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EATERY OF THE WEEK

French cafè Bistro 17 at Hilton HeadIsland's Shelter Cove Harbour hasexpanded and now serves cocktails.

"It feels like a real restaurant now,"said co-owner Anna Buckingham, asshe showed off the 1,000-square footaddition to the waterfront eatery'sinside dining room. Heart pine floors,vintage French poster art and racks ofdomestic and imported wines makethe dining room and bar elegant.White linen table cloths invite diners toenjoy a great meal, and cool jazz playsin the background.

Outside, the best view in town hasn'tchanged. Yachts bob on the harbor,and patrons linger at tables shadedby a wide blue awning, drinking in thescenery. Many twirling ceiling fans createa gentle breeze.

Anna and her husband Jim nowhave a license to serve martinis andother cocktails, in addition to wineand beer. Bistro 17's signature drink is the HarbourBreeze, a refreshing pink cocktail made of vodka,cranberry juice, pomegranate and a splash of sodawith a twist of lime.

A cause for celebration is Jim Buckingham'sreturn to live in the Lowcountry and run Bistro 17 fulltime, after completing a real estate project in California.With 38 years of local restaurant experience,he became interested in French foodrelatively late in his career and has enjoyed the challenge.

Classics on the dinner menu include beef bourguignonin a hearty red wine reduction ($25); duckconfit in a cabernet and raspberry reduction ($26);and steak frites, a grilled ribeye with herb butter andbèarnaise sauce.

Nightly specials include fresh fish and chilled twinlobster tail entree served over an arugula salad.

For lunch, try the croque madam, a grilled hamand Swiss sandwich with bèchamel sauce ($15), orthe peppered mustard salmon ($16) served over asalad of mixed greens, pine nuts, dried cranberries,Bermuda onions and gorgonzola cheese.

For patrons heading to shows at the ArtsCenter of Coastal Carolina, Bistro 17's "dine anddash" menu features a glass of house wine andtwo courses for $19.95 (available from 5-6:30 p.m.on performance nights).

Have breakfast at Bistro 17 to enjoy Shelter CoveHarbour when it's calm and uncrowded. Every thingon the menu is $8.50- including crepes, breakfastsandwiches and waffles.

The restaurant welcomes families and has achildren's menu, which isn't French. It's full of kidstandards including chicken fingers and grilledcheese sandwiches. The Buckinghams are animallovers, and Bistro 17's patio is dog-friendly. Localanimal groups and Best Friends animal sanctuaryin Utah receive part of the proceeds from the sale ofmeals ($6) from the restaurant's Lucky Dog Cuisinemenu.

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