Fat Hen - Johns Island, SC
I'm on the fence with this one... like it, don't like it. Hummm. I'll let you be the judge.
We found the Fat Hen two years ago when we were driving to Kiawah out the Maybank Highway. Mom and I ate there on a Sunday night and really enjoyed it. That same year, we heard it was voted best restaurant in greater Charleston. Quite an honor, no?
So here we go on a full out family adventure, loading 9 people in the car to go to Johns Island. This means we tried lots of tasty bites, and some not so tasty. Even though this restaurant does have gluten free items starred on the menu (helpful!), I can show you things that aren't. Besides, the waitress said that some of the things on the menu were indeed gluten free, even though they weren't starred including the crab cakes (???). I didn't wanted to risk that one. The point is, ask. One other thing to note... on a Saturday night, expect to wait just a bit, even if you have a reservation. Ours was prime time at 7:30; we waited about 10 minutes for our table to turn. If you don't want to go for dinner, try it heading out of town for brunch.
So about the food... here are the upfront don'ts.
Don't get the blue cheese - bacon cole slaw. The blue cheese is overpowering. Don't get the french fries - a little limp and they tasted old. If you get the ribs, be prepared for osso buco style bone marrow to come with it. Don't get the shrimp and crab with hoppin' john. It isn't "with" hoppin' john but rather all mixed in so that is a big mess. I thought about sending it back for false representation... I don't like my food to be indiscernable. Further more, I expect julienne vegetables to be more than just carrots. If you only have one, just list the one. By the way, our waitress said this was the chef's signature dish. If you like shrimp and grits, you may like this though... it is a legitimate alternative but not nearly as tasty in my opinion.
Lastly, don't get the creme brulee. For the huge amount of calories this dish provides, pass, there are better desserts on the menu.
That seems like a lot... but there are some definite do's.
Do get the grilled corn, peanut and sun dried tomato salad. It was so amazingly good and fresh. It isn't starred gluten free, but it is, and I loved it.
Do get the creamed corn. It is wonderfully sweet and made with real cream. Get the mashed potatoes. They were the first really good potatoes I've had in months. The ribs were great (despite the hunk of bone on the plate, or maybe because of it).
The duck confit was tender and the sauce was delicious according to our resident 14-year old food critic. Mom said the flounder was tasty... enough that she ate 3 pieces and redeemed it from the sides of old fries and stinky cole slaw.
And for the picky eater in the group, who only lives on Zaxby's and Totino pizza rolls, the burger gets a thumbs up. Desserts that rocked include the pluff mudd pie and mint chocolate chip creme puffs.
For those who dine gluten-free, there is a chocolate paté that was tasty.
So the end results... We had some winners. We had some loosers. We had a good time. When we got our check, about $300 so not terrible for 9 people, we realized that despite the large group, they do not automatically add the tip. I actually like that, and want to give you a heads up to check your tab and make sure you treat your waiter and waitress well. They hustle though the Fat Hen making sure you are well taken care off despite being super busy. I do like that.