Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hyman's: Tourist Trap or Treasure?

"Pat Conroy Ate At This Table" announced the brass plaque before me. Now who wouldn't want to eat at a restaurant where a famous Southern author like Pat Conroy once dined? Shoot, I'd just read South of Broad last year, and I'd always been a fan of The Prince of Tides.

A collection of celebrity patrons running the gamut from Jimmy Buffet to Oprah Winfrey was a delightful discovery at Hyman's Seafood in Charleston, S.C., one of my recent vacation stops. Celebrity photos lined the walls, and every table was plastered with little plaques recording famous patrons. It was enough to make any tourist get excited. See how they line up for dinner nearly every night?

Although the tourist in me enjoyed seeing the march of celebrities on the tables and walls, it was a mixed bag when it came to Hyman's food. Boiled peanuts, crab dip and cole slaw were served up while my fellow diners and I perused the menu. The crab dip and cole slaw were average quality, and the peanuts were just plain cold.
I ordered the fried trout, hush puppies and sweet potato as my side. The hush puppies were hot and crispy with just the right touch of sweetness, and the trout had a nice buttery flavor.

After our meal, my friends and I dropped into the restaurant's General Store to pick up souvenirs. But nothing said "tourist" on my visit as much as the neon green plastic bag I was given to carry my purchase. I stepped out on Meeting Street as a walking billboard for Hyman's. No use pretending I was a local, at least not today!


Anonymous said...

Samuel L. Jackson, and two others I can't recall, had plaques at the table we sat at during our honeymoon in Charleston. I thought the boiled peanuts were gross, but our food was pretty good. I would go back there, but probably wouldn't wait in line too long for it. And they do make you feel like a tourist!


Jenn said...

Traci, you'll probably like this video of Rick Bragg discussing all of the weird things Southerners eat--including boiled peanuts:


By the way, I once had the pleasure of sitting at the same table the Crash Test Dummies (remember that 90s band?) once ate at. Weird.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm. Yes, I remember that band.