I’m guilty of being a planner. I search the realms of the web, tripadvisor, zomato, and yelp for suggestions on where to eat and what to do when we travel, but especially where to eat. We love to eat local when we travel anywhere and I hate it when we end up having a bad meal because of poor research or lack of research. I like having several ideas of where we can get a great meal in my back pocket so that if it needs to change based on where we are or what we end up doing, then I still have options. So I’m a planner, but I’m flexible. 😉 See how that works??? I’m not too crazy.
As I was doing my research for our short stay in Beaufort, everything I was reading kept coming back to one restaurant as the only place to eat in Beaufort – Old Bull Tavern. No it’s not the only restaurant in Beaufort, but it by far had the most amazing reviews and everyone said to eat here if you want to enjoy gastronomy of epic proportions. And as promised, I am here to tell you all about i!
Everyone suggested reservations as well, especially for a weekend and since we were staying on a Friday night we played it safe. We called ahead that afternoon and the only times left were 5:00 or 8:30. We weren’t getting into town in time for the earlier seating, so we went for the 8:30. By then, we were all famished and a piece of rubber might have tasted good, but we were in for a real treat. The building is very nondescript with no big sign or indication you are in the right place. In fact, the only sign you’ll get is a small placard hanging in the window. It was a short walk from the Inn, only around the corner on West Street. We passed it on our way to the River where we walked around before our reservations. Please excuse the somewhat blurry pictures. Even with the amazing travel camera we use, the dark atmosphere inside did not lend itself to bright sharp images. As you step inside the tavern, it is incredibly lively and filled with personality. A massive bar appropriately featuring a bull lines the one wall with open seating along the opposite wall and a few more tables in the back where we were seated. They’ve also purchased the space next door and adjoined with what else, but an English red phone booth as the gateway. It is a bar and it was incredibly boisterous, so we were a little worried about bringing kids along since our friends we were traveling with have two young boys, but absolutely no one gave us looks or said anything. In fact, our waitress, who was amazing, was very accommodating. She put their drinks in small plastic cups with straws. And while there is not a kids menu, they have items on the menu like wood fired pizza that young kids will eat. We started out with a few drinks. Above was the drink menu the evening we were there – they have some seriously specialty drinks reminiscent of an old speak-easy, wine, and beer. Heather ordered the Aperol Spritz, which was bubbling prosecco with a splash of aperol – an orange liqueur. Refreshing, not very sweet, but a great flavor. I tried the Corpse Reviver #2 on the left and Remington had the Lucky Peach on the right. Corpse Reviver was a gin drink with Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, Lemon juice, and Pernod. Pernod has a licorice flavor which lightly permeated the drink. It was very complex – slightly sweet, bitter, rich, and delicious. Also, strong. The Lucky Peach was a bourbon drink with Canton Ginger, Peach Nectar, Basil, and Bitters. Sweet, peachy, goodness balanced with the basil and bitters. Also, strong. If you hear anything, hear this – the bartenders at Old Bull Tavern are incredibly generous pours. One drink will do you in. The food menu for the day we visited. I imagine this changes regularly based on season and produce availability. I thought it was incredibly reasonably priced for what we were expecting to be trans-formative, especially for fresh, quality ingredients expertly prepared. We like to share food when we are eating at a restaurant like this since we always end up picking the same items off the menu anyway. So we decided to try a Bar Snack, Pizza, and Middle Plate. We figured that would be plenty for us. We started with the Pork Belly Steamed Buns, which came with two little sandwiches made of steamed buns and filled with perfectly cooked pork belly, pickled cucumber and a delectable thick Asian glaze similar a hoisin sauce. I could have enjoyed a plate of 10 or 50 of these and been totally satisfied. But wait, there was more goodness to come. The Middle Plate we couldn’t pass up was the Ricotta Gnocchi with Wild Caught Shrimp, Tomato Sauce, and Basil. We try to eat food that is available wherever we are, so when at the seaside we wanted to eat as much local, fresh seafood as possible. When we saw wild caught shrimp, how could we go wrong? I was worried that Remington wouldn’t care for the fresh tomato sauce because he doesn’t care for raw tomatoes, but he gobbled it up. This was incredible. Delicious. I could have licked the plate. I am still dreaming of those perfectly pillowy ricotta gnocchi. I’ve never before had gnocchi so soft. The other building has a Wood Fire Stove taking up about a quarter of the space so that they can churn out these amazing wood-fired pizza. We had to try the Roasted Portabella Pizza with Iberico Ham, Asparagus, and Creme Fraiche. You may recall we first got to try Iberico Ham at our life-changing brunch at Remy on the Disney Fantasy. It is a specialty cured ham from Spain and Portugal and it is the most mouthwatering ham you will ever put in your mouth. Crispy on top of a pizza did not disappoint. The crust was thin and snappy, perfectly cooked. The cheese was super creamy, the asparagus just tender but still bright green and the mushrooms were nicely roasted with a bit of chewiness. The mushrooms were a little difficult to eat on a pizza, but the flavor profile was definitely worth the effort. We cleaned the plate. Certainly up there as one of the best pizzas we’ve ever eaten. As we left Old Bull Tavern, it was still bustling with activity late into the evening. For such a sleepy town, Beaufort sure does know how to have a good time and how to serve up good food. If you are ever in Beaufort, DO NOT PASS UP the Old Bull Tavern. You are in for a real treat. Had they been open for breakfast, we might have been tempted to return the next morning.
See you next time!