The view of Shem Creek is splendid. Close by, a shrimp boat was moored on the wooden pilings along the water's edge. Across the inlet waters, on the other side, was the sprawling marsh of Shem Creek and the wooden walkway used by visitors for taking in the sights and sounds of the old waterway. Beyond, in the distance, I could see the pointed spires of the Ravenel Bridge standing tall in the darkening skyline of Charleston.
The name of the restaurant is The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene, so named in honor of the Richard and Charlene, a North Atlantic trawler that was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo while it was moored at the Wando dock. The story relates how during the fury of the hurricane the piling on which the trawler was moored tore loose from the bottom of the creek and became impaled on a nearby dock. After the waters of the hurricane receded, the ruined trawler sat for nine months, immovable until finally removed by salvagers, never to sail again.
The restaurant is in a dark, old building. Green awnings covered the side that faced the creek. The wood rails and posts leading down towards the water were weather beaten and gracefully grayed with age. Wooden benches and a few tables with chairs were scattered about. I took some pictures and breathed in the salty air and for the moment reflected on serenity of Shem Creek. I headed back to the front entrance.
Upon entry, past the red door, an old boat hung from the ceiling. At the hostess booth, a sign advised us that cell phone usage was prohibited in the dining area. We were greeted by the hostess and within five minutes escorted to a table with a good view of the water. Like the building, the interior was dark, unpainted and uninteresting. An old ship's wheel was mounted on one of the support pillars.
The tables were covered with paper instead of cloth and the chairs were uncomfortable. It was apparent ambiance was not a concern. Judging by the packed restaurant, the customers didn't care about the ambiance either. We looked over the menu that was handed us as the waitress greeted us and answered a few of our questions. Ordering here is different than what is customary. We were instructed to circle our choices with the provided red marker. This was primarily a seafood place, so on the menu there was a disclaimer about ordering red meat, basically saying "what you get is what you get" when comes to its preparation and cooking. For me, that would not be a problem. I am not much of a red meat enthusiast.
The Wreck was offering bottles of wine at half price. For my beverage choice I requested sweet tea and it was brought to me in a plastic cup. For my food selection, I chose the shrimp and scallop platter to be fried. The sides included red rice, a hush puppy, and a hominy square. When it was finally delivered to the table, the food was served on a paper plate. With the paper table coverings, paper plates, and plastic cups, it was apparent to me avoiding extra work such as washing dishes was part of their enterprise, and I don't blame them. The shrimp were very tasty and the scallops melted in my mouth. I was surprisingly pleased with the whole platter.
The view of the creek was lovely. The building was a wreck and I concluded that it is part of their ambience. The food was delicious. The service was good. The waitress was accommodating, although she had to be reminded about refilling my sweet tea in the beginning, but that was only once. I would recommend you give The Wreck a try, only bring cash with you, especially if you come in a group. The restaurant will not split the bill, which makes credit card payment difficult, unless you are planning on paying for everyone in your party.