DeShawn’s is the sort of place that inspires exultant loyalty among both staff and customers.
It is not hard to see why seafood lovers are enamored, even putting aside the restaurant’s signature splurge – all-you-can-eat crab legs — really big, meaty ones — for well over $50. There are so many good crustaceans and flatfish to eat, most meals far less than half the price of the crab-legs blowout. Fried oysters are big and sweet and encased in vividly spiced breading’ Flounder is skin-on flavorful, also sheathed in a full-flavored crust. There are robust catfish (whole or filleted) and scallops and shrimp and a whole menu of broiled seafood and even a real low-country boil of shrimp, potatoes, sweet corn, and sausage.
As for fish-frowners, note the full name of the restaurant. No afterthought, DeShawn’s splendid chicken is breaded and fried to crispy-crunchy succulence with the same expertise that graces the seafood.
Both fish and chicken are terrific, but a person could make a meal of nothing but side dishes. Foremost among them is hot baked potato salad, rich with cheese and mayo, radiating the flavor of superabundant bacon laced throughout. Mac ‘n’ cheese is deeply cheesy, ranging from custard-soft center to chewy edge. Turnip greens contain as much turnip as greens; they are pungent and intriguingly bitter. Collard greens, on the other hand, are soft and earthy with full-bore vegetable character.
Aside from offering excellent food that is well priced and served fast, DeShawn’s earns warm feelings from its clientele because it is so resolutely casual. No airs or pretense here. It is an eating hall unceremoniously made of cinderblocks painted ocean blue with a wood floor that is battleship gray and the usual array of nautical nick-nacks hanging on walls and from a ceiling where overhead fans spin. Waitresses wear shirts that say “Let’s Get Crackin’.” Tables are available either normal height or at high-chair level; they are made of polished wood-grain material that is easy to wipe clean.
Finally, a fun nugget of knowledge: Deanna Brown Thomas, who owns the place with her husband, Shawn Thomas, is the daughter of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. Brown grew up just across the river in Augusta.