Bowens Island Restaurant has been one destination we've had on our list of Charleston haunts, well known for its oysters and seafood in wooden post-and-beam structure overlooking the marshes. There is a bar serving local and regional drafts, an order station, and a scramble for either indoor or outdoor tables once your order has been taken. The marketing strategy is to have the patron complete the tasks usually reserved for waitstaff; soft drinks come from a fast-food restaurant style machine, condiments are on a separate table across from the bar, and seating arrangements are self configured if you can find enough free chairs. Once your order is ready, and not everyone at the table may be served at the same time, a waiter carries a large round tray from the kitchen while calling your name in an effort to find you. The restaraunt works as a well oiled machine, but beware that it may take some time before your meals arrive depending on the queue that came before you.
The food. All the seafood we ate was fresh and prepared as expected. The boiled shrimp were firm, but the seasoning wasn't assertive as a boil might be elsewhere. The fried oysters were juicy and succulent, lightly battered, but the batter was bland without enhancing the taste of the meat. Fried shrimp were firm but not overcooked, whereas fish filets arrived similarly. In this respect, all the proteins did not disappoint. Acccompanying each dish were: fried potatoes, arriving with a bit more grease than warranted; two hush puppies that were fried to a sugary exterior texture in which one can see the grease rind; and a very small, ketchup-sized paper container of cole slaw. If you're looking for a balanced meal at Bowens Island Restaurant, look elsewhere. But, if you're looking for a unique dining experience where fresh seafood is served in the standard, low country manner, then this may be the place for you. The drive to the restaurant, situated at the end of the road before the marshlands on Bowens Island, is worth the effort even if you don't decide to gorge yourself.
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