Owner Steve Judy opened Harbor Breeze at Bridgeside in May. This casual eatery is in the spot of the former Point Grill.
Judy tapped industry veteran Chuck Isenberg as general manager and brought Matt Riley into the kitchen as executive chef.
The property received a complete makeover with a coastal color palette of aquamarine and cool greens and crisp, white accent trim. The creative use of sisal to wrap the bar area snaps attention to the design. Classy and casual.
French bistro-style chairs lend a Rive Gauche look to the dining area, and the beadboard-lined booths topped with the sheltering angles of Bermuda shutters provide outdoor views for all the diners. The booths are upholstered in a khaki-colored faux leather.
Whitewashed bricks, woven carpets, driftwood accents and a clever weathered chandelier over the community table bring tranquillity and coastal charm to this restaurant.
Riley has drafted an uncomplicated menu that celebrates the Lowcountry. Shrimp pulled from Shem Creek, tomatoes harvested from Wadmalaw Island plants, Hickory Hill milk and a commitment to local produce and seafood anchor coastal Carolina food memories to the offerings at Harbor Breeze.
Riley worked for chef Frank McMahon at Hank’s Seafood, so this young chef is comfortable breaking down a grouper or filleting a snapper and tempering ceviche with acid and spice.
The kitchen makes its soups and sauces from scratch and pickles its cucumber garnishes.
Appetizers favor the fry side, and a panko-crusted green tomato ($7) with bacon bits, arugula and pimiento cheese needed just a little more time cooking to release the tangy tomato flavors.
The kitchen provides a nice touch with peel-n-eat shrimp ($10) by grilling the shrimp and then serving them with a simple cocktail sauce.
Riley also makes his own tortilla chips to accompany chips and salsa ($5).
The menu is tightly edited but provides something for everyone: chicken, fish or salmon sandwiches ($8-$10); a chickpea and black bean burger for the meat-adverse; and a variety of tacos ($4), which allow for easy sampling.
We found the pulled pork (all tacos $4) to be on the mild side of smoke and heat. It was topped with avocado, tomatillo salsa and oversized chunks of red bell pepper, but the flavors did not pop. The grilled fish taco fared better with its topping of cilantro-lime flavored creme fraiche. Kudos to the kitchen for warming the tacos before filling them.
You can make a meal of the tacos for $9 — any two tacos and your choice of side (fries, broccoli salad, red rice, grits, goat cheese potato cake or grilled asparagus for a $1 up-charge).
It is hard to pass up local shrimp on the menu, and Riley’s kitchen did the shrimpers proud with a simply battered fried shrimp platter served with coleslaw, french fries and hush puppies.
The slaw was on the sweet side, tasting more of salad dressing than mayonnaise, and the fries had uneven cooking in common with the fried green tomato. But the shrimp (all 12 of them) were sweet and fresh.
Beef eaters will find a modestly priced 12-ounce rib-eye for $21 and chimichurri-sauced skirt steak for $18.
Neighboring diners favored a 12-ounce bone-in pork chop ($18) and many guests around us enjoyed the pasta special of the day.
Riley’s kitchen experience shows with his reduced sauces and use of roasted vegetables to enhance flavors.
He spans the globe with the use of beurre blanc, chimichurri, chorizo and ceviche. He keeps it closer to home with braised greens, hush puppies, she-crab soup and pimiento cheese.
The Facebook pages show a well-ordered kitchen, so it was difficult to explain the lapses in cooking.
They are committed to cold beer and run their taps from a freezer and cool down their bottled beer on ice.
Servers are helpful and friendly, and there is a healthy dose of management walking around.
The location is an ideal one for Harbor Breeze at the gateway of Patriots Point development.
Brightly colored Adirondack chairs create a relaxed vibe on the patio, and the creative use of shutters softens the pedestrian design of the building.
The menu has broad appeal with simple grilled seafood, vegetable-topped pastas and many entrees available grilled or fried. So the bridge walkers who maintain a commitment to a healthy lifestyle and those who favor wings, a wedge and a burger topped with caramelized onions, blue cheese, aioli and bacon can find common ground.
And whether you want to catch the breeze or shoot the breeze, Harbor Breeze makes it all possible.