Thoughtfully prepared food, deep Carolinas history: Calabash, NC’s Boundary House restaurant

Way back when we were a British colony, before the American Revolution . . . and in fact, before 1750, Boundary House was a popular destination for travelers to meet up. The state line dividing North and South Carolina ran through the center of the historic building. The news of the start of the Revolutionary War was relayed here. The very existence of Boundary House was confirmed by a Civil War map. Today, the restaurant is located 1.5 miles into North Carolina, but don’t fret: South Carolinians still love it, too! I was happy to be hosted to experience it.

The spacious restaurant with vaulted ceilings welcomes casual dress. But the after church crowd flocks (if that’s not too bad a pun) there, as well. You’ll be well cared for. Consider the comprehensive steps they take if you have a food allergy. When you make your reservation, the host will inquire about allergies. If the answer is in the affirmative, they’ll store the information permanently. The whole ticket is marked “allergy” and presented to every kitchen manager. They then change their gloves for the preparation.

There are a few discreet flat screen tvs at some of the corner booths. The restaurant is ADA accessible.

The Boundary House Salad — available in both side dish and entree sizes — will give you a real taste of the Carolinas’ flavor profile. Its base is Iceberg lettuce, a favorite salad base in this area. They see a fresher, crunchier lettuce than many parts of the country do, so set aside any previous perceptions of the salad green. It’s layered with chopped hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, sugar pecans, bacon and ham. The dressing incorporates apple cider and honey mustard, for a sharper, lighter touch.


They offer a number of cocktails and frozen drinks. The flavors in the ones I sampled were all well balanced, even the “sweet” ones. They won’t kill your appetite!


Being so near the ocean, people here expect their seafood to be perfectly fresh: Boundary House sources all of their fish locally! So, for some of the daily specials, you might some varieties not available back where you live. Incidentally, they also prepare all of their chicken dishes from fresh chicken — never frozen.

Their clam chowder is so chock full of meaty clams, it’s practically a stew!


Flounder is very popular in the area; I tried it two ways. The first was simple but flavorful — grilled on a flat-top with a little Cajun seasoning. “Calabash style” is lightly breaded, then deep fried. This results in a moist, beautifully cooked fish. Seafood is presented with a rich, extra egg yolk tartar sauce.

Scallops are lightly seared, buttery.

Another well cooked item at the restaurant is something so simple, yet hard to get right: hush puppies. Theirs are crunchy on the outside, tender inside, with a touch of sweetness. They’re served with a spice enhanced, house-made remoulade.


Boundary House does a good job with meats, too. Their prime rib is slow roasted from 4-5 hours, with the au jus made in-house. I also (!) tried Danish back ribs: with more ribs, they’re leaner than regular baby backs. They have a more pronounced flavor, especially grilled and served with a honey tinged BBQ sauce.


I learned about the origin of Pittsburgh style steaks! They originated with steelworkers who would cook their dinners on welding equipment — not quite black and blue, but rather, charred and medium. It’s served with a crunchy salt and pepper crust.


Their raspberry cheesecake has a touch of salt — which balances the sweet flavors, much like the finest dessert wines have acid in them.


Boundary House’s Bread Pudding a la Mode won 1st Prize at the Chill and Grill competition in Brunswick County. It’s made with all kinds of good stuff like croissants (so light!), brown sugar, cinnamon, sugared pecans, almonds, orange and lemon zests, French vanilla ice cream and vanilla bourbon sauce. Outstanding!







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