It’s the middle of the week, in the middle of July, and smack dab in the middle of a torrential rain storm. So what better place to go for a late lunch than Truffle’s Café? It’s a nice little detour on the way to Beaufort, SC which is where we were heading on a day trip.
Now I’ve been to Truffles before and was originally introduced to it on a girl’s shopping trip to the Tanger Outlets in Hilton Head. Since then, I’ve gone with different friends and it’s always been a crowd pleaser. This time was no different.
As we rush out of the rain and get seated, I’m immediately feeling calm after the harrowing drive through a monsoon. The décor is beautiful with soaring ceilings and walls of a lush chocolaty brown and autumnal coppery deep pumpkin. Dark charcoal gray booths with a fabric of metallic colors of gold, bronze, copper, silver, pewter and some sage greens give the space a modern feel without sacrificing comfort. There’s also a full service bar with seating that is covered in copper sheeting with dings and dents that give it character, but is kept polished to a bright shine. The patrons are fairly varied. Senior citizens, business men, ladies who lunch, and multi-generational families are spread throughout. Don’t let the strip mall setting fool you, this is actually a really great date place, too—the only thing preventing the sightings of couples is the time and day of the visit. Once you’re inside the restaurant, you get the feeling of a standalone building especially with the outdoor seating available.
Our server comes over to take our drink order and this is when my soothed nerves get a jolt and one of my biggest pet peeves is brought to light. Yes, I’m about to out myself: I *HATE* paying for carbonated water. I know I’m sounding cheap at this point and it can be embarrassing for people I’m with that I ask beforehand if they charge for club soda, but this is a point of principle. I’m not talking about Perrier or San Pellegrino—restaurants buy that. I’m talking about tap water that comes out of a soda gun that’s been carbonized. I don’t care what anyone says, paying $2.95 for bubbles is ridiculous, I don’t care if it comes with free refills. That being said, how a server handles the situation can have a pretty big effect on my overall experience of a restaurant. Our server completely understands the point but is unable to do anything about it because it has to go through the bar. Taking the company line is fine and I appreciate how sweet she is about it…but I order water instead. (And no, not with a ton of lemons to add sugar to; that’s just tacky!)
All of that is about to be pushed to the distant past as the bread and butter come out. The bread is good, but in this case, it’s just a vehicle for the butter. But this isn’t your ordinary butter!!! It’s been blended with Boursin cheese to give it a creamy and slightly tangy taste to it—and it’s heavenly. Really, if I could just eat the butter out of the little paper cup, I’d do it. But I’m part of a civilized society that frowns on stuffing a ball of butter into each cheek like a chipmunk and letting it melt into an oozy goodness…at least in public. But I don’t have Boursin butter in my house, so we’re safe all around.
As always, we get a couple of items and split it. Outside of soda-gate, Truffles is absolutely amazing at working with special requests. I order sweet potato fries with my Mango Chicken sandwich but instead of the cinnamon sugar that they usually finish it off with, I ask them to use the Cajun seasoning.
The chicken is juicy and tender, cooked to temp, and has a nice smoky char to it. It’s generously smothered in melted cheese with bacon laid lovingly on top. The mango barbeque sauce contributes a sweet flavor that goes oh so nicely with the cheese and salty bacon. On the other half of the bun is the cold part, a healthy, well hydrated, crunchy piece of lettuce, red onions, and a fragrant and flavorful slice of tomato.
My friend’s plate looks equally good. The hamburger is evenly hand patted and covers the entirety of the bun and is also draped with melted cheese. The other half of the bun is the same as mine with the exception of a few pickle chips added on. When cut in half, the burger is cooked evenly on both sides and to the specified temp as ordered. It’s not a burger where you’re convinced they’ve injected with a highly addictive opiate that will make you salivating for your next visit, but it is a good burger…something to order again, but only after you’ve been through the rest of the menu.
And here is where the light turns on. The menu sounds good—nothing terribly innovative, but solid flavor combinations that are inviting and not too scary for the average diner but just enough to keep it interesting and add a little adventure to the experience. But here is where they kill it: execution. The kitchen gets it right. Everything is cooked to temp. The ingredients are fresh, flavorful and are coaxed into surrendering their best flavors to meld together. I’ve never seen a bruised or wilting piece of lettuce nor a tomato that’s languished in the refrigerator to have its flavor chilled out of it (if you have ever had a tomato that tasted like cardboard, then you know what I’m talking about). Everything is kept hydrated and crisp. Protein is skillfully prepared and cooked.
Even the fries are exceptional. At first glance, the shoestring fries look pale and anemic. I tend to like a golden hue to my fries so when a pile of potatoes the color of weak morning sunshine come into view, I eye them skeptically. As I gingerly reach out to grasp one, I can feel my nostrils flare in distaste as I prejudge them as underdone. That vanishes as I encounter a satisfying crunch to the outside of the slim potato and a hot steamy soft middle immediately after. They’ve salted the fries just right. My eyes roll to the back of my head and I let out a breathy contented sigh. I’ll never judge by skin color ever again!
As the waitress clears the plates, I realize that they get the portions right, too. It’s a filling lunch without being overly generous. I do have to admit that I stole the last five fries that languished on the plate. Even though they didn’t offer the same amount of satisfaction as when they first came out, they were still tasty even half cooled. The dessert menu isn’t nearly as expansive as the rest of their menu and none of the 4 choices sound particularly seductive—not that it matters since there isn’t much room after such a great lunch.
Besides, I have a ball of Boursin butter tucked in each cheek for the ride to Beaufort.
What we ate:
Mango Chicken: Grilled breast, mango barbeque glaze, melted jack cheese, crispy pecanwood bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayonnaise. ($10.95)
Prime Burger: 8 ounces USDA prime beef, choice of cheese (pepper jack), lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise, yellow mustard. ($9.95)
91 Towne Drive, Bluffton, SC 29910
Belfair Towne Village
Located in Greater Bluffton off Hwy 278 at the Simmonsville Road intersection
(Look for the IHOP sign, just to the right of Stein Mart)
Other locations on Hilton Head Island, SC (2), Atlanta, GA (Lenox Square Mall), and Winter Park, FL (Winter Park Village)
Alcohol: Full Bar
Payment: Cash, VISA, Master Card, American Express, and Discover
Written by Jessica Gormly
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