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 a Low Country boil, the base elements being sweet corn, potatoes, and kielbasa, to which customers add their choice of shrimp, crab legs, mussels, sea scallops, lobster tails, or clams. The whole affair is boiled with seasoning that is mild, spicy-Cajun or hot, to taste. 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; the corn is local and all the sweeter for its contrasting veil of spice.
Raw fish in the display case can include crab legs, lump crab meat, and 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. A scattering of 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!