New to the Menu: Kaminsky’s | Smoothie King | Tombo Grille

Tombo Grille

4517 Forest Drive Columbia | 803.782.9665

Salmon-tomboTombo Grille in Forest Acres, has a special Summer Menu you’ve got to try! Featuring fresh, seasonal Entrees like Grilled Salmon with Parmesan Risotto, Asparagus, Marinated Tomatoes and Salsa (pictured). Small Bites include Fried Brussels Sprouts, Crab & Avocado Tower, Braised Short Rib, and Smoked Salmon Rangoon, and don’t forget about Tombo’s gorgeous Salads. Enjoy the perfect, summer’s-end meal at Tombo Grille! More here. 


930 Gervais St | 803.550.9979

Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe debuted new cocktail menus in August, with brand new floats, martinis and dessert drinks for you to try! Kaminsky’s has a selection of draft wines, along with Dessert Mule Floats (like Lemon Meringue, Framboise, and Apple Pie), Martinis (like Tiramisu, Key Lime Pie, Samoa Cookie and Starburst), Cocktail Floats (Limoncello Champagne, Not Your Father’s Root Beer), and Cocktails (Gin & Jam, Dragonberry Sangria). See even more new flavors at their Facebook page, here.

Smoothie King

1205 Lincoln St., 4601 Forest Drive, 945-G Lake Murray Blvd., 718 Fashion Drive

skSupercharge your day with one of Smoothie King’s new Hydration Smoothies! If you have an active lifestyle, you’ll love these new blends, made with naturally hydrating Zico brand coconut water and real whole fruit to help you power through your activities. Zico coconut water has five electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus) to help your body hydrate. It is naturally fat free and cholesterol free. With no added sugar and more than 5 times the potassium of the leading sports drink, SK’s new Hydration Smoothies will keep you hydrated AND energized. Choose from three delicious flavors: Dragon Fruit Lemon Green Tea, Lemon Green Tea Watermelon Hibiscus, and Watermelon Hibiscus. More 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.

Virginia & I at Tombo Grille.jpg

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!

From the Vine :: Let’s Wine Down

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

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.