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Clark’s offers ambience with every biteful
When it comes to ambiance with an enchanting view, Clark’s Seafood & Chop House scores four forks-up.
Overlooking the marina at Coquina Harbor, every seat in the house offers a waterscape vista while rustic woods ground the ethereal scene and make for a warm and fuzzy kind of dining experience.
On our visit one blustery early spring night, it was just the right atmosphere to ward off the winter chill. In the dark of night, the harbor lights danced off the water and offered shadowy outlines of boats below.
Inside the front doors of Clark’s, a quaint bar area was in high gear with lively chatter and every barstool occupied—an ideal place for meeting friends for happy hour or sending off the day with a night cap.
Casual yet sophisticated, the dining room represented every walk of life, from extended families to a ladies-night-out to senior couples savoring every bite of their date night.
First up, I was impressed with the wine list and our server’s knowledge of the restaurant’s stock. It’s not common to find Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc by the glass. When it comes to white wines, I prefer a good chardonnay, but I will switch to sauvignon blanc in a skinny minute when it comes to these two vintages.
The appetizer line-up includes the tempting grilled lollipop lamb chops with grape tomatoes sautéed in truffle oil, but stuffed Anaheim peppers won out due to my love of fresh peppers and their uncommon appeal. Three charred peppers are served with a tubular stuffing of Italian sausage, Gorgonzola cheese and a savory mix of spices. A fresh, homemade marinara pools beneath and Gorgonzola and buttermilk sauce serves as the official dipper. A diverse yet delightful mélange of flavors that, to my taste, could be a best-selling entree.
Clark’s takes salad seriously: Caprese and wedge are for the asking, but all entrees come with the house salad or a classic Caesar and a warm croissant drizzled with honey. Now, the Clark’s Grand House Salad is no garden variety starter with its mixed greens, chopped eggs, plum tomatoes, sugared pecans, bacon, ham and hot bacon and honey-mustard dressing.
Since Clark’s brands itself as a “seafood and chop house,” we looked to those main courses first, even though chicken and pasta dishes are also on the menu.
A New York strip and sirloin come grilled, blackened or Pittsburgh-style and the filet is barrel cut. Chops include Australian lamb with a cassis (black currant) demi-glace, pork Marsala and Tuscan veal over a bed of spinach and fire-roasted tomatoes. And slow-and-low cookery defines the osso bucco of pork shank in a mushroom-burgundy stock and Danish baby back ribs basted for hours in barbecue sauce.
But, in the end, my husband chose to go for the house specialty, a hefty slab of slow roasted prime rib with a side of Gorgonzola whipped potatoes.
A sip of the crisp Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc inspired me to troll the seafood selections, which include scallops (grilled, fried or blackened); Carolina crab cakes; salmon topped with crab meat, tomatoes and lemon-butter sauce; or a Clark’s combo of crab cakes, oysters, flounder and shrimp.
But cold water trout and almonds are two of my weaknesses, so the rainbow trout almandine would be the catch, skin on, baked and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Plus, creamed spinach for my side—more cream than green, but tasty and bubbling hot.
Clark’s also offer chophouse-style sandwiches for dinner, like a burger on pretzel bread with a BBQ-blue cheese dressing, a generous slice of the prime rib on a French roll and marinated chicken with bourbon glazed bacon and cheddar cheese.
Lunch with a view is served every day and runs from $8.95 for vodka rigatoni and garlic toast or fish tacos to $12.95 for the prime rib sandwich plus a Clark’s side, including the creamed spinach and Gorgonzola mash.
The dinner menu runs a wide swath with the 9-ounce sirloin priced at $17.95 to sea scallops for $24.95, up to $34.95 for veal chops.
The harbor view? Priceless.
Clark’s Seafood & Chop House
720 U.S. 17
Little River, SC 29566
Opens at 11 a.m. daily. Lunch served until 3 p.m.; dinner served until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday