Looking for fine dining in Charleston, South Carolina? You’ve come to the right city. But the choices can be overwhelming! Here’s my suggestion: The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island offers a beachside locale with exceptional food. No need to head to downtown Charleston; this gem will delight your taste buds and satisfy even the most persnickety foodie.
What’s With that Name?
The Obstinate Daughter is paying homage to the rich Southern revolutionary history on Sullivan’s Island. She is named after a London political cartoon titled “Miss Carolina Sulivan, one of the obstinate daughters of American 1776.” The restaurant prides itself on what it calls “the stubborn refusal to change one’s course of action can change the course of history.” Self-described as a “food fort”, The Obstinate Daughter is indeed a stalwart of fine dining that will fight off its competitors with its robust menu and elevated food.
In this case, the restaurant’s willingness to be inventive and playful in their approach to food could be likened to Carolina Sulivan–obstinate in the sense the kitchen is unyielding in turning out awesome dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.
My daughter likes the name and calls it “her restaurant” because she fancies herself as obstinate. I like that.
Beach chill without pretension. Have no doubt, the Obstinate Daughter is upscale, but not snobbish. You won’t find the nautical theme thrown in your face, but the cool blue and earthy tones, lights suspended on ropes, and rough hewn walls reminiscent of wooden ships give the feel of the ocean without being in your face about it. Its this subtlety that defines the restaurant and makes it such a popular destination.
The menu I would call inventive, irreverent in its assortment, and influenced by Italian, French, and Spanish cuisine. Homemade gnocchi and wood fired oven pizzas are served up alongside the fresh fish of the day and raw bar items. The coastal ties are strong here. Oysters bountiful and seafood fresh off the boat.
Be forewarned: there is no kids’ menu, and if your children don’t like to try new cuisines or handle fine dining well, then this isn’t the restaurant you are looking for. My tween is our picky eater, but he can be satisfied with pizza. My teen on the other hand loves trying new dishes.
The O in The Obstinate Daughter must stand for “Oh My Goodness Good!” The real stars for me were the Steamed Mussels and Ricotta Gnocchi.
After a recommendation from our server, I ordered the Steamed Mussels for the table to share. I messed up! I should have ordered more. When I returned to the table, they were being devoured by our party of 6. Prepared with nduja, white wine, roasted red pepper, and aioli, the mussels are swimming in flavor. Too bad I didn’t get our photo before my family started eating them. You know it’s a hit when everyone is claiming credit for ordering them!
But my all time favorite dish has to be the Ricotta Gnocchi with short rib ragu and horseradish gremolata. I was already leaning towards this dish when the server said it was his favorite. Here especially, ask the servers-they know the food and have likely eaten it a lot! It’s never a bad call to get their input. They make some of the pasta on site, and the gnocchi were indeed as described: pillows of love. It was divine and sublime.
My tween son noshed on The Moultrie, a pizza of tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, Mepkin Abbey shitakes, and parmesan. From the Seared Swordfish Paella with saffron rice, chorizo, mussel, scallop, and shrimp to the Orecchiette (lamb bolognese, sheep milk ricotta, mint), the food knocked our socks off. Everyone oohed and ahhed, and we stuffed our faces.
Extra brownie points: the restaurant is now Green Restaurant Certified, having met exacting standards in areas of water efficiency, recycling, sustainable food, energy, and sustainable durable goods and building materials. I had never heard of this before, so I did some reading. Looks like the wave of the future for conscientious restaurants. I also learned how we as diners/consumers can do our part in going green.
7 Ways to Green Your Dining Experience
1. Choose to dine green by patronizing Certified Green Restaurants®
2. Walk, take public transit, dine at a restaurant close to your home or office, or carpool when dining out.
3. Carry pocket-size guides to sustainable seafood, like the ones from Blue Ocean Institute, to help you make smart seafood choices at the fish counter, or your local sushi joint.
4. Bring your own mug for coffee. Make sure to remind staff to make your drink in the cup you bring, not to waste by making it in a to-go cup, then pouring it into your travel mug.
5. Consider menu items lower on the food chain. For example, chicken has a lower environmental impact than beef, while sustainable seafood has a lower impact than chicken, and vegetarian and vegan items have the lowest of them all.
6. Bring your own re-usable container and offer it to your server when you ask to take your leftovers home.
The Bottom Line:
The Obstinate Daughter really impressed me and lived up to the foodie billing it has received. Number one: our food was phenomenal! Two: the relaxed boho chic cool atmosphere was perfect for the beach. Three: diverse food offerings gave everyone in our party something to suit their palates.
If this is obstinate, I don’t want to be any other way!
The Obstinate Daughter
2063 Middle Street
Sullivan’s Island, SC
Tip: Book through Open Table to earn Dining Points which may be redeemed for a Dining Rewards Gift or an Amazon.com Gift Card once you reach the minimum point value. I am well on my way to a $ 20 gift from using Open Table.