Having just moved to Charleston and not yet having a reason to make the short trip over to Johns Island, I didn't know what to expect when I set off for The Southern General. After crossing over the beautiful Stono River, separating James from Johns Island, and driving under the dense canopy of hundred year old Live Oaks, gracing both sides of the Maybank Highway, I was slightly surprised to find the restaurant inconspicuously situated at the end of a mixed-use office park. Not really sure why, but I was; however, it didn't stop me from stepping inside and checking out The Southern General. It doesn't take long, after walking into the quaint space to realize The Southern General is different, not your typical sandwich spot. Yes, The Southern General accurately classifies itself as a craft sandwich shop and bar, but at the same time, the restaurant's name is a bit of a conundrum, not fully describing the totality of the truly creative space (but maybe that's the point). After spending time with the menu, one that's chalk full of goodness, I begin to understand The Southern General, the modern-day idea of a general store inside a Lowcountry gastropub.
With so many great sandwich selections to choose from, deciding what to order was a little tough, so I kicked things off with two of their House Specialties, the Poutine and Sweet Tea Wings. Honestly, the last thing I'd expected to see on a craft sandwich restaurant menu, located on the middle of Johns Island along the coast of South Carolina, would be Poutine, but I'm glad I did.
The Southern General's Poutine consisted of freshly made hand cut fries, beer battered "Northern" mozzarella cheese curds, and "good" gravy. The dill they sprinkled on the fries, along with the warm, gooey mozzarella cheese curds had an amazing flavor. The dish was excellent and was easily my favorite of the evening - yes, they were that good.
Just as flavorful and delicious as the Poutine were the Sweet Tea Wings, featuring the house dry rub with sweet tea barbeque sauce on the side, along with cucumber salad and yogurt ranch. These wings were fresh, juicy and the dry rub paired with the sweet tea sauce was the perfect combination. The sweet tea barbeque sauce was very well done, so well done that you may find yourself taking home a bottle of it (available in the general store). I normally don't order wings as an appetizer, but when you see wings done like this, they're hard to pass up.
Picking out what sandwich to order was a little bit of an internal struggle in and of itself. Initially, I was leaning toward the Super Butt, then it was the Sesame Shrimp, which I'd heard so many wonderful things about, but ultimately I decided on the classic Pulled Pork sandwich, house braised pork with more of The Southern General's sweet tea barbeque sauce on a grilled brioche bun. A good choice, but next time I'm going for their Sesame Shrimp sandwich, which consists of crispy tempura shrimp with sweet chili slaw, oven roasted tomato, spicy "juambo" mayo on a toasted buttery baguette.
The evening spent at The Southern General was more than just another dinner out; it was a dining experience, and an excellent one at that. From the scenic drive from Charleston to Johns Island, to the unique setting and friendly service, to the creatively inspired menu and flavorful food, my visit to The Southern General was full of welcomed surprises and definitely helped in making this Charleston area newcomer feel right at home.