“One of my favorite Roadfood restaurants,” is how tipster George Motz described the SeeWee, a former grocery north of Charleston along US 17. Expanded to include a patio for al fresco dining, the SeeWee still looks a bit like a roadside store – shelves stocked with supplies, higgledy-piggledy décor of nautical bibelots. But it is now a restaurant, well-known to Charlestonians for its local seafood, its downhome vegetables, and its cakes.
Daily specials are chalked on a board; when we visited they included country-fried steak, whole catfish, Jamaican jerk chicken, Buffalo shrimp or oysters (fried in spicy Buffalo-wing style), and fish stew by the cup or bowl. We zeroed in on the regular menu and its fried seafood. In this part of the world, cooks know how to fry shrimp, scallops, and oysters. You can get a platter or a sandwich with very good extra-large French fries and cole slaw on the side. Our shrimp were snapping firm and veiled in a fine, crisp crust.
One of the great only-in-the-South meals to get here is an all-vegetable plate. Choose four from a list of more than a dozen, including such local faves as red rice, butter beans, fried squash, fried okra, and rice and gravy. We went for fried green tomatoes (deliciously al dente with a tangy smack), sweet potato casserole (super spicy), macaroni and cheese (dense and thick with cheese), and collard greens (salty, oily, luxurious).
As you walk in the restaurant you will see a shelf of the day’s layer cakes; and desserts are listed on a blackboard. When we saw chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, we knew we had to have a piece. So we ordered it as we ordered lunch. The cake came before the meal. “I cut this for you because I was worried there wouldn’t be any left by the time you were ready,”: our waitress kindly explained as she set it down with our sweet teas. We are so grateful she was watching out for us, because this cake was superb … as was our caramel layer cake and goober pie.
No bill arrives after the meal. When you’re done eating, the waitress will instruct you to go up to the cash register and tell the man your table number. He’s got your check and will tally it up and get you squared away.
"One of the joys of southern cafe dining: an all-vegetable plate. Clockwise from left, this one holds fried green tomatoes, sweet potato casserole, mac 'n' cheese, and collard greens."
"As you enter you see the old grocery shelves, still stocked with supplies. If you look very closely in the lower right of the picture, you see a stash of the locally-liked soda, Cheerwine."
"In this part of the country, cooks know how to fry seafood. SeeWee's shrimp are blue-ribbon winners."
"Not shown in photo: the lovely tree-shaded patio out back"
"Chocolate cake with peanut butter icing: this was the last piece, saved for us by the blessed waitress."