GLORIOUS SUMMER DINING
It's that sound again, the sound we foodies are always craving: voices engaged in conversation and laughter along with the subtle clink of wine glasses toasting special occasions as waiters serve up the chef’s artfully prepared plates, all in a room filled with ambiance, just the right lighting and guests who know they’ve made the right choice as they gaze at the sun setting over Broad Creek. These are all scenes that can be found at ELA’s Blu Water Grille, located at Shelter Cove Harbour.
The story behind the restaurant’s name? Restaurateur Earl Nightingale explains: “The name ‘ELA’ is an acronym for the names of my children: Erin, Lauren and Alex, who are all actively involved in many aspects of our operation, and ‘Blu’ was the name of a restaurant where I worked as teenager in Chicago.” After more than 40 years in the hospitality and restaurant industries, Nightingale is paying homage to his first place of employment, which launched his career.
Since 2014, executive chef Ryan Alpaugh has been in the ELA’s kitchen fine-tuning and creating new menu offerings. A seasoned chef, Alpaugh has worked with chefs who owned the five-star Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia and has served on the team that launched Bobby Flay Steaks in Atlantic City. He thrives in and understands the pressures of a high-end resort location, and a few short years after opening in July 2011, ELA’s beat out dozens of local chefs to win The Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of The Season event in 2014.
What’s on the menu these days? “We offer both great seafood and steaks. Our steaks are cut to our specifications by Linz stockyards and we always work with very reputable and top-notch suppliers,” Nightingale said. “Our appetizers range from calamari with a light wasabi and remoulade to ahi tuna tartare and fresh hand-selected oysters, including blue points. The most popular entrées are our pan-roasted grouper with truffle potato puree, our steamed lobster with lobster risotto, the blackened yellowfin tuna and of course, our steaks.”
The menu lists “coffee-rubbed” and “peppercorn-encrusted” in addition to grilled or blackened styles of preparation, with steak temperatures ranging from rare to well-done. There is a small note warning guests that when it comes to well-done steaks, "enjoy at your own risk" — diplomatically steering guests away from that option. Dessert favorites include Key lime pie and Tuxedo Cake — white and chocolate mousse encased in dark chocolate.
The stylish and inviting multi-tiered dining rooms, featuring colorful works by renowned artists including the late Peter Karis, are surrounded by the wrap-around outdoor elevated garden patio with an eco-friendly firepit. Hand-crafted tables made of reclaimed cypress trees echo the natural hues of the mingling space in the bar area, a popular spot for live entertainment. The private event space on the top level hosts intimate gatherings from weddings to corporate and celebratory dinners. Nestled among the boutiques and other great shopping options within Shelter Cove with the spectacular view of the fireworks every Tuesday evening during the summer, ELA’s Blu Water Grille is a choice spot for glorious summer dining — Nightingale and his staff will personally see to that.
Ela's Blu Water Grille
Shelter Cove Harbour Shops
1 Shelter Cove Lane
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, with dinner daily starting at 5 p.m.
S unday brunch is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Entertainment five nights a week in season
Docking is complimentary with dinner reservations; just radio the harbourmaster as you approach Shelter Cove Marina.