Food & RestaurantsRecipes, Things To Do

Dine Like a Local on St. Simons Island

March 30, 2016

Have you always wanted to know the best spots in town to eat, those spots that only the locals know about? Now you can! We sat down with Chef Dave Synder, owner of Halyards and Tramici, two of St. Simons most popular dining spots! He filled us in on what brought him to St. Simons, what he loves most about the island, and what are his favorite things to eat.

His background includes a degree from New England Culinary Institute, starting Hotel Nikko now the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, and becoming Executive Chef at Azalea, also in Atlanta. While at Azalea he decided city life wasn’t for him, he wanted to escape the fast past lifestyle Atlanta had to offer and trade it in for warm sunny days in a coastal town where he could follow both of his passions – cooking and fishing. Lucky for Dave St. Simons restaurant J Macs needed someone just like him. Dave accepted the job with J Macs and has been here ever since.

When asking Dave what he loves most about St. Simons the answer was very simple- the people. He goes on to say “we celebrate together, we mourn together, and we help each other when in need”. In addition to the people, of course he loves the fishing, so much so he started his own fishing charter business called Hook & Knife.

There are a few things Dave suggests visitors do while they are here, things he thinks people might not think of but are an absolute must for visitors! Watching the sunrise by boat is at the top of his list, followed by renting a sail boat for the day, and then ending the day with a walk through the beautiful Cannon’s Point Preserve. He also says there is much more to do on the Island than you think, it is an outdoors enthusiast dream. Aside from that he boasts that the food on the island is amazing.

Although the Island offers some great dining options, Dave saw one major gap. The island had so many Mom and Pop type places but no upscale dining experiences could be found. This led him to open Halyards and Tramici.

Dave let us in on a few of his favorite dishes at both restaurants. At Halyards he loves to eat the Tuna Tartare and his favorite dish to make is the Scallops and Foie Gras. The Scallops and Foie Gras is actually no longer on the menu but if you request it he will make it just for you! At Tramici he loves making the house made mozzarella and he loves to eat the antipasto.

In celebration of the new spring season we also asked Dave what his favorite spring recipe was to make, which is Shrimp and Spring Pea Salad. He was also kind enough to share it with us!

Shrimp and Spring Pea Salad

Poaching liquid

1 gal       water

1 c          White Wine

3 ea        Lemons, cut in half

1 ea        Yellow Onion, peeled and cut in half

1 ea        Celery Stalk

1 ea        Carrot, peeled and cut in half

3 T         Old Bay

3 T         Salt

1 ea        Bay Leaf

½ ea     Bunch Thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb         Georgia Shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • Bring to boil and lower to about 175 degrees, steep for 15 minutes.
  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Add water to seasoned shrimp a bit at a time so water reaches 150-175 degrees. Poach for about 12 minutes depending on size of shrimp and temperature of water.
  • Pull from water before they are done and cool on a flat rack. Remember, they will continue to cook outside the water.


1 c          Blanched and chilled snow peas

1 c          Blanched and chilled sweet peas

1 c          Blanched, chilled, and peeled fava beans

1 ea        Shallot, peeled and julienned

½ c        Diced Tomato

1 c          Diced Inner Celery Stalk, the very tender stalks

1T           Chopped Thyme

1 ea        Lemon, finely grated zest and strained juice

3 oz        Georgia Olive Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

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