert route next time sounds like a great idea. Very nice review.

  2. It isn't that far off of 95, so it would have been a quick stop! Thanks for taking the time to read

  3. Fun post. Never thought of using sweet potatoes for bread pudding! Curious abut the Tabasco Ice Cream. I grew Tabasco Peppers this year...and MAN they are hot. Make an awesome hot sauce.



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