Twin Peaks

Have you noticed the impressive bronze elk standing at attention on the corner of Gervais and Pulaski Streets and the “Twin Peaks” sign on the building behind it? Their tongue-in-cheek moniker and the slogan “Eats… Drinks… Scenic Views” belie the fact that behind the facade lives a culinary giant and an incredible entertainment experience.  If I was able, through the written word, to shout really, really loudly “you’ve gotta try this place!” I would do it.

I was absolutely blown away by Twin Peaks’ food and drink.

The apps. We started by splitting an order of Buttermilk Chicken Sliders, a pair of battered fried chicken sandwiches, served on house made buttermilk black pepper biscuits. These fat little biscuits are to-die-for.  Layers of warm goodness, buttered and toasted. The moist little chicken breast offered up crunchy texture and was topped with an amazing combination of hollandaise, jalapeno gravy (both house made) and American cheese, along with a slab of their signature “Billionaire Bacon”.  Billionaire Bacon is thick cut, spiced just right and caramelized in the Twin Peaks’ oven every morning. Two hands needed to eat these babies! Chicken sliders Twin Peaks.pngBefore we could finish the sliders, our sweet little server brought out a basket of thin and crispy warm tortilla chips along with a trio of house-made dips, knownTwin Peaks nachos.jpg as the “Triple Play.  Amazing. My fave, the “smashed avocado”, is a delicious combination of chopped avocado, tomato, onion and a blend of spices that makes this truly the best guacamole ever.  That’s why they don’t call it “guacamole”… it’s in a class by itself.  Another dip was the home-made salsa, a flavorful sauce made daily with chargrilled tomatoes and peppers and just the right amount of spices – you can taste more than just the heat.  Wonderful. The third dip was a chipotle queso… house-made from scratch.  Finally the mozzarella bites.  I NEVER order these as they are always a frozen then fried cruddy breaded cheese in the shape of a stick.  I definitely will be ordering the Twin Peaks’ Mozzarella Bites again.  Lightly breaded with panko bread crumbs and made-to-order, they’re nice-sized cubes of high quality mozzarella served with homemade ranch dressing and marinara sauce.  You’ll fall in love after one bite.

The beer.  OMG. A 22 oz. frosted mug of Yuengling never looked so good.  I learned that Twin Peaks washes their beer mugs by themselves at 180 degrees, so they’re clean as a whistle and dried thoroughly before they’re frozen at -10 degrees. No chunks of ice sliding off while you’re trying to drink. Nope. I put the glass to my lips and got the most refreshing delight on a hot Columbia afternoon… tiny ice crystals of beer tickling my tongue.  Mugs at Twin Peaks.pngThe Twin Peaks’ draft beer system was custom-made to keep beer at 29 degrees. Electronic signage in the restaurant lets patrons know the exact temperature of their drafts at any given moment. It defies science and logic but the beer doesn’t freeze. It is absolutely cold and refreshing.  32 beers on tap including local brews from River Rat, Conquest, Palmetto Brewing, Thomas Creek and more. They also serve 4 signature beers brewed just for Twin Peaks.

The whiskey. Have you ever had whiskey served over a hand-crafted ice ball, that has been formed in mere moments before your very eyes? Me neither. Watching them create the ice ball was so much fun!  A chunk of ice is put into their 18 pound aluminum press, which pulls the cold out and causes it to melt, leaving only a perfectly condensed sphere of solid ice that is then plunked into your cocktail glass. Ice ball at Twin PeaksYour spirits are poured over the top of the ice ball, which melts at an incredibly slow and even rate in order to avoid diluting the distinctive flavors and aromas of your drink.  Twin Peaks’ whiskey selection rivals any in town, offering 60+ different distills, and includes 19 Kentucky Bourbons, 10 American Whiskies and Ryes, 15 Scotches (try the Johnnie Blue or Macallan 18 year) and a selection of Canadian and Japanese blends.

 

The entrees. I tried the Greek Salad.  The folks at Zorba’s better sit up and take notice.  The Greek Salad was incredible. A combination of spring mix (my favorite salad greens) along with baby kale, pepperoncini, artichoke, red onions, grape tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and crunchy fried capers (a first for me… who would think to bread and fry little capers? A genius thought that one up!)  I also ordered a skewer of grilled shrimp for a nominal additional charge.  Loved ’em. Nice sized with grill marks! A house-made herb vinaigrette dressed it out and it was no-kidding incredible.    My lunch-mate ordered the Trophy Trout, which Twin Peaks buys fresh and is chargrilled and finished with a roasted garlic lime butter.  Our server told us this dish is so good it was featured on the cover of an Atlanta’s Flavors magazine.  It came with mashed potatoes (handmade throughout the day) and fresh veggies. Thumbs way, way up!  Our third table guest ordered a Billionaire’s Bacon Burger – hand-pressed and seared on the grill.  Burger and beer at Twin PeaksLove bacon? This fella is laced with bacon, served on a fresh, never-frozen, locally-baked bun and dressed with sriracha pimento cheese, billionaire’s bacon, lettuce, tomato, bacon beer mustard and bacon mayo! Served with aromatic, beautiful, fresh cut fries. You’ve gotta try this place!

The place for sports. Sports fans – this is THE PLACE to watch any televised game. Twin Peaks subscribes to every sports package available… ALL pay-per-views, every MLB game, NFL game, NHL game, NBA game, college game… all of ’em. And patrons are treated to 60 big screens (all of them either 60, 70 or 80 inches wide!) in a seating arrangement that allows every guest to see at least 6 screens at any one time!  Twin Peaks tv's

The decor. The decor reminded me of a fishing lodge in New Hampshire that I visited as a child.  Hand-hewn wood paneling lines the interior walls, a large canoe hangs from the ceiling, multiple stone fireplaces glow with warmth (in cooler weather) and the furnishings are beautifully rustic, hand crafted and feature soft upholstery.  I sat on a bar stool for almost 2 hours and stayed comfy.   The walls that face Gervais feature garage doors that roll up in nice weather and sections can be cordened off for private parties, including fireplaces for you and your friends to sit around.

The cheerleaders.  A female staff of servers reminded us of a bevy of beautiful college cheerleaders – they served us with wide smiles and classic, southern hospitality.  Whatever you’ve heard about this place and the dress of their staff, relax.  You’ll feel comfortable in here with your wife, your girlfriend and your kids.  The Twin Peaks’ staff wears the same type of apparel you see on a cheerleader at a football game or on a lifeguard at the beach. Their aim is to make everyone at your table feel comfortable and have a great experience!Twin Peaks servers

 

The price. A gourmet bar and food experience with a casual dining price tag. Seriously.  The average food/drink tab is a mere $16! That’s amazing. And, Twin Peaks offers a 20% discount for all military/first responders & USC Student, faculty and staff with Valid ID.

The parking. A generous free parking lot behind the building and parking all along Pulaski Street.  Find that anywhere else in the Vista.

Bottom line. You have to try this place.

Location: 600 Gervais Street | Columbia SC | 803.602.3667

Hours: Everyday 11am – 2am

Websitehttp://www.twinpeaksrestaurant.com/

 

Newly Opened

Opening Open

The Casual Pint

807 Gervais St.   |  803.832.7468

The Casual Pint recently opened its doors at 807 Gervais St. in the Vista.  A craft beer The Casual Pint logomarket, The Casual Pint offers customers beer-to-go or a pint right in the store.  They have a number of draft beer selections on tap, and they sell pints and flights.  Growlers can be filled from the tap too!  Their Direct Draw Tap system keeping the beer lines short, easy to clean and ensuring customers the freshest beer possible.  Packaged beer is available in singles, 6-packs, cases & Craft-Your-Own 6-Packs. Check them out on Facebook for the latest offers.

Monday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Friday and Saturday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am

Sunday: 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina (West Columbia)

2507 Sunset Blvd  |  803.999.2445

Salsarita's Fresh Cantina Nachos

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina has opened for business in West Columbia. Located on Sunset Blvd near I-26, the new store is the 4th Salsarita’s in the Greater Columbia area.  A fairly new brand on the Mexican culinary scene, Salsarita’s started in Charlotte in 2000 and has spread to 19 states.  The place is brightly lit and colorfully decorated, and advertises that its foods are prepared in-house fresh everyday. Try signature dishes like Quesoritos, Tortilla Pizzas or classics like tacos or nachos ($6 on Wednesdays) topped with hand-mashed guacamole. With a variety of salsas (including pineapple!) to dip with their tortilla chips, customizable burritos, tacos, salads, bowls and quesadillas… if you are in the mood for Mexican, Salsarita’s offers a great menu.

Hours of operation:
Sunday – Thursday: 11AM – 9PM
Friday and Saturday: 11Am – 9:30PM


Hollow Creek Distillery
Hollow Creek Distillery Grand Opening

112 Rocky Ridge Rd., Leesville | 803.470.6010 
Hollow Creek Distillery recently celebrated their grand opening and are open for folks to visit the red barn, take a tour and taste a sample (and they’re hopin’ you’ll buy a bottle!)  They offer small batch, hand-crafted southern moonshine.  A family-owned business built with the sole intention of providing high quality spirits to a market thirsty for old-fashioned moonshine. From a planted seed to a sealed bottle, this is theirs.  Take a ride out to their place on Lake Murray this week and see what it’s all about!
 
Hours of operation:
Thursday: 1pm – 7pm
Friday: 10am – 7pm
Saturday: 10am – 7pm

 

Early August Food & Drink Events 2016

Food Lover Events

Dinner Table! Dinner Table Event

Saturday July 30, 2016 | 5pm – 7pm | The Dance Floor {717 Lady St.}

Hosted by Sobremesa Community& Beer & Hymns “Dinner Tables” are free, community meals where you’ll get to eat good food together like family, and then have discussions about where faith and life meet. They work hard to be a safe space for discussion – judgment-free, welcoming to everyone (kids, too!). At this session of the “Dinner Table!” they’re talking about aliens & discussing how it feels to be a part of a system that isn’t what you’re used to. Bring ideas and stories to share, and they’ll bring the food!

Cook the Books Club

Tuesday August 2nd, 2016 | Starts at noon | Pelion Branch Library {206 Pine St., Pelion}
A fun foodie event for adults! Join them for their newest book club with a twist. They choose a cookbook, you prepare a recipe from that book – bring and share. Discuss the recipe you chose & any variations you made and debate the merit of the cookbook as a whole. For more information call 803-785-3272.

Brew at the Zoo

Friday, August 5th, 2016 | 7-9:30pm | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden {500 Wildlife Parkway}

Gather your herd for Brew at the Zoo! Make plans now to join them for the coolest suds sippin’ safari in Columbia. Brew at the Zoo provides the perfect remedy to those muggy Midlands’ days—samples of cold, frothy beer. From domestics to imports to specialty micros, guests can choose their brew and meander through the zoo or hang out in the plaza and listen to live music. Also, enjoy one-of-a-kind animal encounters and presentations. No one under 21 will be admitted. Proceeds support ongoing conservation and education efforts at Riverbanks. Admission: $35 with membership, $45 general public; $55 day of event (if there are any unsold tickets). Have fun!


Storks & Corks
 Storks & Corks

Saturday August 6th, 2016 | 6-9pm | Silver Bluff Audubon Center {4542 Silver Bluff Rd, Jackson, SC}

Located in Aiken County, the Silver Bluff Audubon Center is offering a casual evening of great food and wine along with a chance to see Wood Storks in their natural setting. In past years, more than 500 of these unusual storks have been spotted, in addition to a couple hundred of other wading birds and shorebirds. A silent auction runs through the evening as well! Tickets are $50/person, and reservations are required, so call Paul Koehler at 803.471.0291 to register for the event.

Back to Beer & Hymns

Monday August 8, 2016 | Liberty Tap Room {828 Gervais St.} | 7-9pm

They are back in the saddle in the back room of Liberty Tap Room where they sing loudly and sometimes off-key. Bring an instrument, bring a friend. Beer is optional – singing is encouraged – making friends is required! Click here for more information.

35th Annual South Carolina Peanut Party

Friday, August 12 – Saturday, August 13, 2016 | 

The Peanut Party, benefiting local peanut farmers, has been an annual August event for 35 years…basically every Foodie’s dream. Great entertainment for families – alcohol free, music, food, parade, amusements, crafts, and special exhibits! Enjoy boiled peanuts, crafts, and exhibits all day. Also, take part in the Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Eating Contest (yes, it exists) and the Frozen T-Shirt Contest — or simply enjoy the spectacle!
Food Vendors will be offering a wide variety of fabulous festival foods such as Fried Mushrooms, Bloomin’ Onions, Italian Sausages, Philly Cheesesteaks, Turkey legs, Hamburgers & Corndogs, Fried Chicken, Fish Baskets, BBQ, Funnel Cakes, Doughnuts, Shaved Ice, Pizza, & Fried Pickles. Boiled peanuts, carnival food & fun times await!

Cupcakes and Cocktails Evening Social

Cupcake Battle PicSaturday August 13th, 2016 | 7-10pm | at Margarette H Miller Cosmetology Center {1509 Fontaine Rd.}

Sweet-lovers, party planners and brides-to-be, enjoy the 3rd Annual Cupcakes & Cocktails Evening Social!  This event is perfect for those looking for delicious and beautiful cakes.  Small independent home bakers participate in the hopes they’ll be hired to make cakes in the future!
Highlight of the evening is Cupcake Battle 2016! The cupcakes are judged in 3 areas: Taste, Creativity, and Presentation. There are 13 contestants and 4 judges.

Cupcake Battle Picture

Each guest receives one tray able to hold 6 cupcakes, so guests can take cupcakes from the contestants’ displays to try. Feel free to take them home with you too!

While browsing the cakes, enjoy mini taco cups, shrimp cocktail, and stuffed mushrooms professionally prepared by caterers. There will be a DJ and a bar serving cocktails all evening long. You’re sure to love all the cupcakes in the room (get cupcake wasted) and let’s not forget the cocktails.  Get your ticket(s) here!


ART(uncorked) at SakiTumi!Art Uncorked

Thursday August 18, 2016 | 807 Gervais St. #103 | 803.931.0700

This event began last month on the 3rd Thursday & is here again in case you missed out the first time. SakiTumi’s ART(uncorked) event is both fun and delicious, as it features a local artist and their original artwork. There is no fee to attend. They will have a wine representative sampling out 3-4 different wines, while you get the opportunity to meet with the artist and discuss their work, as the artist will be there in person. Then, SakiTumi will display their artwork on consignment inside the restaurant, so you’ll have a chance to purchase it. For more info call SakiTumi at 803.931.0700.

Arts & Draughts

Friday August 19th, 2016 | 7-11pm | Columbia Museum of Art {1515 Main St.}

Art, drink, and be happy at this delicious quarterly event! Enjoy beer tastings from The Whig, live musical performances, D.I.Y. art projects, interactive art, scavenger hunts, unique perspective tours, and more. $9/ $5 for members.

Main Street Latin Festival

Saturday August 27th, 2016 | 11am – 10pm | 1300 & 1400 Block of Main Street | Free admission

The streets of beautiful downtown Columbia are filled with the sounds of salsa, meringue, reggaeton and grupero music during the Main Street Latin Festival, coming to town this month! Folkloric dancers share dances, vendors sell Latin gifts and souvenirs, and traditional Latin cuisine brings large crowds that want to experience many savory Latin foods.

The purpose of the Main Street Latin Festival is to showcase the culture + vitality of Columbia’s Latin community and this is done by bringing together diverse groups of people to celebrate and share the Latin culture.  What about the food, ya say? Alright, here is what we know will be in attendance:Main Street Latin Festival

  • Beef stew
  • White rice + yellow rice
  • Beans
  • Pork Skins (Chicaron)
  • Pupusas: A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese cooked and seasoned pork meat ground to a paste consistency refried beans, or queso con loroco
  • Empanadillas: small snack-size empanadas, made by folding dough with a stuffing of a variety of meat, cheese, veggies, fruits and more.
  • Mango
  • Skewers (pinchos)

Take a trip to latin America without leaving Columbia! Click here to visit their FaceBook page for any updates.

*No back packs, glass bottles, coolers or pets are allowed on festival grounds

Two Gals and A Fork Food Tours

 Saturday August 27thTwo-Gals-And-A-Fork-1-inch, 2016: These tours include a history lesson along the way… learn the fascinating history of the Vista and its refurbished buildings. It will leave you stuffed with delicious food and full of fun historical facts!

  • Brunch & Munch: 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM with tasting stops at Liberty Taproom, Blue Marlin, Mellow Mushroom, World of Beer & Wired Goat
  • Sites & Bites: 4:00 – 6:30 PM with tasting stops at Pearlz Oyster Bar, Hickory Tavern, Newks, SakiTumi Grill & Sushi Bar & Nonnahs

Only 16 spots available per tour, so get your tickets today!

News Flash: Brunch at Twisted Spur Brewing!

Twisted Spur Brewing BrunchIt’s aTwisted Spur Brewinglmost time for BRUNCH at Twisted Spur Brewing! Join them Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM – 2 PM for their Twisted Brunch menu and craft beer and cocktail specials starting on Saturday, July 30th!

Try their spectacular new items such as the Brunch BLT, made from grilled bakery sourdough with smoked cheddar, pesto mayo, fire roasted tomatoes, peppered bacon, fried eggs and sunflower microgreens. Or enjoy the brunch version of steak tenderloin, featuring steak, marinated Portobello and baby Swiss omelette with crispy smash browns, and grilled English muffin. We can’t wait for July 30th to finally arrive!

Where do Kids Eat free?

Where Kids Eat Free (or cheap!) Family Eating

Restaurant prices and promotions are subject to change at any time. Please call the restaurant to verify pricing!

Sunday:

O’Charley’s — Free all day; 1 kid 12&under per paying adult  | 5595 Sunset Blvd  Lexington, SC 29072 AND 10136 Two Notch Rd  Columbia, SC 29229

Tios Mexican Cafe — Free 4 – 9pm; 1 kid 10&under per purchased adult meal; also Mondays & Tuesdays  | 921 Sumter St   Columbia, SC, US, 29201

Dickey’s BBQ Pit — Free all day; 1 kid 12&under per paying adult; Dine-in only  | 10136 Two Notch Road, Ste. 100-B   Columbia, SC 29229

Firehouse Subs — $.99 all day; kids (no limit specified) 12&under with adult meal purchase; also Wednesdays  | All locations

Red Bowl Asian Bistro — $.99 all day; Kids (limit not specified) 9&under with purchase of regular price adult entrée; Dine-in only; also Mondays; BONUS: Free soft drink w/ your church bulletin  | Village at Sand Hill 481-11 Town Center Place, Columbia, SC 29229

Monday:

Zorba’s Greek Restaurant — Free 5 – 10pm; 2 kids 12&under per adult entree  | 6169 St Andrews Rd, Columbia, SC 29212

Tios Mexican Cafe — Free 4 – 9pm; 1 kid 10&under per purchased adult meal; also Sundays & Tuesdays  | 921 Sumter St   Columbia, SC, US, 29201

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina (Lexington) — Free 5 – 8pm; 2 kids 11&under per adult entree purchase  | 5135 Sunset Blvd Suite H   Lexington, SC 29072

Fatz Cafe (Lexington) — Free after 4pm; 1 kid 12&under per purchase of adult entree  | 942 E Main St  Lexington, SC 29072

Fatz Cafe (Irmo) — Free after 4pm; 2 kids 12&under per adult entree (call first b/c deal may be ending at end of July)  | 420 Broad River Rd Irmo, SC 29063

Fatz Cafe (Columbia) — Free Calabash after 3pm; 2 kids 12&under per adult entree  | 5590 Forest Dr Columbia, SC 29206

Zaxby’s — Free 5 – 9pm; 1 kid 10&under per adult entree  | 9840 Two Notch Rd
Columbia, SC 29223

Red Bowl Asian Bistro — $.99 all day; Kids (limit not specified) 9&under with purchase of regular price adult entrée; Dine-in only; also Sundays  | Village at Sand Hill 481-11 Town Center Place, Columbia, SC 29229

Fuddruckers — $.99 after 4pm; 1 kid 12&under per adult entree; also Thursdays  | 1801 Bush River Road   Columbia, SC 29210

Texas Roadhouse — $.99 hotdogs and mac & cheese 5 – 8pm; kids age 12&under  | 400 Columbiana Drive   Columbia, SC 29212

Pawley’s Front Porch — $1 4pm – close; 1 kid 12&under per paying adult  | 827 Harden Street   Columbia, SC 29205

Golden Corral — $2.99 after 4pm; kids (limit not specified) 12&under with purchase of adult meal; also Tuesdays & Wednesdays  | 5300 Forest Drive Columbia, SC 29206

Tuesday:

Ruby Tuesday — Free after 5pm; 1 kid 10&under with one adult entrée purchase  | All locations

Tios Mexican Cafe — Free 4 – 9pm; 1 kid 10&under per purchased adult meal; also Sundays & Mondays  | 921 Sumter St   Columbia, SC, US, 29201

Carolina Wings and Rib House — Free after 4pm; All kids 11&under, drinks not included  | All locations

HuHot Mongolian Grill — Free after 4pm; 1 kid 10&under per paying adult  | 1260 Bower Parkway A8, Columbia, SC 29212

UNO Pizzeria & Grill — Free all day; Kids (limit not specified) 10&under w/ purchase of adult meal  | 5304 Sunset Blvd. Highway 378   Lexington, SC 29072

Atlanta Bread (Downtown) — Free all day; 1 kid 12&under per paying adult  | 1307 Main Street   Columbia, SC 29201

Atlanta Bread (West Columbia) — Free after 4pm; 1 kid 12&under per purchased entree  | 108 Sunset Court   West Columbia, SC 29169

Zaxby’s — Free 5 – 9pm; 1 kid 10&under per adult meal  | 5400 Sunset Blvd
Lexington, SC 29072

McAllisters — Free 5 – 9pm; 1 kid 12&under per adult entree  | 300 Columbiana Drive Columbia, SC 29212

McAllisters — Free 5 – 9pm; 2 kids 12&under per adult entree  | 5175 Sunset Blvd.
Lexington, SC 29072

McAllisters — Free 5 – 10pm; 2 kids 12&under per adult entree  | 4710-A Forest Drive Columbia, SC 29206

McAllisters — Free 5 – 9pm; 2 kids 12&under per adult entree  | 10254 Two Notch Road, Suite D   Columbia, SC 29229

Denny’s — Free 4 – 10pm; 2 kids 10&under per purchased adult meal; also Saturdays  | 2514 Sunset Blvd West Columbia, SC 29169

Denny’s — Free 4 – 10pm; 1 kid (age limit not specified) per purchased adult meal  | 5901 Fairfield Dr Columbia, SC 29203

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s (Columbia) — Free 4 – 8pm; 1 kid 12&under per purchased adult meal  | 4561 Hard Scrabble Rd   Columbia, SC 29229-9464

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s (Irmo) — Free 4 – 8pm; 1 kid 10&under per purchased adult meal  | 2742 N Lake Dr # 104   Columbia, SC 29212-8733

Moes — $.99 all day; 1 kid 12&under per adult meal purchase  | All locations

Carolina Ale House (Harbison) — $.99 6 – 9pm; kids (limit not specified) 12&under; excludes beverage  | 277 Columbiana Dr, Columbia, SC 29212

Carolina Ale House (Vista) — $.99 4 – 5pm; kids (limit not specified) 10&under; excludes beverage  | 708 Lady St, Columbia, SC 29201

Applebee’s — $1.99 after 4pm; 1 kids meal per adult entree (no age limit specified); Upgrade to “Super Hungry” menu for $1.00 more  | All locations

Golden Corral — $2.99 after 4pm; kids (limit not specified) 12&under with purchase of adult meal; also Mondays & Wednesdays  | 5300 Forest Drive Columbia, SC 29206

Wednesday:

Bogarts — Free 6 – 10pm; 2 kids 12&under per purchased adult entree  | 530 12th Street West Columbia, SC 29169

Mellow Mushroom (Lexington) — Free all day; 2 kids 10&under per paying adult, get slice of cheese pizza & mini pretzel  | 5364 Sunset Blvd   Lexington, SC 29072

Scholtsky’s Deli — Free after 5pm; 1 kid 12&under per purchased adult meal, also enjoy balloon animal fun!  | 529 Bush River Road   Columbia, SC 29210

Firehouse Subs — $.99 all day; kids (no limit specified) 12&under with adult meal purchase; also Sundays  | All locations

Zaxby’s — $.99 5 – 9pm; 2 kids (age limit not specified) per adult entree purchased  | 650 Saint Andrews Rd   Columbia, SC 29210

Zaxby’s — $.99 5 – 9pm; 1 kid 10&under per adult entree purchased; BONUS: $.99 Nibblerz for all on Tuesdays  | 1042 Lake Murray Blvd   Irmo, SC 29063

Buffalo Wild Wings — $1.99 all day; 1 kid 12&under per purchased adult meal  | 1000 Bower Pkwy. Columbia, SC

Buffalo Wild Wings — $1.99 4 – 9pm; 1 kid 12&under per purchased adult meal  | 5570 Sunset Blvd. Ste. A East Towne Centre Shopping Center  Lexington, SC 29072-7966

Golden Corral — $2.99 after 4pm; kids (limit not specified) 12&under with purchase of adult meal; also Mondays & Tuesdays  | 5300 Forest Drive Columbia, SC 29206

Thursday:

Mellow Mushroom (Columbia) — Free all day; 2 kids 12&under per paying adult  | 1009 Gervais Street   Columbia, SC 29201

Shoney’s — Free 5 -10pm; 1 kid 10&under per adult entree  | 2208 B Airport Blvd West Columbia, SC 29170

Fuddruckers — $.99 after 4pm; 1 kid 12&under per adult entree; also Mondays  | 1801 Bush River Road   Columbia, SC 29210

Captain D’s — $.99 all day; 2 kids 13&under per purchased adult meal  | 705 Knox Abbott Drive   Cayce, South Carolina 29033

Captain D’s — $.99 all day; 1 kid 12&under per Adult meal purchase  | 656 Bush River Road Columbia, South Carolina 29210

Captain D’s — $.99 after 4pm; 1 kid (age limit not specified) per paying adult  |
7369 Two Notch Road   Columbia, South Carolina 29223

Saturday:

Denny’s — Free 4 – 10pm; 2 kids 10&under per purchased adult meal; also Tuesdays  | 2514 Sunset Blvd West Columbia, SC 29169

El Burrito — Free after 5pm; 1 kid (no age limit specified) per adult entree purchase  | 934 Harden St   Columbia, SC

 

Under the Foam: July 2016

underthefoam copy

Old Mill Brewpub

711 E Main St. | 803.785.2337Old Mill Brewpub Beer Selection.jpg

What’s brewing at Old Mill Brewpub, eh? It’s always changing from one delicious tap to the next, right? Well they currently have these guys on tap & we wanted to give you a heads up before they’re all out:

Native Golden Abbey Ale, Killer Buzz Cream Ale and Tropical Summertime IPA, plus Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout (pictured below), Simply Saison, and 12-Mile Oatmeal Porter.
OMB Chocolate Stout

A little back story on their 12-Mile Oatmeal Porter: This Old Mill Brewpub beer is named after 12-Mile Creek, the one that creates Old Mill Brewpub’s pond out back. This was actually the very first beer brewed at Old Mil Brewpub, so that makes it legendary by now, right? A robust beer which is black in color, very malty with hints of chocolate-roasted flavor! This is a good beer for the calm, relaxing days of summer. (No one can move to fast in this heat, right?!)

Twisted Spur BrewingTwisted Spur Beer

705 Gervais St. | 803.764.0203

The newest star in the Columbia craft brewing sky. And what a twinkler it is! Ultra clean. Enjoy an amazing lunch, dinner or brunch, or stop in for a brewski at the bar and watch through the glass as the owner/brewmaster works on brewing the beer!

  • Milk chocolate stout: Really good flavor, creamy milk chocolate, roasted malt, bit of a nut flavor
  • White IPA: A hoppy character of an India Pale Ale but with a wheat base and spice additions Lager: Mild and crisp
  • Peach beer: They grow the best peaches, so where else would you want to buy a freshly brewed peach beer?

 

Cooking Classes: July 2016

Chef du Jour – University of South Carolina

Biscuits and Scones 101

Saturday July 23, 2016

The University of South Carolina is offering this fun cooking class! Biscuits are a Southern staple but very intimidating to make. Chef Travis Weatherford will show you how to make different types (from drop, beaten and angel), along with different applications for each. He’ll also show you proven methods to make fantastic, quick and easy scones. Costs: $50. Make your reservation here.

Williams Sonoma – 2 Technique Classes

Summertime Favorites: Grilling Williams Sonoma Grilling Pic

Sunday July 17, 2016 | 1pm

Summer is grilling season, but when you have friends over for a barbecue, you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen. They’ll share some easy recipes plus smart shortcuts to speed up prep so you can relax and enjoy the alfresco gathering! Free. More information here.

Flavors of Spain: José Andrés’ Classic Paella

Sunday July 31, 2016 | 1pm
Williams Sonoma Flavors of Spain Pic

Costs: $30 per person, but includes a paella pan to take home! Join them for a one of a kind culinary journey to Spain as you cook paella, the country’s classic rice dish that originated in the Valencia region. In this exciting class they’ll be featuring recipes from the renowned chef José Andrés. A native of Spain turned United States citizen, he is credited with introducing Americans to both avant-garde and traditional Spanish cooking. More information here.

SakiTumi Sushi Cooking Class SakiTumi Cooking Class

Get your roll on. Sushi 101 class is now in session! SakiTumi has been offering sushi classes for over 4 years now, and they have been a huge success! They are one of the only restaurants in the area offering classes of this type, so check them out here and have a blast! SakiTumi usually books sushi classes Tuesday-Thursday, anytime between 5pm-8pm, though they may schedule classes on Friday or Saturday but only early. More information here!

News Flash: New App to Locate Roadside Produce Stands

SC DHEC Released App to Locate Roadside Produce Stands

SC DHEC MapDHEC compiled a SC Fruit and Vegetable Outlet Inventory that was used to create a handy app for the average shopper who wants FRESH, local produce! Shopping local just became a whole lot easier, Foodies, as this app offers information on farmer’s markets and roadside markets across the entire state. Visit this free app online by going to gis.dhec.sc.gov/Farmersmarkets.

Here you will find an interactive map that shows the location, hours, and accepted payment types for more than 200 farmers markets and roadside produce stands across the state! You’ll find that “F” stands for Farmers Markets and “R” stands for Roadside stands and by golly there are a lot of tSC DHEC Farmer's Markets Maphem!

According to Lisa Davis, the DHEC Director of Health Services, “Access to fresh fruits and vegetables can be a defining factor that distinguishes a thriving community from a disadvantaged one. The app makes it easy to find local, affordable options for fresh produce throughout the state, which can help empower people to make healthy eating choices for their families.”

Helping people discover that cooking fresh foods can be easy and delicious, the new app includes healthy, fun recipes each month that feature in-season produce. Watermelon Kabobs are the featured recipe for July, so be sure to check it out!

News Flash: Cow Appreciation Day @ CFA

Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A ChickFilA-ChickenSandwich

Tuesday July 12th, 2016 | open – 7pm

Chick-fil-A’s highly anticipated Cow Appreciation Day is Tuesday, July 12th this year. The rules are simple: wear anything cow-like and get a free entrée from open – 7pm! Guests in cow attire may select any breakfast, lunch or dinner entrée, and kids dressed like a cow may select a Kid’s Meal.

You may have noticed that there have been a couple changes to the award system this year. In previous years, those who dressed like a cow from head to toe received any meal free while those who were partially dressed up received a free entrée. This year that system is changing. To make the award more consistent, Chick-fil-A is now only giving out free entrées regardless of how cow-crazy your costumes are. But can we really complain? It’s still free!

CFA Appreciation DaySo on July 12th, don your cow-related items, and enjoy a free breakfast entrée such as the Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit or some delicious Chick-n-Minis.  But don’t remove your cow costume just yet! Return for lunch and dinner, and savor entrées such as the Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap and the Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad. Also, if you’re tired of chicken by the time dinner rolls around (impossible!) then your “entrée” can be a small hand-spun milkshake, Iced Coffee, Frosted Coffee or Frosted Lemonade.

Even if all you can pull together is a cow hat, visit your local Chick-fil-A and enjoy the festivities & great (free) food! Get creative & don’t forget to snap some pics to commemorate your udder-ly amazing costumes!

 

Favorite Picnic Spots in Columbia!

Picnic Blanket.jpg

Foodies, with 4th of July approaching it is the perfect time to order delicious barbecue from Little Pigs Barbecue (in bulk!) and dig out a picnic blanket from your closet because it’s summer time!

Here are a few great spots:

Virginia Hylton Park

111 Maiden Ln. | 803.359.1027

This park features a playground, walking trails…bridges, gazebos, creeks with overlooks, and a shaded pavilion for about 40 people. Check it out and have some fun!

Saluda Shoals Park

5605 Bush River Rd. | 803.731.5208

Saluda Shoals Park is a premier and natural riverfront park that is located on Bush River Road. They offer picnic tables inside shelters scattered about the park. Features paved/unpaved trails for biking and hiking, plus a splash pad!

West Columbia Riverwalk Park & Amphitheater

121 Alexander St. | 803.765.2200

While, the concrete walking path along the river was shortened by the October floods it is still a gorgeous park featuring an amphitheater, picnic tables, benches, and scenic views of the river. This park also has a big grass area…perfect for laying down a picnic blanket!

Gibson Pond Park Gibson Pond Park

241 Gibson Rd., Lexington | 803.359.1027

A beautiful park located in Lexington that is a great spot for your next picnic!

Amenities include: a large, covered picnic shelter with 10 picnic tables (seats approximately 80 people), ceiling fans, large charcoal grill, stone fireplace, and barbecue pit shelter with sink, restroom facilities & walking trails. Call 803.359.1027 to make reservations for shelter or just show up for the tables on a first come first serve basis.

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Lake Murray Public Park

1797 N Lake Dr., Lexington | 803.217.9221

Features a large swimming beach, plus 3 shelters that can be reserved…all else is first come first served! Open 11am – 8pm weekdays & 10am – 8pm weekends & holidays (like on 4th of July!). $3 per car.

Sesquicentennial State Park

9564 Two Notch Rd. | 803.788.2706

This 1,419-acre park, situated in the middle of the sandhills region, features a beautiful 30-acre lake surrounded by trails and picnic areas.

Picnic Shelter Information: Five picnic shelters are available for family or other group gatherings at Sesqui. Each shelter may be reserved for $55-110/day. Their new picnic pads are not covered, and include picnic table seating for up to 25 people and a grill. These picnic pads rent for $35-75/day. If shelters or picnic pads are not reserved, guests may use on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge. Also, picnic tables are available throughout the picnic area and are first-come, first-serve at no charge. Groups may use no more than two tables at one time. To make a picnic shelter reservation, call toll-free 1-866-345-PARK (7275) or reserve online by visiting their website. They have SO much to do here…check it out here!

Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park

3 Three Rivers Greenway | 803.545.3100

Not only does this walk feature a paved walking trail, but it also provides a place for a picnic lunch whether you want to sit on the benches located in the amphitheater, at the picnic table or on the grass area that is set right beside the river. There is a beautiful red door located by the amphitheater that would be perfect background drop for 4th of July pictures!

Dreher Island State Park

3677 State Park Rd. | 803.364.4152

This park occupies all of the largest island in 50,000-acre Lake Murray and is the perfect spot for a picnic! They do rent shelters, but they will have 4 shelters closed off just for folks who want to come on a first come first served basis for 4th of July weekend! And there are 12 picnic tables under each of those 4 shelters. Also, there is an open lawn area right by the shelters that would be a great spot to lay out a picnic blanket and watch the fireworks from Saturday night! Admission price: $2 adults; $1.25 SC seniors, military, disabled; age 15 & younger free.

From the Vine :: Let’s Wine Down

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From the VineSavor this summer one sip at a time with great wine deals here in Greater Columbia at some of your favorite restaurants! There are over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes in the world, so it’s time to get tasting.

Mediterranean Cafe

 Wine Down Wednesday327 West Main St. | 803.356.6294

Wine Down Wednesday every Wednesday at Mediterranean Cafe! Enjoy 1/2 priced house wine all night, as you complement it with your meal of shrimp scampi or something unique like eggplant pizza.


Tombo Grille

Tombo Grille Tuesdays!

4517 Forest Drive | 803.782.9665

Every Tuesday at Tombo Grille enjoy great pricing. $15 for a bottle of wine & $5 for a gourmet pizza (that goes great with the wine!)

Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe

930 Gervais St. | 803.550.9979

During Happy Hour Mon. – Fri. from 5-8pm, their house wine is $4 by the glass and wine flights are $10 (4 draft selections of pour choice).

Cellar on GreeneCellar on Greene

2001 – D Greene St. | 803.343.3303 

Their next GIANT Wine Sale & Tasting falls on Saturday, July 9th from noon – 2pm. $5 per person (waived with the purchase of at least 2 bottles!). They always have at least 30 wines open for you to taste that are marked down at the lowest prices possible for you to custom build a case (or two!). Best part – this wine lover event is free, that is if you buy at least two bottles! It’s sure to be a fun time.
*Tuesdays: 1/2 off champagne
*Wednesdays: Wine Flights! (Usually 3 different wines each week)

Moriarty’s Irish Pub

902 Gervais St. | 803.888.6462

During Happy Hour Mon. – Fri. 4-7pm they offer $1 off house wine!

Liberty Tap Room

828 Gervais St. | 803.461.4677

1/2 priced house wines during happy hour Mon. – Fri. 4-7pm.

Gervais & Vine Gervais & Vine Wine Tasting2

620 Gervais St. | 803.799.8463

Wine tasting EVERY Wednesday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Only $8 for a cheese plate & 4 wines to try! Enjoy Foodies!

Rioz Brazilian Steak House

410 Columbiana Drive | 803.708.3151

$3 House Wine (Canyon Road Chardonnay, Canyon Road Pinot Grigio, Dark horse Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cellar no. 8 Merlot) available Mon. – Fri. 5-7 pm in the bar only.

Solstice Kitchen

841 Sparkleberry Ln #4 | 803.788.6966 Solstice Kitchen

During Happy Hour Mon. – Thurs. from 5-7pm (at the bar) enjoy $2 off glasses of wine
$20 bottle list at dinner Mon. – Thurs.
Mon. – Fri. at lunch enjoy glasses of wine for $4

Liberty on the Lake

1602 Marina Rd. | 803.667.9715

$4 house wines Mon. – Fri. 4-7pm! Ever Wednesday enjoy half-price wine night by the glass and bottle.

City Bar Martinis & Fondue

700 Gervais St. | 803.764.6125

During their Happy Hour Mon. – Fri. 4-7pm :: Wine special – $3 House Wine by the glass (Vista Point Vineyards — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel)

Happier Tuesdays :: Happy hour all night long – $3 house wine, $2.50 bottled beers, $1 off all martinis, craft cocktails and liquor selections.
Wine Down Wednesday :: 25% off all bottles of wine.

Mr. Friendly’s

2001 Greene St. | 803.254.7828

Tuesdays: 1/2 off champagne
Wednesdays: Wine Flights (usually 3 different wines offered every week!)

Pearlz Oyster Bar

936 Gervais St. | 803.661.7741

During their Happy Hour Mon. – Fri. 4-7pm :: $4 House Wines and $3 Champagne

Recently Opened or About To:

Opening Open

The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli

2617 Devine St. | 803.465.4947

Having opened their doors about 4 weeks ago, we’ve been delighted by their DEVINE Cinnamon rolls ever since! What makes their cinnamon rolls so special, eh? Their dough is made in house everyday from a special Hawaiian sweet bread recipe and this combined with their special cinnamon sugar blend & vanilla butter whipped cream cheese icing makes this a treat you won’t forget! In addition to amazing cinnamon rolls, they offer chili, kids meals, grilled panini, specialty sandwiches and more. Take a look at their full menu here!

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday – Sunday: 7am – 2pm (closed Mondays)

Shrimp & OystersGolden Bay Seafood Restaurant

6164 St. Andrews Rd. | 803.851.6372

Located by the Seven Oaks shopping center, this two month (old) NEW restaurant serves all the seafood that you could imagine. From many kinds of fish to oysters, shrimp, crab, stuffed clams and more your taste buds are sure to be in heaven. They have 2 types of platters that come with an impressive spread, plus they offer daily specials. Sunday’s lunch special is Lemon Baked Chicken for $7.19 and they offer their baby shrimp special ALL day on Sunday’s for $7.49.

Hours of Operation:

Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm

The Root Cellar logoThe Root Cellar

420 Columbia Ave., Lexington | 803.359.5436

Modern food, southern roots. That’s the Root Cellar’s mantra. The restaurant opened its doors in Lexington in mid-June, offering made-from-scratch dishes using the freshest ingredients from local growers and producers. They’re located in the same building on HWY 378 where Stefano’s was located. Signature items on their menu include Southern Egg Rolls (made with pimento cheese and pulled pork!), Pickled Shrimp, Deviled Eggs topped with bacon and green onions, a Blackened Catfish BLT, a Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwich, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a Double Cut Pork Chop and Banana Pudding Pound Cake.  Sounds like a recipe for success to us!

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm
Sunday: 11am – 2:30pm

The Lula Drake

1635 Main St. | 803.917.8107The Lula Drake

Opening this month in an Historic Main St. building, Lula Drake is billing itself as a Wine Parlour. They will be offering a varied menu of both food and spirits (with emphasis on the “spirits”.) Here’s what we can tell you: They are calling it Casa in Casa, or “House to House.” Think about discovering the small towns of Italy, Spain, France, Germany, or Austria, and then, suddenly, a wonderful villager invites you into their home to share what was brought in that day. For the Lula Drake, that means small plates, and a limited menu based on the wines and beers they’re pouring that day. Vegetarian options, of course, as well as Columbia’s base for the finest ham on earth- Jamon Iberico. Looking forward to seeing you soon.They will have a limited menu with small plates that are based on the wines and beers they are pouring that day. They will also have vegetarian options, as well as Columbia’s base for the finest ham on earth – Jamon Iberico (pictured on right). Their wine list will feature natural wines from small wineries. Why? Natural wines are family and farm driven with limited availability and the vineyards are organic, meaning these natural winemakers never use pesticides, added sugars, etc. Lula Drake will offer unique wines with history, as the basement at Lula Drake just keeps on offering riches from the past. They say that with “every glass, we drink in the shadow of where a wine has been, where it’s from, who made it and why.”

Sure Fire Tacos and Tortilla GrillSure Fire Tacos

916 Gervais St. | 803.764.1016

Tex-Mex with a twist! This Texas chain opened their Columbia location on June 13th! All of their recipes and ingredients are prepared fresh daily, from their 5 signature salsas to their scratch-made tortillas. Offers a casual, inviting atmosphere with an open bar and outdoor patio seating. Build your own nachos for $8, savor more than 10 kinds of tacos!, and feast upon their hearty quesadillas & burritos.

Join them for their grand opening party July 9th starting at 11 in the morning until Close!! Live music, fun games, and great drink specials!

Hours of Operation:

Open daily 11am – 10pm

Caribbean Soul Grill

901 Holland Ave, Cayce | 803.851.7477 Caribbean Soul Grill

Pay market price for crab legs, red snapper, and doctor fish at Caribbean Soul Grill, Foodies. The restaurant opened up in May and offers dine-in seating, as well as take out. Over 5 entrees are dedicated to chicken and they have more than 5 sides. Variety, ingenuity, & new! With 10 sauces to choose from and  appetizers like mozzarella sticks to taste for just $5…your taste buds will be in heaven. Can’t decide on just one appetizer? Ask for their “dis & dat” appetizer that will have a little bit of this & a little bit of that! Branch out with their Curry goat, Ackee & Saltfish (made with real coconut oil) & oxtail specialty dishes. Featuring a bar and their might just be a Sweet Potato Pudding on their menu for just $2.50. Fun for all!

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Thursday: 11am – 11pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 1am
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

July 2016 Deals!

Deals on Meals

Old Mill Brewpub

711 E. Main Street, Lexington | 803.785.2337

Visit Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington and sit outside on their covered deck if the weather permits or relax inside where the smiles are heartwarming–either way: take it slow and hanging out with friends, family, and their fabulous staff this month! Buy one get one 50% off on all pub sandwiches and pub entrees, Foodies!! Valid through the month of July! Enjoy great food with great savings!

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Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse

410 Columbiana Dr. | 803.708.3151

Rioz - Third Anniversary

Rioz turns THREE years old on July 13th, so help them celebrate by joining them for an exceptional dining experience for a very affordable price.

On Wednesday, July 13th, 20th & 27th enjoy their dinner feast for $24.94 instead of the usual $34.95. Now taking reservations, so call Rioz at 803.708.3151 to make yours today! The Dinner Feast includes their savory salad bar and unlimited servings of their delicious meat. Their three year anniversary party is sure to be savory.

New to the Menu: Summer

New to the Menu

Solstice Kitchen

841 Sparkleberry Ln #4 | 803.788.6966

SUMMER has arrived at Solstice Kitchen and that means a few brand new creations from Chef Alan and their fabulous crew! And a few of their newest creations include:

Pan Seared Sea Scallops w/ farro risotto, summer corn, grape tomatoes, smoked Nueske bacon, sweet pea puree & shaved black truffles

Summer Corn Carbonara

Summer Corn Carbonara

Lemon Basil Seared Atlantic Salmon w/ SC peach agrodolce, pecan gremolata, creamy Adluh grits & sauteed green beans

Summer Corn “Carbonara” of housemade chitarra pasta, sweet corn cream, smoked bacon, peas & shaved parmesan

Housemade Flatbread “Margherita” w/ heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, herb pesto, EVOO & cracked pepper

Plus, they have amazing nightly specials – check out their Facebook page.

 

SakiTumi Grill & Sushi Bar

807 Gervais St. #103 | 803.931.0700

SakiTumi grill & sushi bar, located in Columbia’s historic Dupree Building, is a fusion-style restaurant offering flavorful food in a casual, upbeat atmosphere. Their NEW “southernized” sushi rolls are completely unique to SakiTumi (and Columbia)! Yep that’s right – you won’t find these yummy rolls anywhere else in Cola, so go try them out today!

SakiTumi's Shrimp & Grits Roll1Shrimp & Grits Roll

Columbia’s own Adluh yellow grits blended with parmesan cheese and bacon, prepared just like sushi rice, and wrapped in fresh collard greens around fried shrimp. Garnished with Japanese mayo.

Maui Roll Maui Roll

Mango, avocado, red bell pepper and cucumber, wrapped in soy paper and topped with pulled bbq pork and a sweet and spicy red sauce.

 

Philly Cheese Steak Roll
Philly Cheese Steak Roll
Sauteed beef tenderlion, red bell pepper, shittake mushrooms, boursin cheese and green onion, wrapped in sushi rice and soy paper.

Old Mill Brewpub

Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington operates the one of the friendliest restaurants and bars in the metro area, and serves excellent pub food! Get to OMB to try one of their two NEW summertime dishes… have one with a craft beer from the tap! OMB now offers Chocolate Stout Braised Brisket Sandwich and Eggplant Parmesan Alfredo!  Sound your taste bud alarms because it’s time to pay OMB a visit.  See their entire menu here.

 

Chocolate Stout Braised Brisket SandwichBraised Brisket Sandwich

Layers upon layers of savory brisket await, Foodies! Carmelized onions, swiss cheese, and horseradish hop mayo. Enjoy.

 

Eggplant Parmesan Alfredo

Enjoy eggplant covered in marinara over penne pasta, mozzarella, parmesan, alfredo sauce served with garlic toast. Yum!

 

News Flash: Vote For Grill Marks

We’re proud of our city and its awesome growth the past few years, right?  We have some fantastic restaurants here in Soda City, and it would be great for the world to recognize Columbia for something other than Confederate flags and historic floods.  Well, here’s our chance! Grill Marks (in the Vista) has an awesome burger entered in the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, which brings awareness to crafting a healthier burger & is dedicated to exploring the ways that food enriches our lives. So please vote for Grill Marks here!  The project brings awareness to making a healthier burger, so Grill Marks has blended shiitake mushrooms, basil and garlic with their dry-aged, DeBragga Certified Angus Beef, making a burger that’s 35% less calories and 40% less fat than a normal burger patty.  

Specialty Burger for Comeptition.jpg
Grill Marks is in one of the top few spots (out of 250 contestants) & they need your help Foodies! You can vote daily from a link on their website through July 31, 2016.

Grill BarksDog Treats

Also, introducing their NEW Grill Barks — all natural dog treats for their dog guests! Grill Marks has one of the most dog-friendly patio’s in Cola & they just stepped up their game for your furry pooch…they’ll be asking to go back before you are even to your car.

Farms to Visit & Farmers Markets

What is better about food that is locally grown? It’s tastier! There are many farms here in South Carolina that would be fun to visit, so here are a few:

Bush-N-Vine Bush-N-Vine

1650 Filbert Hwy in York, SC | 803.684.2732

Located about 1.5 hours from Columbia, this farm is worth the drive! Pick your own peaches (available through early September), blueberries (available through late July), & blackberries (through early Aug.) this summer! Call Bush-N-Vine at 803.684.2732 for questions on picking conditions. Blackberry picking is the ideal activity for all ages, as their bushes are approximately 7-8 feet tall, so the berries are within reach of all ages. When you’re finished picking, try one of their fresh slushies or delicious ice cream flavors (made from fruit they grow!). You can also pack & eat a picnic lunch outside, watch the bees work in their observation bee hive, and walk through their 1 mile hiking trail. Fun times are sure to be had, so bring your camera!

Pick Your Own Hours:
Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm 
Saturday 8:00am-4:00pm 
Closed Sundays.

Enoree River Vineyards & Winery

Enoree River Vineyard.jpg

1650 Dusty Road, Newberry | 803.276.2855

Enoree River Vineyards and Winery is nestled in the heart of Newberry County & is best known by locals as the “Center of the Universe.” This winery offers guests a local wine tasting experience surrounded by beautiful vineyard views! Guests may also purchase their favorite bottles of wine, including Muscadine, fruit and Vinifera wines, to enjoy at home. The summer favorite, Red Raspberry, is available too, so if you visit this summer be sure to try some if they have it in stock. You could even call ahead and reserve a whole case of it! It’s time to wine down.

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Wednesday: by chance or by appointment (803) 276-2855
Thursday – Friday: Noon – 6pm
Saturday: 11am – 6pm
Sunday: 2pm – 6pm

Southern Blues Blueberry Farm Blueberries

216 E Boundary St., Chapin | 803.227.9660

This blueberry farm is located in Chapin, SC and has plenty of blueberries that are ready to be picked & we all know that there ain’t nothing like FRESH fruit. Enjoy cold drinks and frozen treats, too!

Hours of Operation:

Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays: 7am – 2pm

 

Little boy at farmers marketIt’s that time of year again… the farmers markets are gearing up for another year of bringing their customers the best in local produce – fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, seafood and more.  Many of these markets also offer locally made handcrafts and art.  Please let us know if we don’t have your favorite market on the list and we’ll add ’em.

Everyday

South Carolina State Farmers Market  Hours are Monday – Saturday 6am – 9pm and Sunday from 12noon – 6pm | 3483 Charleston Hwy. West Columbia

Tuesdays

Sandhill Farmers Market  Hours are 2pm – 7pm from May 3 – November 22  | Clemson Road across from Village at Sandhill in NE Columbia

Wednesdays

Forest Acres Community Market Hours are 3-7pm from April 27 – October 26 | Richland Mall {3400 Forest Drive}

Thursdays

Northeast Farmers Market in Lake Carolina Hours are 3pm – 7pm from May 10- October 25 | Lake Carolina Town Center

Saturdays 

Ridge Spring Farmers Market Hours are 7:30am – when they sell out from June 4 – October 29 | Parking Lot by 100 Town Square
Ridge Spring, 29129

Soda City Market 9am – 1pm (in hot weather, hours are one hour earlier) year round | 1500 block of Main St in Downtown Columbia

Kershaw County Farmers Market 8am – 12noon from April 9 – November 19 | 222 Broad St. Camden (by the Revolutionary War Park)

Lexington Farmers Market 9am – 12noon from May 7 – September 24 | 205 E. Main St. at Lexington Square Park

Irmo Farmers Market  1st & 3rd Saturdays of each month 9am – 1pm from April 2 – September 17 | New Irmo Community Park 7507 Eastview Dr. in Irmo

Grow Newberry Farmers Market 9am – 11:30am from June 4 – August 6 | Memorial Square

*Except 4th of July

 

Outside the City Limits: Savory Summerville

Take a drive down towards Charleston and stop in Summerville, SC for antique shopping, historic buildings and homes, lovely shaded parks with outdoor sculpture and definitely try one of their many restaurants.  Here are 2 we would like to recommend:

Eclectic Chef

125 Central Avenue, Summerville, SC  | 843.821.773
Eclectic Chef--food5

Visit this culinary destination nestled in the heart of Historic Downtown Summerville.  The quaint European-style café offers an “eclectic” and unique selection of sandwiches, paninis, quesadillas, wraps, as well as the freshest salads, soups, and desserts.  Try one of their 11 tasty fresh salads such as their Eclectic Cobb or Summertime Blues Salad.  Also enjoy an incredible variety of sandwiches, paninis, quesadillas, and wraps.  Start off with the Blackened Salmon BLT, which features seared salmon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon, and pesto, served open-faced on parmesan crusted ciabatta.  Or try the delicious Chicken Avocado Panini, with roasted chicken, roasted red peppers, red onion, mozzarella, mixed greens, and roasted red pepper pesto mayo. Yum!  If you just can’t decide between all of these tantalizing choices, then Eclectic Chef can help!  You can get their Pick Two Combo, which allows you to pick two of the following:  A Whole Sandwich, Cup of Soup, or 1/2 Salad.

Eclectic Chef--food1

Plus, if you want to eat at home but don’t have time to cook, Gourmet-to-Go allows you to choose from a wide variety of items from their succulent Low Country Shrimp & Grits to their creamy Chicken Pot Pie.

 

Yelp Reviews:
Print“If you’re looking for a truly tasty place in the heart of historic Summerville, this is where you want to be.  The menu is wonderful, the food is always fresh and home made, the service is quite good, and the prices are great. They have fabulous entree items to go, their cold salads are out of this world, and they even prepare for a crowd on little notice. Ask about catering, too!  Whether I dine inside, or out on the old cobblestone street, The Eclectic Chef is always one of my favorite places.” – Tina D.

“My family and I probably go here way too much, but we just love the quality and convenience. Summerville has become over-saturated with fast food and chain restaurants. It’s so refreshing to eat at a local restaurant! The food is always excellent and you can’t beat the price point. I’d recommend almost anything on the menu, but our favorites include: the cool ranch chicken sandwich, almost any wrap or salad, and their chili. Their sweet tea bar is so good as well. In addition to their daily baked sweets and treats!” – Stephanie J.

Hours:

Mon-Sat 9am-4pm

Matt’s Burgers

102 S Cedar St # B, Summerville, SC 29483  | 843.821.1911
Matt's Burgers--food2This old-school spot offers amazing classic & specialty burgers, chili, fries, and other comfort fare. Try the Chili Sausage Cheeseburger, smothered in 8oz. of chili & topped with American & Hot Pepper Cheese, mustard, pickles, and fried onions. Also try Matt’s award-winning homemade chili and his homemade coleslaw!  It just doesn’t get better than this. Enjoy the Southwest Chicken Special, featuring grilled chicken, onion & tomato, served over pasta, covered with American & hot pepper cheese, among tons of other choices of sandwiches, hamburger steaks, delicious burgers, and much more!

Google Reviews:

Matt's Burgers--Logo“I love your bacon cheeseburger so much. I love the way you’re always greeted with a smile and the wait is not long. One of the best places I have ever been to. Thank you so much for a great meal. ”  – Tiffannie R.

“Amazing chili, inexpensive great tasting food, free WiFi, military discount… It doesn’t get any better! I absolutely love this place. It is worth every penny in gas getting here and in the restaurant. I would recommend this place to anyone.”  – Cameron F.

Hours:

Tues 11am-3pm; Wed-Sat 11am-8:30pm

New Restaurant Coming Soon

Opening Open

Coming Soon:

1616 Gervais Bistro--Logo1616 Gervais Bistro

Opening in the former Back Porch location, 1616 Gervais Bistro is slated to open by early July.
1616 Gervais Bistro--Food1Will offer a unique open air dining experience with a cozy, unpretentious atmosphere. Enjoy their laid back atmosphere, two outside dining areas (and indoor!), plus delicious, traditional American cuisine. They will take reservations and will also welcome walk-ins.

Hours:

Open 11am-3pm for lunch Monday – Saturday and dinner from 5pm-9pm. Bar and lounge area open 11am-until. Will be closed on Sundays.

Visit their Facebook page here and their website here!

You Have to Try This Place: Moriarty’s Irish Pub

When James Pickle (great name for a restaurant proprietor!) met with his chef, Devin Maes, to develop a menu for the all new Moriarty’s Irish Pub, he told Devin that one of his top priorities was serving Moriarty’s patrons the BEST BURGERS in Columbia.  That’s a tall order in a town known for great burgers.  Undaunted, Devin worked tirelessly, putting his years of experience to the test.  An amazing burger was born  – a unique blend of high Moriarity's Burgerquality beef brisket and short rib, combined with a signature blend of smoked peppers, coriander, mustard seed and roasted peppercorns (daily roasted in house!) grilled over an open flame. Placed on artisan brioche buns, brushed with house-made infusions of oregano oil, basil oil, rosemary oil or garlic oil (depending on type of burger ordered) and grilled.  Fresh lettuce and ripe tomatoes, lager-drenched red onions and your choice of 6 different house-made sauces.  The restaurant even makes its own burger pickles, using homemade sweet and spicy vinegar (the menu calls them “quick-pickled sriracha cucumbers”).  Burger variations available with awesome toppings include The Smuggler (topped with diced tomatillos and poblanos, swiss cheese, and a honey jalapeno sauce) and The Fully Loaded Paddy Wagon (with topping choices that include a fried egg, a crunchy onion ring, jalapenos, bacon, salsa and tabasco).

In addition to serving excellent burgers, they also have a varied menu that includes Appetizers, Salads and Sandwiches.  One unique category: Gaelic Fare including Isle favorites like Gaelic and Guiness Stew,  Cottage Pie, Highland Poached then Grilled Bangers and Mash, and the like.  Like the burgers, everything is made-from-scratch, in-house (including their Corned Beef!) Moriarity's Bar

Their pricing is reasonable and we found that, the both times we tried it, the service was outstanding.

The bar is busy.  They have most extensive Irish whiskey selection in the City of Columbia, including:

  • Jameson 12 Year
    Jameson whisky Moriarity's
  • Hellcat Maggie
  • Teeling Small Batch, Single Malt and Single Grain

They also offer:

  • scotch from all over (representing all regions)
  • 100+ beers from all over the world
  • 35 wine selections
  • numerous types of mules (including swedish, mandarin, irish, french etc etc)
  • specialty cocktail and martini menu
  • a pet friendly patio
  • kids menu
  • 2 darts boards
  • silver strike video game
  • 25 TVs

Happy hour: $1 off all $6 wines and $1 off all draft beers & well liquors.

Visit their Facebook page here.Moriarity's Logo

902-B Gervais St (behind Longhorn Steakhouse) Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 888-6462

 

You Have to Try This Place!

City Bar | Martinis and Fondue

Tucked into the space behind Tin Lizzy’s in the Vista, you’ll find the new and gorgeous City Bar.  A sophisticated, upscale environment where martini and cocktail-making is an art City Bar Signageand food is inspired, artful and amazing.  Grab a seat at the huge bar that surrounds a giant illuminated martini glass, where guests are treated to a wide selection of cocktails and wines. Allow the barkeep to create an impressive “smoking” tiki drink for you, with a process that uses dry ice – a City Bar exclusive!Dry Ice Cocktails  Try a Capital City Mai Tai, Crouching Tiger or Watermelon Scorpion – where smoke rises from the surface of each concoction… fun! Or order a signature jumbo martini – served in a 48 oz martini glass – serves 3 or 4! Cocktail menu here.

Happy Hour will make you smile – Mon. – Fri. from 4pm – 7pm when domestics are citybar-happyhour-revised$2.50; glasses of wine $3 and $1 off all liquor drinks. Special small plates are available for $5-$6 during Happy Hour, including Southern Bruschetta, Adult Grilled Cheese and Boudin Balls.

Dinner: After visiting the bar, ask for a seat in the comfortable dining area to experience the foodie side of City Bar.   City Bar is all about sharing and enjoying time together.  What better way to share food than with a fondue!  Choose one of City Bar’s premium cheese cheese fonduefondues, all served with house bread and an assortment of dippables like green apple wedges, cherry tomatoes and gold fries.  Be careful! – tradition has it that if a man drops his food in the fondue, he buys drinks all around… if a woman drops her food, she kisses her companions!  After your cheese fondue, select an entree like Fork Tender Short Ribs, Chuck Town Shrimp and Grits, NY Strip or City Bar Ravioli served with house-made Bloody Mary gravy.  Review the  entire menu here.

Suggestion for an extra-special date:

Fondue for TwoFondue for Two   $65

Choose one of City Bar’s premium cheese fondues. Entrée for two people includes table-side Caesar salad, New York strip, tail-off white shrimp, marinated chicken cutlet, andouille sausage and vegetable ravioli. Served with our seasonal vegetables and choice of dipping sauces. Finished with your choice of City Bar’s sweet dips for dessert.  SPECIAL *OFFER FOR FOODIE NEWS READERS! Save $10! Fondue for Two only $55 if you mention Foodie News to your server! Good any night of the week!

Brunch: After thinking about Sunday brunch, City Bar decided it should be an all-day andSunday Brunch all-night affair!  YAY! From 9am until 11pm, guests will be offered the ultimate brunch menu with delectable dishes like:

Chicken and Cakes    Red velvet pancakes topped with panko hand breaded chicken strips. Drizzled with blackberry coulis, clover honey and toasted pecans.

Pan Pardue    Custard soaked baguettes folded with cream cheese and fresh berries, then baked. Soaked with strawberry coulis and clover honey. Served with sausage links.

Sip on special “brunch” cocktails like an Orange Sherbet Mimosa, Iced Gingerbread Coffee or Watermelon Mint Sangria. Or if you’d like something simple, try Ginger Infused Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice!  You’re going to love it!

Desserts: Fond of fondue for dessert? Look no further.  City Bar offers a list of sweet dipsChocolate and Strawberry that include Chocolate Turtle, White Chocolate Grasshopper and Dark Chocolate Caramel.  All dips served with lemon pound cake, dark cherry-chocolate chunk cookies, fresh strawberries and pretzels. Or try their featured dessert: White Chocolate Butter Scotch Crème Brûlée: Warm butterscotch topped with rich white chocolate folded into smooth custard, topped with a caramelized crust and praline bacon garnish. Mmmmm.

City Bar Logo

700 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

803.764.5125  |  info@citybarfondue.com

City Bar Hours

Tuesday – Thursday: 4 pm – 11 pm    Friday & Saturday: 4 pm – 2 am

Sundays: All-Day Brunch 11 am – 9 pm

Mondays: Available for private rentals

Reserve a table here.

Dining Al Fresco: Sitting Outside

The weather is so gorgeous in April and there isn’t much reason to be inside.  Choose one of these Greater Columbia favorites, each offering outdoor seating.

Mr. Friendly’s: 20160407_112539Great patio umbrella tables where you can sit above Five Points and chill out with a wine from their award-winning selection and some absolutely fine Southern eats.  Check out their Facebook page to see what’s cookin’ tonight.

M Kitchen: 20160408_164112Michelle Wang decided to include al fresco dining into her latest work of culinary art, M Kitchen.  Dine under trellises that allow starlight to peek through. A wonderful place that excels in healthy dishes that taste delicious… light and lovely foods for Spring!  Check out the M Kitchen website here to learn more.

 

Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar:Best of Patio 2 Solstice K Northeast Columbia’s favorite has a covered patio where guests can enjoy the afternoon or evening air while they enjoy the best food, hands down, on this side of Cola Town.  See what’s on the menu tonight by clicking here.

Old Mill Brewpub:old mill brewpub beer woman

 

Lexington’s only brewpub is just that… they brew fantastic small batches of craft beer on site, and they operate the friendliest restaurant and bar, serving excellent pub food.  Enjoy a brewski and a burger or pasta dish out on the covered deck and feel the breeze. They just brewed up a batch of Occoneechee Pale Ale and should have it on tap for the next couple weeks! More info here.

Gervais and Vine:gervais and vine The Vista’s perfect spot for dining outside or in, Gervais and Vine offers its guests a beautiful wine list and creative dishes that make you wonder why you don’t come here all the time.  Enjoy dining outside on their patio.  See more of their wonderful little place on Gervais St. by visiting them online here.

Liberty Tap Room on the Lake: Liberty deck view

Open again (April 5) after renovations, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with another restaurant with this great of view.  Sunsets from either outdoor deck (upper or lower) will take your breath away… their food and drink will make your tastebuds sing.  Get up close and personal with their food by visiting their website here.

Mediterranean Cafe: Lexington’s Mediterranean Cafe offers its guests dining outside at patio tables set up on Main St. where you can watch the world go by as you sup on amazing dishes from Azmi, master of the grill. Azmi grows many of the vegetables on the menu on his farm… so it’s Farm to Table all the time! Visit his website here.

 

 

You Have to Try This Place!

 

M Kitchen

M Kitchen - Sushi, Citrus Zest, large selection of wine!

M Kitchen – Citrus Zest, Sushi large selection of wine!

340 Columbiana Drive, Columbia | 803.764.0558

If you ask Michelle Wang, principal of the M Gourmet Group, what food means to her, she answers, “It means a lot to me.  Preparing good food for others is an expression of love.” And with this in mind, Michelle sets out to make every dish, every detail of every dish,  and the service with which it is served, something that shows how much she cares for her customers. Her newest restaurant is M Kitchen on Columbiana Drive in Harbison. She chose the name “M Kitchen” because she wanted it to feel like a comfortable place with a home kitchen, where guests are offered quality, cleanliness and a relaxed beautiful atmosphere.

M Kitchen Dining

This is a shot of the interior of the restaurant. New, clean, crisp, elegant, simple….just beautiful!

What is M Kitchen known for? LOTS. In the short time since they opened their doors, they have emphasized the quality of every single dish, every appetizer, every salad. Kale, avocado, and okra are just a few of the “clean foods” that they use.  Michelle believes in the healing power of food, and she tries to offer healthy menu items that will help people overcome weight issues and other physical problems.  The menu reflects offerings that are  healthy and portions that are not over-sized.

The staff at M Kitchen is also top notch with their friendly demeanor and detailed-orientated personalities, each working to make your dining experience at M Kitchen the best it can be. This restaurant is infused with happy employees and this translates into the care and time taken to prepare your food, which in turn will leave you happy and satisfied.

M Kitchen's Stuffed Avocado

Check out their whole entree menu here!  Michelle’s three personal favorite dishes are the Seared Salmon Belly Nigiri, Fried Stuffed Avocado, and their Roasted Duck Spring Rolls, so be sure you try these divine dishes.

We cannot recommend M Kitchen enough to you – exquisite food, detail-orientated staff, friendly ambiance, and high quality dishes. Call them at 803.764.0558 with any questions.

 

Outside the City Limits: Summerville

Fabulous Food and Drink in One of South Carolina’s Most Charming Towns

Just 1.5 hours from Columbia, Summerville can be the place to stop for dinner on the way home from the beach or a destination itself with its shopping, parks and festivals.  Try one of these foodie-pleasers!

Montreux Bar and Grill

127 West Richardson Ave., Summerville, SC 29483 | 843.261.1200 Montreux Bar and Grill

Visit this bar and grill if you find yourself in Summerville — your taste buds won’t forget it. They have a burger menu, a beer menu, and a general menu that offer the tastiest of items, along with variety unlike any other. Start off with their 1/2 lb Spicy Peel and Eat Shrimp appetizer or their Jumbo Wings appetizer and then dive into their amazing tacos (fish, shrimp, smoked chicken, beef or pork!), chicken salad sandwich or their Montreux Wrap that is made with grilled chicken breast, bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, and ranch dressing, and is served with potato chips and a pickle! Plus, their beer menu is a.m.a.z.i.n.g (meaning it’s large!) – IPA, Lager, Ale, Wheat/Hefewizen, Porter, Cider, + Draft. So many delicious choices, plus they have fun events and specials:

Sat/Sun Brunch (11am – 3pm): $2 Bloody Mary Bar / Build your own…. and $2 Mimosas & great food specials!
Tuesday Trivia/ $2 Tacos Night (5-10pm): Trivia starts at 8pm and their delicious tacos are waiting for you to devour them
-Wednesday (5-10pm): $6 burger night!
Thursday Game Night (9pm): Join them for game night every Thursday!

Montreux Bar and GrillLIVE MUSIC:

Wednesday at 7pm, Thursday at 10pm, Friday at 6pm & 10pm, and Saturday at 10pm

Google Reviews: 

“This is not just the average bar. Great place to hang out and chill, leather sofas and dark and cozy, kinda that French Quarter feel. The food is not your average bar food either! The food is right on, killer Fish tacos and mouth-watering burgers that are spot on. Nice selection of beers on Tap for the draught lovers. From what I hear from friends, this is the place to be for Sunday Brunch- made to order omelets, benedicts, bloody maries.. You have to try it! We did, we loved it!” – Google User

“This place is great. This pub could hold its own no matter the city. Try the smoked chicken sandwich or chicken Kabobs. Awesome people.” – Tamim

Hours:

Monday – Sunday: 11am – 2am

Oscar’s

Oscar's Steak Salad

Grilled Sirloin Salad — Spring Mix, Bleu Cheese Crumbles, Tomatoes, Crispy Potatoes & Tobacco Onions

207 W 5th N Street, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843.871.3800 

Offering both a lunch menu and a dinner menu, this fine establishment serves only delicious, hearty dishes. From the grill enjoy their 12oz Ribeye or their 8oz Sirloin, their Seared Salmon (fresh salmon filet, fried oysters, wilted spinach, fried potato stack & Dill Beurre Blanc) or their Goat Cheese Ravioli (vodka cream sauce, asparagus, artichoke hearts, toasted pecans & parmesan cheese).

Google Reviews:

“Best restaurant in Summerville. …Service is great. The steak is phenomenal. Don’t leave town until you’ve been here.” – Nick

“My husband and I just went for the first time and it was amazing. It is literally the best food I’ve EVER had, no exaggeration. The service was fantastic & the food was just as mind-blowing. Tammy, our waitress, and the quality of the food in combination with the fine dining atmosphere made this the best dining experience I’ve ever had. I had the salmon & oysters & highly recommend it. We’ll definitely be back.” – Saneva

Hours: 

Closed Sundays. Open 11AM – 10PM other days.

Outside the City Limits: Savory Summerville

Summerville is the savory sort, folks! A 90 minute drive for supper is nothing short of normal for many around Columbia who crave to get out of the city and head out on a day trip looking for adventure. This gem of a town is also on the way to Charleston, so you could even stop in here on the way to or from. Lengths are taken for savory, healthy, fun food, so this is us encouraging you to get Outside the City Limits and try something new!

Five Loaves Cafe

214 N Cedar St, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843.804.9410Five Loaves Cafe

 

Every day, Five Loaves Cafe is partnering with local purveyors and makers of food, wine and beer to bring you the best of the best. They also work with local farms to provide fresh vegetables (just view image on right – does that look fresh and mouthwatering or what?) They only serve antibiotic-free chicken and turkey raised in the Carolina’s, plus you’ll find only hormone-free and pasture-raised beef. The veggies are fresh, the meat is even better, and their take out food and drink containers are biodegradable and made from recycled materials. Every detail that goes into making your food is important to them. You are sure to have a delectable dining (or take out) experience.

Click here to view their lunch menu and click here to view their dinner menu.

They serve half priced wine bottles every Wednesday and Saturday Night 5PM until close! Don’t miss these delicious dishes because in 2016 it’s time to set your taste buds ablaze.

Google Reviews:

“My kinda place. So cute inside. Loved the mason jar glasses. I loved how it was very fresh, clean, and trendy but still SOUTHERN. I went there for lunch and had the smoked salmon salad and thai eggplant wrap. I will definitely be going back. ” – Em

“We were looking for a local place to eat (not a chain) we found Five Loaves on the web. We decided to try it. So glad we did. They have a daily special which is continually changing. We tried the pork tacos as an appetizer. So good with green tomatoes. We had the yellow fin and the shrimp. Both were fresh that day and outstanding , very flavorful and the presentation was very appetizing. Service was great. Very friendly. The owner came out and talked with us. Loved it so much we went back a couple of days later for lunch. Best sweet tea I have ever tasted. This is THE place not to miss in Summerville.” – Patricia
Hours:

Monday – Thursday

Lunch 11:00am – 5:00pm
Dinner 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Friday – Saturday

Lunch 11:00am – 5:00pm
Dinner 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Sunday

Brunch 10:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner 4:30pm – 9:00pm

Ice House

104 E Doty Ave, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843.261.0360 

Apple Pie Martini

Icehouse’s Monets Apple Pie Martini

Have you visited the only neighborhood tavern in Summerville yet, Foodies? If not – it’s time to hop in the car and take a little day trip to this savory destination. Click here to visit their Facebook page where they regularly update their menu and see what the ICE HOUSE is all about. They offer indoor and outdoor seating, so if it is a beautiful day then you will be set.

Google Reviews:

“Loved this restaurant, from the historical charm to the wonderful food! The Cajun pasta and the peanut butter & chocolate cake are amazing!! The staff was very nice and helpful! I would definitely come back!” – Julie
“This place is a hidden treasure in Summerville. This was our first time eating here. My wife and I were very impressed by the food quality, service is good also. The interior of the restaurant is very relaxing as well. We arrived 30 minutes before the evening crowd rolled in so we were just about done with our meals when we noticed a two man band arriving. We will definitely be back.” – John
“Husband had short ribs with mashed potatoes and I had filet mignon with blue cheese butter. Over the top-perfect. Price was reasonable for two with dessert at $45.00. Guitar player on Friday night made his guitar “sing.” We did not want to leave. Service was spot on-not too fussy but there when the drinks were empty with refills. Old world charm of the building and the comfy bench seats were nice touches to make you feel comfortable but yet very homey as well.” – Angela
Hours: 
Monday – Sunday: 11:00am – 2:00am

Outside the City Limits: Summerville SC

Savory Summerville

Around 45,000 people live in the quaint town of Summerville. You might know Summerville as the place that you pass by on the way to Charleston, but it’s truly a little gem of a town and it’s time to start stopping here. Summerville’s food scene is delicious and different than Columbia’s, so get outside the city limits and discover Summerville. Here are two restaurant suggestions that are actually located in the same building – one is roasting coffee and one is brewing beer, so imagine the aroma and the options, Foodies!

Coastal Coffee Roasters Coastal Coffee Roasters

108 East 3rd Street, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843.376.4559

Micro roasting specialty coffees since 2010, Coastal Coffee Roasters, is located in Downtown Summerville and is begging you to stop in because life is to short for bad coffee. They serve breakfast, lunch, coffee!, desserts, handcrafted sodas, beer, wine and tea, so the big question is have you tried any of their amazing concoctions yet? Leave the city for a little while and head to Summerville, though you can also have them ship you their amazing coffee from the comfort of your couch!

Coastal Coffee Roasters Rwanda

Rwanda Coffee

Their process for roasting coffee is simple: They believe in small batch roasts that offer the most control over the innumerable variables coinciding with roasting coffee. Each container of green beans from around the world is carefully hand separated to ensure uniformity in the bean. They then roast each batch of coffee as you need it, which means that your coffee is shipped to you almost immediately so that you have the opportunity to enjoy the same fresh roast taste we get to enjoy everyday. You wanted to order from them without leaving the comfort of your couch? No problem! Click here to view their kinds & then choose your grind (whole bean, french press, paper filter, espresso) and the number of lbs you need (.13lbs, .75lbs, 1 lbs, 2 lbs, & 5lbs) – it’s made to be easy. Enjoy!

Visit their website here for more information.

Hours:

Mon – Weds: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Thurs – Sat: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday: Closed

Oak Road Brewery

108 East 3rd North Street, Summerville, SC | 843.695.9886Oak Road Brewery

Summerville got it’s FIRST Brewery, folks! Oak Road Brewery’s focus is craft beer and they are a brewery first and foremost, as they create their craft beers for distribution. Oak Road Brewery does beer so well that this is all they do. Currently they have 6 beers on tap and they are always rotating the tastes and flavor profiles. Oak Road Brewery was founded by some dudes who love craft beer and everything that goes along with it and it just so happens to be housed in the same building as Coastal Coffee Roasters! They offer food from Coastal Coffee Roasters cafe if beer is not your fancy you can get another beverage (like wine!) at Coastal and still enjoy the brewery vibe at Oak Road.

Oak Road BreweryOak Road Brewery is quickly becoming known for their hand-crafted from scratch beers, so hop in the car (or your private jet) and head to Summerville to try out Oak Road Brewery for beer that you won’t find here in Columbia. It’s that good.

Visit their Facebook page here for more information.

Hours:

Wednesday: 2:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Friday: 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Outside the City Limits

Savory Summerville

Continental Corner

42 years of providing immeasurable quality customer and culinary service, the Corner is well known for their wide selection of unique and flavorful Greek dinners and lunches, available for dine in or take out. Click here to see their dinner menu!

  • Charbroiled Chicken “Riganato”
    • Boneless/skinless chicken with olive oil, lemon and oregano Continental Corner
  • Sliced Lamb
    • Slowly baked with lemon and oregano
  • Sliced Gyro
    • With tomato, onions and cream dressing

This place serves the best Greek food in Summerville, but don’t just believe us…..

Here’s what some of their customers had to say:

“We love this place. The food is delicious and not pricey at all. Great alternative to chain restaurants in the area. So much better! The inside is a bit small so sometimes there is a slight wait for a table, but don’t let that stop you. It is worth it!” 5 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

“Delicious food. The seasonings are authentic and remind me of my time in Greece. Try the Greek Potatoes.” 5 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

“I come to the continental corner every week. I love their chicken topped greek salad. The gyros & hummus are also delicious. They make the best ice tea in town! The wait staff is excellent. For dinners I love the lamb, pork & seafood. The pasta salad & Greek style potatoes are wonderful. I’ve never had a bad meal here. I know they have a lot of repeat customers & I am one.” 5 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

“This place has been here for years. It is owned by the son of the founders. The son happens to be an Orthodox Priest. The Greek food is not totally Americanized but more authentic.” 4 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

Continental’s Corners Hours:

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday Brunch  11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

123 W Richardson Ave, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843.871.1160 | Click here for website


Perfectly Franks

Featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”!  Want to enjoy gourmet hot dogs with a large side of tradition? If yes, then this is the place for you. Perfectly Franks is known far and wide for their original toppings galore and casual, friendly atmosphere, so stop in and enjoy!  A few of their famous franks include: 

Frank Morgan: with a really cheesy mac and cheese Mouth Watering Hot Dog with onions, tomatoes
Frank Coney: topped with chili, yellow mustard and onions
Frank Bruno: topped with their homemade Pimento cheese
-Frank Thomas (Chicago): Yellow mustard, tomatoes, sweet pickle relish, Kraut, sport peppers, onions and celery seed
Frankie B: Grilled bologna, melted cheddar, strawberry jam & a touch of bacon mayo
Frank ZAPPA: a really good “veggie” dog made your way
-Frank Cuda (BAMA): Chili, cheese, bleu cheese slaw, bacon and crispy onions

Click here to see their full menu that includes even more Franks (yes, seriously…many more!!!).

They have had a long time to perfect their food and now it’s as mouthwatering and fulfilling as ever. To be perfectly frank they serve amazing gourmet hot dogs, but also hamburgers, tacos, yummy sides of fries and onion rings, sandwiches,…you name it!

Foodies, check out their Facebook page here for updated specials as every Tuesday they’ll choose 2 popular hot dogs that will be available all day for only $2.00! Don’t worry every Tuesday, the 2 hotdogs will be different, so favorites are guaranteed to show up. Hop in the car and enjoy this super sweet deal if you’re free on Tuesdays! 

Perfectly Franks

“Frank The Dip”! A hot dog topped with homemade artichoke dip, grilled onions, and bacon — served with a side of seasoned tots.

Here’s what some of their customers had to say:

“They have hotdogs any and every way you can think of — my favorite is the one with pimiento cheese on it — super yummy. The sweet potato fries are definitely worth the fried food calories!” 4 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

“Featured on Diners, Drive ins and Dives…awesome hot dogs, tons of interesting varieties, awesome fries.” 5 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

“We stopped by on the way to Charleston, not knowing anything about the place. We were pleasantly surprised. I had the Cuban dog (pulled pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and spicy mustard) and it was fantastic. Would definitely go back.” 4 out of 5 stars | Trip Advisor

Perfectly Franks Hours:

Monday – Saturday 11:15AM – 8:30PM

118 N Main Street, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843-871-9730 | Click here for Website

Outside the City Limits

This is a brand new, fresh Foodie News feature!  Who hasn’t wanted to take a beautiful drive through the South Carolina countryside and wind up at an amazing restaurant for an awesome dining experience!  May we suggest…

Savory Summerville

Eva’s on Maineva's on main restaurant logo

71 years is a long time!  Eva’s on Main St. in Summerville has been serving hungry folks since 1944!  Awesome Southern comfort food is served up every day of the week (open for breakfast and lunch weekdays, brunch on Saturdays and Sundays plus on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings for dinner until 8pm). This place is definitely a South Carolina treasure and well worth the ride to Summerville!

Here’s what some of their customers have to say:

Eva’s
“5 of 5 stars
An old-fashioned southern-style gem. Loved the food and the atmosphere. I felt like I stepped back in time. The service was warm, welcoming and attentive. The freshly brewed sweet tea was absolute perfection; smoothly rich… a true taste of the South. I appreciated the fixed menu. The fried chicken was epic. And the greens…slowly simmered in a ham hock…yeow! Every single item we ordered tasted so good…”

eggs benedict at Eva's

Eggs Benedict at Eva’s on Main

““Great little restaurant.
5 of 5 stars
Great small restaurant. Just like eating at Mom’s. Great country food and dessert… Great take out too!””

“Great Southern Home Cooked Lunch
5 of 5 stars
We had lunch at Eva’s and the food was fantastic! The staff working there was great and all in all the food and experience was terrific.”

Eva’s Hours:

Monday and Tuesday from 7 am – 3 pm for breakfast and lunch
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 am – 8 pm for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Saturday and Sunday from 9 am -2 pm for brunch

129 S. Main Street, Summerville, SC | 843-873-5081 | Click here for website

Zest GrillZest Grill logo

An eclectic menu with creative foods served whether at lunch or dinner.  Try their amazing Summerville Chicken and Bacon (chicken tenderloin marinated in cider, panko crusted and pan fried with pecan bacon, ranch dressing, lettuce & tomato on toasted brioche) sandwich for lunch or for dinner try their Blackened Shrimp (pan seared blackened shrimp with collard greens in their bacon cream sauce over mashed potatoes). Beer and wine. Listen in on these customer reviews:

“We had a FANTASTIC meal at Zest! The Lamb was prepared perfect and the tenderloin was out of this world! The atmosphere was laid back with a very warm modern feel. The staff was friendly and fun. A good beer and wine selection along with perfectly cooked food made our experience a 10 out of 10. Can’t wait to go back again!…” -UrbanSpoon Fan

Zest Grill's salad with salmon

Zest Grill’s salad with salmon

“A friend & I visited the first time for lunch & were delighted with the food & service. I had the pork tenderloin grilled cheese with gingered peaches & my friend had the salmon salad. I took my husband for dinner a few nights ago & we were equally pleased. It was hard to choose because everything looked so good but I decided on the rack of lamb & my husband had the special which was Cajun fried chicken with red rice & collard greens. Yum!!!” – Facebook review

Zest Grill’s Hours:

Monday-Wednesday: 11am-10pm
Thursday-Saturday 11am-Midnight+
Sunday: 11-3 for Brunch

100 West Richardson Avenue, Summerville, SC 29483 | 843-875-3770 | Click here for website.

Meet the Chef

Meet the Chef

Meet Chef JT Simms of Tombo Grille

We love Tombo Grille’s fresh take on everything they serve.  The Summer Menu stands out: Get your palate revved with an appetizer from the Small Bites section: May we suggest smoked salmon spring rolls featuring cabbage, carrots and cream cheese and served with mango chutney.  Then a delightful summertime treat –  heirloom tomato salad arugula, avocado crème, candied bacon and fried onions with white balsamic vinaigrette.  For your entree, you’ll love the Palmetto Farms Cornish hen (much larger than a traditional Cornish hen!) served with ricotta gnocchi, zucchini, fava beans, oyster mushrooms and Madeira jus. OMG!

Tombo Grille’s executive chef, JT Simms, has a food philosophy:

“I believe the key to making great food is to start with the best ingredients – fresh, as local as possible and of the highest quality… then I take those ingredients and don’t manipulate them much.  I let the foods shine on their own by cooking simply – no heavy sauces or spices that cover up the natural flavors. I just do things to enhance the natural flavors.”

Woohoo!! Tombo Grille won the Peoples Choice award at Mac Madness 2015 and will be heading to Kissimmee, Florida to compete in the World Food Championships later this year! JT and Crystal–great job, we are thrilled for you & Tombo Grille! Outstanding. Foodies, aren’t you dying to try their Mac & Cheese now?

Here’s the rest of the story:

Foodie News: Where did you grow up and what influenced you to become a chef?

JT: I grew up in Columbia and Myrtle Beach.  I have a clear memory of trying to get off the school bus fast and hurry home to watch “Great Chefs” on TV.  I have no idea why I got interested in that show.  I just liked it, and I still like it.  My mom was a great baker which inspired me to pursue cooking.

Foodie News: Did you attend culinary school or learn on the job?Tombo Grille's Burger

JT: I learned on the job. I have been cooking for 17 years. I’ve worked a lot of places… my first job as a cook was at Saluda’s. I’ve also cooked in several high end resorts in Las Vegas, a small farm to table restaurant in Wisconsin, and Cyprus in Charleston.  When I moved back to Columbia I got the opportunity to be the chef at Tombo Grille.

Foodie News: Tombo Grille offers guests both daily specials and their seasonal menu.  What goes into developing your daily specials and your seasonal menus?

JT: Daily specials are designed daily – I don’t generally know what we’ll offer each day until I see what  kinds of seafood or meats are available that day.  I am always looking for the best of everything. I choose the daily specials based on finding the best cuts, the best catches, the freshest vegetables.  Our seafood suppliers deal directly with the fishermen… and they know I am picky.  So they only present me with really great catches.  Same thing with meats. And I go to the Farmers Market and pick produce myself.  As far as the seasonal menus, obviously I am thinking in terms of lighter, cooler foods in the summer and warmer, filling foods in the fall and winter. 

Sea Bass dish at Tombo Grille

Miso marinated sea bass with jasmine rice, shiitake mushroom broth and quick pickled Asian salad.

Foodie News: What kind of cooking do you most enjoy?

JT: I really like cooking anything.  I find cooking to be kind of therapeutic.  I like spending 2 or 3 hours on a pot of soup.  And, since I grew up in Myrtle Beach, I love fish.  I like grilling a really great fish, and coming up with an Asian or Hispanic sauce to complement it.

Foodie News: What is most rewarding about your job at Tombo Grille?

JT: Knowing that our customers love our food!  We have clientele who dine with us weekly and some with us daily.  I have come to know some of our customers so well that I can tell you who is in the dining room from the food they have ordered! 

Black Sea Bass Dish at Tombo Grille

Whole Roasted N.C. Black Sea Bass topped with a peach pico de gallo served with saffron rice, local greens and grilled yellow watermelon

I also really appreciate the freedom that Len and Gini, the owners, have given me.  I really feel I am able to cook without limitations.  So many times chefs have limitations put on them, but that doesn’t happen here.  I have worked at very fine restaurants in Vegas and Charleston, but I didn’t have the creative freedom I have here.  I really like that freedom. 

Thanks JT and Tombo Grille for creating food that we all love and congratulations again on winning BEST Mac & Cheese Peoples Choice! *Foodies, if you have not been to Tombo Grille it is a must try—savor every moment + bite.

Meet the Chef

Meet the Chef

Meet Pastry Chef, Hayley Miller of Kaminsky’s Dessert CafeHayley Miller of Kaminsksys

Interview by Miriam Cattell, Foodie News Correspondent for Gardener Guides

Welcome to the sweet side of Gervais!  Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe recently opened next door to its big brother, Pearlz Oyster Bar, on Gervais St. in the Vista.  In addition to freshly made desserts, they have an extensive coffee/espresso collection, dessert martini offerings and small savory dishes. Click here for menu.  We recently sat down with Pastry Chef Hayley Miller, to find out who is behind all these delicious desserts.

Foodie News: How did you become interested in becoming a pastry chef?

Hayley Miller: Well growing up, my grandmother used to work at the church kitchen at Shandon United Methodist down off Devine Street, and, before I was born, she managed several grocery store bakeries. So every time I would go to her house, which was normally every single day, I would be in the kitchen with her. She would always pull me into the kitchen and we would bake stuff…that’s kind of how I got started. My career is pretty much because of my grandmother! When I went to her house it was just like, “have at it!” “Wanna do this?…we will do this!” She would go sit down and leave me in the kitchen.  Later on,  a culinary arts program was offered at my high school and I enrolled in it. I stuck with it and that’s how I’ve ended up here.  I had always been more of an artsy student – I always did art camps and stuff like that. This job is like a fusion…the food part which I love, but it is also super artsy. 

Foodie News: Did you go to school to become a pastry chef or did you learn on the job? Kaminskys Dessert Cafe Milkshake

Hayley: A little bit on the job. Here and there, but I did go to school – I went to Greenville Tech. I got my associates in culinary arts/ baking & pastry. I know a lot of culinary stuff too. I enjoy the culinary part of things because it is more relaxed. I love doing culinary work sometimes because it’s different from baking – baking is so precise. With culinary you can just throw things together, but with baking you can’t just throw things together, you have to follow a recipe. So, culinary is definitely my fun side when I get to do that.

Foodie News: Where have you worked prior to Kaminsky’s?

Hayley: I worked at Two Chefs To Go and that is in Greenville, SC.

Foodie News: On average how many desserts do you create in a day?Cake at Kaminskys Dessert Cafe

Hayley: Here at Kaminsky’s we do cakes, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, and brownies and I mean normally probably a couple dozen a day. Sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays I will come in and decorate like 20 cakes and we will do a bunch of pies, and a ton of cookies and brownies. So, a lot!

Kaminskys Dessert Cafe Cookie PieFoodie News: What is your most favorite dish to prepare at Kaminsky’s?

HayleyI really like to prepare cheesecakes as they are fun and I like doing cookies. I’m big about our cookies. I am very funny about what temperature the cookies go in at, how they form, how they are scooped, and how they are made. I mean you have to have the perfect cookie, so I am very particular about those, like super particular. So, that’s probably my favorite to make because I am so funny…like that’s the one I care about, which is probably like the smallest thing, I mean it isn’t what we are known for, but it’s like that one thing that I have to have.

Foodie News: What is your most favorite dish to eat at Kaminsky’s? Kaminskys Red Velvet Cake

Hayley: Probably Red Velvet cake!

Foodie News: What do you consider to be the most essential item in your kitchen?

Hayley: Essential item would probably be the mixer, the oven, and the walk-in cooler. As far as ingredients go I would have to say eggs because eggs are pretty much in everything. Got to have those! Probably measuring cups and measuring spoons too.

Foodie News: What is the most popular signature dessert at Kaminsky’s Dessert Café?

Hayley: Red Velvet Cake and Tollhouse Pie. Tollhouse Pie is kind of like Charleston’s signature. Like if you are in Charleston and they tell you to visit Kaminsky’s, then they are going to tell you to try Tollhouse Pie.

Foodie News: Do you bake a lot at home as well? If so, what is your favorite dessert to make at home?

Hayley: No I don’t bake at home. (laughing) because I am always doing it here, but if I am doing it at home I like to use real French butter cream, like the old school, traditional kind. It is a lot different than what most people think of as butter cream. It has like eggs and really hot sugar. There is no powdered sugar in it at all, so it is really silky and fluffy and when most people taste it they are like, “Oh my gosh! What is this? I have never had this before. This doesn’t taste like normal icing!” I love making cakes with that. I make pound cake at home too because it is easy….a pound of this. Pound of that. Pound of that.

Foodie News: Kaminsky’s is also known in Columbia as the first draft wine bar. Do you see a lot of people coming in hoping to pair a good drink with a delicious bite of dessert? Kaminskys Dessert Pairings

Hayley: Yeah and I enjoy coming in and drinking wine as well, like when I am not working. They have a very good selection. Not only do we have 4 reds and 4 whites on tap, but we have a lot of bottled wine as well. We do a fun fetti cake, so a lot of people will get like birthday batter martini or some people get something coffee related and pair it with a chocolate cake. You see a lot of people pair things together. I have more of a fruity pallet, I mean I like chocolate, but I love fruit and as far as drinks go I wouldn’t probably get a chocolate martini, but something more citrusy or fruity.

Foodie News: What is the most complicated dessert dish that you make at Kaminsky’s? and how long does it typically take you?

Hayley: Probably are Gluten free dessert called the Double Dare Cake, because it just takes a long time, well because it is gluten free. You have to really watch your ingredients its just butter, sugar, and chocolate. That is pretty much it, so you really have to know what you are doing with it. The ingredients have to sit in a water bath in the oven and it has to hit a certain temperature, so it is kind of tricky for it to set up and still be like a cake. 

Foodie News: What made you want to work as a chef at Kaminsky’s?

Hayley: Well, because it was a new kitchen and it was a new opportunity. I didn’t have to follow behind somebody… it was kind of already structured from the one in Charleston… I was kind of already doing my own thing here.  I am the one in charge. It was a new kitchen and a new location. It just seemed like a good opportunity for someone who is really young.

Kaminskys Dessert Cafe CakeFoodie News: Lastly, what do you love most about being a pastry chef at Kaminsky’s Dessert Café? Favorite part?

Hayley: Everybody I work with. I love being in the kitchen and having free range to be creative. I really like the people I work with here at Kaminsky’s and at Pearlz. We have a really good group of people. I mean you don’t want to go to work if it’s not with people you like. So, we have a really good manager and all of our managers are awesome. I think everyone I work with helps being here every day!

930 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Directly Beside Pearlz Oyster Bar
803-550-9979

Monday-Friday: 5:00pm – Midnight
Saturday-Sunday: Noon – Midnight


Meet Chef Champ McGee of Little Pigs Barbecue

Yum. Wood-smoked pork.  It smells great and tastes even better.  Smoky pork sandwiches, pulled pork suppers and fall-off-the-bone ribs.  3 sauces – vinegar, mustard and red.   Here in Columbia, located dead center in South Carolina, barbecue capital of the world, there is a whole lot of competition for Q-lovers’ business.  Barbecue joints are everywhere, from roadside shacks and trailers to sit-down restaurants where Q is served off the menu or buffet-style with country vegetables, cornbread and banana pudding.   Barbecue is offered by roving Q trucks that show up at craft breweries, festivals and downtown parking lots at lunch time. Barbecue cook-offs are center stage at local festivals each spring and summer.  So where do you go for the best?  One of our all-time favorites is Little Pigs Barbecue on Alpine Road in northeast Columbia.  We aren’t the only ones who rate it high.  Little Pigs Barbecue was chosen Best Barbecue in the South bySouthern Living magazine.  Hard to quibble with their pick.  We recently sat down with Champ McGee, master barbecuer.

You started off working at Little Pigs when you were young and worked your way up. How did all of that happen?

The guy who owned Little Pigs, Lawrence Britton, was my neighbor and when I was 11 years old,  he asked if I wanted to help out (at his restaurant). I started out washing dishes and whatever else I could do. Over the years, I learned to do everything. In fact by the time  I was in high school, when I got off from school, I went to work and everyone else  who worked there went home. I ran the place totally by myself until supper time when Lawrence came in to help with the supper rush.  I have been at Little Pigs almost all my life.

How did Little Pigs start out?

Little Pigs has been in business for 45 years. The one on Rosewood Drive, before we moved here, was the 38th franchise out of Memphis. It had 36 seats and it was a small restaurant. People walked up to the counter and we chopped the BBQ in front of our customers. There were two wooden chopping blocks in front and behind us was a great big pit where we smoked the meat… and we’d cut the meat up and make sandwiches or plates right there. There was no buffet back then.

Best BuffetHow did you make the transition between having a pit you served from and a buffet and how has the buffet grown over the years?

In the 1962, we decided we would start a small buffet at the Rosewood Drive store. It progressed fast and the buffet was quickly becoming a larger part of the business. When we opened up on Alpine in ’78, we went totally buffet. You can still get a BBQ sandwich, you can still buy a BBQ basket, but it’s 99% buffet. You know, it’s over the last 10 years that we’ve expanded the buffet. We still had pretty traditional BBQ stuff when we first put the buffet out here. It was about half the size of what it is now. You had your coleslaw, and your barbecue beans, rice and hash, the different kinds of pork, and fried chicken with rolls and pickles and banana pudding. It’s grown from there. We have a lot of variety on this buffet today. I make jambalaya and we make chicken pot pie – both from scratch.  We added tomato pie. Everything we try and the customers like, we keep. I think there are over 40 items on there and we rotate things out every once in a while.  Mac and cheese is our most popular side.

Where is the pit located?

I have a pit in the back and three cookers outside. We do a lot of the chicken and ribs outside.

Is that all wood smoked? What kind of wood do you use?

It’s all wood smoked on hickory. Definitely hickory. I’ve got a chicken breast on my menu that’s a mesquite, but everything else is hickory.

How long does it take to cook something like a shoulder?Best Shoulder

18 hours. We cook the meat for 18 hours at about 225 to 235 degrees. We cook the BBQ overnight, and it’s smoked on hickory wood the whole time. Then we take it out, sauce it, let it marinate in the sauce until the next day, a full 24 hours, put it back in the smoker and bring it back to temperature and let it smoke. Not only is the meat smoked, but the sauce actually gets smoked into the meat. I don’t think anybody else in town does that and it makes a difference in the flavor.

You use three different sauces for your BBQ, right?

Yes, plus out here in the buffet area, we also offer meat with no sauce. We have shoulders that are cooked over hickory wood and we put it out on the pig pull, without sauce. Fridays and Saturdays, we use between 12 and 15 shoulders on the pig pull, which is the front leg. The ham dries out more, but the shoulder stays moist out here under the light.

What seems to be the favorite dish that people like to get off of the buffet?

Mustard BBQ. In this area, that’s going to be the biggest hit. I don’t keep up with the weights, but we probably use about 3,000 pounds of ribs a week. No other BBQ restaurant in town gives you all you can eat ribs on the buffet.

What about favorite side dishes?

Macaroni and cheese, number one. Hash is number two. Our hash is different from any other hash. It’s the Little Pigs of America’s hash. It has no heads, no feet, no livers, no junk. Typically, when you think about hash, BBQ people use hash to get rid of what they couldn’t make BBQ out of. We don’t do that at all. It’s pork ham and chuck roast. All meat. Period.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare?

I really love making the chicken pot pie. It’s a lot of fun. You’re using fresh carrots and celery. You caramelize the onions and add flour and milk and you make the roue to just the right thickness. I use pie crust on top and bottom. We serve probably 50 gallons a week – it’s really good.

What’s in tomato pie? A lot of people have never had tomato pie. I’ve always wondered what goes into it.

It’s tomatoes and basil, caramelized onions, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese. Fresh basil is what makes it.

Did you ever think about owning Little Pigs when you were younger?

I bought in early on, and then when Lawrence died, I bought his wife out.  I did have another career –  I ran the dining room, dormitory, mail room and reservation section for the Police Academy for 32 years, 5 months, and 17 days, but I never quit Little Pigs. I worked at the Police Academy from 4:30am until noon, and I was at Little Pigs starting at 12:30pm every day.

Do you have any good food combinations that you’ve tried over the years that people wouldn’t necessarily think about?

Not really, other than things I like to eat. I like french fries on my BBQ sandwich. And skins on my BBQ sandwich. That’s really good.

When you’re catering, is there a set menu?

We have nine different menus on the website. We don’t just do BBQ. We do weddings, and I can make foods from any custom menu. Matter of fact, right now I’ve got a wedding I’m doing and they want bruschetta fig gorgonzola, and I’ve never made that before but we’re going to figure out how to do it. We do anything. Any custom menu you want for catering.

4927 Alpine Road Columbia, SC 29223 | 803.788.8238

Wednesday: 11am-2pm
Thursday: 11am-8:30pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am-9pm
Sunday: 11am-3pm

Little Pigs BBQ Bulk Menu

The Mediterranean Cafe and Their Own Farm

The Mediterranean Cafe Grows their Own Veggies

Talk about “Farm to Table”!   Azmi Jebali and his wife, Beth, owners of the Mediterranean Cafe in Lexington SC, are in their 3rd year of running their own small farm which yields fresh vegetables like kale, lettuce, collards, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, beans, okra, cabbage, cauliflower, to peppers! Watermelon, cantaloupe, and sweet corn also our grown on their farm.Fresh Produce

The majority of the vegetables used at the cafe throughout the summer and fall are grown by Beth and Azmi.   Treat yourself and your tastebuds to the best cooking in Lexington and the freshest veggies anywhere… Mediterranean Cafe and enjoy Beth and Azmi’s labor of love.

 327 W Main St. Lexington, South Carolina | 803.356.6294

Hours: Mon – Friday Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm

Mon – Thurs Dinner 5:30pm – 9pm

Fri and Sat Dinner 5:30pm – 9:30pm

Little Pigs BBQ Shared Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

Little Pigs Barbecue: Chicken Pot Pie

If you don’t feel like turning on the oven this summer, head over to Little Pigs Barbecue on Alpine Road… the chicken pot pie is on the buffet, along with pulled pork bbq, barbecued ribs, mac and cheese, homemade salads and desserts.  Yum! Click here for Little Pigs website.

Ingredients:

6 boneless chicken breasts (5oz each)Chicken Pot Pie
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup frozen sliced carrots
1 cup frozen peas (green)
1 cup diced celery
1 large onion diced
1 cup of milk
1-1/2 cups of flour
2 prepared pie crusts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken breasts in the oven to 180 degrees internal temperature (approximately 25 minutes). Cut them up into bite sized pieces and place in a pot with the broth (including the broth from the oven). Add the carrots, celery and peas. Season to taste with salt, pepper & garlic powder. Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook the diced onions in a pot over medium heat until clear, add the flour and milk. Turn off the heat. Add the flour mixture into the boiling chicken and vegetables. Whip until smooth. Turn off and let set for 5 minutes. Place in pie crust and cover with a second crust. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Serve.

Little Pigs BBQ Bulk Menu

2016 Farmers Markets

Little boy at farmers marketIt’s that time of year again… the farmers markets are gearing up for another year of bringing their customers the best in local produce – fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, seafood and more.  Many of these markets also offer locally made handcrafts and art.  Please let us know if we don’t have your favorite market on the list and we’ll add ’em.

Everyday

South Carolina State Farmers Market  Hours are Monday – Saturday 6am – 9pm and Sunday from 12noon – 6pm | 3483 Charleston Hwy. West Columbia

Tuesdays

Sandhill Farmers Market  Hours are 2pm – 7pm from May 3 – November 22  | Clemson Road across from Village at Sandhill in NE Columbia

Wednesdays

Forest Acres Community Market Hours are 3-7pm from April 27 – October 26 | Richland Mall {3400 Forest Drive}

Thursdays

Northeast Farmers Market in Lake Carolina Hours are 3pm – 7pm from May 10- October 25 | Lake Carolina Town Center

Saturdays 

Ridge Spring Farmers Market Hours are 7:30am – when they sell out from June 4 – October 29 | Parking Lot by 100 Town Square
Ridge Spring, 29129

Soda City Market 9am – 1pm (in hot weather, hours are one hour earlier) year round | 1500 block of Main St in Downtown Columbia

Kershaw County Farmers Market 8am – 12noon from April 9 – November 19 | 222 Broad St. Camden (by the Revolutionary War Park)

Lexington Farmers Market 9am – 12noon from May 7 – September 24 | 205 E. Main St. at Lexington Square Park

Irmo Farmers Market  1st & 3rd Saturdays of each month 9am – 1pm from April 2 – September 17 | New Irmo Community Park 7507 Eastview Dr. in Irmo

Grow Newberry Farmers Market 9am – 11:30am from June 4 – August 6 | Memorial Square

*Except 4th of July

Special Shares from Il Giorgione, Solstice Kitchen, Pearlz Oyster Bar and Old Mill Brewpub!

il giorgione logoTortelloni Alla Stefania

Affectionately known in the Shandon neighborhood as “Gio’s”, Il Giorgione is the answer to the question, “who serves good Italian food on Devine St. these days?”  Located next door to the old Dianne’s on Devine, Gio’s serves up authentic Italian fare (see menu here), developed by George and Monica Kessler (owners) and their love for Italy. Pizza, pasta, soup and salad. They keep it simple. They also have daily specials and a terrific wine list. We love the little lemon trees on the tables and the outdoor patio seating.  And their happy hour… let’s not forget that – including $15 pitchers of Bellini (Italian sparkling wine and peach nectar) on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm – 7pm. Learn more at the Il Giorgione website. Staying in? Give this original recipe a try… you’re gonna love it!

Stefania

Try Il Giorgione’s Cheese Filled Pasta with a San Marzano Tomato and Butter Sauce!

Ingredients
8-9 oz. Cheese filled tortelloni (fresh preferred)

2 cups canned, peeled tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 quart water

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano

Sea Salt

Heat 1 quart water to boil (salted generously). In another pot combine canned tomatoes and butter. Heat tomatoes and butter until butter is melted, lower heat and cook on low for 10-15 minutes. Remove tomatoes and butter from heat and cream together with a hand mixer / emulsifier. Cook tortelloni in salted water as per instructions until tender. Drain tortelloni and place in serving bowl, then top with tomato and butter sauce and freshly grated parmigiano. Makes 2 servings. Buon appetito!


Chocolate Raspberry Martini

Solstice Kitchen‘s cuisine can be labeled many things, but it is most definitely seasonal. If you haven’t ventured out to Sparkleberry Lane at Clemson Road in Northeast Columbia, you just don’t know what you’re missing.  This place is the #1 dining destination in that part of town, and well worth the drive… even if you live in Lexington or beyond.  The menu changes daily to reflect whatever is fresh and available… these people love to cook, and it shows.  You won’t be disappointed.  Visit their website here. And like them on Facebook so you can keep up with what they are offering each day. Click here.

chocolate raspberry cocktails

Enjoy a Chocolate Raspberry Martini with your love this February at Solstice Kitchen!

Ingredients

1 oz. 360 Chocolate Vodka

1/2 oz. Chambord

1/2 oz. Bailey’s

2 oz. Half & Half

1/4 oz. Raspberry Syrup

Fill a shaker half way with ice, add all ingredients and shake vigorously, pour into a chilled martini glass. To create a fun design on the top of the martini you can use chocolate and/or raspberry syrup. Draw 8-10 lines of the syrup evenly spaced across the top of the martini, then take a toothpick and run it in the opposite direction of the lines of syrup.


Baked Oysters Rockefeller Pearlz logo

Check out our interview with Executive Chef Michael Orel in Foodie News!  Click here and learn about what makes Pearlz so popular… watch a video of how to open an oyster – stabber style!  Click here.

Pearlz' twist on the classic recipe! Crawfish, lump crab, bacon.

Pearlz’ twist on the classic recipe! Crawfish, lump crab, bacon.

Ingredients
12 oysters in shell (liquor reserved)

2 oz ( about 1 strip) of bacon diced

1 shallot fine dice

1 small clove garlic minced

2 tsp celery fine dice

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup half and half

1 tbsp white wine

1/3 cup packed basil (chiffonade)

2 oz spinach (rough chop)

2 oz crab meat

2 oz crawfish tails

2 tsp blackening seasoning

1/2 tsp old bay

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

1 3/4 oz Roux

First, shuck oysters and reserve any liquor that comes from them. Render bacon down. Cook until fragrant without  burning. Add all vegetables and sweat down with bacon until translucent. Next add all liquid ingredients, including oyster liquor, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the seasonings, crab, and crawfish meat. Add basil and spinach and wilt, but do not let them turn brown. Last add the roux and 1/2 the Parmesan and allow to thicken, then remove from heat. Once cooled, top shucked oysters with filling, and top with Parmesan and panko bread crumbs. Back at 450 degrees until golden brown. Serve on a platter with rock salt. Yields One Dozen Oysters.


Peanut Butter Cheesecake

The best celebrations in Lexington happen at Old Mill Brewpub! From sampling a flight of their microbrews to great pub food (definitely best burger west of the Saluda River) to amazing desserts… try this one at home (although I think I’ll leave this one up to them…I’d end up eating the whole cake if it was at my house). Visit the Old Mill Brewpub website here.

Old Mill Brewpub, Peanut Butter Cheesecake!

Old Mill Brewpub’s awesome Peanut Butter Cheesecake!

Brownie Layer
1 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

Pinch salt

5 Tablespoons butter (melted)

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate

Taste vanilla extract

4 eggs

3 Tablespoons sour cream

(No bake) Cheesecake Batter

½ cup butter (softened)

½ cup sugar

2 ½ lb cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

Taste vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache

1 ½ c Heavy Cream

1 ½ c semi-sweet chocolate

BROWNIE PREPARATION

Bring the butter and vanilla to a boil and add the chocolate chips. Bring off the heat and slowly stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. On a mixer with a paddle, combine all of the dry ingredients  and mix on low speed until blended. Add the eggs and sour cream and mix until smooth using medium speed. Add the chocolate/butter mixture and mix on medium speed for 5 min. Scrape the bowl and mix again for another 2 min. Spray and paper line a 9 inch spring form cake pan Pour the brownie batter into pan to approx. ½ inch. Bake at 325F for about 25 min or test with a toothpick so it comes out clean. Allow to cool and set aside.

GANACHE PREPARATION

Bring the heavy cream to a boil. Turn off heat and add the semi-sweet chocolate Stir with whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside.

CHEESECAKE PREPARATION

Melt peanut butter in microwave for 1 min. Mix the soft butter and granulated sugar in mixer with a paddle and mix to a creamy texture. Add cream cheese and vanilla and mix well. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Add the melted peanut butter and mix well. Scrape the mixing bowl and mix again on medium speed until the mixture is smooth.

FINAL PREPARATION

Unmold the brownie from the spring form pan to remove the paper lining on the bottom. Replace the spring form pan with the brownie layer on the bottom. Carefully spread all of the cheesecake batter and smooth with an offset spatula, making sure the top is flat. Carefully pour the chocolate ganache on top to make a thin layer. Cool the peanut butter cheesecake in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until it is set. Enjoy!!  Yields 1 – 9 inch cake.

Shared Healthy Start Recipes

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Barbecued Shrimp

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Ruth’s Chris Barbecued Shrimp

 

Ruth’s Chris Barbecued Shrimp Visit Ruth’s Chris online!

Ingredients
20 Each 16/20 Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 oz vol Canola Oil
1 TBL + 5 tsp Green Onions, chopped
2 oz volume Dry White Wine
1 tsp Fresh Chopped Garlic
4 TBL Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Paprika
8 oz weight Butter, salted

Wash shrimp under water and then peel the shells and discard. Deveined the shrimp with a paring knife and then wash under water. Repeat until all shrimp are done, place on a sheet tray and place in the refrigerator. Place a large cast iron skillet on a burner and heat over high heat. Add oil and cook shrimp until they are just done, you may have to do these in batches if you do not have large skillet. Remove shrimp and set aside. Add green onions and cook for 1 minute. Add white wine and reduce the volume by half. (Any good dry white wine will work) When the wine is reduced by half; measure and add the chopped garlic, Worcestershire, Tabasco, Cayenne Pepper and Paprika. Shake the pan well. Cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low. Cut butter into small chunks with the knife and slowly add into pan, shaking fast to melt butter. Continue to add butter until it all added and shake until butter is melted. Add shrimp back to pan and toss well to coat shrimp with butter and to heat the shrimp.

TO PLATE

Place 5 shrimp on small serving plates with a deep edge and ladle barbecued butter over the top over the shrimp. Repeat with the other shrimp and sprinkle each plate with 1 tsp of chopped green onions, serve right away.
NOTE: For chopped garlic peel fresh garlic cloves and rough chop with a chef knife. For green onions, wash green onions under water shake off and cut with a chef knife into 1/16” cuts, using the green part only.


Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse: Caipirinha

Rioz Brazilian drinks, Caipirinha, Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse

Try Rioz’s specialty Brazilian drink: Caipirinha! Sim Por Favor!

Specialty Brazilian cocktail! Visit Rioz online! 

 Ingredients
2 tsp granulated sugar
8 lime wedges

2 1/2 oz of cachaca

Muddle the sugar into lime wedges in an old-fashioned glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes. Pour the cachaca into the glass. Stir well. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail made with Cachaca. Like rum, it is made from sugarcane, however, Cachaca is made from sugarcane juice whereas rum is made from molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process.


Whole Foods Market: Kale, Mushroom and Tomato Saute with Polenta

If you’re a mushroom lover, use different varieties of mushrooms like shiitake, portobello or cremini in this rich, savory sauté. For extra flavor, try using olive oil from the jar of tomatoes in lieu of regular olive oil. (Serves 4) Visit Whole Foods online! 

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Healthy Whole Foods: Kale, Mushroom and Tomato Saute with Polenta!

 Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound sliced button mushrooms
Salt and pepper
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch kale (about 3/4 pound), stemmed and roughly chopped
1 (18-ounce) roll precooked polenta, cut into 8 rounds
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in kale and 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Cover and set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Arrange polenta in skillet in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer polenta to a paper towel-lined plate as done.
Arrange polenta on plates, spoon kale and mushroom mixture over the top, garnish with cheese and serve.

Shared Recipes!

Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse: Mint and Lemon Pepper Marinated Lamb Chops w/ Pearl CousCous (4 servings)

Visit Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse online!

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Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse’s own Mint and Lemon Pepper Marinated Lamb Chops w/ Pearl CousCous!

Marinated and Grilled Lamb Chops

Fresh Mint Leaves- 4 cups
Lemon Pepper Seasoning-1 TBSP
Fajita Seasoning-1 TBSP
Sea Salt-1 TSP
White Wine-2 cups
Lamb Chops-12 chops

Combine first five ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Set marinade aside. (marinade can be made in advance). Prior to grilling lamb chops, baste each chop with marinade. Cook lamb chops 2-3 mins on each side over medium-high heat. During grilling process, baste the chops with marinade often. Remove lamb chops from grill, allowing the chops to rest before serving over couscous.


Pearl CousCous

Pearl Couscous-1 1/3 cups (about 7 ounces)
Chicken Stock -2 ½ Cups
Sea Salt-1 TSP
Extra Virgin Olive Oil-2 TBSP
Black Pepper-1/4 TSP
Green Peas (frozen)-1 cup thawed
1 Yellow Pepper- Roasted and thinly sliced
1 Red Pepper-Roasted and thinly sliced
Dried Cranberry-1/2 Cup
Fresh Mint Leaves

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and cook until lightly toasted (about 2-3 mins). Add the stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until couscous is tender, but still firm to the bite (about 8mins). Stir in peas, sliced peppers, cranberries. Scoop to plate. Top with Grilled Lamb Chops and fresh mint.


Little Pigs BBQ: Potato Salad

A favorite from their famous buffet! Visit Little Pigs Barbecue online!

Little Pigs, potato salad, potato salad recipes

Little Pig’s famous potato salad recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser for any gathering!

3 lbs. Potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 large Onion (diced fine)
2 cups Mayonnaise (dukes)
1 cup Celery (diced fine)
4 each Boiled eggs (diced)
4 tablespoon Mustard
1 cup Pickle relish (sweet)
2 tsp. Salt
1 tablespoon Black pepper
1 dash Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Paprika

Boil potatoes until tender (do not over cook). Drain. Add mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and onion too hot potatoes. Place in refrigerator for one hour. Take out of refrigerator and add the rest of the ingredients, except paprika. Put back in refrigerator untill chilled. Take out and sprinkle paprika over the top before serving.


Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

Photo of Ruths Chris sweet potato casserole with pecan crust, Ruths Chris side dishes

Savor a taste of heaven with Ruth’s Chris’ fan favorite: Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Casserole!

Pecan-crusted heaven! Make reservations at Ruth’s Chris here!

Crust mixture:
1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1/3 stick butter, melted

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Sweet potato mixture:
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a medium-size casserole dish with nonstick spray. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a large mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat thoroughly with a hand mixer to increase the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (At this point, dish can be covered and refrigerated.) Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture and return to oven for 10 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving. The brown sugar and pecan crust should be slightly browned and crunchy.

BEEP BEEP BURP: Here Comes the Columbia Brew Bus!

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The craft brewery business is booming in Columbia, and it didn’t take long for enterprising folks to capitalize on it.   Columbia Brew Bus follows in the footsteps of other brew bus services in the Southeast.  It’s a shuttle service that will take riders from brewery to brewery, allowing them to sample beers at each and learn about the process of making the brew at each stop. The bus will begin taking people on tours of River Rat Brewery, Conquest Brewery, and the newly opened Swamp Cabbage Brewery just as soon as they get their vehicle approved for use by SC DOT. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy a night out with friends and sample hand-crafted brews from each brewery as you learn how each facility makes their beer. The Brew Bus offers entertaining games and sightseeing as you travel from place to place, as well as a safe traveling option from brewery to brewery.   Here is some insider info from Cam Powell, one of three business partners behind the Columbia Brew Bus.

Columbia Brew Bus logo

Cool logo, eh? Love the beer tap on the back of the barrel!

What goes on at the breweries? How long will the tours of the breweries last? Will you be giving the tours, or will someone from each brewery be giving the tours?
Someone from each brewery will be taking our guests on the tours. Basically, each stop is going to be about an hour. When you get to each brewery, you’re going to spend the first 20 minutes or so tasting the beers while one of the brewery staff talks about the beers you’re tasting.  You’ll get about 24 ounces of beer at each stop. Depending on where we are, you’ll get a flight (4 or 5 small glasses of beer that are usually drunk in progression from light to dark) and a 10oz pour to take with you on the tour, or you’ll get a bigger flight and you can buy a pint if you want to take something with you. After the tasting, one of the brewers or one of the head bartenders will take you into the brewery itself and talk a little about the equipment and how they got started and what makes their beers unique. It’s a full-on facility tour. At the end, there will be 10-15 minutes where you can ask questions or buy some more beer, if you want to. We’ll have coolers on the bus to help keep your beer cold throughout the duration of the tour.

What sort of activities can your passengers expect once aboard the Brew Bus?

We’re going to have some snacks while in transit to make sure everyone has something in the stomach while we are going between these places. I’ve lived here for almost 7 years and Mike’s lived here his entire life, so we are going to pick up and drop off in the Vista and do a bit of sightseeing while we are on our way to each brewery. We are going to take you down by the State House and through the campus a little bit. For anybody who’s from out of town, you’ll get to see some of the major Columbia landmarks. While we’re riding along we’ll be playing some trivia games and things like that. Each tour will have a prize, like a nice big bottle of beer from one of the local breweries, or something else that a beer lover would like.

What days are you going to be offering the Brew Bus tours?

Starting out, it’s going to be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Hopefully, there is a big enough market and we’ll be able to expand to different days. For the first few months, we are just going to do those three days.

Will you sell tickets online and what is the projected fare?
Our full website isn’t up and running yet, but when it is, it’s going to be columbiabrewbus.com. We will sell tickets online. Right now we have the tours priced at $50. When you book online, there will be a 99 cent booking free through the company we use. If you were to book one tour, it will be $51. 

River Rat Brewery will be on the Brew Bus tour!

River Rat Brewery will be on the Brew Bus tour!

You mentioned you were going to three breweries (Conquest, River Rat, and Swamp Cabbage), as your destinations.  There are other brewers in town like Old Mill Brewpub and Hunter Gatherer.  Will you add places to your itinerary?

We will…  Being so close to when we’d like to open, we really had to narrow our focus and make sure we can achieve everything we want to. We didn’t want to do too many things and not come out to the public with a big impact.

There are a few tours like this around the coast of SC, but nothing like this here. How do you plan on drawing people into your tours here in Columbia?
We’ve contacted and worked a little bit with the Columbia Visitor Bureau and the Convention Center. Once our website is up and fully functional, they’ll be promoting that on their websites. Hopefully, we can get into some of their promotional materials. We want to get in with the hotels. We work with Theodore and Associates Insurance downtown and the guy who’s my agent used to be a hotel manager at Staybridge Suites over by Fort Jackson. He said that they have families coming in all the time there with the graduations at Fort Jackson and the military coming in. The first thing they say is “What’s there to do around here?” There are plenty of things to do here, but after you’ve been here a while, it turns into the same thing. We want to do something that’s outside of the mold.
The craft breweries are definitely breaking through and that’s something new to do here. Unless you want to shell out the money for a fare in between each place, or you want to have a designated driver, there is no safe way for everybody to get from brewery to brewery and be able to try craft beers at each one. It becomes a dilemma for a lot of people because sometimes you end up staying at these places longer than you planned to and you have to have the have the money for a cab or you have to find some other way home. For anybody going down to these craft breweries, this will eliminate any of that risk for them. 

Have you done anything else, like starting a business, or is this your first business?
No, it’s my first business. My friends and I in college started a weekly online magazine that we had published a couple times just for fun. We posted it around all over Facebook and twitter and got solid readership and did that for about a year. That’s something I helped create, but as far as owning something, this is the first thing.

Brew Bus passengers will be stopping by Conquest Brewing Company!

Brew Bus passengers will be stopping by Conquest Brewing Company!

What has been your biggest struggle with getting the Brew Bus up and running?

Insurance was our biggest hurdle until recently. Getting commercial insurance for this type of business isn’t easy. The big boss insurance companies don’t write these kinds of policies. You get redirected to the major national insurance people that do life insurance and other major policies. You can’t deal with them directly. They just write policies through brokers, so we’ve been going through brokers in town. They then go to their bosses and say that these guys are 24-25 years old and are going to be driving the bus with alcohol involved and their bosses won’t touch that. Getting someone to write a policy was our biggest struggle at the time. We got through that and have our insurance policy in place. The biggest, other than that, has been the legal aspect of it with the government licensing. The licensing for the bus has to go through three different departments plus the police have to check to make sure all the safety measures are on it. We’re still waiting on all that to get finished up, but hopefully it will be done soon.

What kind of modifications are you going to make to the bus you’re using?

Actually, to be legal to drive it, we had to take out 10 seats. It’s a 25 passenger bus, but to be able to drive it without a commercial drivers license, it can only hold 14 passengers plus the driver. The max tour group is going to be a 14 person tour group. We are going to drive it ourselves. The main accent color on the bus is probably going to be blue, and the logo and the name is going to be all along the side. We’re going to have the sponsored breweries’ logos on the side as well.

What is your ultimate goal once you start your tours? Where do you see all of this going in the next couple years?

Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company logo

The newly opened Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company will also be a stop on the Brew Bus route!

We definitely want to expand with it. After six months or so, if things are going well, we would like to put those extra seats back in and hire people with commercial driver licenses to conduct the tours so we can bump our tour maximum up to 20 people. Once we have our Brew Bus business model in hand and feel very comfortable with it, we are going to try to contract out our bus as a business shuttle for different hotels. We would take business people to and from the airport or if they have a large group at the hotel, we could take them out for the evening. Along the side of the bus we are going to have our regular logo but have the ability to put another sign on top of that so we can put a secondary logo for the shuttle service.

Personally speaking, if I can get paid the same amount doing this as I did at my previous job, while having fun and talking about beer to other people, that’d be great. I just want to promote beer tourism and help to enhance the craft beer scene in Columbia. Columbia has beers that are just as good, if not better, than beers being produced in other cities. There are people that travel to Asheville to try their beers, and there are people who travel to Atlanta to go to SweetWater to try their beers. I think Columbia could be like that (a beer-drinker’s destination) and I want to be a part of it.

For more information about the Columbia Brew Bus, click here for their facebook page.

 

Meet Michelle Wang of M Gourmet Group

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Michelle Wang and Rui ("Ray") Cao of M Gourmet Group

Michelle Wang and Rui (“Ray”) Cao of M Gourmet Group

As owner and chef behind the Miyo’s, M Grille and M Fresh restaurants in the Greater Columbia area, Michelle Wang takes her role as a prominent food provider very seriously.  She thinks of herself as a health influencer when it comes to food, and wants to pass on her love of healthful, delicious food and healthy eating to her customers.  We sat down with Michelle recently, and asked her to share her philosophy about food and how she puts those ideas into her cooking, recipes and restaurants.

Were you influenced by the people around you growing up to live a healthy lifestyle?
I grew up in Shanghai, China and my grandparents raised me. We had no refrigerator, so we would go to the supermarket to get fresh food. I was accustomed to fresh food because we had no chemicals in our food, no processed food at all. My grandparents were very sophisticated eaters and believed in getting a diversity of everything. For instance, in summertime, it was very hot so we ate a lot of mung beans, cucumbers, and other vegetables with light fish and chicken. In the winter time when it was cold we would have lamb and potatoes more than vegetables. They would cook a lot of soups, like tomato based soups, and a lot of cabbage. My grandfather studied abroad in England so he was also had a habit of having an afternoon tea and that’s what is behind the M Fresh concept.

Since your ingredients always need to be fresh, how do you decide where to get your ingredients from?  We work with local producers and local farmers. I’ve been working with Senn Bros since I’ve been in business. They are a wonderful company and I visit their warehouse and understand where everything is from. They are very conscious of picking the best things for our restaurants. They know that we want to use local and natural grown ingredients. I work with City Roots in Rosewood as well. We buy their micro-greens to put in the smoothies and in our dishes.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve been faced with when cooking with fresh ingredients?
It’s really not difficult, you just have to put your heart into it. You have to monitor how much is being used, so you make an order every day. We have a certain routine. In the evening or late afternoon we count what’s been sold.  It take effort in counting what’s been sold and what’s good. We place our order daily – most important, you have to put your heart into cooking fresh.

King salmon with mesclum, arugula & spinach, mandarin oranges, cucumbers,  tomatoes, almonds . dijon

M Grille’s salmon salad with mesclum, arugula & spinach, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, tomatoes, almonds . dijon

See the M Grille lunch menu by clicking here.

When I was reading up on M Grille, I saw that you use fresh, wild ingredients. Can you tell me a little about what using “wild ingredients” means?
For M Grille we try to buy wild cod, shrimp, and salmon. A lot of seafood now is farm raised and that seafood contains hormones. People are now more conscious of how chicken is raised, how the duck is grown, how the fish is being harvested. We try to get wild because it means the animals are not fed any chemicals while they grow. The majority of producers are trying to raise more pounds of meat, but we are trying to get a natural grown food.

See the M Grille dinner menu by clicking here.

Amazing Tuna Pizza from M Grille M Grille's Tuna Pizza (6 inch) grape tomatoes . onion . jalapeno . microgreens . purple onion . light white cream

M Grille’s Tuna Pizza (6 inch) tuna . grape tomatoes . onion . jalapeno . microgreens . purple onion . light white cream

What is a popular food dish at M Grille?
Some of our most popular dishes are the Crispy Flounder with Sweet and Sour Sauce and our Sweet and Sour Chicken. I use different vinegar, different sugar, and we caramelize fresh pineapples to make the sauce. I love pineapples. I think the flavor is really amazing. You have a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. When you put it in your cooking, it’s amazing.

See the M Grille Sunday Brunch menu by clicking here.

At M Fresh, you offer a wide variety of healthy drinks, including different types of smoothies, teas, and juices. Where do you come up with ideas for these healthy drinks?
Healthy ingredients in my diet are indispensable. Fresh berries, good fresh squeezed juice, pomegranate juice, avocado, mung bean and adzuki bean. I want to promote healthy living. These ingredients are costly. When you go to M Fresh, you get your money’s worth. If you are paying $8,  you are getting a $6-$7 in food cost. It’s almost like a nonprofit business, but I do it because I want people to be aware of what they eat and what they drink and to incorporate good into their daily lives. I think people think that M Fresh is expensive, but you’ve got to think about the berries and the fresh ingredients. These ingredients are expensive. You get your money’s worth.

 See more at the M Fresh website by clicking here.

You cook your dishes in grape seed oil and olive oil, right? What made you decide to use these two oils as your base for cooking?
When we sautee food, we use grape seed and olive oil. We do a very good Asian slaw where we use olive oil and sesame oil. The oil is essential. We use butter too, because I think that butter is a good oil for cooking and it adds a lot of flavor. Every cell in our body needs fat, and taking in the right fats is very important to achieving good health. Our brains, our immune system, our skin, our hair, hormones, digestive system – they all rely on fat to function. And fats in foods give us the feeling of satisfaction after a meal. With modern technology and agriculture, we try to be creative, but it goes against God’s law, the natural law. In trying to control everything ourselves, we often create more cancers and problems. I have seen a lot of my customers deal with cancer. Some of them I think it’s the stress, but many of them – I think it’s the diet.

How do you keep your food healthy while not skimping on the delicious taste?
I think healthy food actually tastes better because you can really taste the natural flavor because it’s the way it’s supposed to be. I don’t know where people get the idea that healthy food tastes bad. To make food tasty, I use

M Fresh offers teas, juices, smoothies, soups, salads, wraps, paninis, sandwiches and special entrees.

M Fresh offers teas, juices, smoothies, soups, salads, wraps, paninis, sandwiches and special entrees.

natural herbs and spices to flavor it. You need to use the correct cooking method to bring the flavor. Seasoning is very important.

During your recent trip to China, did you notice any changes in the way people eat there?
China’s changed a lot and the food scene has changed a lot. There are a lot of fancy restaurants and there are a lot of fast food restaurants. I stayed there for four months and I believe that our  (M Gourmet Group) menu items could be very successful over there because people now are eating in fast food restaurants that use processed food. People are supporting KFC and McDonalds because they want to experience America. Most Chinese admire the American dream and the American free spirit. When they go into these fast food places, they are buying a piece of culture rather than a food. I would like to open an M Kitchen there and bring the menu items from M Fresh and M Grille over there.

So you want to open an M Kitchen in China? Where did you get the name?
M means Magic in China. I think what a lot of Chinese people have is dedication and discipline. What they lack is the boldness. They don’t believe that they can achieve something. A lot of people think that they can’t do anything in their generation, but feel maybe their children can. They don’t think they can make a difference, you know? I want to use the business as a platform to share the Gospel message, to have a Biblical center to bring people together.

Do you cook with fresh ingredients at home? What’s your favorite healthy dish to prepare at home?   I love cooking rice cakes at home. I saute the rice cakes with cabbage and mushrooms and put some sea salt on it. It’s such a great meal and the kids love it.

If you could only eat one healthy food for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
It’s very hard to say because I love so many things. I love avocado, strawberries, figs. I love figs. I love so many things. I’m not a one type of food kind of person. I love fresh fruits and salads the best.

Where do you see M Fresh and M Grille in 5-10 years?

I hope to see M Fresh and M Grille everywhere in the United States. That’s my biggest dream. People often ask me, “Michelle, why do you name your restaurants different names – what is M Fresh and M Grille?” I feel like building a new restaurant is like when you have a new child in your family – you don’t know its personality and how its going to embrace and interact the world until it grows up. I hope we can see it mature and grow in its popularity.

 

Meet Nick Piotrowski, Executive Chef at Ruth’s Chris!

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Nick Chef at Ruth's Chris

Nicholas Piotrowski, Executive Chef Ruth’s Chris Columbia SC

Did you always want to be a chef, or did you want to follow a different career path at first?

Honestly, growing up I always wanted to be a garbage man. I was intrigued by the thought of being able to hang off the back of a truck all day.  But now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be than a chef!

How did you become interested in being a chef?

I would have to say the three main things that caught my attention about being a chef early on were my obsession with fire, my endless appetite and my attention to detail while working with my hands.

What is your earliest cooking memory?

My earliest cooking memories would have to be family dinner at my grandparents house. A huge table full of family and food, everyone always helping out to make the holiday meal come together.

If you could choose anything in the world to cook, what would it be and why?

Baked spaghetti or Sheppard’s Pie would be my choice mostly because they are the best comfort foods in my opinion.

You recently stepped up into the Executive Chef position at Ruth’s Chris, right? What’s it like taking on more responsibility in the kitchen? What new roles did you have to take on?

Being an Executive chef has so many aspects to it, I don’t think people realize that the cooking is just one part. It involves everything from accounting and bookkeeping, to HR duties, maintenance and repair.  Some days I will go from working the broiler to climbing on the roof to change hood vent belts, to dealing with personnel issues, and then right back into balancing invoices. I think that is what I love about it the most though, it is never a dull moment and always keeps you moving.

Ruth's Chris Filet

Signature Filet | Ruth’s Chris

What is the most popular dish at Ruth’s Chris?

Our signature Filet is far and away the most popular item on our menu.

Does the most popular dish change depending on the season, or is there always one tried and true dish that seems to be on everyone’s minds?

The filet is, hands down, most popular, regardless of season.  And frankly, I can understand why, it’s a great cut of meat and we cook it to sizzling perfection every time!

What is your favorite dish to prepare at Ruth’s Chris?

I am a huge fan of our Porterhouse; when it’s cooked just right, it’s a beautiful thing!  At 40 ounces,  it may sound a little intimidating, but in my experience, many guests are up to the challenge.

What is your favorite Ruth’s Chris dish to eat?

sweet potatoes Ruths Chris

Sweet Potato Casserole | Ruth’s Chris

I love our Sweet Potato Casserole, there is nothing else like it out there. It’s a one of a kind dish that cannot be matched.

Since Ruth’s Chris is such a popular restaurant, the food needs to be consistently cooked to perfection. How do you keep your kitchen running smoothly to ensure that every dish comes out perfectly cooked?

I push myself to stay very active throughout the entire operation.  I am continuously working with the staff to make sure we reach our goals and produce a perfect product. I set a standard and except nothing less and continue to challenge staff with seasonal specials and food quality.

Do you have a special cooking technique you use that you’d like to share?

There are lots of techniques out there.  Don’t be afraid to experiment, you never know what you might come up with. Some of my best creations are made off the top of my head.

What do you consider to be the most essential item in your kitchen?

My staff is my most important kitchen “item.” When we all work together as a team to get the job done, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.

What do you think is the hardest dish to prepare at Ruth’s Chris, and why?

Many of our dishes that incorporate lobster into them and require a lot of attention to detail. Lobster is delicate and easy to overcook. Everything from our whole fresh Maine Lobster to our creamy Lobster Mac & Cheese take a special set of skills to prepare.

How do you think you’ve grown as a chef since working at Ruth’s Chris?

I believe I grow as a chef every day. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how long you have been cooking, you will never know everything. There are so many different cultures, ingredients and techniques in the world that no one person can ever claim to know it all. If I ever reached a point where I thought I had nothing else to learn, I think I would lose interest honestly. I am always hungry to learn.

Do you remember a night when you made a dish at Ruth’s Chris and were especially proud of how it turned out? Tell me about it.

Anytime a guest has a special request I always take the time to go out of my way to prepare it personally for them. Lobster Thermidor comes to mind in particular. Lobster Thermidor is a French dish consisting of a creamy mixture of cooked lobster meat, egg yolks, and brandy, stuffed into a lobster shell. It can also be served with an oven-browned cheese crust, typically Gruyère.  This is not typically a dish we offer, nor did I have it prepped at the time but I managed to prepare it exactly as requested and hopefully made a memorable experience.

Cooking the perfect steak... add butter!

Cooking the perfect steak… add butter!

All of our readers are dying to know how to prepare a tender, perfectly seasoned steak. Do you have any tips?

It is important to start with the best cut of beef you can get, that is where the flavor comes from.  After that keep it simple. Good quality sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to season. Nice hot clean grill, and finished off with a touch of butter.  Now that’s sizzling perfection.

Do you do a lot of cooking at home as well? What’s your favorite meal to cook at home?

I like to cook simple, fresh dishes at home. I shop for fresh, local ingredients and mostly rely on the flavor of the ingredient itself to highlight the dish. I love fresh seafood and vegetables!

You’re stranded on an island. What 5 ingredients do you wish you had with you? What would you make with those ingredients to sustain yourself while you wait to be rescued?

I would have to say butter for flavor, sweet potatoes, peanuts and rice because they are quick sources of energy, and Sriracha because it is the most delicious sauce ever and can make even the worst thing palatable. I would probably attempt to make some sort or sweet potato casserole, although I don’t know how successful it would turn out considering the scenario and ingredients of choice.

What personal goals have you set for yourself and for your cooking that you hope to achieve in the future?

Cooking with as many different people as I can and absorb as much as I possibly can from them .  I love meeting chefs with as much passion, dedication and respect  for cooking as I have. Additionally,  I love to teach people and helping them grow their love for cooking. I still remember  many of the people who have taught me unique skills and techniques throughout my career. I think that’s what being a chef is all about.

Meet John Clinger, Owner of Old Mill Brewpub!

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Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington SC opened last year (2013) to rave reviews.  Folks from all over the Midlands have come to enjoy a great dining experience as well as beer aficianados getting to sample the award-winning craft brews made on premises.  We wanted to find out how this place came to be, and the details behind the success of this restaurant, located in a spot where other dining establishments have failed.  We sat down with John Clinger, proprietor, in late July and he graciously answered our queries.  He’s one heck of a funny guy, so a great time was had by all.

Where did the idea for combining a brewery and a restaurant come from?
Brewpubs have been around for years and years, of course. In the United States, not as much as they are world wide. It seems like most every town of village in other countries have a brewery. The US is catching up and the option in South Carolina to have a dining establishment as well as a brewery is wonderful. Lexington needed one and we decided this was the spot for it.

OMB Burger with sweet potato fries and frosty cold one!

OMB Burger with sweet potato fries and frosty cold one!

What made you decide you wanted to become a pub and restaurant owner?
Stupidity (laughing). I’ve been in and out of food service since I was 14 years old, so I’ve been in food service pretty much all my life. I owned two restauants up north, did well with those. This job (restaurant ownership) requires an awful lot of hours and I was missing the growth of my children. So I took a position with a restaurant chain here in South Carolina. When I took the position down here, I did it to get away from ownership for a while, to be with my kids.  And then this (Old Mill Brewpub) just happened. I knew it was time. The kids are getting older  now, and I missed it. I really did. It’s still a lot of hours, very little pay, so back to my original answer, stupidity.

You still enjoy working in food service though, right?
I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it. Even though it’s pretty much what I’m good at and what I know, I did dabble in other things like graphic design. I was a nighttime composition supervisor. I made newspapers look the way they did. But I kept going back. I loved the energy and the chaos of restaurants.

Lexington's only brewpub.  The brewery is adjacent to the restaurant.

Lexington’s only brewpub. The brewery is adjacent to the restaurant.

Did you use these designer skills to help you decorate the Brewpub?
A little bit. The logo is my design and I designed my menus. The concepts of doing certain things are mine. I can’t take full credit for the way the place looks. I understand color and scheme, but my wife had a lot to do with how it looks. I knew where I wanted everything to go and she helped me in delivering it. For the brewery, you can see it, but we wanted to create an area so when he’s producing beer, you can smell the malts and everything. I want people to be able to smell it. The walls will never go all the way to the ceiling because I want the smell to come through.

I see that your restaurant overlooks the pond. How did you decide on this location for the Old Mill Brewpub?
That was easy! When my wife and I moved down here from Pennsylvania, we lived in those apartments [across the pond from the Brewpub] on the water. I was Director of Operations for a restaurant chain and so we lived there while our house was being built. I came over here and I loved the antiquity, loved the old building, and thought, “Boy this would make a great Brewpub!” So this place has been in my head for quite a few years.  I actually thought about the boiler room, down on the far end, which is vacant. I thought that would be even better but the people [who owned the property] were not willing to upfit that. This space became available and my wife and I prayed about it, and we thought this was bigger than what we wanted, much bigger, but it worked out.

OMB brews and a wide selection from other brewers on tap

OMB brews and a wide selection from other brewers on tap

What are some of the challenges you have faced when dealing with running a restaurant on top of maintaining a brewery?
Obviously the biggest one was cost. The brewery equipment you’re looking at right there is about $100,000. It was shipped from Portland. To be quite honest, this was my first brewery, so there were a lot of little teeny cogs I was unaware of with the machinery. I was unaware of how it all worked, and of course, now I know. I was ordering $283 solenoids online that needed to be here in two days to get this thing up and running. We’re happy we have the restaurant to kind of carry us through, but when we started brewing beer, we saw a nice little spike in business and it helped us out tremendously. Restaurants are hard and there’s so much overhead that people are unaware of going into it.

What’s your favorite spot in the whole restaurant?
I guess a wise man would say the office, but it’s not. The brewery is my absolute favorite spot. Now, I do enjoy the view too, so I like it outside, but all things considered, the brewery is my favorite.

Describe your dream customer.
That is a great question because no two customers are the same. A dream customer comes in with the understanding of what we’re trying to do. We’re not a corporate entity that has a hierarchy of business suits. This is a mom and pop shop. My wife and I run this place with the help of our close friend Doug, and we keep our prices on our food as close to the bones as we possibly can so people find it affordable. With the rent and utilities we have to pay, we sometimes keep our labor down by having a small crew at times when we aren’t normally busy. That’s when it’s just my bartender, myself, and one cook, and if 15 people came in and they were wondering why there’s only one server on, they don’t see the big picture. I can tell you that more than half of the people who walk in those doors were either a server, bartender, host, dishwasher, and some of them get the picture and understand how it is. The ultimate customer understands what we’re trying to do, understands that we are not a corporate entity, knows that we are doing the best we can with what we have, and appreciates what we’re doing with the quality of the food and beer. And of course they come back.

Guests enjoy indoor and outdoor dining.

Guests enjoy indoor and outdoor dining.

How do you go from having the idea for a new beer, to actually brewing and selling it to your customers?
I’d defer that to my head brewer, Matt Rodgers. I know styles of beer, but he has in his mind what he’d like to do. Right now, he’s brewing an Imperial Pumpkin Porter, and not too many of those are brewed in the United States or anywhere. The pumpkins actually came from his farm. He also grows his own hops and uses them for our ingredients. We have a Pineapple Kolsch on draft right now, where we actually grilled pineapples to put in with the mash. These ideas come to him and I don’t question it because he has the Midas Touch with beer. Everything he comes up with makes sense.

How long does it take to brew a beer?
The beer he’s producing right now will be put from the mash and lauter tun into the fermenter and once it cools down, he’ll pitch the yeast in and it will ferment for a good, solid 2 weeks. Then it gets put into the bright tank where it clarifies the beer and then it gets kegged. So, about two weeks. Some beers take a little less or a little more, but that’s approximate.

The Brewpub's deck overlooks the old mill pond.  A great place to relax... live music Thurs - Sat.

The Brewpub’s deck overlooks the old mill pond. A great place to relax… live music Thurs – Sat.

I hear that you work alongside your wife, Kelly. What’s it like working with your spouse?
I love it! Absolutely love it! We work well together. We have the same focus, the same ideals on how we want to run this. That helps. She’s definitely tremendously more organized than I am. I have a little bit better peripheral, but her organization skills are unmatched and we work so well together. We still have a 15 year old son and a 10 year old daughter, so we try to leave what we can here when we go home.

Looking back on every obstacle and every success that you’ve had, is there anything that you wish you could go back and tell yourself to do differently?
I’ve key-holed myself in restaurant ownership. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at. I’ve discussed with my 15 year old that I prefer he doesn’t follow my footstep. I prefer that he works and gets his degree and pursues something outside of this because of the demands it poses. I’m not saying poor me, but I want something different for him. Going back in time, I doubt I’d alter anything because my participation in food service lead me to my wife. I would never change anything as far as that goes.

What’s next for the Old Mill Brewpub?
Old Mill Brewpub is going to morph annually. Little tweaks and changes are going to happen. We just put a cooler out on the screened in porch and we’re going to build an outdoor bar area with high end Belgian beers, cigar humidor, and select draft ales. We want to create more beer dinners and make people more aware that beer has been around for many centuries. It dates back to very early times and it’s been an accepted part of life. We like to provide an environment where it’s fun, inviting and responsible.

Columbia Learns to Cook: Cooking Classes

 

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Sushi 101 Class at SakiTumi

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Couples enjoy the side-by-side learning experience

SakiTumi Grill and Sushi Bar
807 Gervais St, Columbia  (803) 931-0700

Perhaps you, dear foodie friend, know the joys of eating delectable, beautiful sushi… but your date/spouse/friend hasn’t quite gotten the nerve to try it.  Here’s a wonderful and interesting experience that’s educational and amazingly romantic!  You get to eat and drink while you’re learning, you share the experience, and you come away with knowledge you can use!  This class helps participants get a better understanding of what sushi is, and dispels the myths and fears of those unfamiliar with it.  It gives couples a cultural and culinary experience they won’t soon forget.

Sushi meal includes edamame, miso soup, ginger salad, and sushi. You’ll learn how to prepare your sushi ingredients and get information on rice cooking techniques.  The executive chef will show you how to make, cut, and plate your sushi before he lets you take the reins and encourages you to make your own sushi rolls.  You’ll start with a California roll, and then move on to a second roll where you are encouraged to be creative with the available ingredients.

See SakiTumi’s website for booking details.

Little girl with pizza slice

Uno’s helps your child become a pizza chef!

Kids Learn to Make Their Own Pizza

Uno Pizzeria & Grill
5304 Sunset Blvd Highway 378, Lexington, SC 29072

Bring your children to Uno’s in Lexington for a fun night of pizza-making and pizza-eating.  Kids don an apron and then go at it.  They learn to be pizza chefs by topping Uno’s thin crust pizza dough with the sauce and toppings.  They can make either a cheese or pepperoni pizza and then indulge in their own masterpiece!

Have you attended any fun and interesting cooking classes you think others would enjoy? Fill out this form and let us know about the great classes you’ve been taking. Your class might even appear in next month’s issue!

Champ McGee of Little Pigs Barbecue

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Little Pigs Barbecue serves its Q with a choice of sauce – mustard, red and vinegar.

Yum. Wood-smoked pork.  It smells great and tastes even better.  Smoky pork sandwiches, pulled pork suppers and fall-off-the-bone ribs.  3 sauces – vinegar, mustard and red.   Here in Columbia, located dead center in South Carolina, barbecue capital of the world, there is a whole lot of competition for Q-lovers’ business.  Barbecue joints are everywhere, from roadside shacks and trailers to sit-down restaurants where Q is served off the menu or buffet-style with country vegetables, cornbread and banana pudding.   Barbecue is offered by roving Q trucks that show up at craft breweries, festivals and downtown parking lots at lunch time. Barbecue cook-offs are center stage at local festivals each spring and summer.  So where do you go for the best?  One of our all-time favorites is Little Pigs Barbecue on Alpine Road in northeast Columbia.  We aren’t the only ones who rate it high.  Little Pigs Barbecue was chosen  Best Barbecue in the South by Southern Living magazine.  Hard to quibble with their pick.  We recently sat down with Champ McGee, master barbecuer.

You started off working at Little Pigs when you were young and worked your way up. How did all of that happen?

The guy who owned Little Pigs, Lawrence Britton, was my neighbor and when I was 11 years old,  he asked if I wanted to help out (at his restaurant). I started out washing dishes and whatever else I could do. Over the years, I learned to do everything. In fact by the time  I was in high school, when I got off from school, I went to work and everyone else  who worked there went home. I ran the place totally by myself until supper time when Lawrence came in to help with the supper rush.  I have been at Little Pigs almost all my life.

How did Little Pigs start out?

Little Pigs has been in business for 45 years. The one on Rosewood Drive, before we moved here, was the 38th franchise out of Memphis. It had 36 seats and it was a small restaurant. People walked up to the counter and we chopped the BBQ in front of our customers. There were two wooden chopping blocks in front and behind us was a great big pit where we smoked the meat… and we’d cut the meat up and make sandwiches or plates right there. There was no buffet back then.

Best BuffetHow did you make the transition between having a pit you served from and a buffet and how has the buffet grown over the years?

In the 1962, we decided we would start a small buffet at the Rosewood Drive store. It progressed fast and the buffet was quickly becoming a larger part of the business. When we opened up on Alpine in ’78, we went totally buffet. You can still get a BBQ sandwich, you can still buy a BBQ basket, but it’s 99% buffet. You know, it’s over the last 10 years that we’ve expanded the buffet. We still had pretty traditional BBQ stuff when we first put the buffet out here. It was about half the size of what it is now. You had your coleslaw, and your barbecue beans, rice and hash, the different kinds of pork, and fried chicken with rolls and pickles and banana pudding. It’s grown from there. We have a lot of variety on this buffet today. I make jambalaya and we make chicken pot pie – both from scratch.  We added tomato pie. Everything we try and the customers like, we keep. I think there are over 40 items on there and we rotate things out every once in a while.  Mac and cheese is our most popular side.

Where is the pit located?

I have a pit in the back and three cookers outside. We do a lot of the chicken and ribs outside.

Is that all wood smoked? What kind of wood do you use?

It’s all wood smoked on hickory. Definitely hickory. I’ve got a chicken breast on my menu that’s a mesquite, but everything else is hickory.

How long does it take to cook something like a shoulder?Best Shoulder

18 hours. We cook the meat for 18 hours at about 225 to 235 degrees. We cook the BBQ overnight, and it’s smoked on hickory wood the whole time. Then we take it out, sauce it, let it marinate in the sauce until the next day, a full 24 hours, put it back in the smoker and bring it back to temperature and let it smoke. Not only is the meat smoked, but the sauce actually gets smoked into the meat. I don’t think anybody else in town does that and it makes a difference in the flavor.

You use three different sauces for your BBQ, right?

Yes, plus out here in the buffet area, we also offer meat with no sauce. We have shoulders that are cooked over hickory wood and we put it out on the pig pull, without sauce. Fridays and Saturdays, we use between 12 and 15 shoulders on the pig pull, which is the front leg. The ham dries out more, but the shoulder stays moist out here under the light.

What seems to be the favorite dish that people like to get off of the buffet?

Mustard BBQ. In this area, that’s going to be the biggest hit. I don’t keep up with the weights, but we probably use about 3,000 pounds of ribs a week. No other BBQ restaurant in town gives you all you can eat ribs on the buffet.

What about favorite side dishes?

Macaroni and cheese, number one. Hash is number two. Our hash is different from any other hash. It’s the Little Pigs of America’s hash. It has no heads, no feet, no livers, no junk. Typically, when you think about hash, BBQ people use hash to get rid of what they couldn’t make BBQ out of. We don’t do that at all. It’s pork ham and chuck roast. All meat. Period.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare?

I really love making the chicken pot pie. It’s a lot of fun. You’re using fresh carrots and celery. You caramelize the onions and add flour and milk and you make the roue to just the right thickness. I use pie crust on top and bottom. We serve probably 50 gallons a week – it’s really good.

What’s in tomato pie? A lot of people have never had tomato pie. I’ve always wondered what goes into it.

It’s tomatoes and basil, caramelized onions, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese. Fresh basil is what makes it.

Did you ever think about owning Little Pigs when you were younger?

I bought in early on, and then when Lawrence died, I bought his wife out.  I did have another career –  I ran the dining room, dormitory, mail room and reservation section for the Police Academy for 32 years, 5 months, and 17 days, but I never quit Little Pigs. I worked at the Police Academy from 4:30am until noon, and I was at Little Pigs starting at 12:30pm every day.

Do you have any good food combinations that you’ve tried over the years that people wouldn’t necessarily think about?

Not really, other than things I like to eat. I like french fries on my BBQ sandwich. And skins on my BBQ sandwich. That’s really good.

When you’re catering, is there a set menu?

We have nine different menus on the website. We don’t just do BBQ. We do weddings, and I can make foods from any custom menu. Matter of fact, right now I’ve got a wedding I’m doing and they want bruschetta fig gorgonzola, and I’ve never made that before but we’re going to figure out how to do it. We do anything. Any custom menu you want for catering.

 

 

Ricky Mollohan of Caffe Ventures

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Why did you decide to go into the restaurant business?

After waiting tables and working in kitchens for a couple years at the end of high school and early on in college, I felt like I could make each place I had worked better. And I enjoyed the fast pace of things always happening, of different challenges each day, and certainly being around food and wine was a big plus.

What made you decide to open more than one restaurant?

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Ricky Mollohan heads Caffe Ventures, and is the proprietor at Mr. Friendly’s, Solstice Kitchen and Cellar on Greene.

I think it was a combination of a new challenge and the fact that I had made enough contacts in the business, as well as had a good core group of co-workers and employees who were ready for a new challenge. Faith in others who could help keep each individual restaurant successful.

How did you decide on the locations for each of your restaurants?

Solstice was a leap of faith in a sense, but the demographics proved there are lots of folks out in Northeast Columbia, so I felt like we were gaining customers who lived a little too far away to be Mr. Friendly’s customers. As far as Cellar on Greene, it was definitely convenient, and the landlord gave me plenty of time to open it/renovate, so I was able to put a little money in bit by bit. And after seeing how other wine shop/restaurant combos had failed in Columbia, I felt like I had seen the inner workings of what it would take to keep the original idea intact for good.

How did you decide on the names for your restaurants?
Mr. Friendly’s was the name of the sandwich/ice cream shop that occupied what is the dining room area of the restaurant until late 1994, and the old sign had a mouse on it, so I guess he was Mr. Friendly? The term “New Southern Cafe” came as a means to distinguish it from the Friendly’s ice cream company. Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar was given the “Solstice” part  by an old business partner, as we tried to figure out a new name to seasonal cooking. I’m still not sure everyone actually knows what it means, but at least most folks can pronounce it now! Adding “Kitchen & Wine Bar” to the end of it gave it a little of a feel of comfort I hope. Being that “Kitchen” is an approachable word, and that Wine Bar I think says “yeah, we have a bar, but it’s more for wine drinkers than party animals”. As for Cellar on Greene, it was pretty easy…wine and “cellar”, and we’re (sort of) on Greene street. Plus, I’ve always found one-word restaurant names to be weird. Or maybe a little bit pretentious. Even if people refer to them as just “Solstice” or “Cellar” or “Friendly’s”, I just think it sounds weird. It’s like naming yourself Madonna or Prince.

Tell me a little about each restaurant and what you like about each of them.

Well, Mr. Friendly’s is my heart and soul. Next to meeting my wife, I’d say that the luckiest I ever got was when Cary Wolfe told me to come check out where he was cooking in 1996. I had just quit the USC golf team and had to start waiting tables to help pay for college, and I lucked up and discovered Mr. Friendly’s in its early stage. The owners were young and had lots of ideas, the staff was full of folks who now own other restaurants, manage other restaurants, etc… and at that time, everyone brought something different to the table,  but everyone shared in the idea that dining out didn’t have to be stuffy, or intimidating, and that it should be fun, and taste good. I think it’s still that today, and for that, I could never thank all of them enough for laying the foundation. I’d like to change a lot of things about it, but honestly, I’m scared to! I may not have opened it from day one, but I’ve spent five times as many hours at Mr. Friendly’s as anyone, and it feels like home every time I walk in.

Mac and Cheese

The Mac and Cheese with gooey melted cheese and bacon bits at Solsitce Kitchen is sure to have your tastebuds craving for more.

What I love about Solstice is that it represents how hard this business can be, but also how great it can be. In 2009, I honestly did not think we would make it. The economy turned sour, and folks in Northeast Columbia felt it worse than others. But we stuck it out, and I’ve kept some of the same core beliefs that I’ve had about Mr. Friendly’s, as well as taking a few more “risks” to make Solstice stand out. Plus, seeing it from a field of dirt and grass, to what it has become, with lots of folks coming and going, yeah, it’s pretty darn cool!

As far as Cellar on Greene, it makes me feel “refreshed”. The success of literally operating two businesses under one roof isn’t something many other places other than Gourmet Shop have succeeded with in Columbia. I was a partner at Gervais & Vine for years, and we tried something similar, but you have to a daily commitment to BOTH the retail side and the restaurant side to get customers for both on a daily basis. I’m proud of what we offer, both where unique wines are concerned, as well as the fact that the food isn’t over the top, but it’s good. We don’t try to out-cook what we’re capable of in there. It’s another very small kitchen with limited space for equipment, and although I would love to have a “real” restaurant kitchen and slick, modern wine shelving, Cellar is what it is…100% ours.


How did you decide on the decor of each restaurant? Are they similar in how they were decorated, or did you want to change the look up for each restaurant?

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Come out to Mr. Friendly’s for some southern cooking and good time with friends.

Each place has it’s own feel, and that’s definitely by design. Mr. Friendly hasn’t changed too much over the years. It’s supposed to have that bistro-feel and I think it does. We can turn the lights down just enough at night to give it that touch of fine-r dining, but the bright sun during the day gives it a really vibrant feel when we’re busy. It’s had its’ share of paint jobs, some new carpet, additional wine racks…but the brick wall dominates the dining room and the artwork changes several times a year, so it stays fresh for the most part.

Cellar on Greene utilizes the funny “slant” of the building. That entire space used to be about sixteen different tiny little offices, so you don’t realize how weird that space really is sometimes. The big beam running through the dining room is really our only area to add much flair with lighting. My wife picked out the colors and helped me a lot with laying it out. I wish we had one more set of windows, and the old roof up there has been a pain, but we’ve kept it clean, and neat for the most part. Nothing intimidating about it and I think the bar stool height chairs create a more “pub” atmosphere, so it certainly feels less formal than Friendly’s to most. And I let the staff play some funky music too, but that’s mostly because the kitchen echoes like the Grand Canyon.

As for Solstice, the goal from day one was to think “Atlanta” when someone walked in. Nicer (don’t get me started) lightning, fresh colors, dark wood tables, a beautiful
bar, big and expensive artworks, etc…all amidst the service you’d expect from a white tablecloth restaurant. I want it to feel like YES, it’s the nicest place in the Northeast. But, I don’t want anyone to have too feel like a pair of jeans and a golf shirt isn’t dressy enough.

What is the biggest struggle you have come across when trying to start a restaurant?

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Oysters fried to crispy perfection and the side vegetable from Cellar on Greene are sure to please!

This is the easiest question of all…convincing a bank that you are not some fool trying to fulfill a pipe dream by opening a restaurant! Everyone has heard the statistics…something like 80% of restaurants fail in the first year. I’m sure they do. And that’s cause they loan money based on collateral first, and experience second. But it’s probably a good thing it’s been this tough, otherwise I’d probably have five restaurants by now!

How do you manage to keep all of the restaurants staffed and running efficiently?

Do I? ha! Well, I think that I do most of the time. Honestly, I’m like a substitute teacher a lot of times…you never know where I’ll be filling in!  I just believe in making all of our employees feel like they are joining a new little “family” when they come work for me. I expect a lot out of them, and their co-workers do too. There’s good money to be made at the restaurants if you put in the work. Yeah, we’re a bit dysfunctional, perhaps, but all restaurants have their scars where the ups and downs are concerned. I just try to be very accepting of all the different folks that work at the restaurants. I don’t overwork them, I still do all of the schedules, I believe in days off, and I enjoy paying people what I’m quite certain is better than most restaurants do. Just some of those things go a long way where having dependable people are concerned. But at the end of the day, you never know who may/may not show up or walk-out at any given time, so remaining very hands-on from my end is definitely very key.

What are some qualities you look for in your staff?

Accountability, Honesty, Competitiveness, Passion for food and wine, and the ability to work well with others. Just “being here” isn’t good enough. You have to want to be here. You have to want to get better, and make those around you better. And you have to be adult enough to deal with your personal issues, but still come in ready to work hard and smile your way through it. Even if the boss (me) doesn’t always lead by example.

How do you decide who your suppliers are going to be?

Solstice Kitchen beef

Solstice Kitchen prepares a scrumptious meal with beef marinated in house sauces and choice of two delicious sides.

It’s a combination of a few things. Obviously the products themselves are what gets them in the door. After that it’s about being reliable for sure, but also being easy to work with, fun to talk to, and generally caring about the restaurants. I’ve turned down all sorts of little bribes and perks to buy from some suppliers, just cause it wasn’t the kind of people I wanted to have to deal with every other day. You scratch my back, I scratch yours only works if you have an itch I guess.

How do you decide which items are going to be on the menu?
Availability, seasonality, functionality, and is it something that WE want to eat/drink? Will it catch someone’s eye? Will the staff get behind it? Are other restaurants doing
something similar? How much does it cost? Can we get more? I could go on forever…

Looking back on your business decisions, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?

Of course! There’s times where I wish I would’ve trusted my instincts more. There’s times I wish I would’ve asked for help with things. There’s times I’ve trusted certain people, probably done waaaaayyyy too much for people, only to have it come back to bite me. But in the end, I try to be honest with everyone. I’ve never done anything to hurt the businesses. Not knowingly. But it’s just not that simple. There’s just too many pieces and parts to make everyone happy, but I still wish I could figure out how to do so. Overall though, I’m pretty happy. We’ve seen employees and customers come and go, and I really believe most folks are better off after spending some time at the restaurants, so that makes me feel good.

This isn’t easy. It’s not perfect. But it’s not supposed to be. There’s lots of things I wish I could do differently today! But there’s more than one way to do ANYTHING, so whatever way we are doing it today, well, we’ll do it the best way possible and go from there!