Out and About at Pour Richards

What do you get when you pair a fun-loving Southern gal from Ridgeland with a Connecticut Yank with Italian roots? You get Pour Richard's, one of the best restaurants in Bluffton, complete with quality, creative, food in a friendly, neighborhood environment. Meet Richard Canestrari and Ally Rogers, co-owners and creators of Pour Richard's Fun Food and Wine.

After serving as the beloved, longtime executive chef at 211 Park, an iconic Island favorite restaurant, now defunked Richard, along with his professional and personal partner, Ally, set out to make it happen on their own for the first time in their life-long careers in the food industry. It took two years to find the right location, but alas, they landed last year, finding the perfect spot amidst Bluffton Parkway. "I love our location!" exclaimed Ally. "It's central, easy-to-get-to, and small enough where I can see everybody in the restaurant all at once." The open-air kitchen gives Richard similar views.

Q: Ally, what can patrons expect when dining at Pour Richard's
A: I would say three things: great food, great wines and great staff. We take pride in what we're doing-all of us. This is not a part-time job for any of us. This is what we do. We've all been around the Lowcountry for so long, most of our customers know at least one of us. People usually walk in the door to a warm round of hugs and kisses.

Q: You're known as the best little pourhouse in Bluffton. Let's talk wine and cocktails.
We have all worked in high-end restaurants for years; our staff is very knowledgeable, but more importantly, we are all foodies and we like to have fun with it. We love food and wine. This is a place where food, wine pairings, freshness, and experience are all celebrated.and our staff knows their juice.

One of the most well-known bartenders around, Steve Khalili, who has worked with Richard for years, runs the bar. That means you can always expect a knowledgeable wine recommendation, your favorite martini made to perfection, and expertly mixed cocktails, all served with a side of Khalili humor and kindness.

On this occasion, I asked for a well-rounded, somewhat jammy, red-velvet smooth pinot noir or blend. Ally, was spot-on when she brought over a bottle of Orin Swift Abstract, a yummy, ultra-smooth blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah and Syrah from California.

But what about the food? Well, I'm glad you asked. Dana Millen, my husband, along with friends Dennis Jaworski and Chuck Hall, set up for a round-robin marathon of eating. Richard, Ally, and Chef Steve Collier, all professionally schooled-chefs, wowed us over and over again with the following dishes:

Lowcountry Oyster Pie with fresh Bluffton Oysters; Stuffed Quail served on a Jalapeno Hoe cake; Quail and Duck Pot Pie; and the Tuna Madness special-Tuna Tartar. In addition, we also shared a flatbread du jour, which was Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli.

Entrees: New-school, bacon-wrapped filet topped with unnatural hollandaise, a.k.a. an over easy egg; Grilled veal chop served with a crispy pancetta and sundried tomato demi glace and mascarpone whipped potatoes; Parmesan egg-washed red snapper, pan-sautÈed and served over Pappardelle noodles, tossed in tomato sauce with mushroom, peas and asparagus; and Cajun-grilled grouper and seared scallops with lobster Creole cream sauce and parmesan pasta cake.

This was not my first time eating at Pour Richard's, and once again, it did not disappoint. The food is creative, visual, and delicious. It is simple, with a twist of Richard, which makes it inspired. It's always fun to delight in a Canestrari dish because it usually offers layers of flavors, masterfully melded and beautifully presented, that reveal new tastes depending on what level you have eaten down to.

Desserts: Grand Mariner Cake; and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Chess tart in Chantilly cream sauce.

Ally is the pastry chef, and may I say, "Yum?" These desserts were the kind of sweet treats that wake you up in the middle of the night, calling you by your first name. The Grand Mariner cake was a version of the best pound cake I've ever had, surrounded by pure love. And how can a Southern girl go wrong with chocolate, bourbon, and pecans (pronounced pee-cans) wrapped up into one decadent dish?

The Bottom Line:
We had a wonderful experience at Pour Richard's. The owners and staff are passionate and excited about what they're doing, and it shows in the quality and ingenuity of the food. This is what dining should feel like-friendly, where conversation with the staff goes beyond whether one would like fresh-cracked pepper on his/her salad. Pour Richard's is the culinary "Cheers" of the Lowcountry.a place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came!

An Accolade Worth Mentioning: Chefs Richard and Steve participated in the Iron Chef Competition during the 2011 Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival. They brought home a second place award in a finish that the judges said was "within five points" of the first place prize. This was the first year that Pour Richard's participated in the challenge. The competition was a great opportunity for Richard and Steve to "flex their culinary muscles" in a friendly contest with six of the area's best chefs.

Find these recipes at www.PourRichardsBluffton.com:
Turkey Osso Bucco, Potato Risotto and Pumpkin Cheesecake

If You Go:
Pour Richard's is located at 4376 Bluffton Parkway near Neighbor's BP. For more information or to make reservations, call 843-757-1999. Dinner is served Monday-Saturday 5:30-10:00 p.m.

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