Southern Graces Bistro is all about Southern charm

in Lunch Bunch by

Photo above: Pot roast with carrots and whipped mashed potatoes.

Editor’s note: Members of our staff, aka the Lunch Bunch, go out to lunch to give you the rundown on the food and the atmosphere at local restaurants (OK, admittedly we also like to go out to eat, so win-win!). This week: Southern Graces Bistro.

By Sally Mahan

Beaufort truly evokes the Old South, where grace and manners were paramount, where homemade Southern delicacies were served on the best china on spotless white linen-covered tables.

Such is the feel at Southern Graces Bistro at the Beaufort Inn at 809 Port Republic St. in the heart of historic downtown.

Southern Graces was founded in 2002 by Bethany Boles Hewitt, who combined her passions for food, flowers and parties.

It’s a step back in time as you make your way up a wide staircase framed by a white-railed porch. Diners and guests are ushered into the building’s lobby, a lush parlor-like room with glittering chandeliers, soft chairs and lovely décor.

Down the hall is the restaurant, which is actually two rooms, one the Magnolia Dining Room and the other the intimate Library.

In the Magnolia room, there is beautifully detailed woodwork, etched glass, a fireplace and lovely table settings with delicate, old-fashioned rose-patterned china.

We knew we were in for a treat due to the Bistro’s highly acclaimed chef, Christopher Hewitt, who is known for his upscale contemporary Southern gastronomy

To start our lunch, we were treated to light-as-air popovers as we looked over the menu. Appetizers include a simply amazing Beaufort Bay Shrimp Wrap stuffed with crab and sausage with a sweet red pepper aioli sauce. The Fried Green Tomatoes are addictive and the She Crab Soup has chunks of succulent crab meat in the creamy broth and is topped with pimento cheese straws.

The lunch dishes were perfectly presented. I ordered the Bistro Salad, which has greens, bleu cheese, crispy onions topped with pieces of tender steak. It was delicious.

One of our group ordered the Crab Cake & Citrus Salad, which has lump crabcake served atop mixed greens, smoked gouda, dried cranberries, balsamic pecans and Mandarin oranges with a citrus marmalade vinaigrette. My lunch mate said was it was the “best salad I’ve ever eaten.”

Another person in our group ordered the pot roast with carrots and whipped mashed potatoes. After tasting it, I took two orders home for dinner.

Southern Graces also offers true Southern delicacies dialed up a notch, like its fried chicken and mashed potatoes, or its shrimp and unbelievably creamy sweet potato grits.

Then came the indulgence of the day: the dessert plate. We tasted the carrot cheese cake, sweet potato cheese cake, coconut cake and chocolate crème brulee. There’s simply no other way to describe them than truly, truly decadent and wonderful.

Southern Graces, however, is not just for lunch. It’s a perfect place to hold an event such as a bridal shower (which was actually why we were there, to celebrate our art director, Hope Falls’, upcoming nuptials).

In addition to lunch, Southern Graces also offers catering for events such as weddings, corporate events, fresh air events and more (and if you’re having an event, you could not choose better than Southern Graces to cater it).

The restaurant also offers a delightful Afternoon Teatime, with items such as tomato sandwiches, croissants, cucumber sandwiches, a wide choice of pastries (made by their own pastry chef) and much more.

The menu expands for dinner service, with Southern staples taken to the next level.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturdays; Afternoon Teatime is from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (reservations required).

Dinner service starts at 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays.

There is also a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a variety of delectable food stations to sample a delicious array of Southern fare.

Overall, Chef Hewitt treats you to a culinary decadence at Southern Graces’ Bistro at the Beaufort Inn.

Call 843-379-0555 for reservations or make an online reservation at www.opentable.com.

Note: Alcohol is not served at the Bistro, but guests are welcome to bring their own bottle of wine.

Sally Mahan is the editor in chief of The Bluffton News and The Island News.