Undercover Foodie Serves Up the Local Dish: Shoofly Kitchen
By Author Unknown | As a stay at home mom to a spunky little toddler, it is rare to find myself with an opportunity to take a much needed ‘me’ date. Usually when I find myself with a block of freedom (yes, freedom), it’s typically spent catching up on much neglected housework or errands. But I recently had the fortune of an ‘off from work’ husband and I decided that I needed a morning on the town, and headed off toward downtown Beaufort. On this particular morning, a little voice inside my head (or, perhaps, my stomach) whispered “breakfast… breakfast”, and all of a sudden I found myself in the Shoofly Kitchen parking lot. This, I told myself, was going to be a wonderful date.
Walking into Shoofly, one is immediately enveloped into a warm, welcoming embrace, the sort that can only come from a family-owned Beaufort restaurant. Choosing a rather comfy looking booth, I sat down, closed my eyes, and let it all wash over me; the smell of eggs, butter and spices emanating from the open air kitchen, the invigorating scent of freshly brewed coffee, the low yet recognizable country music, the calming buzz of activity and conversation from behind the counter and from fellow Beaufortonians all around me. I felt, well, relaxed.
I felt at home.
I was quickly handed a menu from the friendly waitress and ordered a cup a coffee as I perused the selection. One of the great things about Shoofly is how they take a classic or traditional dish and riff on it. This playful food riff is all over their lunch menu (Ham & Brie on Wheat with Cranberry Mayo anyone? Wheatberry salad? YUM!) When my eyes landed upon the Crabby Benedict, I knew my delicious fate.
And in no time, it was placed before me. A luscious mountain of buttery English Muffin, succulent lump crab cake, a perfectly poached egg, and spicy hollandaise sauce. Without even trying, the intoxicating smell of crab and pepper wafted into my nose, promising of what was to come. Navigating all the layers to make sure I tasted the full effect, the explosion of flavor was powerful enough to force me to put down my utensils and simply chew.
Spicy hollandaise, indeed; a perfect example of a classic, traditional idea riffed upon in a clever, refreshing way. The sauce alone is as powerful as at least 3 cups of coffee, but perfectly balanced in spice and creaminess with a touch of smokiness. And when all the elements of the Benedict are eaten together, they harmoniously complement each other.
Alongside the Benedict was a serving of buttery, salty grits which, it true southern form, needed no additional condiments. Just like a good beer is to oysters, the grits were the ideal counter-point of flavor to the Crabby Benedict, grounding and palette-cleansing.
I have no shame in admitting that I cleaned my plate.
Lips tingling and tummy full, I nursed my bottomless cup of coffee (aka Mommy Juice) and sat back admiring my surroundings, when I was suddenly struck by an interesting notion; the restaurant, itself, is one big clever riff on a very traditional idea.
From the photography by notable local photographers to the bud vase of fresh flowers in each booth. From the personal conversations between local patrons and the owners, to the sleek silver counter stools. Shoofly, itself, is a classic diner with wonderfully eclectic elements one wouldn’t typically find in a classic diner. You can see the heart, the soul, the depth of Shoofly in everything from the food to the staff to the bud vase.
These wonderful touches really elevate this establishment into something that is truly representative of what Beaufort is at heart, a place that is inherently southern and welcoming for sure, but, when looking closely, has a charmingly playful character that is ever enticing and will always keep you coming back for more.
Shoofly Kitchen’s breakfast gets a 5 fork rating from the Undercover Foodie for sure! Go and try it…
Editor’s Note: Undercover Foodie is a recurring article on EatSleepPlayBeaufort.com in which one of our roving connoisseurs of Lowcountry cuisine will dine at a local Beaufort-area restaurant, anonymously, without fanfare or advanced notice, in a much-lighter form of ‘restaurant critique’, and bring the results here, whether they be good…or otherwise. Bring on the flavor, Beaufort restaurants…you never know who may be ordering.