Although the décor celebrates the golden age of piracy, from 1690 to 1730, Queen Anne’s Revenge is surprisingly sophisticated. The walls tell the fascinating stories of Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet and Anne Bonney. The pirate paraphernalia includes miniature reproductions of period ships and documented, authentic artifacts such as pieces of eight – Spanish coins – from the 1715 Spanish plate fleet, a scrimshaw whale’s tooth and guns, swords and knives used by pirates who pillaged for fun and profit.
However, the real draw is the food. Chef Brent Quiggle has been with the restaurant since it opened in September 2001. Since he participates in the farm-to- table movement, he finds much of his seafood and produce close to the restaurant’s Daniel Island location.
“We try to be as local as possible, or at least regional,” explained general manager Jeffrey Davis. “It’s hard, but it’s also fun and it feels like the right thing to do.”
Most vegetables come from Thornhill Farms in McClellanville, so the selection changes seasonally. In early autumn, it was squash, zucchini, spring onions, baby eggplant and heirloom tomatoes. No matter the assortment, fresh really does taste better – especially when vegetables are not messed with or sauced to death. Quiggle’s light touch brings out the best in nature’s bounty.
While the menu includes steaks, chicken and pasta dishes, the real star is the seafood. Changing with the season, the day’s catch, and the freshest imports from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, the selections range from drum to flounder to petite lobster. Preparations are just as varied.
Appropriate for a restaurant named after an infamous pirate’s flagship found on the bottom of the ocean, the local wreck fish may be served over grits with a vegetable broth, stewed tomatoes and okra. Server Frank Coulson said it sells out fast when it’s in season.
The mixed seafood dinner includes broiled shrimp and scallops with a fresh catch such as flounder or drum. Served with Béarnaise sauce, Carolina Gold rice and a side, the meal is light but filling. The seafood is cooked to perfection: flakey fish, sweet shrimp and melt-in-your-mouth scallops.
Once a protein is selected, the hard part begins: choosing sides. True-to-the-South choices include Vidalia onion-potato puree, Geechie Boy stone ground grits, pimento macaroni and cheese, creamed corn and sautéed farm-fresh vegetables.
It would be sinful not to mention the soups. The Charleston she crab soup, from a recipe circa 1930, has the right balance of creaminess and mild spice. Replete with chunks of crab and drizzled with sherry, shellfish lovers shouldn’t miss it. The baked mushroom soup served in a puff pastry crust also gets high marks.
For dessert, bread pudding is a perfect companion to a steaming cup of coffee. The recipe changes, but, if it includes white chocolate and black cherries, don’t pass. With the holidays nearby, another good choice is root beer apple crisp, made with oatmeal, topped with streusel and served with Wholly Cow vanilla bean ice cream. It tastes like Christmas.
For more information, visit www.qarevenge.com.
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