Chef Brett McKee calls his newest restaurant 17 North Roadside Kitchen his field of dreams. “If you build it, they will come,” he says of the restaurant’s out-of-the-way location. And when we stopped by for a casual media dinner last week, we found that people were certainly willing to make the drive — the place was packed.
The main dining room has a bright, clean feel, while the side porch — now warmed by heaters, but sure to be a popular spot in warmer weather — has a simple, rustic vibe. Chef McKee took us on a tour of the backyard, where kids were running around and enjoying the fire pit, complete with complimentary s’mores. Off to the side, there’s a garden that Wando High students will be planting with organic vegetables and herbs for the restaurant.
We were given our pick of the menu, which features classic dishes with an upscale, modern spin. McKee says Facebook actually played a large role in planning the menu. An active user of the social media site, he’s got over 5,000 friends that he used for feedback and suggestions when making menu decisions.
We started off with the night’s special cocktail: a blueberry and basil martini, made with fresh blueberry puree. The basil cut the fruit's sweetness, and it was the perfect way to take the edge off before the big meal. Based on Jeff Allen’s glowing review of the scallops, (“The scallops are beyond fault.”) we tried them as an appetizer. Fat and, yes, perfectly cooked, they were braised with lemon butter, leeks, tomato, and basil. We also tried the deviled eggs three ways — with salmon, duck confit, and traditional. The salmon was our favorite.
For the entree, my dining partner went with the 8-ounce ribeye with pommes frites topped with shaved parmesan. Not surprisingly coming from the guy who owns Oak Steakhouse, the fat steak was perfectly cooked. I went with one of the menu’s newer items, a smoky swordfish with Mediterranean veggies — spinach, olives, tomato, squash, zucchini, and capers. It had a lot of flavor and texture, and it’s a big reason I’ll be heading back to 17 North.
Though we were stuffed, we felt compelled to try a dessert, and we weren’t disappointed. The black-bottom chocolate cream pie had hints of caramel and cream cheese. It was the perfectly sweet finish to a rich meal.
17 North is open for dinner Mon.-Sat. They’re located at 563 Hwy. 17 North. Call (843) 606-2144 or go to 17north.net for more info.