Southern Living magazine has rated the sunsets near The Church of the Cross, overlooking the May River in Bluffton, some of the best on the East Coast. This is reason enough to come to Calhoun Street for an evening. But with spring in the air, the fine alfresco dining at The Cottage makes spending an evening in Old Town absolutely magical.
The Cottage is special, not in a pretentious, formal way, but in a familiar, down home, come-as-you-are way.
"The other night I paused just to take in the happy voices and laughter all around me," said chef Leslie Rohland, owner of The Cottage. "It reminded me of the holidays." The restaurant is housed within Carson Cottage, which was built in 1868 by Confederate solider J.J. Carson as his residence. In 1902, he formed The First Baptist Church of Bluffton in the front room. Then in 1928, the house was sold to Captain John Derst, the bread baron from Savannah.
For all its historic charm, it's The Cottage's unique menu that really steals the show. From local cobia to fresh baked pastries, Rohland draws inspiration from Southern favorites and home grown flavors. Try the root beer and bourbon glazed baby back ribs or the Southern peach and bourbon BBQ shrimp for a savory meets sweet treat.
Desserts are outstanding at The Cottage and it's fun to try something new each time you go. Selections include pie, tarts, cookies, bread pudding, cheesecake, dessert bars, coffee cake, cupcakes, scones, muffins, brownies and shortbread. Everything is baked fresh from scratch.
Much of the food at The Cottage is based on traditional Southern recipes, with a new, healthy or gourmet twist. For example, from the Sunday brunch menu, the B'town gumbo ($12.75) is fresh local shrimp, andouille sausage, tomato and okra over rice. Its served with a house salad and corn bread.
Much of restaurant's produce is purchased from local farmers' markets (both on Hilton Head and in Bluffton), where The Cottage's fresh breads and baked goods also can be sampled.
"I'm excited that we've joined South Carolina's 'Fresh on the Market' initiative," said Rohland. "At least 25 percent of our menu features food grown right here in South Carolina." Thursday afternoons, when the Bluffton farmers' market is in full swing, are bustling at The Cottage. Reservations are always recommended for parties of more than five.
Whether you come for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, The Cottage is truly an idyllic gem. Visit www.thecottagebluffton.com to see their menu and sign up for their eblasts to get a sneak peak at weekly specials.