Pawleys Hotspot

August 2012
Written By: 
Denise Mullen
Photographs by: 
Christopher Shane

Frank’s & Frank’s Outback offer fine dining and extensive menu selections

When it comes to fine dining in a laid-back atmosphere, Frank’s and Frank’s Outback are unparalleled.  

The main restaurant conjures up the feeling of having supper in a grand old dining room with enormous gilded mirrors, worn carpets underfoot, a fireplace and sideboards lit by ambient lamps.

And then there’s the magical world of the forested Outback with burbling fountains and goldfish ponds, twinkling lights in dense greenery and charming tented seating. In this beautifully ethereal setting, I wouldn’t have been surprised to spot a party of Elfins or see a unicorn walk by.

Frank’s is a favorite and bustling eatery, especially to the Pawleys Island locals. We were lucky to get the last table in Frank’s on our visit, just before a steady parade of reservations filed in.

The menus take a little time to navigate. There are tastings (appetizers) that include soups, then salads a la carte, small plates, entrees and prime chophouse options. There is also a selection of wood-fired pizzas exclusive to Frank’s Outback, including a Mediterranean lamb pie topped with arugula, parmesan and goat cheeses on whole wheat dough.

Although my husband campaigned hard to start with Frank’s Lowcountry egg roll stuffed with country ham, collards, black eye peas and cabbage, we finally agreed on the crispy fried oysters served with a green goddess dip.

It was a give-and-take decision, but there was no compromising on the taste of this dish. The oysters were insanely fresh with an almost sweet aftertaste, the coating crunchy and the dip lushly green and tangy.

We passed on the tempting small plates and went for full entrees: The seared duck du jour with blueberry chutney, and a house favorite—cornmeal-encrusted grouper with shrimp, dished over yellow stone-ground grits, diced tomatoes and scallions and drizzled with a Dijon cream sauce.

Both plates came perfectly prepared. The medallions of duck moist, the grouper meaty and tender and my grits were to die for. The sauces were complementary, but understated.

For sure, you could never become bored with Frank’s food. On any given night, besides main entrees and pizzas, the menu sports about 20 small-plate selections. From our vantage point it was obvious that the trio of lamb chops nestled on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and a pool of red wine demi-glace had a big fan club.

You could enjoy a couple of these smaller portioned dishes for dinner and have ultimate variety. Some choices that caught my eye and made my mouth water for a return visit included the likes of a thinly pounded Caribbean conch, wild mushroom ravioli with crisp pancetta, asparagus and parmesan, a grilled filet served alongside tobacco onions, a risotto cake and roasted garlic horseradish cream and even hoisin marinated shrimp tossed in spicy lo mein noodles.

Going from smaller bites to big appetites, Frank’s also offers a Chophouse menu. Here you’ll find a 24-ounce porterhouse for two, the 16-ounce ribeye or New York strip and a 9-ounce barrel cut filet. In chophouse tradition, sides are a separate order and are intended to share. And to help wash down that prime piece of meat, select “Big Reds” by the glass are poured, such as the 2007 Sur De Los Andes Malbec.

As regular patrons and insiders will tell you, don’t think you can ever memorize all of Frank’s plates because chef Pierce Culliton is well known for his “creative American cuisine” and for never allowing the menu to become static. As the spirit of taste and fresh ingredients move him, another surprising dish will land in the lineup.

Since the 1930s, this site has been a favorite gathering place for locals. It was originally Marlow’s Supermarket, and the restaurant was named after owner Frank Marlow. Before restaurateurs Salters and Elizabeth McClary opened Frank’s here in 1988, Marlow’s was the purveyor of groceries, gossip and the only payphone on Pawleys Island.

Even today, popularity marks the spot. Not only are reservations recommended for any night of the week, they’re pretty much a must.

Frank's & Frank’s Outback
10434 Ocean Highway
Pawleys Island, SC 29585
(843) 237-3030
Frank’s is open for dinner 5:30–9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:30–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.