Setting the Table
A post-Valentine’s Day Sunday night at the inlet was a serene experience with none of the warm weather crowds that typically fill the MarshWalk behind Bovine’s Wood Fired Specialties.
Bovine’s opened about 20 years ago before the MarshWalk was even built, and local company Divine Dining Group founded the southwest-themed restaurant. In 2013 ownership transferred to local endodontist Wade Nichols and his wife, Paula Nichols, following a lawsuit Nichols won when he claimed Divine Dining Group reneged on a loan he gave the company.
The Nichols also received ownership of the former Divine Fish House (now called Wahoos Fish House), which is next door to Bovine’s. During a recent trip to Wahoos, employees said they are extremely happy with management the Nichols are providing.
Bovine’s looks much the same as it did before the property transfer. Divine Dining gave the restaurant a remodel in recent years, transforming it from a kitschy cowhide and saddle décor to a sleek ambiance featuring gleaming hardwoods and a muted southwest tone with soft earthy colors.
To the right of the front door is a brick oven in its own room, and straight ahead is an enormous bar area with plenty of barstools and cocktail-height tables. The view of the inlet in this room is breathtaking and panoramic.
To the left are two dining rooms. The first is near the kitchen where a tall stack of wood is neatly stored for the wood-fired grill. This area has tables and booths, including a large round booth in the middle of the room. To the right of that dining room is a sort of sun porch where every diner has a front row seat for enjoying the inlet view that includes plenty of egrets and pelicans.
Down the Hatch
Our party of three sat on the sun porch and watched the sunset while enjoying excellent food. The menu hasn’t changed much – if at all – since changing hands. Appetizers ($4-$12) still feature the signature Cajun chicken eggrolls, Carolina crab cake and roasted whole garlic, and we devoured all three. If you are a garlic lover, whole roasted cloves spread on bread is a delicious experience.
A few more appetizers are clam chowder, fried calamari with lemon garlic aioli, spicy chicken wings and smoked oysters topped with shrimp and crab in a creamy sauce.
Four sandwiches are $10-$13 and come with fries, and a trip to a well-stocked salad bar is an extra $4. The Angus beef/short rib burger is grilled over wood, and three southern choices are flounder or crab cake sandwiches and shrimp or oyster po’ boy.
One of the specials when we visited was veal shank served in a deep dish with roasted root vegetables and demi-glace, for $29. Two in our party couldn’t resist, and they were delighted with the meat’s tenderness.
Of course wood-grilled meats and seafood are a specialty of the house ($19-$31), and a few of those choices are rib eye, filet mignon, pork chops, barbecue ribs, yellowfin tuna, barbecue salmon and lobster tail. Those entrees come with a trip to the salad bar, Bovine’s signature creamy corn pudding and a choice of potato or vegetables. Extra goodies to top or accompany the meats are $3-$6, such as lump crab meat with Béarnaise; blue cheese and an apple wood bacon crust; shrimp; or sautéed mushrooms and onions.
The wood-fired brick oven near Bovine’s entrance is where pizzas ($9-$10) are baked, and this is the direction I took. The eight-slice pizzas are easily big enough for two people to share, and often visitors order one as an appetizer for the whole table. I had Island Style with roasted garlic, olive oil, smoked ham, pineapple chunks and red onion and enjoyed the flavor as well as the slightly crispy thin crust. Other specialty pizzas are barbecue chicken, Buffalo chicken, cheeseburger, Margherita, steak and potato and clams casino. You can also get a cheese pizza for $7 and add toppings from a long list for $1 each.
That leaves nine house specialties ($17-$24) including shrimp and grits with roasted red pepper cream sauce, fried oysters and shrimp, barbecue ribs
Bovine’s has a full bar and a decent middle-of-the-road wine list with choices including La Crème Pinot Noir and Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc.
The restaurant has a new Facebook page (bovinesMurrellsInlet) and Web site - www.bovinesrestaurant.com - since the changeover, but the professional longtime staff is mostly the same. The Facebook page lists specials such as half-price pizzas on Mondays and $2 tacos on Thursdays. From 4-6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, a special sunset menu has several entrée choices for $10.
Becky Billingsley serves up fresh news daily at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.