The Cottage caters to healthy appetites
Desserts, including seasonally decorated pies and cakes, are one of Leslie Rohland's specialities.
Any restaurant that treats you to homemade pimiento cheese as soon as you’re seated knows the way to a Southerner’s heart.
After that opener, The Cottage in Old Town Bluffton aims to serve up foods to keep those hearts healthy.
Inventing “Southern eclectic” dishes that look good, taste good and are good for you is owner Leslie Rohland’s passion. Her ideas spring from daily inspirations: whatever seafood, fruits and veggies are in season, what the weather is like or whatever she feels like eating that day.
“I try to be health conscious, and I combine that with cooking things I like to eat,” Rohland says. “I won’t cook fried food— it puts bad energy in your food, and it’s not on my menu.”
A member of Palmetto Electric Cooperative, Rohland had once planned to open a much-needed bakery in Bluffton. But when she discovered historic Carson Cottage, with its cozy, wrap-around porch, the location inspired her instead to design a combination breakfast-and-lunch cafe, bakery and afternoon tearoom.
Soon she added evening meals— tapas on Thursdays, when the Farmers Market of Bluffton holds court on the street near her front door, and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.
Rohland’s love of cooking stems partly from heritage—“I’m from a long line of Italian women; it’s something we do”—and from her world travels and job history.
She worked 10 years in New York restaurants while trying to launch an acting career (“too difficult for words”), then came to South Carolina to manage a jazz club and restaurant on Hilton Head Island. She decided to strike out on her own with The Cottage in 2009.
Friendly to vegetarians and meat lovers alike, as well as gluten-sensitive diners, The Cottage keeps health in mind without skimping on taste.
Rohland’s creative menu is strong with local seafood, mingled with flavors from around the globe.
One of her health-conscious specialties is fish tacos—tender chunks of grouper, marinated in cilantro and lemon juice, stuffed into flour tortillas with crispy cabbage and shredded cheddar, served with her own pico de gallo. It’s plenty to fill an empty tummy without leaving you sluggish.
She packs her “power salads” with energizing ingredients—a healthy serving of protein atop a generous mound of greens, seasoned with Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican flavors.
“Then you can go the rest of the day without feeling like you have to take a nap,” Rohland says.
Of course, she will gladly feed a sweet tooth, too. “You’re closer to God when you’re making a pie,” Rohland insists.
The Cottage fills three display cases with 30-plus cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, sticky buns and cheesecakes—plenty of options to ensure that well-fed diners leave with a happy heart.
38 Calhoun St., Bluffton, SC 29910
Open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday brunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday tapas from 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday dinner from 6 p.m.
2 pounds grouper or fresh fish of your choice, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup tequila
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon each salt and pepper
Shredded green cabbage
8 flour or corn tortillas
Combine all ingredients and marinate 4 hours in refrigerator. Pan saute fish until cooked, about 15 minutes. Layer fish with cheddar cheese, green cabbage in tortillas. Serve with pico de gallo.
PICO DE GALLO
6 tomatoes, diced fine
4 Vidalia onions, diced fine
1 bunch fresh cilantro
½ cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
Mix all ingredients and let marinate in refrigerator.
LESLIE ROHLAND'S PISTACHIO CREAM CAKE (Bonus Recipe)
2½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
½ cup pistachio paste (available online)
½ cup pistachio nuts, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans with parchment.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add sugar and continue to mix until fluffy and light.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each well before adding the next one. Add vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream. Add pistachio paste and nuts and mix just until blended.
Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth; pound pans on counter 4–5 times. Bake 30–40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. The top should be nicely browned or, in this case, “greened.”
For frosting, the best choice is a traditional cream cheese frosting. You can also use a whipped white chocolate ganache or vanilla buttercream. Add pistachio paste and ground pistachios to any frosting for a richer, nuttier flavor.