Weekday Therapy: Crêpes and Croissants

Monday mornings can be difficult, and to start the week off right, we decided a good

Chocolate Strawberry Crepe Lo-Res

Chocolate & Strawberry Crêpe

breakfast was in order. As it was approaching Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, French fare seemed appropriate, so we stopped in to one of Columbia’s favorite continental restaurants, Crêpes and Croissants.

C&C’s owner and Master Crêpe Maker, Laurent, was happy to see us and show off some of the recent changes he’s made to his establishment. New Parisian-themed decor on the walls and European-flavored background music even further enhances the feeling you get while enjoying dishes from the menu, that you’re no longer on Sumter Street in downtown Columbia, but in a small cafe along the Seine, without a care in the world! Laurent’s menu features options that are perfect for any time of the day; sweet and savory crêpes, quiche, French toast, salads, sandwiches, omelettes and desserts, with flavors and combinations that you won’t see anywhere else.

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Princess Peach French Toast

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Spinach Brie Omelet

As a group with varied tastes, we all tried different things. Laurent, seemingly without effort, made each and every dish himself that morning, and quickly! After a very short wait, he was serving them all up. Kathy enjoyed a simple yet flaky-scrumptious croissant, Carmen ordered the #2 Omelette, with Brie, ham, tomato and spinach, Sarah opted for the #1, with bacon, cheddar and caramelized onion, Michaela road-tested the chocolate and strawberry crêpe, Sydney got  a classic sweet crepe, and Miriam made us all jealous with her Princess Peach Toast, which featured perfectly prepared French Toast surrounded by warm peaches, and topped with vanilla ice cream and powdered sugar. What a treat! The attempt by all of us to sample a range of items from the menu didn’t quite work out, as the intended sharing of dishes went out the window. For that reason, we each decided we would have to return to try each and every dish we did not get to taste! Croissant Lo Res

Merci beaucoup, Laurent, for giving us a wonderful beginning to our work week! Midlands bosses, if you want to treat your staff to an extra-special motivational meal, or your clients to a super impressive spread, check out Laurent’s catering menu, complete with breakfast and lunch options, and a mouth-watering selection of pastries!

Address: 1465 Sumter Street, Columbia

Phone Number: 803.462.4779

Hours:

Weekdays: 7am – 2pm
Saturdays: 8am – 2pm
Sundays: 10am – 2pm

Weekday Therapy: Little Pigs BBQ

For this installment of Weekday Therapy, the Gardener Guides team decided to travel Northeast, to Little Pigs Barbecue on Alpine Road. We arrived at the perfect time; the lunch rush seemed to be over with. As most of us hadn’t been to the restaurant before, we were trying to behave like regulars, by following the rules that were posted around the entryway and buffet. Little Pigs Barbecue has learned a lot in its over 50 years in business! The signs are both an effort to maintain crowd control during peak hours, and to remind you to avoid overfilling your plate and wasting food. This is helpful, because your first instinct at the buffet is to try organizing your plate to accommodate some of everything! This is impossible, and you’re better off going back often instead of trying to pile it on in one fell swoop. Besides, it can’t hurt to get a little exercise in between servings!

Little Pigs bbq restaurant

A collection of pigs, porcelain and otherwise, that are displayed throughout the restaurant, give the place a homey feel while showing reverence for its main ingredient source. The buffet is full of mouth-watering mains and sides, both hot and cold. Meats include barbecue (tomato-based, mustard-based, vinegar-pepper), pork chops, brisket, fried whiting, fried chicken, BBQ chicken, chicken wings, and ribs – a point of pride since Little Pigs is Columbia’s only BBQ buffet that features ribs. Sides include green beans, collards, beans, white rice, dirty rice, mashed potatoes, hash gravy, cole slaw, potato salad, candied yams, macaroni & cheese, corn on the cob, tomato pie, fried okra, rolls, waffle chips, and hush puppies. Across from the buffet, a smaller sideboard housed the banana pudding and chocolate delight desserts, while another station contained a huge cut of meat, but we were too focused on the main buffet to explore much else. Sarah said that as soon as she got home she regretted that, when her husband asked, “So, what did you think of the shoulder?” What shoulder? She said his eyes then grew big and he looked at her incredulously, shaming her for overlooking the pull-your-own smoked pork shoulder that Little Pigs is famous for! She had to promise to try it the next time.

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In addition to the extraordinary dine-in buffet, Little Pigs offers a few take-out options as well. You can get a BBQ sandwich or a Meat-and-Three to go, or, if you’re feeding a crowd, The Little Pigs Bulk Menu features favorites from the buffet in larger quantities. Their outstanding catering services can customize a menu with you for any occasion.

The food and the atmosphere at Little Pigs is southern comfort at its best and we can’t wait to return!

Address: 4927 Alpine Road, Columbia

Phone Number: 803.788.8238

Hours:

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

Visit their website here!

Weekday Therapy: Main Street Public House

The Gardener Guides team was sending off our favorite graphic designer, Carmen, for an 8 week hiatus as she delivers and tends to her new baby daughter, Lailah.  Carmen chose to try a new kid on the culinary block –  Main Street Public House for our lunch last week. MSPH occupies the first floor in the old McCrory’s dime store building, and has a laid back atmosphere – new industrial decor with an elevated dining area and a large bar with communal tables gathered around the front of the restaurant.

Carmen Going Away Lunch at Main St. Public House

Kathy, Carmen, Tina, Sydney, Sarah, & Virginia

We were lunching late, so parking and seating weren’t much of a problem. At MSPH we got a table in the back, near the stage, which was empty but transforms at night into a venue for live jazz, local DJ’s and regional music acts. The HD TVs throughout the restaurant were all tuned to the NCAA basketball game – MSPH is a great place to get your March Madness on – go Gamecocks! Our server was very helpful and pleasant and worked with us to get our food preferences right.

We started with House Smoked Crispy Fried Wings for the table. We hadn’t intended on ordering a starter, but our waitress’ description of the wings – smoked for hours, rubbed with special seasonings, then smoked some more, convinced us to try them. We weren’t disappointed; the wings were moist, full of flavor, with just a touch of heat. Tina loved her Southern Sriracha Honey Crispy Chicken sandwich, which she said was tender, and had a spicy kick to it that was tempered by sweetness – not unlike the Gamecocks’ Head Coach Frank Martin. Carmen really enjoyed her Slider Trio, a triple threat of Pulled Pork, Shaved Brisket, and Pulled Chicken. Sarah’s BLT Grilled Cheese was two amazing sandwich ideas in one – another slam dunk, as were the House Fried Potato Chips that it came with. Virginia’s Buffalo Chicken “Cobb” salad was excellent, and so big that she had leftovers. Kathy and Sydney both ordered pizzas, the Bianca and the Margherita, respectively. MSPH cooks their delicious New York-Style pizzas in a custom brick oven, and serves each 10-inch pie for just $10 apiece!

Our team considered this meal a complete win. No flagrant fouls, no bricks and no air balls. The lunch was Jordanesque! However, there was no hang time to be had; we were almost in lunch OT…

PS: Kathy and her husband have eaten dinner here before and they HIGHLY recommend the fried oyster appetizer. A generous serving of melt-in-your-mouth oysters…

Address: 1556 Main St.

Phone Number: 803.834.3409

Hours: Daily 11am – 2am

Visit MSPH’s Facebook Page here!

 

Weekday Therapy: Tombo Grille

One recent Hump Day, the Gardener Guides went looking for a dining spot – something unique and exciting, yet casual and welcoming. We decided to head over to Forest Acres, which fits that description as well! Forest Acres’ is known as “a city within a city”, and its residents enjoy a wonderful assemblage of restaurants, both large and small.

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Miriam turned 21 recently, so she is happy about that!

Tombo Grille has become something of an institution in Forest Acres. Since 2002, when it opened, the modern American bistro has served up a fresh, varied menu made up of local and seasonal ingredients, to people from all over the Midlands. Despite knowing this, only one of us had ever been to Tombo, and so we were unsure about what to expect. It was early for dinner and we were able to sit where we wanted, so we chose a small, tucked-away table surrounded by soft lighting and local art.

Thomas, our wonderful and attentive waiter, helped us with our drink order, relaying the day’s specials and taking our preferences into consideration. Tombo is all about daily specials – featured wines and beers, pizzas, soups, small bites, entrees, as well as deals like Monday Night $9 Burgers, Beer and Live Music, Tuesday Night $5 Pizza & $15 Bottles of Wine, and Thursday Night 3-Course Dinner for 2 for $49. Thomas knew the menu inside and out, and suggested the Smoked Salmon Terrine, Charcuterie and Cheese Plate, and Smoked Salmon Rangoon as best bets, and Virginia insisted that we order the Fried Brussels Sprouts as one of our dishes.

The Charcuterie and Cheese Plate included Thomas Hoe Leicestershire Red, Carr Valley Shepard’s Blend and Irish Porter Cheddar cheeses, Trois Petite Cochon Paté, Olli Toscana and Calabrese Hot salamis, seasonal fruit, a selection of peppers, onions and olives, Tombo Grille meat and cheese platterwhole grain mustard and baguette slices. Everything went well together, so you could mix and match items off of the plate and add them to your baguette slice for a perfect bite each time. The Smoked Salmon Rangoon were salmon, scallion and cream cheese-filled wontons, fried and served with a Mandarin chili glaze – an upscale (and better) version of the Chinese food menu staple, crab rangoon. The Smoked Salmon Terrine was accompanied by capers, onions, cornichons, flying fish roe, and crackers, and would be delicious as any meal of the day! The Fried Brussels Sprouts came in a large bowl, with herbed buttermilk dressing. These warm little gems were crispy yet soft, caramelized and sweet; like vegetable candy! We ate the entire bowl and felt great about it, because they’re vegetables. (Also, let it be known that Virginia got a whole bowl of them to go because they were that good!)

The next day, we all remarked how nice Tombo had been, with such a friendly staff and relaxing atmosphere. The food selection was unexpected, yet comforting and satisfying. It’s no wonder the place has become such an invaluable part of the Forest Acres dining landscape!

Tombo Grille Weekday TherapyAddress: 4517 Forest Drive

Phone Number: 803.782.9665

Hours: Open Monday – Thursday: 5:30pm – 9:30pm; Friday & Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:30pm; bar opens at 4:30pm

Visit Tombo Grille’s Facebook Page here!

Weekday Therapy: East Bay Deli

The Gardener Guides team wanted a midday meal that would satisfy the hungriest of us,order-areahave enough options for all our tastes, and be reasonably priced. Columbia has recently seen an uptick in the number of delicatessens on its dining scene. The latest addition is East Bay Deli, downtown on Main Street. Billing itself as “a New York style deli but with a distinctive southern flair”, East Bay has all of the hallmarks of a great deli – sandwiches piled high with fresh, quality meats and cheeses, soups and chili for cooler days, hot dogs with a variety of toppings, giant spuds and awesome desserts. We all agreed, we wanted to check it out!

New York Yankee.jpgWith locations in Mount Pleasant and Charleston, the franchise decided to expand to Columbia this past fall and
this coming spring, into Lexington. The Main Street location is a sizeable establishment, dressed up in retro, diner-style signs and decor that go perfectly with the black and white
checkered floor tile. Just as in classic NYC delis, you’ll find

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Sarah, our staff writer and restaurant reviewer, at the self-serve drink stand

such fare as East Bay’s Famous Chili Dog, Homemade Chicken and Tuna salads, Hot Pastrami and Corned Beef sandwiches, Ham “Gabagool” (Capicola), and even authentic “Carnegie Deli” cheesecake! Here you will also find a southern influence in items like the Piggy Potato, Southern Dog, and Southern Style BBQ sandwich.

The team went with some of East Bay’s standards: Roast Beef sandwich, Turkey Reuben on rye, the triple-decker New York Yankee sandwich, Homemade Chicken Salad, and Homemade “Lite” Tuna Salad. Their food is made-to-order, and they make it fast! We found one of the highlights of the meal to be East Bay’s incredible salad bar, stocked with veggies, cheeses, meats, olives, marinated mushrooms, mini muffins, chicken, tuna, broccoli and pasta salads and much more! The salad bar offerings were so fresh, diverse
and filling that we had very little room left for the rest of our food, much less anything from the dessert case up front!

At the end of our meal we walked the busy downtown streets, picking up a copy of the Times from the newsstand as we went, past the food carts smelling of hotdogs and pretzels, past the flashing marquees, the bodegas, trashcan bonfires, graffiti and on through the long shadows of the skyscrapers. The music playing in the speakeasies poured out into the streets, as a Gray’s Papaya customer was handed a slice and an egg cream. When we couldn’t get a taxi cab we decided to just hoof it through the park to the subway, through the Meatpacking and Fashion districts, near the NYSE. We threw on our ice skates and glided across 30 Rock, then sprinted past the Naked Cowboy in Times Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge, back to our offices…in West Columbia. In our heads we had just had lunch in the Big Apple!

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Sarah order their Turkey Reuben and LOVED it!

Address: 1426 Main Street

Phone Number: 803.814.2277

Hours: Open daily 7am – 9pm

COMING SOON: NEW LOCATION ACROSS FROM LEXINGTON MEDICAL CENTER OPENS IN APRIL 2017!!

Weekday Therapy: Cock N’ Bull Pub

 

Having been a fortnight since our last outing, the Gardener Guides team fancied a pint and maybe a good nosh up, when someone made the brilliant suggestion to try Cock N’ Bull Pub in Rosewood!

 

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Buffalo Grouper

Visiting Cock N’ Bull is like hanging out at your best mate’s flat. The car park was already full with the pub regulars. The cozy house, tucked away on the side of Rosewood Drive and South Edisto Avenue, is filled with memorabilia and keepsakes from across the pond, of footballers and ales that most of us were unfamiliar with. A game was on at the bar, but we were more interested in the menu, being absolutely Hank Marvin for some grub! We went through the list of Appetizers and Smaller Plates and the Pub Sandwiches, and decided on the Scottish Nachos, Black Bean Quesadilla, Sweet Potato Fries and a Buffalo Grouper Sandwich to split. The Scottish Nachos, with thick sliced potatoes, bacon, grilled onion and cheddar cheese, were the bee’s knees

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Black Bean Quesadilla

and the first to go! We were also gobsmacked by the Buffalo Grouper Sandwich — not too spicy, but with a great taste, and by the Sweet Potato Fries and Black Bean Quesadilla. Miriam loved the Shrimp Po Boy, which she ordered as her dinner, and said the shrimp was large, fresh, and delicious…the remoulade sauce was a perfect amount…absolutely scrummy! It was served with a side of onion strings that were unique and very good. The food, along with selections from Cock N’ Bull’s 21 beers on tap including imports and craft beers, had us all feeling hunky-dory!

 

Despite feeling a bit knackered at the end of the workday, we were glad we’d made the trip across the river, to Rosewood. Cock N’ Bull takes the biscuit when it comes to pubs in the area and we’re all looking forward to our next happy hour at Cock N’ Bull, which will have to be on a Friday so we can all try their Fish and Chips special. Until then, cheerio!

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Left to right: Molly, Kathy, Sarah, Virginia, Tina, Miriam & Carmen

Hours & Info:

Happy Hour: Tues. – Fri. 2:30pm – 7pm

Sunday Brunch: 11:00am – 2:30pm

Lunch served Weds. – Sat. 11am – 2:30pm

Dinner served Mon. – Sun. 5pm – 1opm

Address: 326 S Edisto Ave, Columbia

Phone Number: 803.251.4474

Weekday Therapy: Crêpes & Croissants

The Gardener Guides team was craving something new, something international, for lunch. Ooo la la oui oui!  We headed to Crepes and Croissants on Sumter Street.

The dining room features French-inspired photos, goods, and reading material, with a case up front containing creme brulee and sweet croissants of the day. Laurent, the owner and chef, took our orders and patiently answered our questions about the food. The menu works great for breakfast, lunch, and brunch, whether you’re looking for savory or sweet. The crepe selection alone is a voyage to distant lands – Paris, Greece, Italy, Greenland, Norway, and Texas. You can also create your own crepe from the list of fillings. Other offerings include quiche, croissant sandwiches, omelettes, French toast, sweet crepes and desserts. We wanted to order across the board, to taste a little of everything.

Crepes and Croissants.jpgLaurent and his assistant quickly went to work making the food. It was fun to watch as Laurent made the crepes – he’s very fast, and made it look so easy! When he brought the dishes out, each looked lovely in its presentation. Carmen and Sarah went for crepes. Carmen enjoyed the “Italy”, with melted mozzarella, Provence herbs, sliced tomatoes and marinated chicken, and Sarah was a huge fan of the “Greece”, with goat cheese drizzled with honey, spinach and sauteed leeks. “It was really good,” said Carmen, “the chicken was warm and seasoned well…I would definitely love to go back and try one of the sweet crepes!” The crepes themselves were warm, light, with a wonderful soft texture.

Miriam and Molly went for Croissant Sandwiches – Miriam got the Bacon sandwich and Omlette.jpgMolly got the Salmon, with smoked salmon, fried egg and spinach. One bite later, Molly proclaimed, “It was everything I had hoped it would be! All of the ingredients pulled together to make a well balanced flavor.”

Kathy and Tina both enjoyed the Chicken Salad Croissant sandwich, “not heavy with overkill mayonnaise. Light and lovely”, Kathy remarked, as Virginia opted for the Omelette. With chips or a spinach salad as a side (drizzled with Laurent’s excellent homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette, sold there), it seemed that everyone was pleased with what they’d ordered. It was Sydney’s order of the sweet S’mores smores-crepecrepe, though, that brought out the oohs and aahs. The
Nutella and the marshmallows nestled inside the beautifully folded crepe looked and, according to Sydney, tasted heavenly.

The lunch was a success. We were all satisfied, but not overly full, and had each tried something new. Laurent impressed us with the speed at which he delivered perfectly-made crepes and more to our table of eight people. A la prochaine fois, Crepes et Croissants!

Address: 1465 Sumter St.

Phone Number: 803-462-4779

Check out their website here!

Weekday Therapy: Grill Marks

img_2059On a recent December weekday after work, with temperatures dipping, the Gardener Guides team, cold and hungry, was in search of some comfort before the holidays. We headed over to see if the good people at Grill Marks could help us out.

We were immediately excited to see a cozy area with soft lighting, great decor and a fireplace, and placed our drink order. Grill Marks’ bar offers a huge selection of wines, “Now” craft beers and scratch-made cocktails, as well as a range of ice cream concoctions such as Floats, Milkshakes, Freakshakes, and alcoholic-infused Spiked Floats, Shaketails and Beer Shakes. Unfortunately, we were just too chilly to try those, but will definitely be back for them once the weather warms!

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Food requests from the team ranged from burgers, for which Grill Marks is famous, to any of their potato offerings, of which there are many: Skinny Fries, Fat Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, White Truffle Parmesan Fries, Bleu & Pimento Cheese Fries, as well as White Truffle Parmesan Chips and Bacon and Bleu Chips w/Cracked Pepper. The decision was difficult,img_2062 but we settled on the Slider Trio which included a Pimento & Bleu Cheese slider, Crimini & Swiss slider and Jalapeno & Pepper-Jack slider. We also ordered the Marks Pimento Cheese Poppers, and for the pick-3 appetizer option chose White Truffle Parmesan Chips with Dijonnaise dipping sauce, Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Ranch and Sweet Potato Fries with Orange Cinnamon sauce.

We can report that the rumors are true; Grill Marks’ burgers really are incredible! Everything from the degree of doneness of the fresh, custom blended burger patties to the buns (each one baked daily and individually branded) to the toppings, were superior. In fact, our only regret was that we hadn’t ordered our sliders off of the Happy Hour menu, as they would have been a tad larger and therefore led to less infighting among the gals, but, live and learn! The other appetizers were wonderful as well, and really brought up a notch with the housemade dipping sauces that came alongside.

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At the end of the hour we were ready to venture back out into the cold streets of the Vista with the knowledge that we’d found a real gem of a Happy Hour venue, one that we could count on to provide us with the atmosphere, food and drink that makes for the best kind of Weekday Therapy!

Address: 711 Gervais St.

Phone Number: 803-661-8932

Check out their Facebook Page here!

Weekday Therapy: Columbia Brew Bus

The Gardener Guides crew was in search of more than just drinks on a recent Friday night; we wanted an experience, we wanted to learn something…along with drinks.

We opted for a scheduled tour with The Columbia Brew Bus!

The tour began at the designated pick-up point, Liberty Taproom. During the wait, swamp-cabbage-brewingLiberty’s hostess told us she had previously seen things like the Brew Bus in other cities, and was glad Columbia was finally getting one. We were soon met by Brew Bus Co-owner, Cam Powell, who would be our guide for the evening. Cam and his good friends Chris and Mike, all former USC students, created this venture to educate Columbia residents and tourists on our local craft beer scene since, well, we have one now! Brewing craft beer is a national trend, but only in the past few years has Columbia caught up with the likes of Swamp Cabbage Brewery.jpgother cities. Cam and company saw the scene was growing and more full-production breweries opening, and they hopped on it. Being craft beer lovers themselves, they saw a chance to give other fans a new way to enjoy it, by seeing firsthand how their favorite brews are made, behind the scenes. Even modest beer lovers can always use a new entertainment option for the weekend, for coworkers, parties, and occasions, with a safe, reliable and very comfortable method of transportation.

We would be visiting three breweries over the course of three and a half hours: Swamp Cabbage Brewing, River Rat Brewery and Conquest Brewing. All are located in large, nondescript warehouse-type facilities near Williams-Brice Stadium. Our first destination was Swamp Cabbage Brewing. Swamp Cabbage is the nickname given for the heart of the young Sabal Palmetto, South Carolina’s state tree. The river-rat-brewery-tour2tree is drought-tolerant, unlike the Brew Bus passengers. Each of us was given four tickets for four brews. The night’s selection was extensive – enough so that everyone was able to find one to their liking. Favorites were the Sabal Palm Blonde, White IPA, Harvest Amber, and Chipotle Amber. We were led on a brew tour by Doug Boyd, one of the two owners. Doug was very thorough, and spoke extensively about fermentation and yeast as we gathered among the vats.

Next stop was River Rat Brewery, named for the three rivers that run through Columbia and the men who used to work on them. River Rat has a wonderful indoor bar, but we moved out to the covered deck and beer garden, which has a big, well-lit yard on which corn hole was being played as dogs frolicked. Most of us had not eaten dinner before the tour, so we ordered some Pimento Cheese from the Tap Room Menu, which was delicious and went well with the beers that Cam continually brought out conquest-brewing-cofor us to try. Local beer, corn hole and pimento cheese – doesn’t get much more Columbia than that! The brewery tour was conducted and was again very informative. The brew masters themselves seemed to be having a great time, fielding our questions and recounting stories about River Rat’s early days.

Conquest Brewing Company was our last stop. The brewing process was again explained, and we were again delighted with the brew tasting session, this time poured into some adorable little snifters! Conquest has a fun game room in back, with large versions of Jenga and Connect Four. It was a great place to end the night, hanging out with friends and reminiscing about our three hour tour, laughing about how little we knew about the brewing process going into this night. conquest-brewing-co1

The last snifter was emptied and we returned to the bus. Cam dutifully passed out water bottles and chips to us all, as we made plans to have a late dinner at Liberty (Brew Bus tickets get you 20% off all food items before or after the tour!). We were all now craft beer enthusiasts!

Address: The Brew Bus picked us up from Liberty Taproom (828 Gervais St.)

Phone Number: 757-871-8150

Check out their Facebook Page here!

Weekday Therapy: Pearlz Oyster Bar

The latest Gardener Guides gathering took place at Pearlz Oyster and Raw Bar in the Vista. For an after work destination, our team knew we wanted someplace casual enough where we could relax and grab a cold beer, yet exceptional enough to find high quality food. As everyone who’s been to Pearlz’ happy hour, you know it definitely fit the bill.

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Left to Right: Miriam, Kathy, Virginia, Carmen & Tina (missing: Sarah who was at her banjo lesson)

It was clear from the menu that as a group of seafood lovers, we would all find something we would enjoy. Pearlz’ seafood is not only some of the Pearlz - Crab Dip.jpgfreshest in town, but has a menu curated with an imaginative and eclectic assortment of dishes. Selection of local, seasonal shellfish for the raw bar crowd? Check. Variety of regional and low country delicacies? Check. First-rate happy hour menu with an assemblage of small bites that pair well with any of Pearlz’ beers and cocktails? Check!

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Fried Oysters

Since it was the first time at Pearlz for a few in the group, our friendly waitress was extra helpful in assisting with our order. We chose options from both the Happy Hour and Main menus: Warm Crab Dip, Grilled Mahi Taco, Southern Fried Oysters and Peel & Eat Jumbo Shrimp. Since this was also a few of the Gardener gals’ first time eating fried oysters, the oyster lovers in the group were hoping to have the lion’s share to themselves. Unfortunately for them, the fried oyster novices (Tina and Miriam) enjoyed them immensely, and so we were all forced to share the deliciously seasoned, crunchy oysters, bleu cheese, celery, and buffalo sauce. All of us were impressed with the Peel & Eat Jumbo Shrimp. Miriam declared that they were the biggest shrimp she’d ever eaten! The Pearlz Oyster Bar Jumbo Shrimpoxymoronic crustaceans (JUMBO shrimp) were perfectly prepared in their beer boil, spicy with Old Bay, and were so good that a second order of another half pound was warranted (and we probably could have even tackled a third!). The Grilled Mahi Taco, one of the healthier options we chose, tasted fresh and summer-like in tandem with with the crispy cabbage, pico de gallo, and Mexican crema. Finally, the Warm Crab Dip with spinach and bacon appetizer  (Carmen: “the winner”) gave us all a wonderful excuse to fill our bellies with warm, grilled flatbread.

The lights dimmed inside Pearlz, perfectly lending to the laid back and casual mood of the cocktail hour crowd. We were comfortable, sated, yet still eating and discussing what we would most like to return and try. We’d seen and smelled other dishes coming out

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Virginia enjoys the Rain Martini

of the kitchen, like the Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp and Grits, and Tuna Burger, and became inspired to make another trek to Pearlz, another day. The food, drinks, prices, ambiance and amiable staff made Pearlz the perfect place to unwind after work and to meet up with friends. Next time we’ll make a night of it, with a visit to the Upstairz Lounge for some live local jazz and blues music, and maybe even walk next door to their sister restaurant, Kaminsky’s, for one of their signature desserts and sweet drinks. Until next time!

Address: 930 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201

Hours: 

Monday – Thursday: 4pm until 12am
Friday: 4pm until 2am

Saturday: 12pm until 2am
Sunday: 12pm until 12am

Phone Number: 803.661.7741

Check out their Facebook Page

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Wanna join us on our next one? Every other Tuesday our office gets together to try out a new or tried & true restaurant in Greater Columbia for adult beverages and appetizers….it’s a great way to relax and enjoy each other outside the office. Join us! Send us your email address…we’d love to meet you and get your take on the dishes & drinks you choose to order. Send your email address to kathy@gardenerguides.com

Weekday Therapy: Gervais & Vine

Recently, the Gardener Guides team again crossed the Congaree River into the Vista in search of some Weekday Therapy. With clocks turned backward and dusk rapidly approaching, we were eager to find someplace warm and cozy to unwind. Found it: Gervais and Vine Mediterranean Wine and Tapas Bar!
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From left to right: Virginia, Sarah, George (Kathy’s husband), Kathy, Miriam, Carmen & Tina

We parked in the spacious back lot and headed in. The setting was exactly what we needed: a warm, intimate-yet-open dining room with soft lighting, The Beatles (and Restaurant Picsolo John) in the background, with savory smells of a faraway place emanating from the already busy open kitchen.
We were warmly greeted by the owner, Roberta Prioleau, and shown to our seats. Roberta is the kind of hands-on owner who gives you the feeling that she genuinely wants you to sit in her dining room and try all of the food she has to offer, and wants you to love it! The waitstaff has a similarly friendly and positive countenance, checking on us often and assisting us with our drink selection. G&V is known for its wine list, but they also have a variety of micro brews, specialty cocktails and classic martinis that are also worth trying. If you are a wine enthusiast however, expect to find a very nice collection of bottles to choose from.

cheese-platterThe menu is made up of Ensalada & Sopa (Salads and Soups), Tapas Calientes (Hot Tapas), Tapas Frias (Cold Tapas), Spreads, Pizzas and Otros Acompanantes (Other Sides). The selection seemed daunting, but the great thing about the smaller tapas portions is that you can order twice (or even three times) as much food as you normally would. With that in mind, we ordered several items from each category: the Combo Platter with Three Spreads including Costa Brava (Blend of Smoked Gouda, Shrimp and Bacon), She Crab (Crab, Garlic and Sherry with Cream Cheese and Parmesan), and Warm Almond Brie, the Eggplant Fries with Honey Yogurt and Romesco Sauce, the Beef Paillards with Gorgonzola and Demi-Glace over Grilled Ciabatta, the Greek pizza with Spinach, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Mediterranean Olives and Feta with Herb Infused Olive Oil, and the Amantes de

beef

Beef Paillards

la Carne pizza with Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Ham, Bacon, Mozzarella and Marinara Sauce.

Gervais and Vine is the perfect place for a group to eat. Our large table, with its bounty of delicious foods and drink, looked like it could have just as easily been the remains of a festive evening on the Amalfi coast. Everyone was able to find a favorite dish; the Beef Paillards were a hit with everyone; about the eggplant fries Kathy assessed, “how to take a pretty tasteless veggie and turn it into something wonderful!” They were THAT good, and the Romesco sauce served alongside was just as delicious on the chewy, crusty leftover bread from our spreads

Eggplant Fries.jpg

Eggplant Fries

platter. About the spreads – though things started off civilly, with each in our group taking only a spoonful of the different dips to try, by the end of the meal it became haphazard and covetous, all of us all vying for the final bit of the spreads, especially the She Crab with its velvety texture and tang. Kudos to the waiters for keeping up with our bread and cracker needs. The two pizzas, one for the meat-lovers and one for the veggies in the group, were just enough for us to share as a sort of main course. G&V makes their pizzas in a 700° stone oven, with a plethora of premium toppings to choose from, the option to Create Your Own Pizza, and even a Pizza of the Day. Gervais and Vine may not specifically conjure “pizza” when you think about it, but it is just as good as the other tapas, and Sarah said they paired really well with the wine.

 As the night wore on, even as the dining room began to fill, we stayed. At this point it was totally dark outside but still felt pretty early inside. The mellow vibe, the well-placed lights and tables – you are among others, but can still hear your party – all lent themselves to this evening of simple pleasures and complex tastes.

 

Address: 620 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201

Hours: 

Monday – Thursday: Open until 10pm
Friday & Saturday: Open until 11pm
Bar opens at 4pm, kitchen opens at 5pm
*Closed on Sundays

Phone Number: 803.799.8463

Check out their Facebook Page

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Wanna join us on our next one? Every other Tuesday our office gets together to try out a new or tried & true restaurant in Greater Columbia for adult beverages and appetizers….it’s a great way to relax and enjoy each other outside the office. Join us! Send us your email address…we’d love to meet you and get your take on the dishes & drinks you choose to order. Send your email address to kathy@gardenerguides.com

Weekday Therapy: Twin Peaks

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Twin Peaks: Happy HourTwin Peaks Appetizers

Monday-Friday 4-7pm

$2 Off Drafts
$1 Off Wells

The Gardener Guides gals made an expedition to the Vista on a recent Tuesday to check out Happy Hour at Twin Peaks. This wildly successful chain sports bar and restaurant is known for cold beer, sports watching, and especially for their waitresses, with their “Girl Next Door” charisma. We wondered if the food would be just as good…

Twin Peaks RestaurantIt was a relief to not have to worry about parking meters in the busy district; Twin Peaks has plenty of parking onsite. The first thing you notice upon entering the expansive bar and dining areas is the lodge-like feel of the place. The wood-paneled walls, vintage signage, big game-mounted trophies, suspended canoe and handmade, rustic dining chairs all added to the unique vibe. Of course, this is a sports lodge within a city, and so those features stand in contrast to the ubiquitous large-screen HD televisions, which is just perfect for anyone who wants to get away from civilization for a few hours, but not too far away! Carmen rightly observed that this is definitely THE place to catch a game, but yet it was not so loud that we couldn’t talk, noted Kathy.

Twin Peaks says every seat has a knockout view, and we did – sitting right near the mozzarella-biteslarge, garage door-type windows to enjoy the late day breeze and great people-watching on Gervais Street. We were warmly welcomed by Bri, our Twin Peaks Girl. Bri helped us choose a few appetizers and we finally decided on the Triple Play (3 dips and tortilla chips), Mozzarella Cheese Bites and chicken wings. Virginia was a big fan of the Triple Play’s fresh avocado smash and chipotle queso dip. Kathy really enjoyed the extra thin, crispy tortilla chips with homemade fire roasted salsa, its chargrilled tomatoes and peppers lending a good dose of heat. The Cheese Bites were Tina and Carmen’s fave – hand cut and breaded to order, with just the right amount of seasoning and served in camp-style cookware, these were not your kids’ mozzarella sticks!

Kathy and Virginia at Twin Peaks

Kathy & Virginia

At Twin Peaks, you can build “the perfect chicken wing” with their options of Bone-In Naked, Bone-In Breaded, Boneless Fried wings, or Smoked and Grilled “Better for you Wings”. Choose from several sauces or rubs, and you’ve got your perfect wings, your way. We opted for the Bone-In Naked Classic, Smoky Sweet BBQ, Garlic Parmesan and Spicy Thai Chili sauces and everyone was able to find a favorite. Miriam is our group’s chicken wing aficionado. Miriam. Loves. Wings. She was excited to see so many options. She is also the writer of our Foodie News, and mentioned Twin Peaks’ wing discount – Buy 6 Wings, Get 6 Wings Free with Purchase of a Beverage…perfect! (click here for link to offer!) Speaking of beverages, Twin Peaks has always prided itself on serving the  coldest beer in town, at a bone-chilling 29-degrees. Indeed, the frosty mugs of Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde brew that Bri quickly brought out were so cold, they had Kathy and Sarah shivering!

Twin Peaks Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

By the end of the hour, Twin Peaks’ cold drinks, fiery wings and warm and friendly service had us all in good spirits and making plans to return for another adventurous dining experience!

Address: 600 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201

Hours: Everyday 11am – 2am

Phone Number: 803.602.3667

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TwinPeaksColumbiaTheVista/?fref=ts

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Wanna join us on our next one? Every other Tuesday our office gets together to try out a new or tried & true restaurant in Greater Columbia for adult beverages and appetizers….it’s a great way to relax and enjoy each other outside the office. Join us! Send us your email address…we’d love to meet you and get your take on the dishes & drinks you choose to order. Send your email address to kathy@gardenerguides.com

Weekday Therapy: Twisted Spur Brewing

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Twisted Spur Brewing Happy Hour

Monday-Friday 4-7 PM
Discounts on beer, liquor and wine
25% off oysters-9 varieties available
Discounts on select appetizers

WHO: The Gardener Guides gals recently got a firsthand look at one of the Vista’s newer dining establishments – Happy Hour at Twisted Spur Brewing. As it was a lovely September day in the Midlands, we decided to sit outside on the covered patio. Carmen was impressed with the relaxed feel of the outdoor area and said it was perfect for gathering at the end of the day. We were all pleasantly surprised by the unexpected quiet of a restaurant on busy Gervais Street during rush hour. The outdoor seating is off the main drag and runs along the east side of the historic building.

twisted-spur-brewing-group-therapy

Carmen, Virginia, Miriam, Sarah & Tina. Photo Cred: Kathy

We loved our server, the inimitable Matt, who doubles as a pastry chef (his own creation is featured on the Twisted Spur menu – Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a Raspberry and Carolina Peach Sauce!) and was super-informative and helpful. Matt immediately knew what to ask us in order to determine what to select from their list of house-made beers. With Kathy and Sarah’s requests of “not hoppy” and “pale”, Matt was off to the twisted-spur-nachosbrewmaster. He returned with two Southern Belle Blondes, which fit the bill splendidly. Virginia chose the Sleeping Beauty, a lavender and chamomile pale ale with slightly sweet notes.

WHAT: Having received our drinks, it was on to the food! Jacob, Twisted Spur’s manager, recommended some of the more unusual starters: Yellowfin Tuna and Watermelon Nachos, the Twisted Charcuterie plate, Stuffed Portobello mushrooms, and the P.E.I. mussels special. Tina was bowled over by the nachos’ unique mix of flavors: seared tuna, Jack and Feta cheeses, pickled jalapenos, ginger, lime, cilantro and watermelon poke, with citrus sour cream, over tortilla chips. Even Miriam, who had never eaten Yellowfin tuna before and isn’t “that big into fish”, deemed it amazing! Virginia also loved the tuna nachos, and added that she had a tough time choosing a favorite as “everything was delicious” – that coming from a self-described picky eater!

twisted-spur-fried-mushrooms

Stuffed Bellos

Carmen so enjoyed the panko-fried mushroom caps loaded with shrimp, cheese, basil, pesto and red pepper coulis that she’s planning to go back for dinner and Kathy, who is typically not a fan of mussels, called them one of her favorite dishes that day. She especially loved the sauce they came in – a rich, garlicky broth made with the same Southern Belle Blonde she was currently drinking, and went on to say that if they were added to the menu, she would order them regularly. The Twisted Charcuterie plate, featuring the Chef’s rotating selection of aged cheeses and cured meats (we had prosciutto, hard salami, smoked gouda, manchego and Danish blue cheeses) was Sarah’s favorite, more for the innovative condiments served along with it – beer mustard, a seeded honey spread made with walnuts, poppy seeds and sesame seeds, and pickled red onions.

The dishes we had all suggested a freshness, which was backed up by Matt’s vast knowledge about the food he serves and where it comes from. He informed us that the food is made from scratch and with local ingredients, and that many of the dishes are also made in concert with the house brews (see Bourbon Bacon Aioli, Beer Mac & Cheese, Hefeweizen Vinaigrette and Blonde & Cheddar soup). He went on to say that Twisted Spur is the only restaurant in Columbia to get grass fed, grain finished steak from the Myers Farm’s Beef Program, which they cut in house, and said their oyster raw bar features several varieties of fresh oysters daily.

The pairings of fantastic food with well-crafted beers were great examples of the creativity of the chef at Twisted Spur, especially for these seasoned Happy Hour-goers who are wary

twisted-spur-mussels

Mussels

of the usual bar offerings we frequently encounter. We will be back!

WHERE: Address: 705 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201

Hours:

Monday – Friday: 4pm – 12am
Saturday: 10am – 2am
Sunday: 10am – 12am

Phone Number: 803.764.0203

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/twistedspurbrewing/

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Wanna join us on our next one? Every other Tuesday our office gets together to try out a new or tried & true restaurant in Greater Columbia for adult beverages and appetizers….it’s a great way to relax and enjoy each other outside the office. Join us! Send us your email address…we’d love to meet you and get your take on the dishes & drinks you try. Send your email address to kathy@gardenerguides.com