If Jimmy Buffet was a restaurant, he might be JC’s Seafood. In fact, a happy-go-lucky “Buffet Buffet” of Margaritaville songs was playing on the sound system when I first sat at a varnished wood picnic table in the screen-walled dining area. The music made it so easy to succumb to the mellow charms of this carefree room with its ocean-blue floor and fresh-air breeze wafting through. Although JC’s is a few hours from the coast, I swear I could smell the ocean!
The specialty of the house is the unofficial state dish of South Carolina, a Low Country boil. Its fundamental elements are sweet corn, potatoes, sausage, and shrimp (although crab legs, mussels, sea scallops, lobster tails, or clams can be substituted for shrimp). The whole affair is boiled and seasoned mild, spicy-Cajun, or hot. The result: a glistening mountain of magnificent eating. The seafood, trucked in by the owners directly from the coast, is impeccably fresh (the XL shrimp are regal); the sausage is firm and fatty and vigorously spiced kielbasa; the corn is all the sweeter for its contrasting veil of spice.
Raw fish in the display case can include crab legs, lump crab meat, even stone crab claws, as well as Bluffton oysters, flounder, snapper, grouper, whiting, and salmon, plus live blue crabs in season. For 50 cents per pound, the management will steam or boil and season anything they’ve got in the case. A majority of JC’s business is orders that are called in, cooked, and picked up to take away. Meals to be eaten on premises are presented just like the take-out ones: in Styrofoam clamshell containers for eating in the screened room known as the Bait Shack.
I love eating in the Bait Shack. It has a genuine folksy feel and all the ingenuous appeal of a coastal eatery that does only a few things, but does them just right. Nautical nick-knacks grace the walls; overhead lamps are made from bushel baskets; tables are outfitted with rolls of paper towels for devil-may-care, sleeves-up eating. The house motto? “Nothing Fancy … Just GOOD Food.” To that, I say Amen!