Rustic charm and fine dining find a common ground
Don’t let the name Joe’s Bar & Grill fool you. As I found out, this place is anything but a Lowcountry-style watering hole with pub food. In fact, it’s downright charming.
In contrast to the tourist hubbub of Barefoot Landing across the street and a chain restaurant right in front of it, Joe’s is like walking into your eccentric uncle’s rambling fishing cabin on the marsh that he inherited, the table set with grandma’s white linen in honor of a special occasion dinner, under the glassy stare of his bounty of hunting trophies herded along the rough-hewn walls.
The ambiance honors a simpler time and place of rustic grace and knowing you will be served a sumptuous meal featuring the freshest catch or kill of the day.
From the hostess to our waiter, Jay, we felt welcomed and immediately at ease. We chose to sit in the main dining room even though porch seating was offered and began the evening’s meal with Joe’s complimentary plate of delicate crackers with a cream cheese spread and warm honeyed wheat bread and butter.
Wine, specialty martinis and cocktails and entrée selections all have their own extensive menu, plus there’s a chalkboard of daily chef specials to ponder. To make a decision even more painful, the table beside us oohed and aahed over their char-grilled lamb chops and a party of 12 men were ordering aromatic rounds of the juicy roast prime rib and tenderloin medallions topped with crab, shrimp and scallops.
After many questions, we finally decided to order the Southern Tradition Trout and one of the house specials, a rib-eye with crab cake and blackened shrimp.
My boneless, skin-on rainbow trout arrived coated in a dense cornmeal, pan sautéed, which lent interesting texture to the white and light fish. The crab cake was exceptional with the distinct tastes of both back fin and lump meat shining through the Old Bay and gentle breading. But what I really loved was the Southern Comfort mushroom cream sauce that brought the whole dish into harmony with the finesse needed to ensure the distinctive tasting liquor didn’t dominate.
The rib-eye plate included a swash of Béarnaise between the meat and crab cake and my husband proclaimed it to be one of the best steaks he’s ever eaten.
My trout came with a wonderful rice medley and roasted russet potatoes accompanied the steak, plus we were treated to Joe’s Greek-style stewed tomatoes and green beans side.
The dessert menu changes often at Joe’s and although we didn’t indulge, our waiter stopped by to show us a slice of deep chocolate cake, streaked with golden toffee and icing. It was too big for two people to share; perfect for four forks.
Jay encouraged us to join a gaggle of other diners on the Raccoon Deck for an after-dinner drink and I could kiss him for doing so. Overlooking the salt marsh, under twinkling lights hanging from an aged spreading oak tree and with a roaring fire crackling in the brick fireplace, we sipped on a glass of wine watching for the family of raccoons that entertain guests with their antics for bread and leftovers.
The raccoons must have been full for the day as I only caught the shine of one pair of eyes in the marsh grasses, but the night was perfect and the deck so cozy, we lingered along with the small crowd gathered at the comfy makeshift bar.
Joe’s is a little on the pricey side but makes the menu fair game for everyone with Early Bird specials (nothing over $12) that includes the renown prime rib, shrimp dishes and chicken Dijon, plus offers a children’s menu.
This is a dining gem that never caught my attention before, but now I can’t wait to introduce family and friends to my new-found friend.
Joe’s Bar & Grill
810 Conway St., North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582 (843)272-4666. www.joesbarandgrillonline.com Opens at 5 p.m. daily. Reservations accepted.