by Virginia Chamlee // photos by agnes lopez
I’ve always considered the lack of upscale seafood establishments in our area to be a travesty, especially when you note that we have an entire ocean in our backyard. Oh, fish is on the menu at restaurants all across town—but the flavor is all too often masked by a thick coating of batter being thrown into a plastic basket alongside the requisite French fries. At Julington Creek Fish Camp, however, creative seafood dishes take center stage.
The menu is essentially identical to those at the eatery’s sister restaurants—North Beach Fish Camp and Palm Valley Fish Camp—full of Southern-style favorites such as salt and pepper catfish and low country boil, as well as more modern selections, like seared Yellowfin tuna with toasted sesame salad. And while it’s a far cry from a dockside shanty, the ambiance does call to mind that of fish camps past—thanks to its creekside digs and boisterous dining room.
Of course, the thing to order here is seafood. This is the kind of place where it would be perfectly acceptable to belly up to the bar for a cold beer, a platter of oysters, and some crispy clam bellies. But if you’re hungry for more, the selection of fish (fresh catch on full display when you enter the restaurant) is practically unrivaled in these parts. The brook trout, which is fried in an iron skillet and served with arugula and bacon-crushed new potatoes and deviled egg sauce, is an inspired take on the classic fried dish. The roast cod filet with brown butter, garlic and lemon, is wonderfully buttery—and the perfect thing for a seafood novice to order, due to the milder flavor of the fish.
During lunch hours, the restaurant offers a selection of more casual dishes, such as fish tacos and fried oyster po’ boys. Fried lunch baskets (deviled crab, scallops, oysters, clam strips, shrimp, fish or a combo of up to four) are offered during lunchtime only, which is probably for the best—you’ll need the rest of the afternoon to work it off. The fish sandwich (made with cod and served on a crusty baguette alongside Old Bay-seasoned fries and turnip slaw) is offered for lunch and dinner.
There are plenty of “turf”-centered selections, for those that don’t enjoy seafood. Try the buttermilk pan-fried chicken served with grits, collard greens and tasso ham gravy.
People rave about the white chocolate and cranberry bread pudding, which is a decadent option and served warm with ice cream. If you want something a little less over-the-top, go for the vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup. Its simplicity offers the perfect counterpoint to a fried seafood dinner.