January 2010

A Plan for All Seasons: Warm up to Winter at Bistro 17

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: Anne

THERE’S SOMETHING MAGICAL ABOUT DINING OUTDOORS, especially here on Hilton Head Island where the beauty of nature abounds. “But it’s January,” you say. “Brrrr…” While this may not be your favorite time of year to pack a picnic and head to the beach, Shelter Cove Harbour beckons you to Bistro 17, where alfresco dining is in season all year round. Thanks to a new, state-of-the-art retractable awning, featuring crystal clear isinglass; diners can enjoy an unobstructed view of scenic Shelter Cove Harbour without the possible distraction of wind, rain or goose bumps.

According to owner, Anna Buckingham, the awning is one of the best investments she has made since opening the restaurant. On warm days, it is rolled up, allowing Mother Nature to reign supreme. But when Old Man Winter comes to town, customers can still take in the magnificent view while maintaining a sense of being outdoors.

It takes the worry out of planning, Buckingham explained. You can reserve an outdoor table without fear of a last-minute need to duck inside or worrying about being uncomfortable. In addition to the awning, Bistro 17 is equipped with gas-powered portable heaters for extra warmth as needed, she said.

While Buckingham and her staff put a high priority on making customers feel comfortable, they also take pride in serving some of the finest French cuisine this side of the globe. Consistently, Chef Chris Carge indulges patrons with fresh, seasonal menus and creative specials. This winter is no exception, with a new prix fixe menu, inspired by last year’s successful Restaurant Week, designed to please palates as well as pocketbooks. The 2010 Restaurant Week, sponsored by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, will take place January 24-31. But Bistro 17 is getting a head start, offering a four-course dinner menu, including a glass of wine, for only $25.95 throughout the whole month of January. (The lunch menu remains unchanged.)

To top it off, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you can enjoy live entertainment by Jake, who will perform acoustic guitar solos on the patio from 6-9 p.m. Jake has a pop/rock vibe that is contemporary with an ’80s edge (think Eagles or Van Halen). “It’s nice background music—no vocals to interfere with conversations,” said Buckingham.

If you prefer to dine indoors, Bistro 17 offers a limited number of tables, set with crisp white linens in an elegant wine bar setting— perfect for a romantic dinner, family gathering or small group event. Indoors or out, a warm welcome awaits at Bistro 17, Hilton Head Island’s all-season favorite.

Bistro 17 is located at 17 D Harbourside Lane, Shelter Cove Marina (to the right of the Neptune statue as you face the water). The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 am – 5 pm, dinner from 5 pm – 9 pm. For reservations or more
information, call (843) 785-5517 or visit online at bistro17hhi.com.


Four Course Tasting Menu for January
Includes a glass of La Vielle Ferme red or white wine

COURSE ONE: Choice of:
Low Country She Crab Soup
Tomato Basil Bisque

COURSE TWO: Choice of:
Bistro 17 Salad
Mixed greens tossed with tomatoes, onion, dried cranberries, pine nuts with house balsamic vinaigrette.

Poached Pear Salad
Field greens, candied pecans and Maytag blue cheese finished in a port vinaigrette.

Classic Caesar Salad

COURSE THREE: Choice of:

Chicken Paillard
Pan-fried chicken breast, pencil asparagus, chevre mashed potatoes and lemon.

Almond Encrusted Salmon
Served over pommes puree, micro carrots, fresh pomegranates and a pomegranate buerre blanc.

Moules Marinere
Mussels sautéed with shallots, garlic, brown butter, white wine and a touch of crème, with a side of white truffle pomme frites.

Icelandic Cod
Zucchini squash, tomatoes, rosemary, white wine and garlic, steamed in parchment.

Boeuf Bourguignonne
Boneless short ribs, carrot, pearl onion, mushrooms and bacon, all braised in red wine.

COURSE FOUR: Choice of:
Classic Crème Brulee
Pot de Crème



It’s no secret that Anna Buckingham has a soft spot for dogs. At Bistro 17, she caters to dog owners and their four-legged friends by inviting them to dine together on the patio. Canine kids are offered a water bowl and dog biscuits, on the house, while their “parents” peruse the special doggie menu. Bistro 17 offers three menu choices for dogs. The all-natural, homemade meals are provided by Dr. Janice Elenbaas, owner of *Lucky Dog Cuisine, and are served in special ceramic dishes provided by the Art Café. The cost of each doggie meal is $6, half of which is donated to Best Friends Animal Society, a nationwide outreach program, dedicated to building no-kill programs and partnerships to provide homes for pets.

In addition to the sale of doggie meals, Buckingham hosts special events throughout the year, including her annual Halloween costume party for dogs and their owners, donating a portion of her profits to local animal charities such as Maranatha Farms, Jasper Animal Rescue Mission, Palmetto Animal League and the Hilton Head Humane Association. She also maintains a donation box for customers who wish to make cash contributions. Over the past two years, she has raised over $2,000 for charity.

“It’s so easy. More restaurants should do it, especially if they have an outdoor venue,” said Buckingham. “Why not do something good while you’re working?”

While Bistro 17 is providing a way for customers to give to charity, Buckingham insists that the animals are not the only ones benefiting. “Dog owners love it. They ask for menus to take back home,” she said. But even those who claim to be “non-dog people” find themselves drawn to the animals and their owners. “Whenever a table has dogs, it promotes conversation, fosters new friendships and creates an atmosphere of relaxation,” said Buckingham.

Come see for yourself. Visit Bistro 17 today. Bring your appetite, your best friend and your heart. For reservations, call (843) 785-5517.

Lucky Dog Cuisine is available for retail sale at select local businesses and
online. For more information, visit www.luckydogcuisine.com or call
(843) 227-5900.

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