Jasmine Porch is the more casual restaurant at The Sanctuary, but still nice.
New luxury hotel The Sanctuary has caused quite a stir on this island resort. Jasmine Porch is the more casual of The Sanctuary’s two year-round restaurants, designed to look like a former stable, with exposed brick walls, parquet floors, wrought iron lanterns and ocean views. In the kitchen, Chef Ben Randow prepares modern takes on Lowcountry dishes.
This basket partnered cheddar and chive scones with jalapeño cornbread muffins. The scones were a little dry, the cornbread very good, subtly sweet and pleasantly salty. Breads came with whipped butter.
Appetizers were very good, particularly fried green tomatoes ($10 for 3). The crisp tomatoes were fried in cornmeal and topped with creamy Boursin, pancetta and spicy plum tomato jam.
Stuffed collard greens ($11) contained finely diced apple and duck confit and came topped with matchstick sweet potatoes and apple blueberry gastrique starring whole blueberries. It would have been better if the collards were cooked, since it could have cut the bitterness, but the fillings and sauce were very good.
My brother Eric ate a bowl of smoked duck gumbo ($7) with andouille sausage, red rice, and okra.
My dad got the Lowcountry Caesar ($9): crisp romaine, creole Caesar dressing, garlic biscuit croutons, Parmesan and popcorn crawfish. Crawfish were lightly fried and excellent, and Southern-tinged croutons were a nice touch.
Jamie selected terrific baby spinach salad ($10) that utilized a pecan-crusted goat cheese cake, pickled red onions, grilled mushrooms, and fig balsamic dressing, studded with chunks of fig. Fig + Goat Cheese = Victory.
Jamies’ fresh-torn lettuce salad ($8) was another winner, thanks to complementary Granny Smith apples, strawberries, blue cheese chunks, maple-spiced pecans, citrus honey dressing and olive oil.
Before our entrees arrived, we split a coastal Carolina specialty: shrimp and grits ($21). The impeccable sautéed jumbo shrimp was plated (or bowled in this case) over Anson Mills cheddar grits poured with a sweet pepper, tasso ham gravy. Anson Mills stone-ground grits, South Carolina’s own, are known to be the best, and after repeated samplings, I won’t dispute their reputation.
For our entrees, Eric and I both ordered “pan seared grouper with sweet pea Carolina gold rice pilau with creamed corn and country ham beurre blanc” ($27). Our eight-ounce slab of tender fish was topped with little nubs of country ham and matchstick sweet potatoes. The Anson Mills Carolina gold rice was nutty, and slightly sweet with the peas mixed in.
Jamie got pan-seared crab cakes ($26) with baby lima beans, pepper & corn succotash over a lemon Hollandaise. The trio of mammoth huge crab cakes had very little filler.
Since my brother liked his smoked duck gumbo so well, my dad ate a 16-ounce bowl as his entree.
From the section of “Healthy Lifestyles Selections,” Jane plucked the peach tea-rubbed yellowfin tuna ($26). The rosy slices came with spicy cucumber mint salad, accented with lump crab, key lime dressing and grilled peach coulis. Chef Ben Randow implemented Healthy Lifestyles Selections “in an effort to better serve our more health conscious diners.” I don’t know about the other selections, but the tuna and peach sauce still packed plenty of flavor, despite the paucity of cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats.
For dessert, we split three items ($9 apiece) and passed to the left.
Mini peach pie touted two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. The pie was a bit doughy for me, but the fruit was in-season and sweet.
The decoratively-plated mixed berry tart featured whole blueberries and raspberries and big cuts of strawberry, plus a big scoop of smooth lemon sorbet.
Double chess pie was ultra-rich, too rich, incorporating a dark chocolate filling, topped with chocolate bourbon mousse, served over a strawberry sauce.
Our meal concluded with a silver platter of chocolate-covered pralines, which were so insanely sugary.
We enjoyed Chef Randow’s appetizers and entrees, but there was some unfortunate fall-off with dessert. We would have left with a better impression had we cut our meal short. Still, the savory dishes, and the elegant Old South setting were enough to justify a return visit.
From Tuesday to Sunday, Jasmine Porch features live music during dinner. Thursdays, they have a jazz band. Saturday, salsa. And Sunday, an acoustic guitarist, who we saw perform.