Restaurant Review: Gullah Grub (St. Helena Island/Frogmore, SC)
Had dinner at 'Gullah Grub' yesterday. Overall, I'm not terribly impressed.
I'm not sure if they dumbed down the cooking or what. There were only two
other tables seated but we went in pretty early (4PM-ish). Called Mom from
the restaurant to ask if there was
anything I could bring her; she said no, she'd heat up some of the Quiche
Lorraine I'd made the day before.
The menu didn't have much compared to some of the soul food restaurants in
questionable areas of Memphis Pretty much typical of soul food cooking.
I didn't see anything particularly "Gullah" about it except for the red rice
as a side dish*. The cornmeal breaded fried fish was whiting fillets but
still had some tiny bones in it. The crab soup was very good. It wasn't
touted as "She-crab Soup" - no crab roe and no drizzle of sherry - but
delicious all the same.
*recipe to follow; didn't notice any actual peppers or sausage in the rice
as per the recipe below. I think I'd like it better with the veggies and
The vegetables available were a mixture of yellow crookneck and zucchini
squash with onions, sauteed, or freshly shelled lima beans. They were out
of collards, which is a shame because I was really looking forward to some
good collards cooked with smoked ham hocks. Oh well
We'll probably give it another shot. Next time maybe try the shrimp gumbo
or the shrimp & shark steak (sorry Blinky!) dinner combo. The building is
interesting, though. Late 1920's. OH! And there was an old woman on the
front porch who greated us very cordially ("Going in for dinner? Hope you're
hungry!" weaving decorative baskets of sea-grass. This is an artform that
dates back to the slave days in this part of the old south. Practically a
lost art. They were absolutely gorgeous. I didn't check a price. OMG,
almost a lost art!
One really interesting thing happened, though. The (older) cook came out
from the back with a coffee-table type book (in which he is featured) in his
hands. He stopped at our table and asked, "Do you do much hunting?" Um, no,
and what an odd question from a man wearing a long white apron who just
sauteed our squash! LOL But he wasn't talking about deer or quail hunting,
as I normally associate with the southern U.S. Nope! When he's not cooking
at 'Gullah Grub' he trains Fox [hunting] Hounds! He did speak sort of with
the Gullah dialect but apparently was used to toning it down.
Fox hunts. Whodathunkit? Even more surprising, one of the women seated at
the table behind us was visitng from North Carolina and was also into the
whole fox hunting thing. So they stood there chatting about the hounds.
Never thought I'd be caught in a a cross-fire discussion about fox hunting
and hounds while sitting in the 'Gullah Grub' restaurant on St. Helena
Island, SC. Fun!
(Gullah) Red Rice
From 'The Ultimate Gullah Cookbook'
2 c. parboiled rice
1 small yellow onion, diced
14 oz. can tomato sauce
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 each green and yellow bell peppers, diced
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. bacon drippings
2 lbs. smoked hot sausage, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 tsp. cayenne (ground hot red) pepper
3 cups water
Wash and drain the rice. Place bacon drippings in a heavy pot. Heat over
medium heat. Add sausage and bell peppers. Cook until tender (about 5
mintues). Add the water, tomato sauce, salt, sugar, cayenne and black
pepper. Bring to a boil. Add rice and blend well with a fork. Cover and
reduce heat. Simmer until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 25
minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until time to serve. Serve hot.