Glorious Shrimp, Crabby Waiter

Pepper's Porch, Bluffton, South Carolina

By Patricia B. Mitchell, 2006.

Pepper's Porch

I had the best fried shrimp I've ever had, and some of the most difficult service I've ever had, at Pepper's Porch, 1255 May River Road (see map) in Bluffton, South Carolina. Early on a recent April afternoon, my husband, daughter, and I ate at the rustic Lowcountry frame building (actually a former drying barn for a native herb called deer's tongue — more about that later…). There were very few customers, and our waiter had just come on his shift, but he rushed us frantically through our meal. (Certainly no one was waiting for our table.)

Despite the knots of tension in my stomach from the waiter's combative and rushing ways, I still loved the just-fried shrimp on my so-called po-boy. (That name was a hoot — having lived in Louisiana, I can say for sure that this over-priced sandwich, $7.95, on a little, soft bun thing-ie was no po-boy. Oh, a strange, strongly dill-flavored tartar sauce came with it.) Be that as it may, the shrimp itself was superb. I had a choice of one of two side dishes with the sandwich. I got what I'd call mayonnaise soup, with shredded, raw cabbage and a little grated carrot. They called it “coleslaw.”

Henry got the seafood gumbo (containing shrimp, veggies [okra], crabmeat, and andouille sausage) for $3.95 per cup; $4.95 for a bowl. When our “New York-style” waiter asked how he liked it, Henry said that it was the best he'd ever had outside of Louisiana, and the waiter commenced to argue with him. — Well, he asked Henry's opinion!

Sarah had a cup of the cream-based crab stew ($3.95), which she liked very much.

Pepper's Porch

Sarah's crab stew.

A basket of bread (mini corn muffins — very good, but sweet; and rolls — so-so) was brought out for Henry and Sarah. However, they had almost finished their soups by the time the bread arrived.

After having careened us through what we had hoped could be a leisurely vacation lunch, our waiter aggressively pushed the dessert special of fried strawberries. Had we not wanted to escape his clutches, we might have ordered the dessert.

We would normally have enjoyed sitting on the quaint and pleasant screened porch in this 50+ year-old structure, which, as I mentioned, had been a drying barn for deer's tongue. The herb was used for a filler for tobacco, scents, and tea. Just outside of the porch, Pepper's offers patrons the use of a horseshoe-throwing pit, a swing, and other diversions. Very pretty. Wish we could have enjoyed it, but we were too stressed out because of you-know-who. — But listen, a strange thing: as we were fixing to leave, our waiter answered a phone call, and then his disposition improved considerably. Perhaps he was rude and weird because he was distracted, awaiting an important call? I don't know, but I doubt we'll go back to test the situation.

Pepper's Porch

Henry's seafood gumbo.

Pepper's Porch

Patricia's shrimp po-boy.