There are a few food items which I'm almost obsessed about: Meatloaf, Meatballs, and Reuben Sandwiches. If any of these show up on a restaurant's menu, there's a 99 per cent chance I'll be ordering them.
The Reuben Sandwich at Karrie's Deli and Pub, which is billed as "The Best In The Upstate" is for once truth in advertising. I've remarked before how is shouldn't be hard for anyone to make a good Reuben. It's a sandwich with just a few ingredients: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and 1000 island dressing on grilled rye bread. The only secret to the sandwich is using the right combination of each item and using top level ingredients. Unfortunately, most restaurants have trouble doing this, but not at Karries'. Without hesitation, I can state that this IS the best Reuben In The Upstate.
You get to pick one side with your sandwich: I chose macaroni salad which was mighty tasty and pictured in the photo above. Even better was my wife's choice of potato salad with pieces of bacon mixed in....the bacon as our old TV pal Emeril would say "Kicked It Up A Notch".
The only warning I would give about Karrie's is go hungry or just order a half sandwich, since the sandwiches are larger than what you usually receive in this area. I think if you go once, you'll be thinking about your next visit as soon as you leave.....I know I am!
1. The greeter/seater left us hanging while he wandered off looking for a table for us. He made us feel we were sort of a bother to him, not a good way to be welcomed into a restaurant.
2. Our server would be better off seeking a job in another field other than food service. The minimal effort she put forth on serving us and busing other tables was way below standards.
3. The floor of the restaurant was dirty with food scraps from the time we arrived until we left.
4. Pricing for this type of meal was excessive (10.00 for a meat and 2??). Luckily we had a coupon (buy one get one) making 10.00 for both of us acceptable.
5. Even though they have servers, you have to fetch your own drinks (This of course leads to unsanitary conditions, i.e. we noticed children playing with the tongs for the lemon slices).
6. Food arrived at the table lukewarm, whether this was due to the kitchen or the fault of our server not picking up the food fast enough is undetermined.
7. The crowd appeared to be mostly yuppie type families with children not kept in rein (not the fault of the restaurant, but still not your typical clientele for this type of restaurant).
8. Even though the restaurant wasn't huge, the noise was near din level.
9. The booths were big hard benches, probably to make sure customers don't linger, enabling the restaurant to turn tables faster.
What was right with this restaurant:
1. Even though the food should have been served a little hotter, it was all tasty and cooked good. I have to give Southern Fried Green Tomatoes props, since they could easily serve a lesser quality of food to the type of customers they seem to be attracting and probably get by with no one complaining.
With a 2 for 1 coupon, the meal was worth the price. Without a coupon, I would definitely recommend you spend your food dollars elsewhere.
Today was time for our annual trek up and down Main Street in Greenville for the festival Fall For Greenville OR as The Cafe and Then Some calls it "Fall Down Drunk For Greenville". We found a free parking space just off River Street (I hate to pay for parking!) and made the trek to the festival. The weather was nice (mid 70s) and this really brought out the people (as you can see in the above photo). Not quite as many restaurants participated in the event this year and the city compensated by not having any booths in the last block of North Main and several blocks at the end of South Main.
Our first purchase was a crab cake with maque choux from Soby's . I've had some items from Soby's New South Cuisine at the Saturday morning farmer's market that I thought were just okay. Their crab cake is not just okay, but superior to just about any you will find around this area.
Next we got a nice surprise when we tried the Black Angus meatloaf with caramelized onion and mushroom ragout from Two Chefs. I say a nice surprise since, for some reason, I always think of Two Chefs as a sandwich/bakery shop. I love a good meatloaf and this was certainly a good meatloaf, one of the best I've had in a while.
After two good choices, we hit a slight bump with our next choice. While they weren't bad, the crab fritters with dipping sauce from Brown Street Club paled next to our two previous dishes.
After three main dishes, of course it's time for dessert, and oh how lucky we were with our first choice. Beignets with carmelized peaches from Sassafras Southern Bistro. We were hesitant about ordering these, since they really didn't look like the beignets we eat in New Orleans. The good news is they tasted like real beignets and were almost as messy to eat. This is the type of dessert that stays stuck in your mind, long after you eaten it.
Brown Street Club redeemed theirselves with our next dessert choice, Bakers Boubon Pecan Pie. With just enough bourbon in the pie to make give it a faint liquor taste, this was a great dessert. It would have been our favorite, IF we hadn't already had the beignets.
With a few tickets left, we decided to try Fried Bourbon Bread Pudding from Smoke On The Water. The bread pudding was good, but unlike Brown Street's pie, the bourbon sauce for the bread pudding was too strong and made what could have been a good dessert just so-so. We had two tickets left and there's not much you can get with two tickets at Fall Down Drunk For Greenville, so we gave those away as we headed back to the car, where I remarked "I'm still hungry".
Our original plan on Saturday was another visit to Carolina Cafe. When those plans didn't work out, we decided to go to Oktoberfest in Greer, since last year we had a great Reuben sandwich and a few other good items there. This year turned out to be a bust, since the Reuben people didn't have a booth and any booth that had anything that looked interesting had L-O-N-G lines. We decided to hike on back to the car and go somewhere else. The "else" turned out to be Hans & Franz Biergarten, a German themed restaurant located just off the intersection of Highway 14 and Pelham Road and this turned out to be a wise decision.
Instead of entrees we opted instead for a couple of appetizers. We both started with Hungarian Goulash Soup: paprika, cayenne pepper, bell peppers, spiced up tender chunks of beef, and potatoes in a tomato based soup. This was served with two pieces of generously buttered bread slices. The soup turned out to be more of a hearty stew than a soup. It had such a great taste, we both cleaned our bowls. The spices were just enough to make the dish interesting and leave a slight tingle on your tongue. I also must give a special nod to our great waiter, James, who had the good sense to put the soup orders in first for us, instead of having everything come out at once.
For my other selection I chose Frikadellen: German meatball made of finely ground beef, pork and spices topped with tomato/curry sauce and mustard and served on a pretzel roll with homemade fries. This not only had the appearance but also the taste of a great meatloaf (and I've eaten a lot of meatloaf over the years) I challenge anyone without a super large mouth (i.e. Julia Roberts), to be able to put the top roll on this sandwich and be able to open your mouth wide enough to bite through it. As for myself, I had to use a fork and knife to eat this delicious sandwich.
My wife chose the Reuben Sliders: homemade corned beef (which really makes a difference in preparing a good Reuben), a sweet sauerkraut, and of course cheese and dressing, which were also served with homemade fries. While odd being served on small buns instead of rye bread, they were better than a lot of poorly made Reubens with rye bread we have eaten. The fries on both dishes were served with a mustard/mayonnaise/spice dressing that was delicious. As a matter of fact, everything was so good, to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger "We'll be back"!
If you had invited me to a Beatles' themed restaurant, I would probably have passed, since anytime I hear "theme restaurant", I always think more time is spent on the theme than the food. In the case of Mean Mr. Mustard's Cafe in Hendersonville, NC, I couldn't be more wrong. We were in Hendersonville last week and since our first choice had already closed for lunch (for some reason our schedule and restaurants in NC always seem to be out of synch), I vaguely remembered reading some positive remarks about Mean Mr. Mustard's and we headed downtown to find the restaurant.
Located down a side street in Hendersonville (133 4th Ave East), we found that they were open for breakfast/lunch 7 days 8am-2:30pm and Thursday -Saturday evenings 6pm-8:30pm). Luckily it was around 2pm on a Friday when we got parked and made it to the restaurant. There are lots of Beatles decorations on the walls and the background music is all Beatles' music , plus most of the menu items have either a Beatles' connected name or another music related name. Instead of like most themed restaurants I have eaten at, the food here was the star, NOT the decorations. We had such a great meal that day, we returned the following week, eight days to be exact....I just realized that made it "8 Days A Week"!! Since I didn't have my camera on the first trip, this review is going to be a combination of our two visits.
Last week, my wife had "The Walrus Chicken Salad Sandwich - diced chicken breast with red grapes, almonds, raisins, and cilantro served with tomato and greens on fresh baked focaccia bread". This was a very good chicken salad sandwich, but we would only rate it very good and nothing that would make you return right away. However, my choice turned out to be the winner (usually my wife chooses the best meal) when I reluctantly ordered "The Grand Funk Reuben" - corned beef, swiss and mozzarella cheese, and sauerkraut served open face german-style on thick, homemade rye bread with authentic brandied Russian dressing". I say reluctantly, because I love reubens, but the words "open face" really threw me off. Well friends, I'm here to say that this was probably the best reuben that I have ever had in this area. It was so good that is one of the reasons we went back for the second time.
On the second visit, we decided to split the reuben and try another item and we chose "Frankie - the good american version of the reuben, with chicken sausage, saurekraut, and swiss cheese on rye, topped with mozzarella cheese and a mean mr. mustard sauce". To be honest, we never could decide which of these sandwiches was better. Although they have some similar flavors, there are enough differences to make each of them unique. I would really have a hard time deciding which one to order next time. Which brings me to what I AM going to order next time - While waiting for our order we saw several orders of French Toast arrive at other tables...NOW...that's all I have on my mind. It comes either as "French Toast Cordon Bleu - egg dipped thick slices of house made bread, stuffed with ham and swiss cheese, then grilled golden brown with choice of grits or home fries" OR "The Full Monte (plain without ham and swiss)".
I'm sure there's some local restaurant that can please me without having to drive into the middle of "who knows where". As most of you know from reading this blog, Carolina Cafe in Gaffney, which was formerly Carolina Cafe in Chesnee is my favorite restaurant in Upstate SC. My second favorite is now Grits and Groceries at Saylors Crossroads (this is somewhere between Belton and Anderson). Once again, I have found a great place to eat....but it's over an hour drive to get there!! The restaurant is owned and operated by Heidi and Joe Trull. Heidi previously owned and operated the popular New Orleans restaurant Elizabeth's and Joe was the pastry chef for ten years at Emeril Lagasse's New Orleans Restaurant NOLA.
All four of us started with the tomato pie appetizer which also came with maque choux. This is one dish that must really be experienced, there is no way I could faithfully describe how good it was. Above are two photos, one as the pie is served and one with a look inside the pie.
For entrees, two of us chose the catfish po boy, one chose the shrimp po boy and one had the daily special - Greek meatloaf. While all were cooked to perfection, they paled in comparison after the tomato pies. We all agreed, if we could back up time, we would have just ordered two tomato pies each or one tomato pie and an additional different appetizer. Even though, we were all pretty well stuffed by this time, we had to try the desserts....believe me...DON'T miss dessert!! The only problem is that they have such a wide range of desserts, including homemade ice cream, that it's hard to decide. Below are the desserts we chose:
Two of us had the fried sweet potato pie.
One of us chose the carrot cake and in case anyone thinks they don't like carrot cake, they haven't had carrot cake from Grits and Groceries
And saving the best for last, the fig bread pudding with white chocolate caramel sauce. This is an "out of this world" dessert.
Besides the food all being great, the service was beyond reproach, some of the best I've had in a while, especially considering the meal was being served in an old country store. One last thing, they DON'T take credit cards....cash or checks only. For hours (breakfast and lunch only) and directions, check out their web site: Grits and Groceries
Does anyone remember anything about this singing trio from Greenville South Carolina? I know that they were called The Dollies. This photo, dated 1964, was made at Greenville Junior High School. The only other information I have been able to glean is that one of them was seen backstage at a Beach Boys concert at Greenville Memorial Auditorium.
As far as Florida comic novelists go, I always considered Carl Hiaasen to be the best of the bunch, with Tim Dorsey coming in second place. It's been four years since Hiaasen has written an adult novel and I was excited to read Star Island. I don't know if it was the subject matter, celebrities and paparazzi, or if Hiaasen has just lost his touch. Usually, I'm zipping through his books anxious to see what plot twist he'll throw in next and getting plenty of laughs along the way. Instead, with Star Island, I felt like I was doing some kind of penance for having read all of his other great books. I feel sorry for anyone if this is the first Hiaasen book they read, I imagine they'll wonder what all the acclaim for Hiaasen had been about. I was relieved to finally finish Star Island and anxious to get back to something good....maybe a Robert B. Parker. As for Tim Dorsey, while his book plots have gotten sort of repetitive, I now think he's the number one Florida comic novelist and I'll be looking forward to Serge's next adventure.
Last week, I was in downtown Greenville SC and decided to try out The Corner Pocket. It had been years and years since I had been inside and I was happy to see that they had done a complete remodel with the pool tables moved upstairs and more of a restaurant/bar downstairs. I ordered the Reuben with chips and drank a couple of Miller High Lifes. A Reuben sandwich isn't hard to make, since it only contains four items between two pieces of grilled rye: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. Anything else is NOT a Reuben sandwich. The hard part for most restaurants, with The Corner Pocket included, is getting the right mixture of each item on the sandwich. The main downfall here was the meat. While, I'm pretty sure it was your standard deli meat bought from someone like Sysco, I could forgive that (even though you're never going to have a great Reuben without cooking your own corned beef), but the meat was skimpy, leaving an unbalanced taste in the sandwich. At least the chips were pretty good once I added some salt.
My wife had the grilled pimento cheese sandwich and it was good pimento cheese; however, the sandwich appeared to be toasted NOT grilled, as the menu had stated. I imagine the pimento cheese probably also came from Sysco or one of the local fresh markets. But really, you can't mess this sandwich up, unless you burn it. She enjoyed the sandwich and also the fact that they had Blue Moon on tap and even knew to serve it with a orange slice.
If you will notice both meals appeared to be orange....I mean sheesh!, I might as well have been eating in Clemson! It's too bad that the food was unremarkable, IF the kitchen would just take a little more pride in what they are serving, The Corner Pocket would have something worth going back for, rather than just food that you wash down with beer.
Fortunately, even though the food was sort of a bust, The Corner Pocket was having entertainment. Since there was no cover, this helped ease some of the pain of three beers and two sandwiches running in the neighborhood of $25.00 before tip. A last note about our waitress, she was new and it showed, but she was still fine with only one major faux pas, someone else at our table, asked for a Budweiser and she said, so help me, "I don't think we have that"!!!!
The new address is 211 Old Metal Road, Gaffney, SC. You will have to google the address (it might show the previous restaurant located there "Minnow Creek"). Since we drive to Spartanburg and then our friends drive us the rest of the way, I really have no idea exactly where I was.
This is a much larger restaurant than the owners previously had in Chesnee, but please be aware that this seems to have just made them more popular. If you go during peak dining hours you can expect a wait of up to an hour. They do now put names on a list, as opposed to the old way in Chesnee where everyone was trusted to take their rightful turn.
The food is exactly the same and the owner is cooking and overseeing everything in the kitchen to make sure it arrives at the table to his specifications. This sometimes might delay your order arriving as quickly as you may like, IFyou are dining during peak hours.
My current favorite is The Charleston Grouper fried and topped with shrimp and served with a crab cake in a cajun cream sauce. My wife's current favorite is The Carolina Medallions topped with mushrooms, onions, jack cheese, shrimp, and sauteed in white wine garlic butter. I would still recommend ANYTHING on the menu since, at one time or another, I have eaten my way through most of their selections and found all of them to be delicious. I still stand by my original assessment that this is The Best Restaurant in Upstate South Carolina!
Below is a copy of the menu in 3 parts. You may have to click on it twice to get it enlarged enough to view.
A few weeks ago, The Greek Festival was held here in Greenville, SC. We hadn't been in many, many years, since we are usually in New Orleans this time of year. Since a lack of funds kept us home this year, we decided to check out the festival. After a tour of the church, we went to their dining hall and each got a plate of Greek specialties. While nothing was bad, nothing really "Wowed" us either. Even the tray of desserts we brought home were just all ok (all of them seemed to be a variation of honey and nuts).
This past weekend, We had a craving for some "Greek Food" (if you don't understand this reference, then you're not from here, so don't worry about it) and we headed to one of our all time favorites: The Clock Restaurant on Wade Hampton Boulevard aka The Wade Hampton Clock. I've often contended that whichever Clock/Petes/Lil Rebel/Palmetto/Carolina you like best is the one you grew up eating at, for us, it's The Wade Hampton Clock.
The Clock had curb service when we were younger, but now you have to go in and order at the counter. After you order, you can have a seat until they let you know your food is ready. There's some booths and a little bit of counter room with stools. Another thing that has changed over the years is that you used to pay as soon as you ordered. Either our age doesn't require this any longer or the counter people at The Clock have become more trustful, since now you pay either when you pick up your food at the counter or when you get ready to leave.
One of us always orders a plate with half and half (half french fries and half onion rings) since we can easily split those between us. This time my wife ordered the hot dog plate (years ago, all the plates used to be called "big boys" but I guess that's a thing of the past). The hot dog is made with homemade chili, the onion rings are handmade to the best of my knowledge, but the french fries are frozen crinkled cut, plus on the plate you get a small cup of homemade slaw.
I ordered one of my favorites, the chili cheeseburger with mustard and onions. It probably doesn't look like much in the above photo, but it's plenty with half of the french fries, onion rings, and slaw off of my wife's plate. We both had the only beverage you should ever drink when dining at The Clock - Tea!
Now a little word about grease. The chili which is the same on the hot dog and burger contains a lot of grease and that's part of what makes it so GOOD, this is NOT health food. Our local comedy troupe Cafe and Then Some even included a part in one of their plays about the original pot of grease that was brought over from Greece and as each new Clock/Petes, etc. opened, they got a little bit of this grease and started their own pot.
Also, the onion rings and french fries are cooked in grease, which brings me to an article I read on the web. In that article the author claimed the food was NOT greasy at all. I can only think that he must not have really eaten here. I guarantee you that if you lay the onion rings and fries on a napkin, the napkin will start to show grease right away. My small paper plate with my chili cheesburger was almost translucent with all the grease that had dripped on it by the time I had finished. But these things are what we LOVE about The Wade Hampton Clock; and WE can't be the only ones....they've been in business since the 1950s and are still going strong.
Saturday we had planned to go to Spartanburg's Spring Fling, but when we got up the weather looked like it could rain at any moment. After hitting a few yard/church sales we decided to take a chance on Spartanburg.
One of our main reasons for going to Spartanburg was that I saw David Ezell was playing at 11:30. We used to see David a lot at the old Handlebar when it was located on Mills Avenue. That's back when The Handlebar was a true "listening room" instead of what it has become today (definitely NOT a "listening room"). We saw David open for a lot of acts back then and even do a show once on his own. We were always big fans and over the years just never have caught back up with him. He's still the great singer songwriter that we remember, plus he does lots of cool covers (Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams Sr, Harland Howard, Dusty Springfield are some of the artists he covered when we saw him Saturday). Check David out if you ever get a chance, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
We also got to walk through the Redwood Log House as seen above. A fully furnished three room house handcarved inside a 1900 year old giant California redwood tree. This was pretty unique and was a surprise attraction on our visit. Click on the link above to read more about it.
Since the food at the Spring Fling was your typical street fair offerings, we were torn on where to eat because several of our favorite restaurants are in Spartanburg. We settled on Wade's Restaurant, the best meat and three I've ever eaten at (for those not from the South, meat and three = blue plate special) and I've eaten at a LOT of meat and three's. I've never had a bad meal at Wade's, plus the service except on a few rare occasions has been top notch.
After bringing your drinks, they bring you yeast rolls and/or cornbread. The cornbread is pretty standard, so we usually go for all hot yeast rolls. My goodness are they good.
I had the chicken fried steak with milk gravy, baked macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato casserole.
My wife had a vegetable plate: crowder peas, baked macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole and creamed corn.
Everything was just as good as it looks in the photos. I've never had anything that I didn't like at Wade's, so I would recommend just ordering whatever appeals to you off that day's menu. I will add that even though I rarely have room for dessert, I have tried several of Wade's and never found the desserts to be as good as the regular meal. That's why I usually go for the sweet potato casserole, since it's sweet enough to be a dessert. On top of the great food, it's really a bargain price in today's restaurant world. We paid just a shade over $14.00 including beverages, pre tip for the above meals. These type of meals usually cost us $17.00 to $19.00 anywhere else. You can also count on Wade's having a pretty decent crowd no matter what time of day you go and if you go during peak dining hours be prepared to wait in a short fast moving line.
A Couple of weeks back, my wife had read an article about Southern Barbecue, just off I-85 at the Highway 221 exit (Chesnee Highway). The article mentioned that they had trained in Lexington NC and that they cooked Lexington Style BBQ and put red slaw on the sandwich. All of these factors put it on our "must try" list.
Since the Gaston NC County Library was having a sale today, we decided to go to there and this would give us a chance to eat at Southern Barbecue on the way back. In case you ever decide to check out the Gaston Sale, here's a few hints: They only take cash (and no large bills) and you have to bring your own bags or boxes (they don't provide any). Probably one of the strangest sales we go to, but it's a short ride and we usually get to eat somewhere different.
The somewhere this time, of course, was Southern Barbecue. The restaurant lived up to the article. This was definitely Lexington Style BBQ. Smoked and served with red BBQ slaw (a mix of finely chopped slaw with sauce mixed into it).
I had a chopped pork sandwich (if it ain't pork, it ain't bbq) with a side of hush puppies. The sandwich was great and the hush puppies were good but could have been improved with the addition of onion.
My wife also had a chopped sandwich with a cup of Brunswick Stew. I normally don't like Brunswick Stew, but I probably ate half of her order, that's how good it was.
We had hoped to try their homemade banana pudding, but with the amount of meat on the sandwiches and the two sides, we were stuffed. With a couple of beverages our total order before tip was only $12.00. Great bargain in my opinion.
If I was awarding prizes, Henry's Smokehouse on Wade Hampton would win hands down. They, without a doubt in my mind, have the best smoked meat around. However, ranking my personal favorites, my list goes: Southern Barbecue, Henry's Smokehouse, and Bucky's BBQ on Roper Mountain Road. I would eat at ANY of these ANYTIME, but my preference would be in the order listed.
We recently had the chance to dine in downtown Greenville at The Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant. It is definitely a cut above your normal Greenville Mexican Restaurant.
As with most Mexican Restaurants they bring you a basket of chips and salsa. Along with the regular tomato based salsa, Guadalajara also brings you a small bowl of homemade white salsa (think spicy homemade mayonnaise). The white salsa was definitely a good tasty surprise and the tomato salsa was just spicy enough, it didn't burn your tongue, but you definitely knew you were eating something with a little kick.
There was a slight mix-up with my order, I ordered a chimichanga but they brought out a burrito, so I don't have a photo of my dish, but the mistake was quickly remedied. The above photo is a chicken quesadilla that my wife ordered.
Everything that we had was just a little more flavorful than what you normally get in Mexican restaurants in Greenville. I do still like Rosalinda's tacos at the White Horse Flea Market and if you've read my New Orleans blog: "If I Lived Here, I'd Be Dead By Now" you would know that I'm a big fan of El Gato Negro in the French Quarter. However, I think anyone who tries Guadalajara will be pleasantly surprised on how much better it is than what you normally get in Greenville's Mexican restaurants; I know I was.