The Islander brings fresh, upscale fare to Daniel Island

Charleston City Paper

Fantasy Island


In the grand scheme of Charleston’s urban development, Daniel Island is a newborn. Each time I make it out there, I marvel at its eerie perfection, shiny curbs, gleaming rows of new homes, exquisitely aligned palm trees. I half expect to hear “Cue the sun!” a la The Truman Show.

Surreal new urbanism aside, I can attest there is fun to be had on D.I.

Open since May, The Islander is one such offering brought to us by Holy City Hospitality, the same group that operates practically an entire city block downtown, including the popular 39 Rue de Jean, Coast Bar and Grill, and Virginia’s on King. The Islander’s website beckons with tropical seduction: “Leave your cares behind,” “Escape to The Islander,” “Where every day is your vacation,” against a visual backdrop of vast, lush, unspoiled marshland.

The Islander inhabits a surreal pocket of urban planning. Nestled between a Hampton Inn and T-Mobile headquarters, with a catty-corner new office building under construction and Blackbaud just down the street, the restaurant stands alone in an office park. Its name takes on new meaning, for The Islander is not just a restaurant on an island, it is a culinary island in a sea of industry. Instead of ocean waves lapping its shores, a parking lot and man-made pond hem it in.

Guys in crisp starched shirts and uniform khakis pass by as we sink into a tall booth near the indoor/outdoor bar. Outside, misting fans seem to mimic the ocean breeze. Bob Marley soothes from invisible speakers, “Don’t worry ’bout a thing.” But given my guess that the restaurant caters to a captive, hungry, decently paid corporate audience, my expectations for any innovative cuisine are minimal at best.

I’m dead wrong.

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