The Old Post Office Restaurant on Edisto Island has long been a place of tradition for many local families and visitors.
Growing up, my parents, grandparents and all of the older relatives always arranged to have dinner at the restaurant at least once during our two-week vacation. Us younger kids weren’t allowed to go because it was “adult time.” We’d usually stay home at the beach house and have some pizza and didn’t think much about it.
But then came the day when we were finally old enough to go along with the rest of the family to the Old Post Office.
My grandparents made reservations for the family and made a big to-do about the fact that the grandkids were coming as though he was bringing along a passel of toddlers instead of young teenagers. But we didn’t care; we were just happy to finally get to go to this place that our family had raved about for so many years.
Instead of the traditional beach attire most people don while on vacation, we put away the flip flops and bathing suits, wore our hair down, and slipped on some summer dresses suitable for dining.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we waited for our reserved table to be ready and snacked on the pimento cheese dip appetizer. Once seated, I remember looking at the menu for the first time and not being sure of what to order. Not normally a seafood-eater, I surprised myself by ordering the Firecracker Flounder. To most simply describe it I would just have to say it was delicious.
It’s a fried dish topped with a spicy jalapeno tomato sauce and comes along with a house salad, bread, grits and the vegetable of the day, all of which adds up to a feast. I have to say that I love the firecracker flounder so much that I tend to get it every time I visit the Old Post Office.
If you noticed that grits come along with the meal then, depending on where you’re from and your experience with grits, you’re probably wondering what to expect from a side of grits. Well, here’s your answer: Creamy, buttery goodness.
The Old Post Office grits come straight from the Geechie Boy market right up the road on Highway 174. If you’ve never tried them before, I highly recommend getting your first taste from the Old Post Office.
After my first time at the restaurant, I always made it a point to go along each year thereafter. The tradition was made even more delightful when I went the year I turned 21 and got to have cocktails with my parents and grandparents. That time was like an official stamp into the world of adulthood (although I can’t say that’s 100 percent accurate seeing as I wasn’t the one footing the bill for the family dinner; that form of adulthood still hasn’t hit me yet).
At the end of 2006 our tradition of going to the restaurant was halted when it closed down for a few years. That’s when Adam Morris and his wife decided to take a crack at the restaurant business and let the doors of the Old Post Office open again.
Morris’ family has owned the property where the restaurant sits and the house behind it since 1984, but they’d always leased the building to others who wanted to run the restaurant. Morris said he decided to leave his career in educational video production and come back home to run the restaurant for a change of pace.
By 2008, Morris and his wife along with Executive Chef Cherry Smalls and a small staff welcomed diners back into the Old Post Office.
Although the interior has changed over the years, now the walls are a South Carolina blue and all the windows are covered in white shutters to let the sunlight stream in, Morris said everything else has stayed very much the same.
The menu has all the same items families have come to love over the years like the pimento cheese dip served with crackers, homemade soups, roasted scallops, Carolina ribeye, and much more. Smalls’ added to the menu some, but kept the old favorites as well.
The restaurant also offers a decent wine list with a fair price for bottles and glasses.
Much of the food is fresh and comes from local vegetable and seafood markets found right here on Edisto when possible. Desserts are made in-house by Smalls who said she works to incorporate seasonal fruit into her pies and cobblers.
Dinners average in price at about $24 and are worth every penny.
Reservations are required at the Old Post Office. Morris said reservations help the kitchen staff to make sure that they are preparing enough food for their customers for the evening so that they don’t have to see much go to waste.
In spite of my family’s rule about no children going to the restaurant before the teen years, children are welcome at the Old Post Office. They offer a limited menu for children, which includes shrimp and grits or chicken fingers. No high chairs or booster seats are provided.
The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday –Saturday and is located at 1442 Highway 174. Call 869-2339 to make a reservation.
As for myself, I’ll be sitting down with my family in two weeks when they come down from up north for dinner at the Old Post Office; after all, it’s tradition.