Saturday, October 06, 2007
This weekend I took a drive with my family up Highway 17, heading north out of Charleston, and we stopped for lunch at the Seewee Restaurant in Awendaw. The Seewee is located in an old wooden building, a former general store with old, thick brown floorboards, a collection of mismatched furniture, and a long, low old-style Pepsi cooler in the back where they keep drinks and little cups of cocktail sauce. It's got charm.
The Seewee has gotten a lot of ecstatic reviews praising the general fantasticness of the food. The late R. W. Apple of The New York Times wrote last year that the Seewee is "blessed with virtuoso practioners of [the] old Lowcountry art, frying," pointing particularly to their skill in "frying shrimp, as well as any Tokyo tempura master, without a scintilla of heaviness or a smidgen of grease to mar the love affair 'twixt crustacean and palate."
Now that's some fancy writing and quite a build-up, too, so I felt duty-bound to try the fried shrimp. And I did, along with onion rings, mashed potatoes, and lima beans.
I'd love to crank up the adjective machine here, but I've gotta be honest: I found the Seewee's food to be solid meat-and-three fare, but nothing out of the ordinary. I think a lot of reviewers have been bowled over by the restaurant's atmosphere and got a little carried away with hyperbole. The fried shrimp was a little on the smallish side, competently done but nothing to write home about (and certainly not holding a candle to the fried shrimp from The Wreck or any number of other Charleston restaurants). Ditto for my wife's chicken-fried steak, another staple of Southern meat-and-three fare: good, but not in the top 10 local entries.
But, the waitresses were friendly, and there's a little icebox with glass bottled Cokes and Nehis next to the cash register--perfect for taking one for the road. I wouldn't drive out to Awendaw just for the Seewee, but if you're on the road going to Georgetown or Myrtle Beach, it's worth dropping in for a nice country-fried lunch.
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