June 2012

Kingfisher: Dinner And So Much More

Author: Lynne Campanaro

The jovial, bronzed pelican rowing amidst a sea of oyster shells recalls a time 30 years ago when this restaurant was called Pelican Point. It was named for the pelicans you can still see on the sea wall across Broad Creek. Ten years later, it was reopened by Paul Stephenson, his family, and partners Bill Jackson and Geoff Fennessey as Kingfisher, Seafood, Pasta & Steak House. Together, they created an island destination renowned for excellent food, great entertainment and dancing. Whether it was soft rock, jazz, blues, fireworks or tableside magic delivered à la Dangerfield and Rickles, you didn’t leave Kingfisher bored.

Kingfisher has morphed over the past 20 years, but the great things have remained: entertainment, expansive views across the salt marshes, boat masts carving lazy ellipses in the evening sky, and food and fun through the blue front doors.

The Stephenson family (Mark, Todd, Ann and Susan), general manager Greg Vittetoe and the staff continue to improve upon the legacy of Paul, Bill, and Geoff. A complete remodel of the dining areas was completed in the winter of 2011, converting a somewhat plain box into a glimpse of the Mediterranean, complementing the architecture of the Shelter Cove Harbour. This year, Kingfisher created a fresh buzz when the Hilton Head Comedy Club moved to the upstairs lounge, “Top of the Kingfisher.” Top acts, new each week, from the international comedy circuit will have you hyperventilating with laughter. (Family warning: call or check YouTube for clips to determine age-appropriateness.)

Over the last four years, Kingfisher has lowered prices and updated their menu. A must-try appetizer is the “Seafood Volcano.” It is available with shrimp, oysters, crab legs or any combination thereof. The appetizer is delivered to the table as a gurgling platter, “smoke” (from dry ice) spilling from a tower filled with liquid magma (cocktail sauce).

If you’re vacationing on a budget, indulge in All-You-Can-Eat Pasta (fettuccini or linguini topped with meat, Alfredo or marinara sauces) and a bottomless salad, or arrive between 4:30 and 6 p.m. for their three-course early bird specials, including fried shrimp, sirloin, Parmesan-encrusted tilapia and Southern fried flounder, with a choice of soup or salad and a glass of wine or a slice of pecan pie. Those are just a few of Kingfisher’s 15 meals under $15. Other value entrées such as fish ’n’ chips, chicken piccata, and prime rib are available all evening. Kids eat for under $5.

Kingfisher has signature dishes as well. Fried and broiled seafood combos, pan-seared yellowfin tuna and their tilapia crab au gratin are perennial favorites. Tasty seafood steam pots are a new addition.

Happy Hour in the Harbour Lounge is another good reason to visit. Peel-’n’-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell, Kingfisher drafts and house wines await the hungry beachgoer.

Serving dinner 4:30-10 p.m. nightly, Kingfisher is conveniently located mid-island at 18 Harbourside Lane, Shelter Cove Harbour, 300 yards off US 278 across from Palmetto Dunes. No traffic jams at guard gates or entry fees. For reservations or more information, call (843) 785-4442.

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