Chef-proprietor Ben Groshell, of popular local restaurants Palm Valley Fish Camp, North Beach Fish Camp, Julington Creek Fish Camp, Safe Harbor Seafood and Marker 32, is back at it with a new barbecue concept: Valley Smoke.
Groshell’s new restaurant, situated on the Intracoastal Waterway, is a looker — spacious, with a bourbon “library,” modern bar, clean colors, waterfront seating and expansive dining room.
The two-and-a-half-month old endeavor is booming. We arrived on a Saturday at 5 p.m. sans reservation, and in lieu of waiting 40 minutes for a table, grabbed two open seats at the bar (next to PGA pro Jim Furyk’s doppelgänger).
We began with house barbecue potato chips accompanied by a thick, buttermilk blue cheese dip ($6), and the mini farmhouse ham sandwiches ($8). The salty, crunchy chips and four fluffy buttermilk biscuits with sliced house-cured and sweet-and-spicy pepper jelly were flavorful, and easy to share.
Intrigued by the oak-smoked burrata, I enjoyed watching its arrival under a transparent glass dome. Our server whisked that off, revealing a swirl of smoke that gave way to a beautiful, plump ball of creamy burrata. Served with a spreadable tangy tomato-peach compote, olive oil, basil, arugula and grilled baguette slices, not a bite remained.
Eager to try the ’cue, I got the two-way combo ($18) with Valley Smoke’s sliced brisket and Carolina style pork. Served with thinly sliced pickles and a slice of buttered garlic toast, you also select two sides — I landed on the local Congaree &Penn jalapeno rice grits, which I loved, and the bacon garlic green beans, which weren’t memorable. (Next trip I’ll try the poblano cream corn and smoked brisket baked beans.) The brisket was a little on the dry side.
My fiance went for the Southern chicken fry ($13 or $17, depending on size) — a hearty breast and drumstick that were delightfully juicy on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside. Sides included a scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy, vinegar-y collard greens and a chopped green tomato chow chow. He was a fan and raved about the chicken.
With more than 150 bottles of vino available, plus a sprawling collection of rare bourbon and scotch, be sure to imbibe. I enjoyed the Traveling East ($12), a smooth Four Roses single-barrel bourbon drink with chai simple syrup, lemon and bitters.
For dessert, a slab of warm pumpkin bread pudding ($8) was all too alluring. Adorned with small dollops of whipped topping and a scoop of lemon ice cream, I regret nothing.
Caron Streibich is an avid food lover who reviews restaurants every other week in the Life section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.