We made no secret back in January that Johns Island’s newest restaurant had stolen our hearts. Friendly and efficient staff, a beautiful space and equally stunning raw bar display, a damn Hemingway quote on the menu.
Since then, we’ve been back for more oysters at the bar (can’t get over the Toogoodoo selection), (a lot) more Gruner Veltliner, and a full blown, mid-week 8 p.m. dinner in the main dining room. It turns out it wasn’t just us flocking to this new sea bird — out of all the fish in the sea, y’all decided The Royal Tern was the greatest catch. Owner John Williams says that “we are humbled by the amazing reception we have received on Johns Island and now as well in the Charleston area.”
Past Best New Restaurant winners include Husk, Stella’s, The Ordinary, Spero, and Lewis Barbecue. Other than Spero (which still lives on in their devotees’ hearts), the best new restaurant win has been a harbinger of continued success.
Royal Tern’s success is due, Williams says, to the talented staff, a majority of which had worked together “over the past 12 years who were excited about joining a new venture outside of the downtown area.” Williams and executive chef David Pell both studied cuisine in France, and have worked together since the spring of 2006.
“I would encourage people to start with items from the raw bar while enjoying a glass of Muscadet or Chenin Blanc,” says Williams. Be sure to make a reservation in advance, or walk in for a seat at the bar and adjoining screened-in patio. —Mary Scott Hardaway
Runner-up: Chubby Fish
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