Variety Restaurant

Seafood | Steak
One of the best

Welcome to the mid-20th century. In every way except for price, the Variety Restaurant shows no evidence that anything has changed in the world of dining-out for the last three score years. A dimly-lit dinner house with wood-paneled walls, paper placemats, and eclectic-personal-nautical-Grecian décor, it is entirely demode, off the radar screen of savvy foodies. But still, it’s thriving, thanks to a steadfast clientele of regulars who come for exuberantly large portions of steak and potatoes or seafood and potatoes preceded by a crisp iceberg lettuce salad along with saltines in cellophane.

Waitresses are old-school. They neither introduce themselves by name nor offer the provenance of daily specials. By the second time I visited, I had earned the moniker “Hon’.” Square-meals eaters who appreciate such vintage diner hospitality and retro ambience without a jot of fashion will see the Variety as a rare gem.

Ribeye steaks are a house specialty, available in sizes from 10 to 20 ounces. The meat is choice, not prime (in the $30 range, not $50), aged enough to resonate with deep mineral potency, fork-tender, and full flavored. When filet mignon is on the menu, it’s a prize: tender, juicy, radiantly beefy. On the side of steaks comes a huge, fluffy-centered baked potato, a twice-baked potato, or a great tangle of French fries along with a few spongy hushpuppies.

Seafood is the Variety’s main claim to fame, most of it brought in fresh from the coast by proprietor “Jimmy the Greek.” To begin a meal, I’ve enjoyed she-crab soup vibrant with spice and loaded with sweet meat and oyster stew that balances buttery and oceanic — less about comfort and more like a thrilling nautical embrace. And of course, there are oysters, sparkling on the half-shell (or, if you wish, fried). Among fabulous flatfish usually available are grouper, shark, a plate-wide grilled salmon steak that is velvet-soft inside with crisp, caramelized edges; and whole flounder boasting fine, flaky flesh. A medley of seafood can be had on the “King Fisherman’s Platter,” which runs well over $20 at dinner but less than that when the restaurant is open for lunch. (Lunch service is discontinued during summer months.)

Note: Please pardon digital noise in some of the interior photos. It is dark enough inside the Variety that many were shot at ISO 50,000.

What to Eat
Variety Restaurant, Broiled Salmon
Broiled Salmon
Velvet-fleshed salmon
Variety Restaurant, Ribeye Steak
Ribeye Steak
Ribeye tender enough to cut with a butter knife
Variety Restaurant, Oysters on the Half Shell
Oysters on the Half Shell
An order of 6 oysters turns out to be 8.
Variety Restaurant, Hamburger Steak
Hamburger Steak
One pound hamburger steak, smothered in onions
Variety Restaurant, Seafood Platter
Seafood Platter
Seafood platter = shrimp, scallops, oysters, deviled crab, flounder & hushpuppies
Variety Restaurant, She-Crab Soup
She-Crab Soup
The Lowcountry favorite, she-crab soup
Variety Restaurant, Hash Brown Potatoes
Hash Brown Potatoes
Hash brown potatoes are a great melange of crisp and creamy.
Variety Restaurant, Stuffed Flounder
Stuffed Flounder
Grilled shrimp atop flounder stuffed with crabmeat
Variety Restaurant, Broiled Scallops
Broiled Scallops
Lunch-size serving of broiled scallops: simple, perfect
Variety Restaurant, Broiled Grouper
Broiled Grouper
Broiled grouper easily forks into bite-size nuggets.
Variety Restaurant, French Fries
French Fries
French fries are a variegated rainbow of tender-soft and crunchy-crisp.
Variety Restaurant, Fried Shrimp
Fried Shrimp
Fried shrimp are sweet, firm, and flavorful.
Variety Restaurant, Filet Mignon
Filet Mignon
Seafood is the Variety's forte, but when filet mignon is available, it's a prize.
Variety Restaurant, Blackeyed Peas
Blackeyed Peas
Oinky-flavored blackeyed peas
Variety Restaurant, Collard Greens
Collard Greens
Collard greens are strong and bitter – in a good way.
Variety Restaurant, Iceberg Lettuce Salad
Iceberg Lettuce Salad
House-made 1000 Islands dressing
Variety Restaurant, Hushpuppies
Hushpuppies are de rigueur seafood companions hereabouts.
Variety Restaurant, Baked Potato
Baked Potato
One-pound baked potato
Variety Restaurant, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Tomato-sweet Italian-American spaghetti
Variety Restaurant, Broiled Shrimp
Broiled Shrimp
Under broiled shrimp is a pool of garlicky oil for mopping.
Variety Restaurant, Green Beans
Green Beans
Tender green beans are infused with bacon flavor.
Variety Restaurant, Cole Slaw
Cole Slaw
Crisp, sweet cole slaw maintains real cabbage flavor.
Variety Restaurant, Broiled Flounder
Broiled Flounder
Cream-fleshed broiled flounder
Variety Restaurant, Greek Salad Dressing
Greek Salad Dressing
Greek dressing contains little nuggets of feta.
Variety Restaurant, Sirloin Steak
Sirloin Steak
Center-cut sirloin is a melt-in-the-mouth delight.
Variety Restaurant, Oyster Stew
Oyster Stew
Oyster stew is both buttery and oceanic.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Monday4 pm - 10 pm
Tuesday4 pm - 10 pm
Wednesday4 pm - 10 pm
Thursday4 pm - 10 pm
Friday4 pm - 10 pm
Saturday4 pm - 10 pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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