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Creative daily specials have raised the bar at Hudson's

If you haven't been to Hudson's SeafoodHouse on the Docks lately, it's timeto go back.

The addition of a new chef, gourmetsalads, and a commitment to localproduce and local seafood wheneverpossible means the dining experience atHudson's has been transformed.

A Hilton Head Island tradition since1967, Hudson's has succeeded by offeringfamily-friendly dining with exceptionalquality seafood, prepared simply.The restaurant gets seafood from localcaptains and from working shrimp boatsthat dock outside the dining room.Crews unload oysters, shrimp and softshell crabs from the day's catch.

This bounty becomes part of newcreative lunch and dinner specials atthe restaurant, said Hudson's generalmanager Andrew Carmines. Workingwith chef Chris Carge, who was formerlyat Bistro 17 and has been with Hudson'sabout a year, Carmines has raised the bar for foodquality at Hudson's.

In addition to the fried, broiled and blackenedseafood that locals and visitors love, signaturesalads are new on Hudson's menu. The spinach andpear salad (small $4, large $8) includes baby spinach,spiced Georgia pecans, poached pears, andblue cheese crumbles and is dressed with a portwine vinaigrette. The Asian chopped salad is madewith mixed greens, Napa cabbage, red peppers,wontons, and cilantro, and is nicely complementedby a ginger-lime vinaigrette. Top any salad withshrimp, scallops, fried oysters or grilled chicken.

"We want to stay true to what has made us famous,"Carmines said. "But we also want to be oneof the best restaurants not just in the Lowcountryor the state, but in the whole country."

All menu items-including salad dressings anddesserts- are made from scratch and preparedto order in the restaurant's kitchen. Hudson's alsoserves hand-cut Angus steaks. Miss Bessie, Hudson'ssenior employee, prepares delicious dessertsand succulent soups.

The restaurant's deck is now open for lunch, andstarting March 23, dinner will be served there aswell. With gorgeous sunset views and live entertainmentThursday-Sunday nights in the summer,the deck is a gathering place for locals and visitors.

Carmines is busy now organizing the fourthannual Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival. Scheduledfor April 30 at Shelter Cove CommunityPark, the event serves as the David M. CarminesFoundation's annual fundraiser. Proceeds benefitthe American Cancer Society, the M. D. AndersonCancer Research Center, and the Island RecreationScholarship Fund.

At this year's festival, island restaurants will servelocal and regional seafood specialties, and therewill be an "Iron Chef" competition. Local artists willshowcase their talents and there will be live entertainmentand a silent auction.