Views and seafood are two of the greatest reasons to visit Charleston—and the same can be said for The Fish House at Charleston Harbor. The only Mt. Pleasant restaurant with a rooftop view of both the Ravenel bridge and the Yorktown, it also sources just about everything on the menu locally.
By TERI ERRICO GRIFFIS » Photos by JAMES STEFIUK
The Fish House, which opened in 2013, is the signature restaurant of the Charleston Harbor Resort and features Coastal American Cuisine. In addition to the restaurant, the building includes meeting space, the Bridge Bar and a retail shop. There are also two hotels, including the new Beach Club, and a pavilion all within walking distance. “The reason we made the restaurant a separate building and not within the hotel is because we wanted it to have its autonomy as an independent restaurant,” says Shannon Hartman, Director of Sales & Marketing. “We wanted to have it open to the community, and to have everyone enjoy the location and the cuisine.”
From locals to tourists, young professionals to families, The Fish House brings everyone together. “We have a pretty strong local following, and that was the whole concept behind the restaurant,” Hartman says. “That really helps us during the seasonality that everyone experiences here. As the hotel business slows down, we’re still going strong.” This especially includes holiday parties.
Quality, fresh and local seafood—at accessible prices—is what Chef De Cuisine Michael Fitzhugh was hoping to achieve when he arrived at The Fish House seven months ago. Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Fitzhugh had a strong background in seafood-focused restaurants. He was the previous Executive Chef of a restaurant owned by a local oyster company and Charleston, with its accessibility to local seafood, was a perfect next venture. “It was kind of hand in glove for me to come and bring that attitude and commitment to impeccable sourcing and freshness down here,” he says of the seamless transition.
While Fitzhugh equally loves everything on the menu, which he created, he feels The Fish House has a strong appetizer and shared plates, as well as raw seafood program. “One of the things I’ve really focused on since I started here is building our raw bar and our raw seafood program. I personally love oysters and have a deep connection with that because it’s the world’s perfect food: You don’t have to cook it and it comes with its own sauce,” he says with a laugh. “We’re really excited for the start of oyster season and making that a focus of what we do, because if you look out these windows it just makes sense.”
Looking out the windows is just one of many reasons to fall in love with The Fish House. Whether you’re dining in the Harbor Room or sipping cocktails from the Bridge Bar upstairs, you’ll enjoy incomparable views of Patriots Point, the Yorktown, the Ravenel bridge, and all the coastal beauty the Lowcountry offers. Couple that with the menu for an idyllic Lowcountry experience.
In lieu of Specials, Fitzhugh recently introduced The Fish House’s Tasting Menu. “We’re featuring a three- or four-course meal every night at a very affordable price point,” he explains. “We kind of use it as testing grounds for our new dishes. It allows us to really hone things and find out what the guests like.” The Tasting Menu will change bi-weekly, and is a perfect way to incorporate rare produce or great seafood the restaurant is able to get their hands on in a given day.
The Fish House offers breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and Fitzhugh is proudest of how much of those dishes are sourced locally—more than 85% of the menu. Sustainable seafood is important to him as well as knowing where the food comes from, the producers and the vendors. To the chef, supporting local isn’t a question of ‘Why should you?’ but ‘Why wouldn’t you?’ “Local tastes better and if you know what you’re doing, you can pass cost-effective savings onto the customer, while helping out the home team.”
As he prepares the new menu, which Fitzhugh updates four-to-five times a year, the Chef De Cuisine turns to his region to see what’s available and what will be price-effective. “That to me is the focus,” he says. “Taking ingredients that are plentiful around here, and building dishes and focusing the menu around those ingredients.”
By passing those cost-effective prices onto the customer, Fitzhugh can create his dream of fine-dining level food at prices people can afford daily. The restaurant can then be approachable for any type of guest. “I keep saying a neighborhood restaurant is something you can afford to go to fairly often. It’s not just a special occasion restaurant, and here we can really serve the community.”
The local community is incredibly important to Fitzhugh, Hartman and all of the Charleston Harbor Resort staff, whose goal is to fill the property with the warmth and hospitality for which Charleston is known. This is the philosophy behind the resort and the reason they put on Party at the Point and Bazaar at the Point there. “These are events so that the resort guests feel a part of our community and can experience what we offer. They’re driven by locals and give a local experience to our guests,” Hartman says.
The restaurant is always evolving and Hartman notes that Fitzhugh has been an extraordinary addition in taking it to the next level. “When I walked in these doors seven months ago, I was really sold on the potential of this area, of the resort, to really become what I think it’s evolving into,” Fitzhugh says. “I’m really proud of what we’ve done and I’m excited for what’s going to come in the next couple years. We’re very good at what we do here and I can’t wait to be great at it.”
The Fish House
32 Patriots Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant