By Pamela Brownstein
Lunch Bunch felt like a family style picnic as we sat outside and feasted on the blend of gourmet-comfort food offered at Islands Meat Market.
Owners Julian and Lin Johnson run a true local mom and pop shop that specializes in quality meats and ingredients. The store is full of fresh cut meat on one side, freezers teeming with everything from Moes’ Lowcountry Shrimp Dogs to ostrich on the other side, and racks of marinades, sauces and seasonings in the middle.
The market has such a variety, here are just a few savory and unique items: steaks, pork chops, deli meats and cheeses, ribs, sausage, homemade chili, Italian meatloaf, liver pudding, pepper bacon, hot crab dip, even packages of homemade dog and cat food.
Our meal started with an extravagant spread of cheese and crackers. There were three kinds of pimento cheese — regular, olive and jalapeño — and a shrimp dip. At our little table, Heather, Elizabeth and I couldn’t stop eating all the cheeses and we totally finished the shrimp dip, the chunks of shrimp and other fish were so fresh, it was a satisfying flavor burst with every bite. Julian said people come in to buy containers of the pimento cheese this time of year because they are perfect for tailgating.
Islands Meat Market has an extensive daily lunch sandwich menu — delicious choices that range from roast beef to chicken salad to liverwurst — all for only $5. They also have daily platter features, which we sampled.
Elizabeth tried the Shepherds pie, a plate full of cheese and mashed potatoes over steak, instead of the traditional ground beef. She said it was great, and very filling.
Heather ordered the beef brisket sandwich made with cheddar cheese and horseradish sauce. She could barely get her mouth around the huge hunk of a sandwich, the slices of brisket and cheese were so big, which made it awesome.
I had the pork stir fry with rice and loved it. The pieces of pork were marinated and cooked to perfection and were much bigger than the skinny slices usually associated with stir fry. The big green snap peas and red pepper slices gave my plate ultimate color appeal, and were a crunchy compliment to the tender meat.
At the other table, Kim, Buck and our guest Lunch Buncher Sarah also enjoyed their meals.
Kim chose the barbecue half chicken and said it was delicious. The giant portion made for lots of leftovers for later.
Buck went with the classic barbecue baby back ribs. The plate started out piled high with ribs, but only bones were left after he got through with them.
Sarah, Kim and Elizabeth’s youngest sister visiting all the way from Dallas, Texas, tried the Shrimp pie. Served piping hot, the dish was similar to a chicken pot pie, except made with shrimp. Sarah said she’s never had one before but she really liked it.
For dessert, Julian brought out his wife’s key lime pie. The unique recipe had a tart, cleansing flavor and was topped with shaved lime. Customers can also pick up Lin’s homemade pies to go.
Spotted by the Lunch Bunch was
Mr. Richard Gray, owner of Grayco, located in the same shopping center. He told us the barbecue sandwich is his favorite, and they also have the best steaks in town.
Julian confirmed this sentiment when he said that steaks are their best-selling item. He also said they cook ribs and chicken outside on Saturday mornings and start selling them at 11:30. He warned to get there early because the food is usually all gone within an hour and a half — it’s that popular.
Islands Meat Market is located at 136-A, Sea Island Parkway, on Lady’s Island. It is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sundays. To place an order or for more information, call 843-525-6162.