Monkey Wrench Smokehouse

No, it’s not a hardware store. Just the latest fun adventure from Sidewall Pizza and Rocket Surgery owners Andy O’Mara and Loren Frant. Monkey Wrench Smokehouse offers BBQ smoked right on the back porch, delicious sides with a creative spin as well as homemade desserts. Set right along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, I can imagine Monkey Wrench as a dining destination for families, tourists and pretty much anyone who loves simple, great food in a casual atmosphere.

Feel free to start your meal with one of their barrel aged cocktails or a beer from their impressive craft beer list. Then, venture on to their starters and order some signature Smoked Belly Corn Dogs or Bacon Fried Hoe Cakes. Being the seafood lover that I am, we ordered the Smoked Salmon Dip served with grilled baguette. Monkey Wrench grills their bread on a wood-fired grill, giving it a smoky, charred flavor that complements the creamy salmon dip with fresh dill perfectly.

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When I saw that Monkey Wrench serves their House Hot Link Sausage Dog in a toasted King’s Hawaiian roll, I was sold. Rarely would you say “I’m making gourmet hot dogs for dinner tonight.” Which is exactly why you MUST order this one and let Monkey Wrench do the work for you. Topped with mustard and hot cherry peppers, this “fancy” dog is delicious. But really…can anything taste bad inside a King’s Hawaiian roll??

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If you want to try a little of everything, The Smokehouse is calling your name. A sampling of pulled pork, brisket, half rack of ribs, wings, sausage with three sides, cornbread and house pickled veggies, it’s not for the faint of heart. As you taste the array of meats, don’t forget one of their homemade sauces ranging from a sweet and spicy Cheerwine flavor to a mustard-based Carolina sauce. The ribs though don’t need a single bit of sauce added to them and are the definition of finger lickin’ goodness. The smoked chicken wings impressed me the most with their extra crispy skin and tender, smoky meat.

What goes hand in hand with BBQ? Equally tasty sides of course. Their cornbread is more like a corn cake with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and hint of sweetness. It’s not your average dry, lackluster cornbread. A nuance to BBQ sides, Cauliflower Casserole, stands out among the rest. While of course the Mac & Cheese is a crowd-pleaser (and Monkey Wrench’s comes with an irresistible crunchy topping) something about the creamy, caramelized cauliflower casserole stole the show.

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As with Rocket Surgery and Sidewall Pizza, you can’t leave without ordering dessert. The Caramel Apple Cobbler is decadent to say the least. It comes to the table in a blazing hot skillet with a browned, slightly crispy edge and gooey center with cooked apples and caramel. The scoop of Sidewall vanilla ice cream is truly the cherry on top. When I think BBQ my mind goes directly to banana pudding. Monkey Wrench serves theirs in a wine glass layered with pudding, bananas, whipped cream and vanilla wafers. Even though you maybe shouldn’t eat toooo much of it, it’s easy to devour their rendition of a timeless dessert.

Monkey Wrench is located at 21 South Main Street in Travelers Rest, SC. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 5:00 – 9:00pm.

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Word to Mouth

“I’m too busy.” It’s a phrase we’ve become all too familiar with, especially when it comes to cooking and eating healthy. Greenville business owners have picked up on this trend and are starting companies that bridge the gap between our hectic lives and eating food that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Word to Mouth, a paleo meal-prep service, is just one of those companies…and also happens to be my favorite.

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Owner, Alissa Shealy, started Word to Mouth after mastering her own Sunday meal-prep and later being asked time and time again by friends and family to cook for them. Word to Mouth started in Alissa’s kitchen with only a few customers, and has now grown into a thriving business, not primarily from advertising, but by “word of mouth”. Nowadays, Word to Mouth operates out of Imagine Kitchen every Monday cooking a plethora of dishes for both longstanding and new customers.

Word to Mouth’s weekly menu of 4 recipes operates on a Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer rotation, ensuring that even if you ordered every single week, you would only eat the same thing twice! The recipes vary from gluttonous dishes made nutritious like Buffalo Chicken Casserole and Shepherd’s Pie, breakfast items like Pancakes with Egg Bake, original dishes like a Bahn-Mi Bowl and hearty salads.

From the 4 recipes, you can choose 6 meals, 9 meals or 12 meals, selecting which sound best to you. No matter what the menu item, you can rest easy knowing that your meal is gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and consists of organic ingredients whenever possible. Plus, did I mention that the meal is 100% cooked for you? All you need to do is heat it up! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

After spending one Monday with the lovely ladies from Word to Mouth, I took home all four of the menu items to taste-test and share with all of you. Here’s the verdict!

Chicken and Veggie Breakfast Bowl: This is one of those original dishes mentioned earlier. The bowl starts with a base of sautéed asparagus, shredded brussels sprouts, and kale tossed with a lemony dressing and topped with ground chicken, sliced avocado, a soft-boiled egg and sunflower seeds. I would’ve never thought to put all these ingredients together, but somehow it all makes perfect sense once you try it.

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Acorn Squash with Turkey Stuffing: Reminiscent of Thanksgiving flavors, this dish is not only stunning, but also hearty and satisfying. The tender acorn squash is filled with a generous serving of ground turkey, celery, cranberries and apples that’s been sautéed with maple syrup and thyme. Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving staple, and Word to Mouth’s rendition meets all the marks…plus it’s good for you!

Sweet Potato Enchiladas: Here, Word to Mouth takes a popular Mexican dish and transforms it into a nourishing meal, without skimping on ANY of the enchilada flavors we all love. Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes are cooked until fork-tender and filled with a mixture of ground beef, kale (Word to Mouth knows how to sneak in those greens), Mexican spices and a homemade enchilada sauce. A crowd-pleaser for sure, I can’t imagine anyone not devouring this irresistible dish.

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Pork Tenderloin with German Slaw: If you’ve never tasted German slaw, you’re missing out. It all starts with purple cabbage that is cooked down in apple cider vinegar, and then mixed with green apple and rosemary salt giving it a slightly tangy flavor. The pork tenderloin is grilled to perfection and tastes incredible with a forkful of the German slaw.

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Word to Mouth’s mission is simple: to make our lives a little easier with healthy, real food. To subscribe to Word to Mouth’s weekly email, or place an order for food, be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram!

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Trattoria Giorgio

Upon stepping into Trattoria Giorgio, you are transported to a charming, family-run restaurant in Italy where the food warms your heart and soul. Since opening in 1996, Trattoria Giorgio has become an institution for authentic Italian food in Greenville. Chef Giorgio Todisco’s dishes showcase his culinary journey around the world with its humble beginning in the kitchen alongside his mother and grandmother in Bergamo, Italy.

Trattoria Giorgio is a hidden gem. While there are many other Italian restaurants in the Greenville area, Trattoria Giorgio is now my #1 recommendation with authentic, quality Italian food similar to what you’ll find in New York, or even Italy. Chef Giorgio is committed to using the finest meats available, as well as hand-picked Italian ingredients.

Their menu is the ideal size. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll find that I always comment on the menu size because, let’s be honest, a HUGE menu means less quality dishes. Trattoria Giorgio offers a few antipasti such as mussels & clams, larger entrees like Veal Scallopine, and a few desserts. The first bite I took was a hunk of their fresh-baked bread dipped in olive oil and I was hooked. We all knew we were in for one incredible meal if even the free bread was this fantastic.

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We tried our best not to indulge too much in the bread though, because there was much more eating to be done. We started with the Mozarella Caprese, Ravioli Alla Argosta (Lobster Ravioli), and Insalatona (mixed greens salad). Offering a rich dish like lobster ravioli as an appetizer is a genius idea. There was just enough decadence to this dish to keep you wanting more, without ruining the rest of your dinner.

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Both of the salads are understated, yet delicious with subtle flavors that make all the difference. The slices of fresh mozzarella on the caprese salad were unlike any I’ve had before, with a level of creaminess that is impressive.

Bread, pasta, bread, pasta, carbs…that’s how this night seemed to be going, but I was totally okay with it. Next up we ordered the notorious Pappardelle Bolognese, Linguini Verde Mari and the perfectly cooked Filet special. Usually I am 100% a red sauce pasta girl, but the Linguini Verde Mari was the star of the show this evening and is a dish I’ve craved every day since. Consisting of linguine pasta tossed with large shrimp sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, white wine and a fresh basil sauce, I must’ve said 10 times “This is really my last bite.”

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My usual order at any Italian restaurant are classics like Bolognese and lasagna, so it’s no surprise that Trattoria Giorgio’s Pappardelle Bolognese made me very happy. Their homemade meat sauce clings to the thick, al dente pappardelle creating a perfect bite every time. If you’re craving comfort food, this is the dish for you.

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Being the avid dessert fan that I am, I’m ashamed to say I had never had a cannoli until dining at Trattoria Giorgio. Now, I’m already thinking about when I can get my hands on another one. This cannoli is super crunchy on the outside and filled with a thick and creamy vanilla frosting with chocolate chips all throughout. Because we couldn’t decide on just one, we also ordered the Mousse al Ciccolatto (Chocolate Mousse). Sinfully decadent, this dessert is for all you chocolate lovers out there.

With a location in the heart of downtown Greenville, Italian food that simply can’t be beat, and a “sit down and stay awhile” kind of atmosphere, Trattoria Giorgio is pretty special. They are located at 121 S. Main Street and are open Tuesday – Saturday from 6pm to 9:30pm.

The Upstate Foodie Travels North: Hendersonville Restaurant Week Preview

Hendersonville’s Inaugural Restaurant Week is coming, and I’m here to give you a behind the scenes look at how to effectively, and deliciously, eat your way through the participating restaurants. Similarly to other cities who host a restaurant week, Hendersonville and Flat Rock restaurants will offer special prix fixe menus from March 10-24. Many of the participating restaurants are offering not only a three course dinner menu for $20, $30 or $35, but also a two course lunch/brunch menu for $10 or $15. My feasting began in Flat Rock at an unassuming BBQ and pizza joint.

Flat Rock Wood Room:

With award-winning Memphis-style BBQ and wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, Jamie Guay focuses on keeping the customers happy and coming back for more. When I think of a BBQ spot, I think pulled pork, collards, mac and cheese, etc. and while Flat Rock Wood Room has all of these staples, they elevate the stereotypical BBQ style food with creative dishes like Smoked Pork Satay, Smoked Salmon and Crème Brulee. Must Order: 3 piece jumbo Frankenmuth wing platter with competition style BBQ sauce, THE cornbread and anything consisting of brisket.

Old Orchard Tavern:

Conveniently located inside the Cascades Mountain Resort, Old Orchard Tavern is an ideal choice for families wishing to experience a memorable dining experience, while also keeping the little ones entertained. Old Orchard Tavern prides itself on using local farms to source the ingredients of their classic dishes with a “Hendersonville-twist”. Must Order: Braised Lamb Shank or Beer Brined Game Hen. The Spring Risotto served under the game hen is one of the best I’ve had.

Brooks Tavern:

If you want to fit in with the locals, Brooks Tavern is the place for you. With an impressive beer and wine list, as well as craft-cocktails, this is the kind of place you can stay and hang out awhile. As stated on their door, they specialize in “Good Food, Giggle Water & More”. Must Order: Candied Bacon Strips, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos and Fried Cheesecake.

HenDough:

While HenDough isn’t participating in Restaurant Week, it’s certainly worth mentioning as it will be opening in Greenville later this year and has one of the best chicken biscuits I’ve come across. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, they’ve got doughnuts…something savory, they’ve got fried chicken and biscuits. Must Order: Hot Chicken Biscuit, and Egg in a Basket (2 eggs in a donut basket with fried chicken, bacon and jalapeno maple syrup).

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McFarlan Old Fashioned Bakery:

As I was walking to our next stop, I smelled the most wonderful scent that led me down the street and into McFarlan Bakery. An authentic “made from scratch” bakery, McFarlans has any baked good you can dream of. Even if you aren’t into desserts, it’s worth stopping in just to see the extravagant pastries and treats they make fresh daily. Must Order: The Morning Bun (Cinnamon Bun)

Postero:

I could write for hours about not only the food at Postero, but also the beautiful and simplistic atmosphere. Postero offers dishes that highlight the variety of flavors and techniques present in American cooking today, while also preserving their traditional recipes. Executive Chef Jason Reasoner and Chef de Cuisine Justin Balzer create stunning dishes inspired by a “melting pot of cultures”. Must Order from Lunch Menu: Gin Cured Salmon Tartare and Polenta Fries. Must order from Dinner Menu: Goat Cheese Crostini, Chicken Confit and Dark Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Season’s at Highland Lake:

Located at the lovely Highland Lake Inn & Resort, Season’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with seasonal ingredients straight from their organic garden. Their cuisine boasts approachable dishes like BBQ and ravioli, but with a level of finesse that elevates the flavors from ordinary to extraordinary. Must Order from Lunch Menu: House-Smoked BBQ Pork and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Berry Compote. Must Order from Dinner Menu: Date Night (Bacon-Wrapped Dates), Carolina Trout and Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake.

Unfortunately, I had to cut my trip short without visiting The Dugout Taproom & Grill, Never Blue, Hannah Flanagan’s, Mezzaluna, Black Rose Pub or Bold Rock Mills River. Since it’s only a 45-minute drive from Greenville, I hope to visit these restaurants soon! Check out the Hendersonville Restaurant Week website to see all the participating restaurants’ menus and to make your reservations.   It’s certainly going to be an event you won’t want to miss!

The Upstate Foodie’s 11 Favorite Restaurants of 2017

The first question I’m asked after telling people that I have a foodie Instagram and blog is “Where are your favorite places to eat in Greenville?” I realized that I’ve practically memorized this list and it hasn’t changed much over the past year. So, here it is. My 11 favorite restaurants in the Upstate (because I couldn’t just choose 10), in no particular order, determined solely by the frequency I recommend them to others and eat at them myself.

Pita House: I just happen to live about a mile away from Pita House, so it is my go-to place for take-out. Specializing in Middle Eastern food, Pita House is a great healthy-ish option. Just note that they only take cash or check! My usual order: The Middle East Plate with Gyro (comes with hummos, falafel, tahini salad and vegetables) and extra white and red pepper sauce.

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Happy and Hale: I’m not sure how I survived without Happy and Hale in my life. Everything on their menu is nourishing, delicious and healthy. Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a snack, Happy and Hale has plenty of options. My usual order: The Incredibowl with half kale half mixed greens, golden quinoa, roasted butternut squash, black beans, roasted beets, pumpkin seeds, avocado, mint, lemon tahini dressing and lime.

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ASADA: ASADA was my very first spot I wrote about on The Upstate Foodie, so it holds a special place in my heart. Owners Gina and Roberto were inspired by Latin American cooking and flavors, so started ASADA as a food truck serving out-of-this-world tacos. Now, ASADA is a thriving brick and mortar providing us with much more than just tacos. My usual order: Carnita Taco with a side of guacamole.

Asada | Greenville, SC | The Upstate Foodie

Sidewall Pizza: Sidewall brings together all of my favorite things: pizza, salads, ice cream and beer. Naturally, I go here every single year for my birthday and many more times throughout the year. It’s pretty apparent from my Instagram page that Sidewall Pizza never loses its charm in my eyes. My usual order: Greek Salad and (depending on who I’m sharing the pizza with) a half Margherita half Protein, or half Margherita half Hawaiian pizza.

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GB&D: This may be my most dined at spot of 2017. Everything at GB&D is not only delicious, but also beautiful and inspired, incorporating local ingredients into every dish. Their weekend brunch (ahem…doughnuts!) is incredible, but GB&D is also ideal for a quick lunch or cozy dinner. My usual order: GB&D changes their menu regularly, but I am always drawn to their Bibimbap, any of their salads, or their burger (with THE best fries ever).

Trappe Door: While we’re on the topic of amazing French fries, Trappe Door serves their “frites” with a trio of mayo in the flavors of your choice. Located below Barley’s Taproom with arguably the coziest ambiance in Greenville, Trappe Door specializes in hearty, comfort food and an impressive beer list. After dining here for my birthday dinner, I’ve recommended it to many other people! My usual order: I’ve only been here a handful of times, but adore their Frites, mussels, and Braised Short Ribs.

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Jianna: For all the pasta lovers out there, Jianna is the place for you. Located in a picturesque setting looking out on Falls Park, it has become an every-popular destination for a nice, celebratory dinner. You won’t find your traditional lasagna or spaghetti with meatballs on their menu, but instead think fresh oysters, simplistic pasta made by hand, and a Char-Grilled Chicken that will make you wonder why you usually never order chicken at a restaurant. My usual order: Start with the Ricotta Crostini with truffle honey, sea salt and grilled ciabatta…ALWAYS and the Spaghetti TBG (tomato, basil, garlic).

The Anchorage: I love everything about The Anchorage from their handcrafted cocktails to their elegant yet trendy atmosphere. Chef Greg McPhee’s attention to detail is apparent in all of their beautifully designed small plates. Their menu is constantly changing based off what’s in season, but I always start with the “For the Table” charcuterie board…and dessert is a must.

Bacon Bros.: Don’t be fooled. While Bacon Bros. does serve some pretty phenomenal bacon and meats, they have many other fame-worthy dishes on their menu. What I adore most about Bacon Bros. is that they have a little something for everyone, so it’s a win-win with a large group of varying likes and dislikes. My usual order: Devil’s Dust Eggs and The Burger or Shrimp and Grits.

Tsunami: I’ve been going to Tsunami for years, and it is still my #1 spot for sushi in the Upstate. The fish is always fresh and I can order the same thing every single time and be assured that it’s just as good as always. My usual order: Ginger Salad topped with seaweed and the Rainbow Roll–If I’m craving something more indulgent, I’ll convince someone to share the Surf and Turf Roll with me.

Kitchen Sync: The coolest thing about Kitchen Sync is that it’s the first certified “green” restaurant in Greenville. It is also a breath of fresh air as it’s located on Laurens Road so you don’t have to worry about the inconvenience of parking. Kitchen Sync says it best, calling itself a “soulful neighborhood restaurant with farm fresh scratch-made fare”. My usual order: The Shrimp Burger, any of their pizzas or the Tomato Pie (but only in the summer as it’s seasonal).

There you have it.  My 11 most recommended and frequented restaurants of 2017.  Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t many other restaurants in the Upstate that I love, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us!

tacos & mas

What makes a restaurant truly special? I think we would all agree that consistency, customer service, and quality of ingredients are three key factors. tacos & mas goes above and beyond those qualifications in more ways than one. Upon walking into tacos and mas, one will be graciously greeted by owners Hector and Ana Batista who, after years of management experience in the culinary realm, ventured out to open their own restaurant with cuisine inspired by authentic Latin flavors.

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tacos and mas isn’t your typical taco joint. Think casual taco restaurant meets grandmother’s kitchen in Dominican Republic. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to sit down and stay awhile, and Hector and Ana are pleased to oblige. There are personal touches throughout tacos & mas such as the tables built by Hector himself and the large painting done by an artist from Dominican Republic. The food at tacos & mas even incorporates flavors straight from Ana’s mom’s cooking.

Their menu is broken up into aperitivos (side dishes), meat, seafood and vegetarian tacos with homemade flour or corn tortillas, & mas (& more, larger entrée size dishes). tacos & mas had me at “free chips and salsa”. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way. Two staples: Homemade Guacamole and Beef Empanadas are just about as flawless as you can ask for. My unexpected favorite aperitivos was the Yuca Frita. Similar to a french fry, except much larger with a smoother texture, this dish consists of fried cassaba with a delicious, creamy alcaparra dip with tangy flavors from the fresh lime, cilantro and capers.

I’ve now eaten twice at tacos & mas and can honestly say that every single taco is outstanding and priced at $4.50 or less. I won’t bore you with the description of allllll the tacos, but I will tell you which ones stood out among the rest. I’m a sucker for Cuban sandwiches, so naturally the Cubanito with flank steak, sweet plantain, avocado and black beans is my #1 pick. As with all the meat tacos at tacos & mas, you can tell that true love has gone into ensuring it is as flavorful and tender as possible. The sweet plantains are simply the “cherry on top” of this scrumptious taco.

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Following closely behind is the el ranchero (the farmer) with slow mojo cooked pork, chicharron, roasted corn, and green tomato. The drizzle of chilled green tomato sauce elevates this taco with a zesty punch of flavor. The last two tacos are tied for spot #3: Balcalao con Cerverza with Dos Equis battered cod fish and cabbage-radish slaw and the Camaron with sautéed shrimp, charred tomatillo and cilantro. Both of these tacos were fresh and bright, as all fish tacos should be.

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Upon my next visit to tacos & mas I will promptly order the Sandwich Cubano and the Ropa Vieja Cubana with braised flank steak, rice, beans and sweet plantains (notice a pattern here… J) Hector said that he wants his customers to “feel like family” at tacos & mas. I would say he’s succeeded.

tacos & mas is located at 802 S. Road in Greer, SC off The Parkway. They are open Monday – Friday from 11:00am-9:00pm and Saturday from 2:00pm-9:00pm.

Husk Greenville

The anticipation preceding the opening of Husk Restaurant in Greenville was no joke. Even I found myself lurking in the windows of the rumored location to catch a glimpse at what was to come. Why is Husk’s opening so monumental for Greenville? Because not only was it named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit in both 2011 and 2014, but James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock has a vision for southern cooking that goes far beyond fried chicken.

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The only other time I’ve visited Husk Restaurant was in Charleston last December, and I vividly remember sitting at the bar and telling the bartender two simple phrases “tangy and refreshing” and then sipping on one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. From what I’ve seen so far, Husk Greenville values the art of hand crafted cocktails. The “In the Pines” put me in the Christmas spirit with a base of Pine Rosin infused gin and a touch of bitters and lime juice.

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Husk embodies an ingredient-driven cuisine, meaning that not only do they locally source all of their ingredients, but they are also the inspiration for the menu each and every day. Of course there are some staples such as Fried Chicken Skins and Appalachian Cornbread, but I wouldn’t count on ordering the same thing twice. I went with a group of friends and, lucky for me, they were up for sharing a few things…

Starting with the “First” portion of the menu, we had the highly recommended Broadbent Country Ham. Think “southern charcuterie board” consisting of thinly sliced ham, three Cherokee bean cakes, HUSK apple mustard and pickled veggies. I would suggest layering a bite of the warm, slightly crispy bean cake, then a generous spread of apple mustard, slice of ham, and topping it off with your pickled veggie of choice.

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Another friend of mine insisted that we order the Crispy Pig Ear Wraps. I’m not going to lie…I was skeptical at first even as an adventurous eater. Now, looking back on my meal, these whimsical little wraps were my favorite dish. I’m still not entirely sure what exactly I was eating, except that the pig ears were much more delicate than I’d imagined, topped with a drizzle of pumpkin sweet and sour sauce, and wrapped in lettuce leaves.

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Not pictured is the HUSK Pimiento Cheese served with Anson Mills Benne Crackers and Ember Grilled Pork Ribs with NC Apple BBQ and Pork Rinds. Southern cuisine and pimiento cheese go hand in hand, so it’s a no-brainer that Chef Sean Brock has mastered this southern delicacy. As for the pork ribs, you simply can’t go wrong with smoked ribs, a sweet BBQ sauce…and let’s not forget the addicting pork rinds.

For “Supper” we ordered the Bear Creek Beef and NC Striper. The beef was cooked flawlessly and served with the creamiest Desiree potatoes and root vegetables. Even my friend who claims to usually be able to prepare steak better than any restaurant was impressed at the level of simplicity, yet perfection this dish possessed. Served atop Bradford Candy Roaster Squash, brown butter and pecans, the unassuming NC Striper took on the intense sweetness that appears when squash is prepared to its full potential. Each component showcases the attention and care that Chef Sean Brock puts into each and every dish.

Shockingly, the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Sundae was the most complex dish of the night. I questioned flavors with each and every bite and am still curious as to the exact ingredients in this dessert. At the bottom of the bowl is a layer of poppycock, which is popcorn and peanuts tossed in a sweet and crunchy glaze typically made with butter and brown sugar, then a scoop of Olive & Sinclair chocolate ice cream, and what I’m assuming is a sprinkle of crushed peanuts on top. We also indulged in a Brown Butter Baked Cameo Apple served with Hickory Ice Cream. Needless to say we ended our night with a bang.

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Husk Restaurant is located at 722 S. Main Street. They are open for dinner every day at 5:00. Stay tuned as they release their lunch and brunch hours coming in January 2018!

Rocket Surgery

People always ask me “What’s your favorite restaurant in Greenville”? When I consider all my equally delicious options, I tend to lean towards the places I eat at time and time again: Sidewall Pizza being one of those places. The reason being that Sidewall Pizza is about so much more than just good pizza. With a different flavor of homemade ice cream each day, hot sauce made from scratch and salads that almost rival the pizza, Sidewall Pizza is a goldmine.

So, when the rumors began that owner Andy O’Mara was going to open a new restaurant in Travelers Rest the city of Greenville was buzzing with excitement. Having only opened their doors a few weeks ago, Rocket Surgery has already lived up to the hype, focusing on the art of craft cocktails and elevated snacks. With a simple, casual atmosphere including large doors that let in a nice breeze, Rocket Surgery is the kind of place where relaxation is all but guaranteed.

As to be expected with one of Andy’s ventures, Rocket Surgery has a whole lot to offer besides just tasty food. Equally as impressive, their signature libations are raising the bar for handcrafted cocktails in The Upstate. Their drink menu is listed in order of booziness making the decision process a little easier on us all, and priced at $10 or less per cocktail. Can’t decide? Name your spirit of choice or favorite flavors and let the bartenders work their magic. My drink of choice is the Gabrielle consisting of gin, elderflower, gentian, honey, lemon and bitters. Not too sweet, a little floral, and slightly bitter, this cocktail is right up my alley.

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What style of food would you expect from a cocktail bar? Snacks, burgers, maybe something sweet…Rocket Surgery has all those options, but takes well-known “bar food” and turns it into something unique. Take their Fried Calamari, for example. Crispy pieces of calamari don’t just come with a side of marinara sauce, but instead are tossed in butter, garlic, roasted red peppers, sweet banana peppers, hot cherry peppers and kalamata olives then topped with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. Something about the simple addition of peppers takes an okay appetizer and turns it into a complex, mouth-watering dish.

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Other scrumptious snacks include a straightforward Shrimp Cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce, Stuffed Olives perfect for dipping into their roasted garlic aioli and a unanimous favorite of our table, Crispy Brussels Sprouts tossed in a honey lemon sriracha glaze. Remember when brussels sprouts used to be everyone’s most-hated vegetable? That’s certainly not the case anymore. Especially when they get extra-crispy and then coated in a sweet and spicy sauce that makes you forget you’re eating a vegetable.

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Rocket Surgery does their burgers a little bit different too, by offering a wide-variety of “Snack-Size” portions, or what you may more commonly know as “sliders”. Order 1 if you just want a snack, or 2-3 for a full meal. They have everything from your traditional certified angus beef patty served with ketchup, Dijon mustard, butter lettuce, tomato and red onion, to a lamb patty with feta, spicy harissa and fresh spinach. Much to my surprise, being the meat lover that I am, the burger that stole my heart was the Falafel burger with pickled cucumber and tzatziki. The falafel patty itself is creamy and full of flavor with a punch of acidity from the pickled cucumber and light, refreshing tzatziki. I must note: Not only do all the burgers from Rocket Surgery come on a house made brioche bun, but they even make their ketchup, Dijon mustard, aioli, sauces and dressings in house!

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Be sure to follow Rocket Surgery on social media because along with their usual menu items, they offer dinner specials like this Hot Chicken Sandwich topped with butter pickles, garlic aioli, and served on the most delicious brioche bun in all the land. Here in the south, we take our fried chicken pretty seriously, and Rocket Surgery meets all my expectations with their spicy rendition of a southern classic.

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When a restaurant bakes their own brioche bread fresh every day, and they have Bread Pudding on the menu, you order it no questions asked. An astounding “mmmmm” fell over the table as we took our first bites of this decadent dessert. This is no average bread pudding; trust me I’ve tried a lot. Rocket Surgery pours an almost sinful bourbon cream sauce over the pieces of brioche bread then tops the dish with toasted pecans. Needless to say there were no leftovers.

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Rocket Surgery is open Monday and Thursday from 5:00PM-10:00PM and Friday – Saturday from 5:00PM-11:00PM. Don’t miss their Sunday brunch from 10:00AM to 3:00PM! I’ve heard they’ve got hot donuts…and, of course, boozy cocktails.

euphoria 2017 (Bites of the Weekend)

Every year euphoria delights our taste buds with delicious bites from esteemed chefs around the southeast. Unfortunately, we will have to wait another 363 days for this event to roll back around next September, but until then I’ve highlighted my best bites from five euphoria events to hold you over.

Greenville Kick-Off Party: What better way to kick-off euphoria weekend than with a festive celebration filled with food crafted by Greenville chefs, a killer band, and drinks that keep on flowing? Held in The Old Cigar Warehouse, this event showcased all that Greenville has to offer, including my bite of the night coming straight from Coastal Crust food truck. I’m sure all of their wood-fired pizzas were amazing, but I had 2 favorites: Fig & Prosciutto and Butternut Squash & Red Onion. Simply put, Chef Matt knows good pizza and the quality of ingredients speaks for itself.

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Taste of the South: This event is for all the true foodies out there. Featuring celebrity chefs from all over the southeast, you’ll get to taste inspired dishes from renowned restaurants you’ve never been to…but may have always wanted to. Held in the picturesque Wyche Pavilion, complete with live music and charming strings of twinkle lights, Taste of the South is a winner. My favorite, and first, bite of the night was the Hot Quail Sweet Roll courtesy of Kenneth Gilbert of Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen in Jacksonville, Florida. Upon arriving at Taste of the South, I asked a few foodie friends which dishes had been their favorite so far. Every single one said this sandwich, so of course I all but ran to stand in the long line to see what all the hype was about. This sandwich was simple, but perfectly executed. All starting with a crispy piece of fried quail, placed on a sweet Hawaiian roll (which, let’s be honest, is the way to go) and topped with a Datil pepper remoulade and dill pickles. If they hadn’t run out of this sandwich, I would have gone back for seconds, or maybe even thirds.

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Feast by the Field: All craft beer lovers, wine-o’s and foodies unite at this daytime event that features not only endless samplings of tasty bites, but also chef demos, a craft beer garden, wine sampling tent and more. Presented by GVLtoday, this event gets you in true party mode and has a little something for everyone. My favorite bite was hands down the Pulled Duck Confit by The Bistro Topsail in Surf City, North Carolina. The tender, flavorful duck alone could’ve been my favorite bite, but why stop there when you can serve it atop a corn cake, braised collards and top it all off with duck skin cracklin’? This is one of those bites I will keep craving time and time again.

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Big Easy Bash: Being the new kid on the block, the Big Easy Bash was a highly anticipated event that took place at Trailblazer Park in Travelers Rest. The theme of the night was all things New Orleans, including a New Orleans style jazz band, dirty rice for days, and of course beignets. My bite of the night had to be the beignets from Grits and Groceries and Chef Kevin Belton. I’ve never been to Café Du Monde to try the crème de la crème of beignets, but I bet you these were pretty darn close. Served piping hot, this beignet was melt in your mouth delicious with a dusting of powdered sugar to top it off.

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Sunday Brunch: Brunch is good enough as it is, but throw in some barbecue made by infamous pit masters and you’ve got an event that can’t be beat. We’re back downtown for this family-friendly event that welcomes local chefs, barbecue geniuses, and boozy brunch cocktails. My first stop was Lewis Barbecue where last year John Lewis served the most incredible brisket that I still think about to this day. His dish stole my heart again this year with fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, a piece of smoky sausage, spicy barbecue sauce, and pickled red onions. When barbecue is this good, there’s no need for all the sides and sauces.

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Now, the countdown begins to euphoria 2018! Be sure to follow @euphoriagreenville on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with all your favorite chefs and restaurants, and to be the first to know when tickets for next year’s festival go on sale! #isitseptemberyet ???

Growler Haus

The Village of West Greenville truly has it all: Wonderful restaurants serving inspired dishes that incorporate locally sourced ingredients, a coffee shop with a killer lavender latte, art galleries galore, plus a soon to be music venue. What more could you possible wish for? Owners of Growler Haus, specializing in craft beer, knew the answer to that question and opened their 4th location in The Village this past August.

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When it comes to a craft beer joint, atmosphere is everything. With a funky, comfortable vibe complete with plenty of plush seating, it’s an ideal setting to stay awhile and grab a beer, or two. But, Growler Haus has a lot more to offer than just craft beer. Their “Haus Bites” include elevated bar food like roasted brussels sprouts with bacon jam, signature burgers and flatbreads. Whether enjoying a Pale Ale or IPA, your appetite will surely not be forgotten.

What goes hand in hand with beer? More carbs of course! The soft, salted Brau Haus Pretzel hits the spot after sipping on flights of seasonal craft beers. It’s the size of your head, making this “small bite” ideal for sharing. But, you may not want to after tasting the beer cheese and spicy IPA mustard dipping sauces. Fair warning: this pretzel is oh-so-bad, but oh-so-good.

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Looking for something on the lighter side? Growler Haus‘ Let’s Taco Bout It: Mason Jar Salad is a whimsical spin on the classic taco salad. Complete with colorful layers of romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, black beans, corn, jalapeno, avocado, lime and crushed tortilla chips plus your choice of dressing, this dish makes ordering a salad not so boring.

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Served on their homemade stout buns, there’s a burger for everyone at Growler Haus. Beef, chicken or veggie…the choice is yours. I went with their classic Haus Ground Burger topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, white cheddar cheese and their signature Kentucky bourbon sauce. They have other signature sauces to choose from such as blueberry Dijon and sweet habanero, but I was drawn to the sweet and savory combo on this burger. I’m sure the Haus Chips are great, but I couldn’t stop reaching for the crispy Sweet Potato Tots served on the side.

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I was super excited to spot an unconventional menu item for a beer joint: Bao Buns. Growler Haus fills their buns with tuna poke or seared pork belly then tops them with flavorful, crunchy toppings. If you’ve never had a Bao bun before, don’t expect the texture of a typical slider, but expect something fluffier and slightly sweet. It’s almost like dessert on the outside, filled with savory components.

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Yes…there are still more carbs coming your way. Growler Haus has an assortment of flatbreads (aka fancy pizzas) such as The Bahamamon with Haus spicy pineapple jerk sauce, red beans, red onion and feta topped with fresh thyme plus an addition of avocado and chicken for a mere $2. This unique flatbread surprised me with flavors that don’t typically go together, but somehow made total sense. I’ve also heard great things about their T.A.B. flatbread with avocado cream cheese, tomato bruschetta, feta, arugula and balsamic glaze.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t save room for dessert this time (believe it or not) but I will most definitely be back for their Brau Haus S’Machos that includes bite-sized bites of that incredible pretzel, chocolate and toasted marshmallow. Serving craft beer and tasty bites in an inviting setting, Growler Haus just took The Village of West Greenville to a whole new level of cool.