WITH TOURISTS moving back to their homes, it’s the time of year when I rediscover Tybee Island — and revisit some past haunts with a refreshed palate.
I was happy to meet up with old friend Chef Espy Geissler, former Hunter House kitchen magician, for a pleasant lunch at Tybee Island Social Club. This early week meeting was quiet — we were the only diners in the usually bustling eatery.
I wasted no time digging into the ample craft beer menu and then selected one of the restaurant’s signature tacos: Orange Pork. Take a big old Boston Butt, rub it and roast with with ample orange zest and you’ve got a flavorful, Caribbean–inspired treat.
No simple corn tortilla will contain this hearty taco — a thick flatbread wraps around the tender pork, caramelized onion, raisin, banana pepper, garlic aioli, toasted chopped almonds and cilantro. It was perfect with an IPA.
Espy went all veggie, and sampled a taco filled with ripe tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, balsamic glaze and basil. The ingredients were fresh and handled with care — and the lighter choice left him with plenty of room to share another of Social’s creations, the Mini Duo.
This pair of truffle–laced ground beef sliders is topped with crab, red onion, mango, organic spring greens and a stunning chipotle aioli that’s starts off creamy and then delivers a resounding spicy punch a few seconds later.
Because you won’t be able to get enough of the aioli, it’s also the dipping sauce that accompanies sweet potato shoe string potatoes.
Lastly, we shared ceviche. This citric–stewed raw seafood dish is usually swimming in its “cooking” juices, but Social took the presentation to another level. In this version, the ceviche is less moist — and topped with house-made tortilla chips. It a pleasant, refreshing dish that explodes with flavor, and an abundance of texture, from tender seafood to crisp tortilla. It’s a great dish to share.
The food and live music have always been Social’s strong points - and they remain the restaurant’s memorable calling card. Imaginative beer and wine lists are a real plus.
I’ve had complaints about the service, and a few days later another friend walked out after never having been visited by a server after being seated. Patience is almost always a requirement when dining on Tybee — so be forewarned.
1311 Butler Ave., Tybee Island/472–4044, www.tybeeislandsocialclub.com
Popular Oglethorpe Avenue pizza joint Screamin’ Mimi’s is adding a second location –– the mid–block of Whitaker Street between Bay and Congress streets. The location joins the growing number of restaurants that have recently cozied up to Ellis Square, most notably B&D Burgers and Heiwa’s. Build out is under way, which means opening should occur within the next 45–60 days.