A casual atmosphere and sophisticated menus have made Bistro 217 a popular destination on Pawleys Island for approximately 18 years. Bahn Mi Fried Shrimp (pictured) is a Vietnamese-inspired sandwich loaded with flavor and full of large, succulent shrimp.
Bistro 217 is part of the trendy revival, growth and long standing reputation of the Pawleys Island dining scene.
Co-owner and chef Adam Kirby, along with business partner/co-owner Anne Hardee, forge a fusion of Asia-Pacific and Southern tastes, with local ingredients where possible, to create remarkable meals.
As the summer crowds descend on the Hammock Coast (so named to include the coastal towns of Georgetown County), families, young couples and travelers of all ages with varying tastes and appetites have been flocking to Bistro 217 for around 18 year. These guests return for the comfortable indoor/outdoor setting, varied menu (including a children’s menu), and dedication to the culinary arts, able to please the most discerning diners at their parties.
For lunch, you’ll find burgers, BLTs, hot and cold sandwiches, some seven entree-worthy salads, soups and combos, all created with Bistro 217’s unique flair, but the creative menu continues with entrees of the day in rotation, and is not just limited to dinner. Bahn Mi Fried Shrimp is a Vietnamese-inspired sandwich that starts with a lightly toasted split baguette, loaded with pickled onions, carrots, jalapenos, spicy cucumber, yuzu aioli and a generous helping of large fried shrimp. Served with locally grown sweet potato fries (to be dipped in Comeback sauce) and a small field green salad, every bite is an explosion of flavor and the crunch of fresh vegetables is grounded in a Lowcountry favorite fried shrimp; large, both tender and juicy.
The small dish of crab cake is both an appetizer for dinner and lunch. It is a simple dish; chunky-rich crab cakes with just enough binder to hold together, and served over southern food (sort of picked relish), with tartar sauce. The presentation alone is impressive, but just one bite releases the fresh flavors of the ocean, with lots of chunk crabmeat, easy to see in every bite.
Available anytime, Asian Ribs are a sharing plate of mini pork ribs with a soft Mongolian glaze. Falling off the tender bone, a nice char/crust and every bite delicious.
The restaurant is deceptively large. It’s a bit hard to tell where it starts and ends when you look outside, with around 250 seats. Located in the Downtown Pawleys restaurant/retail development, Bistro 217 is adjacent to The Rustic Table, also co-owned by Kirby and Hardee. The Driftwood Mercantile Gift Shop, another of the couple’s ventures, sells restaurant wares, jewelry, shirts and hats, fresh food, freshly baked key lime pies and bottled Comeback sauce.
An open-air courtyard flanks a large rain-protected indoor/outdoor bar and dining area. The south end of the building can accommodate as many people with an indoor bar and dining area only.
The atmosphere is lively and conducive to crowds and large groups, but there’s plenty of intimate seating away from potentially lively gatherings. But what about food? What’s Kirby’s turn?
(Left) Asian ribs with a Mongolian glaze are a Bistro 217 favorite combining grilled, boneless pork with a vegetable chutne; (Right) One of the homemade desserts to tempt you after lunch or dinner, including a variety of homemade ice cream, churned daily in the Bistro’s kitchen.
“We literally make everything here, man,” Kirby said, with an almost exasperated sigh. He regularly puts in long hours as chef/owner, but will take time, even in the middle of the rush, to thank guests for coming.
“We even make our own ice cream. All of our desserts are homemade,” he says. “I have seven ice cream makers in the kitchen right now making ice cream.” Kirby was named South Carolina’s Chef Ambassador in 2017, and thanks to his extensive culinary training (Le Cordon Blue) and experience, primarily in Hawaii, but also in San Francisco, California, Portland, Or. and his home of growing up in Atlanta, he created a Pacific Rim/Southern fusion menu with inventive, creative and palate-pleasing meals for all.
The dinner menu is loaded with seafood, including locally caught plaice, trout, salmon, a lobster/shrimp/scallop/fettuccini dish, chicken, filet mignon, braised ribs and evening dishes. A bar menu is also available.
For dessert, you can try the coconut cream pie with homemade guava ice cream. Seven other desserts can tempt you, including a flight with three homemade ice creams of your choice, warm white chocolate bread pudding, fried apple fritters, chocolate lava cake and more.
A full bar and award-winning wine list round out Bistro 217’s offerings. The place is a gem on the South Strand’s Hammock Coast and a restaurant that should be on any foodie’s radar.
Open Monday to Saturday (lunch) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (9:30 p.m. on Fri and Sat).
10707 Ocean Hwy, Pawleys Island